With market players not sure whether to stay calm or holler for help, it may be time for Lai See to dust off its crystal ball and take a peek into the future. And who better to gaze into eyes of oblivion with than Rebecca Nolan, that most scientific of astrologers who mixes mathematics with having a long, hard stare at the stars. Ms Nolan, if you recall, is the publisher of the Financial Astrology newsletter - which hit a bulls-eye in August when it predicted an 'earthquake' would hit Wall Street on October 27. Given that she managed to see the exact day markets collapsed two months ahead, we thought we could do worse than consult her on the outlook for 1998. The no-nonsense Ms Nolan - who was in town briefly this week - hummed and hawed about this at first. 'I don't want ya telling people I'm full of that candlestick, fortune-telling garbage,' she said in a broad New York accent. When your correspondent assured her he would accord her the respect of a proper scientist, she relented. But she warned in no uncertain terms: 'Don't slaughter me. Alright?!' You see, Ms Nolan claims to be much more than just a practitioner in plain old astrology - which she reckons has become unfortunately associated with witchcraft. Armed with a Science degree from Almira University in New York State, she boasts she has an insight into markets no ordinary fortune teller could possibly possess. Now, a lot of theories have been put forward as to what was hanging over world markets this week. Some reckon it's that Wall Street stocks are overvalued, others are saying the crisis on Asian markets has simply sparked off nerves around the world. Ms Nolan had a different tale. 'There was a planet movin' in - it was an indicator something would explode in the market,' she said, and brandished her August newsletter to prove she's not just being wise after the event. The planet she saw was Mars - the 'planet of energy and fire' - and the omens were not good. According to Ms Nolan, it was sitting at an extremely explosive angle to Saturn. Now, Ms Nolan did her usual bit of maths and decided this meant markets were about to go through the floor - or in her own distinctive words, 'va va boom baby!'. The problem, apparently, was that Mars finally decided to start moving again after staying in the one sign for the past nine months. Now that Mars was on the move again, trouble was afoot. Unfortunately, the problems are just beginning for US investors now Mars has got its energy back. In Ms Nolan's view, as Mars travels on its forceful path through each house during the next year, money and markets will be fickle beasts in 1998. 'It means people will either be making big bucks or having 'em taken out of their pockets,' she said in her trademark straight-talking fashion. The first effects of Mars getting active again have already been felt - but Ms Nolan reckons there's more in store even before the end of the year: 'The Dow Jones'll fall 30 per cent by the end of 1997.' But the real roller-coaster ride for Wall Street won't start until February next year, she says. 'Mars'll move in and touch Jupiter, and Jupiter's the planet of finance,' she said. Ms Nolan sees this causing a big sell-off on Wall Street first, then ricocheting on to Hong Kong. As Mars continues its colourful move through 1998, things start to look up by April. Then they take a decisive turn for the worse in May and June, as Mars again takes on some distinctly unfriendly aspects. Now that the Hang Seng has had its shake-out, the picture is somewhat brighter for traders at Exchange Square than their Wall Street colleagues. While it will be hard for markets to escape the fallout from another sell-off on Wall Street, Ms Nolan senses better portents for the SAR in 1998. Ms Nolan reckons she has a special feel for the fortunes of Hong Kong, because she had her own astrological practice here between 1990 and the beginning of this year. 'I can't see Hong Kong going much lower than it already is,' she said. 'Someone'll be pumping money in.' The mainland, perhaps? 'Yeah, could be.' One final question for the amazing Miss Nolan. Could she have been having a dabble on the markets, given her inside knowledge on what was about to happen? You betcha. 'I made a bituvva killing,' she said sagely. Ah, if only everyone had Ms Nolan's foresight . . .