Stock market prophets go big in Italy

Playing the stock market has always been a guessing game, but since the global recession diminished European investors' confidence in their own predicting abilities, more are now turning to paranormal professionals.

Madame Cristina promises to make you money on the stock market. She is just one of numerous fortune tellers and she sees the future from stains in her coffee. Her advice has already changed lives.

For example, a stain that follows a shape of an umbrella predicts a safe haven from current economic turbulence, symbolized by rain drops.

In Russia, go for Sberbank, she says. A stain with the form of a fish jumping through an open circle guarantees success.

Her clients say she gives them confidence to get a better-paid job, buy a new house or meet a partner.

Fortune telling has become a staggering $8 billion industry in Italy alone, as people turn away from bankers who failed to predict the credit crunch.

One crystal ball gazer says her clients include rich businessmen and top politicians.

The world's leading tarot card expert adds that people also want answers in their private life.

The astonishing rise in psychic fortunes is fueling a massive public counter-attack. Professor Giovanni Panunzio has dedicated his life to proving clairvoyants are "cheats", and no better than bankers.

As for Madame Cristina’s June selection, $1000 invested in her tips would today earn you $150, triple the average of the stock markets where they trade. Justified or not, she says the public is leaving lenders and coming to her for financial advice.

After their spectacular failure to spot the economic crisis, banks are losing customers. Some Italians think fortune tellers couldn't do any worse and may shed some light in these difficult times.