Sunday, June 28, 2015

Greece moves to the brink as EU talks collapse

(28 June 2015)  The hang-wringing in Europe reached a fever pitch today as Greece took one very big step closer to default and possibly leaving the Eurozone.  Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras shocked the Troika (EU, ECB, IMF) on Friday by suddenly pulling out of negotiations and calling for a referendum to be held on 5th July on the final bailout offer.  He has called the offer "humiliating" and is asking his people to vote "No".  A No vote would ratchet up the pressure even more as Greece would likely have to default on its debt.  After that, any number of scenarios are possible, including the much-talked about Grexit from the Eurozone. 

It's a very fluid and confusing situation at this time (Sunday afternoon EDT) and no one really knows what will happen next.  Greek banks are closing for the week in an effort to restore calm and prevent a chaotic bank run.  For its part, the EU has said it has withdrawn its latest bailout offer so it isn't clear if the referendum will even take place since there is technically no longer an offer to vote on.

Last week, I thought there might be enough positive planetary energy in play this week to bring the parties together, at least for a few days.  For several months, I have identified June as a likely turning point in the ongoing saga between Greece and the EU.  The 120 degree Jupiter-Uranus aspect was a key influence in this respect as it normally boosts confidence and raises optimism.  The problem is the aspect was exact last Monday on 22 June -- the day when things were looking rosier for a deal to be struck.  Stocks around the world generally rose on the expectation that a default could be averted at least for a few more months. 

But that is looking less likely now.  I wasn't sure if the Jupiter-Uranus aspect would represent the peak of optimism in this matter or just get us a little closer to the turning point which looked like it might happen as late as 30 June and the Venus-Jupiter conjunction.  As I wrote last week, late June looked very significant in any event because the alignments suggested things could soon change once this Jupiter-Uranus-Venus alignment began to separate on the 1st of July. 

So what is going to happen now?  I don't know exactly how it will all play out but I am expecting any last-minute measures to ultimately fail, probably by the middle of July.  To be honest, I'm not sure there will be any last-ditch olive branches this week or not.   Whether or not the referendum actually takes place is hard to say.  I would be surprised if we got a conclusive end to the crisis this week, as the Venus-Jupiter conjunction may allow for another brief injection of optimism early in the week.  It likely won't last very long, however, as Wednesday's Mars-Rahu square aspect looks unsettling.


Financial Markets Update

US stocks moved fractionally lower last week as hopes faded for a quick resolution to the Greek crisis.  The Dow was down modestly finishing at 17,947.  Indian stocks fared better, however, as monsoon worries subsided and early gains held.  The Sensex rose 2% to 27,811.  I had been fairly upbeat in last week's market forecast given the proximity of the Jupiter-Uranus aspect although I mistakenly thought the early week could see some declines from the Mercury and Mars influences.

This week promises to be full of surprises.  Tuesday's Venus-Jupiter conjunction would appear to offer the prospect of some upside in the early week.  But once that aspect is over and done with, the downside risk increases significantly.   Mars forms a very tense-looking aspect with Rahu (North Lunar Node) on Wednesday so that is likely correlate with some selling.  It could happen quite suddenly and occur at any time this week.  As Venus moves past Jupiter and Jupiter moves past its aspect with Uranus this week, the longer term outlook becomes more shaky.  Worse still, we can see that Saturn is backing into a close 45-degree alignment with Pluto that is exact in late July.  So you have a diminishing positive energy source as Jupiter fades and a growing negative energy source as Saturn strengthens.  No wonder Carl Icahn said stocks are way overvalued and the market is ripe for a big selloff. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jupiter aligns with Uranus: a signal of change?

(21 June 2015)  Stock markets were generally higher last week as the Fed reasserted its commitment to predictable but cautious hikes in interest rates later in the year.  Despite ongoing uncertainty about what might happen in Greece, the Dow gained 1% on the week closing at 18,014.  Indian stocks were even stronger as early indications of the monsoon season looked positive.  The Sensex rose 3% before settling at 27,316. 

The outcome was not too surprising as I thought gains would be more likely in the second half of the week.  As I noted in last week's market forecast, the early part of the week saw some fallout from the Sun-Mars conjunction, although the negative sentiment only lasted for about one day.  Thursday was probably the most positive day of the week, with gains peaking a little before Friday's Moon-Venus-Jupiter alignment.

Stocks are being supported by the ongoing Jupiter-Uranus aspect.  These two bullish planets are moving quite slowly and will form an exact 120 degree angle on Monday the 22nd. Once the angle begins to move past 120 degrees, their combined influence may become a less reliable indicator of bullish sentiment.  This doesn't mean that markets are likely to decline starting on the 23rd, but it does mean that declines may become more frequent as we move further into the month of July. Given the ongoing uncertainty over Greece, it is interesting that this Jupiter-Uranus aspect should coincide at a time when the bailout expires and we could finally get a default, if not outright exit from the Eurozone. 

On one hand, the Jupiter-Uranus alignment suggests optimism and hope, even "prudent risk taking."  One would think that would be helpful for getting a deal done with Greece in the short term.  On the other hand, once this aspect begins to separate in July, the psychic terrain may become less conducive for compromise.  The possibility for financial disagreement and hardship in Greece will also rise in July given the Saturn-to-Venus square aspect in the Tsipras government swearing-in chart that I noted back in January.  Will this mean another round of painful austerity or a collapse of a deal?  It seems unlikely that the leftist Tsiprais government would ever submit to more austerity. 

Greece aside, we can see how this Jupiter-Uranus aspect may be operating in Indian markets by looking at the NSE chart.  Jupiter (26 Cancer) is in the 9th house and approaching a very nice aspect to the Ascendant at 29 Scorpio.  We can also see that Jupiter will soon align with several planets in the natal chart near 28 degrees -- Mercury (28 Virgo), Jupiter (28 Libra), Neptune (27 Sagittarius) and Uranus (29 Sagittarius).  Jupiter will reach 28 degrees of Cancer in the first week of July so that could be a pivotal week.  Once Jupiter reaches this degree, we are more likely to see weakness in the market.  Bullish Venus also conjoins Jupiter in that first week of July so that is an added reason to expect some significant developments in the markets. 

Weekly Market Forecast

More immediately, this week may again have a rocky start.  Mercury squares Neptune (confusion) on Monday and Tuesday, just at the same time that Mars aligns with Saturn (frustration).  Both look unhelpful for collective sentiment so we could see some declines in the early part of the week.  However, the late week may again see a rebound as Venus approaches its conjunction with Jupiter.   This conjunction will be exact on June 30th.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lessons of Financial Astrology: the case of Bill Gross

(14 June 2015)  Bill Gross has to be wondering about his luck these days.  The former superstar Chief Investment Officer of PIMCO had earned the nickname "The Bond King" during the past twenty years as his company became the largest bond fund in the world.  His luck started to sour in 2011 when he made a very public call to get out of all US Treasuries in anticipation of rising interest rates and greater inflation as a result of the Federal Reserve's ongoing QE policy.   This decision proved to be disastrously wrong as Treasuries rallied further and yields fell to record lows.  As a result, PIMCO returns suffered and a growing number of investors withdrew their assets.  Things got so bad that Gross was forced to leave the firm in September of last year and now manages the much smaller Janus fund. 

Gross' fortunes appeared to be improving recently with a brilliant call to short German government bonds (Bunds).  At the time, 10-year Bunds were yielding just 0.10% and most analysts were suggesting they were quickly headed for negative yield territory as several other European sovereign bonds had already done.  On April 21st, Gross said that Bunds were the "short of a lifetime" and predicted that yields would begin to rise very soon.  Sure enough, they did start to rise within days of his call and began a shocking rise back to 1.0% after only a few weeks.  

Unfortunately, Gross' gutsy call did not translate into gains for his fund and his investors.  As he put it, the call was "well-timed, but poorly executed."  The problem was that he did not expect rates to rise so quickly in a straight line and therefore his short positions were too conservative and targeted a more range-bound trade. It was a bittersweet turn of events to be proven right but to not be able to capitalize on his assessment.

His horoscope (born April 13 1944, time unknown, Middletown, OH) reflects this very mixed picture.  While we do not know his time of birth, we can still offer some general observations about his chart that showed both sides of this situation.  At the time of his public prediction, Jupiter had just completed its retrograde station at 18 Cancer as was in a square alignment with Mercury (19 Aries).  Jupiter symbolizes wisdom and "right thoughts" and Mercury represents intellect and speech.  Mercury-Jupiter combinations are classic indications of intelligence and insightful thinking.   This alignment was punctuated by Mercury (19 Aries) and Mars (21 Aries) which were both conjunct his natal Mercury at the time.  While Jupiter was not forming a traditional trine aspect to Mercury, the alignment was made more significant because the recent station was so close to the degree of his Mercury. 

At the same time, however, the Moon's Nodes, Rahu and Ketu, were positioned in a more difficult place in his chart.  Ketu (South Node) was just 5 degrees from his Venus.  Ketu is considered a more spiritual planet that has an anti-materialist influence.  Since Venus is a planet that represents money, among other things, the wide conjunction of Ketu to Venus was inimical to material gains.  The other potentially negative influence here is that Rahu and Ketu were at 15 degrees of their respective signs and thus formed an exact square alignment to Mars (15 Gemini).  Moreover, the nodes had stationed at 15 Virgo/Pisces for several weeks, and thus their impact of Mars would be that much greater.  Both Mars and the nodes are considered naturally malefic planets so this combination loaded the cosmic dice against Mr Gross. 

To be sure, there are many other astrological layers to this story, but just on the level of transits alone and an untimed chart, we can see how  this situation may be evolved.  Jupiter's station aligning with Mercury was a key reason why we may have got the call right on the direction of German bond interest rates.  The Jupiter-Mercury alignment likely also reflected the public approval he enjoyed from getting it right.  But Venus was not similarly supported by a positive planet, and instead was conjunct Ketu, an often negative influence in money matters.  The Mars affliction likely reflected his frustration in the matter and was also not conducive to profit.

There are a couple of takeaways here.  One is that profitable investing usually requires good planetary alignments at the time when the gain is realized, i.e. when the stock or asset is sold.  Bill Gross had a very nice Jupiter alignment in April but it was fading in May as Jupiter began to move forward again.  The other thing to remember is that bad transits involving malefics (usually Mars Saturn, Rahu, Ketu) will often trump transits of good planets like Jupiter or Venus.  At very least, they will introduce some unwanted or unhelpful dimension to the event and often they can completely determine the overall outcome.  While these transits alone do not tell the whole story behind Bill Gross' inability to trade profitably in April and May, they offer useful clues on why he was unable to translate knowledge into profits..

Weekly Financial Update

Stocks were mixed last week as uncertainty over Greece weighed on sentiment.  The US and Europe were modestly higher in the week although India moved lower on interest rate concerns.  In last week's financial forecast, I thought that the planets offered some prospect for gains given the Sun-Jupiter and Moon-Uranus alignments.  

This week could see some moves in both directions.  The early week is dominated by the Sun-Mars conjunction which looks somewhat bearish.  This is especially the case given where it falls on the horoscope of the German DAX index, as it creates a square alignment with the natal Mars.  Word is out now (Sunday night, ET) that the latest round of Greek negotiations have failed so it would not be surprising to see European stocks fall early.  One would think US markets would likely follow suit.  The late week looks somewhat better, however, as the Moon aligns with Venus and Jupiter in Cancer on Friday.  If we do get some declines in the first half, I suspect there could be a rebound afterwards. 

The other point that deserves reiteration is that the Jupiter-Uranus aspect is very close to exact now and it happens to align nicely with the Ascendant of the DAX chart.  That seems like it should equate to some significant optimism later in June.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Storm clouds ahead for the Fed?

(7 June 2015) It's a difficult road these days for Janet Yellen and her team at the US Federal Reserve.  Seven years after the 2008 economic meltdown and the beginning of its unprecedented policy of zero interest rates and then quantitative easing (QE), the US economy is still shaky.  Some economic indicators like unemployment look pretty good (5.5%) but we're a long way from where we were before the Great Recession.  GDP is struggling at 2% per year, wages haven't recovered, housing is still down, and economic inequality is greater than it ever was. Economic insecurity appears to be at an all-time high as more people are either on food stamps or living paycheck-to-paycheck.

The problem for Yellen and her colleagues is that they desperately want to claim victory over this recession and "normalize" interest rates, if for no other reason than to have some breathing room in the case the economy tanks again and they have to cut rates again.  But many economists fear that a rate hike now will stifle this fledgling recovery and cause a huge market sell-off which could have major consequences for the financial sector (e.g. pension funds).   In this sense, some analysts are suggesting that the Fed is essentially trapped in its current policy -- unable to normalize rates because of its effect on the stock market and unable to lower them any further because they are already at zero. QE4 anyone?

I raise this question of the precarious position of the Fed  because its horoscope is going to become very active quite soon.  And when the Fed's horoscope looks "active" that means it usually has to act fast in order to deal with some kind of economic crisis.  Economic crises are usually bad for the stock market.

A quick look at the Fed's chart and we can see that in late July, Uranus will station retrograde at 26 Pisces.  This will form a close square aspect with the natal Mars at 26 Gemini. The Mars placement is doubly sensitive since it is just one degree away from the Ascendant at 25 Gemini.  This aspect usually coincides with highly stressful and unpleasant situations.  The Uranus station is extra-powerful because it marks a time when Uranus will appear to be stationary in the sky, thus extending the length of time of its aspect for several weeks. 

As an added factor, Mars will conjoin its natal position just one day before Uranus makes its station.  This extra Mars layer boosts both the overall probability of a crisis-type event as well as its severity.  These interlocking alignments will take place on July 25-26th. 

By way of comparison, we can see that Mars and Uranus were also prominent in September 2008 when the Fed allowed Lehman Brothers to fail as it went bankrupt.  Uranus was almost exactly 30 degrees away at 26 Aquarius thus aspecting that natal Mars-Ascendant by trine aspect.  Mars was square the Mars-Ascendant at 23 Virgo, in close conjunction with Mercury and Venus.  Other factors ramped up the intensity of this time period too as Rahu was conjunct the 8th house cusp at 24 Capricorn and therefore also formed a quincunx alignment with the Mars-Ascendant pairing.   While the Uranus trine aspect is likely not as potent as its square aspect, Rahu's simultaneous aspect here likely made this pattern worse. 

If the 2008 meltdown was an 8.0 on the economic Richter scale in terms of its destructive capacity, this late July alignment looks less difficult.  Perhaps more like a 6.0.  Like an earthquake of that size, there will likely be some damage, but maybe not as devastating.  But it should be big enough to cause a significant rise in anxiety in financial markets.

Weekly Financial Forecast

Stocks generally declined last week as worries over Greece continued.  In New York, stocks suffered a modest 1% decline with the Dow finishing at 17,849.  India's Sensex fell harder as concerns over the monsoon and a possible delayed rate hike dampened sentiment.  The Sensex declined 3% to 26,768.   I had leaned bearish in last week's stock market forecast as Saturn alignments were somewhat more prominent.
This week looks more positive as the Sun and Mars align with Jupiter.  This alignment is closest in the first half of the week.  Thursday's Moon-Uranus conjunction also seems quite bullish.  Jupiter will aspect them both as it is now just two degrees away from its exact 120 degree aspect with Uranus.  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Is this the endgame for Greece?

(31 May 2015) After suffering through five years of a seemingly endless cycle of financial panics, ultimatums and bailouts, it seems we are now in the final act of the Greek debt crisis.  Last ditch negotiations continued through the weekend before Greece has to make a major debt repayment on 5 June.  The fun may only be starting as its current bailout package will expire on 30 June.  Greece has been financially insolvent since 2010 and has required several bailout packages provided by the EU, ECB and IMF. 

But is this really the end?  Another bailout package is possible which would essentially kick the can down the road for another year or two as Greece tries to lift its moribund economy out of its depression.  But if the EU decides that enough is enough, then Greece would default on its debt.  The problem is that it isn't clear what would happen next.  Would Greece voluntarily leave the Eurozone, or would it be asked to leave? Or could a defaulted and bankrupt Greece somehow stay in the Eurozone? 

The current situation is an apt reflection of the astrological influences on the swearing-in horoscope of the new Tspiras government.  As I predicted back in January when the government took office, I thought the June to August period would be difficult for Tsipras and the Greek government and that economic hardship would likely intensify due to the close Saturn transit to the Moon and Venus.  I thought that the patience of the Germans and the EU could finally run out and that another bailout package may not be forthcoming.  I was unsure if an outright default could occur this year or whether some of the alignments in 2016 might better symbolize a full-blown default and exit from the Eurozone.  The 2016 chart looked worse so I wondered if that might signal that the Tsipras government itself might fall at that time.

Now that we have moved that much closer to the alignments in question, we may offer a few more observations about might happen here.  The Jupiter-Uranus aspect is still quite helpful for this Greek government chart so I would not expect any kind of worst case scenarios to occur in June.  A quick default or "Grexit" seems unlikely as long as the protective affects of Jupiter-Uranus aspect and the Jupiter-Jupiter conjunction are in place. 

However, the transit of retrograde Mercury this week looks difficult for this chart as it aligns with natal Saturn and Neptune.  This is definitely not what one would expect if a major deal with the EU were reached.  Some kind of deal has to be reached by Friday 5 June, but the planets are suggesting that it won't be smooth sailing.  An alternative interpretation might be that the short term payment is somehow made (or deferred) by Friday but the larger debt problem will remain a heavy burden on the Tsipras government.

Things could get more interesting after 22 June as the Jupiter-Uranus aspect begins to separate.  As the supportive influence of Jupiter wanes, we see that the Saturn aspect to the Moon and Venus will move that much closer.  The tension and sense of burden and suffering will likely be quite strong at least until the Saturn station on 2 August.  In addition, transiting Ketu will form a trine aspect with natal Saturn through much of July.  Ketu aspects are often harbingers of change and disruption.  And we are currently in the Ketu-Mars dasha period in this chart.  That's not the greatest pairing to be sure.  But after 29 July, Ketu-Rahu begins.  That is usually a worse dasha period and may signal a deepening of the financial crisis for Greece.  This period will last until August 2016. 

So will see see a default by July?  It's possible. It's difficult for me to infer exactly what kind kind of manifestations we can expect from these Saturn and Ketu afflictions.  Certainly, there is a worsening of the government's position with these transits.  And it seems quite likely that the economy will also get worse.  Of course, this needn't be the result of a default or exit from the Eurozone.  But given the gravity of the current situation, those kinds of scenarios are looking a bit more likely during the summer. 

Weekly Financial Update

Stocks were generally lower last week as investors contemplated the possibility that a deal might not get done between Greece and the EU.  The Dow lost about 1% closing at 18,010 while the Sensex slipped about 100 points to 27,828.  This decline was in keeping with last week's stock market forecast as I thought the midweek Mercury-Mars conjunction would likely produce a negative result overall.  Somewhat paradoxically, stocks actually rose on Wednesday -- the day of the exact conjunction.  The declines were spread throughout the week due to the wider alignment with North Node Rahu and Neptune. 
While this week lacks any clearly negative alignments, I'm not convinced we will get much upside despite Jupiter's ongoing supportive influence.  Tuesday's Full Moon looks problematic due to the close proximity of Mars to the Sun.  And with Venus aligning with Saturn on Friday, we are likely to see some additional downside here.  While stocks may have their share of gains this week, they seem less likely to hold by the end of the week. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Jupiter continues to underwrite stock markets

(25 May 2015)  Stocks remained fairly strong last week as the release of the minutes of the latest Fed meeting suggested an early rate hike was very unlikely.  Markets love zero interest rates of course (literally, free money) as investors chase yield in riskier assets like equities since safe assets like cash and bonds offer very little return.   US stocks were actually mostly unchanged on the week as the Dow closed at 18,232, just a stone's throw away from its all-time high.  Indian stocks were more positive as foreign institutional buying picked up as the Sensex gained 2% closing at 27,957. 

I thought we might have got more downside on the Saturn alignments on Monday and Friday but only Friday was mildly negative.  The midweek gains more or less coincided with the positive Venus-Mercury alignment. 

Stock markets around the world are still very much in rally mode these days as central banks continue their unprecedented attempts to kick start the largely stagnant global economy through the experimental program known as quantitative easing.  As long as the Fed, the ECB and all the other central banks are determined to print money through these asset buying QE programs, some people believe that stocks could continue to rise indefinitely.  I don't think this is possible in any event as the growing worldwide debt burden will eventually have to collapse.   Moreover, my understanding of the key astrological influences at work suggest some significant problems ahead. 

For the moment, collective sentiment appears to be supported by the condition of the planet Jupiter.  Jupiter is the bullish planet par excellence and it is still exalted here in sidereal Cancer.  When a planet transits through its sign of exaltation it is said to be able to better express its more positive qualities.  After transiting through Cancer for the past year or so, Jupiter will finally leave Cancer and enter the sign of Leo in mid-July.  I don't think this Jupiter exaltation is the primary reason for the current market rally but it is a noteworthy secondary reason nonetheless. 

Another factor at work is that Jupiter (22 Cancer) has aligned with Pluto (21 Sagittarius) in May.   Jupiter aspects with other slow moving planets like Pluto are often moments where optimism is on the rise.  The other more important influence here is that Jupiter is still applying to its 120-degree trine aspect with Uranus on June 22nd. 

Jupiter-Uranus aspects are usually reliable indications of rising stock markets.  There are exceptions, of course, as with all planetary alignments.  One notable exception was that the 1987 crash occurred just a week before an exact Jupiter-Uranus aspect.  The Jupiter influence there may have acted as an amplifier for more dominant negative conditions such as the Uranus ingress into sidereal Sagittarius one day before the crash, the conjunction of Mars with Ketu (South Lunar Node) and the proximity of Saturn to the Uranus node, among others.

Generally, however, Jupiter-Uranus aspects mark time periods when optimism is growing and prices are rising.  These time periods typically last for a few weeks before the aspect is exact.  If one or more of the planets is retrograde or stationary, then that can lengthen the time period when these bullish influences can manifest as happened in 2010. 

Things can change once the Jupiter aspect is past exact and optimism fades.  The presence of any offsetting bearish Saturn aspects are other parts to the cosmic equation, of course.  We are due to have several Saturn aspects in the next several months as Saturn aligns with Pluto (June), Jupiter (July-August) and then Rahu (North Lunar Node)(September).  With Saturn on the rise and Jupiter due to recede into the background a bit, there is good reason to be very cautious about the future of the stock market.

More immediately, this week looks worse than last week in terms of planetary influences.  The main aspect in play is the Mercury-Mars conjunction on Wednesday at 16 Taurus.  Mars aspects are often negative, and this one looks a bit worse given the larger alignment with Rahu (14 Virgo) and Neptune (15 Aquarius).    This clustering of planets at the middle degrees of their respective signs increases the likelihood of some significant declines during the week.  Jupiter will likely be there offering some support, but these short term aspects look troublesome. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

What do the stars predict for stocks over the next year?

(17 May 2015)  The New York Stock Exchange is 223 years old today.  On May 17, 1792, near the corner of Broad and Wall Streets in lower Manhattan, the first regulated trading of stocks and bonds took place.  The auspiciousness of the planets on that date would foretell the NYSE becoming the largest and most well-known stock exchange in the world. 

As a time-based science, astrology takes special notice of birthdays.  Each birthday marks the return of the Sun to its place at the time of birth. The resulting Solar Return (or Varshphal) chart can provide hints of what will happen in the year to come.  When benefic planets like Venus or Jupiter are prominent in the Solar Return chart, positive outcomes are more likely.  Conversely, a birthday that falls at a time when malefics like Saturn or Mars are prominent will tend to indicate a year of difficulties and challenges. 

This year's Solar Return chart for the NYSE is very mixed.  On one hand, there is a nice conjunction of the Moon with Venus opposite Pluto which also aligns with Jupiter in a lesser aspect.  This is a generally positive pattern that suggests that stocks may enjoy significant gains between now and May 2016.  On the other hand, Rahu forms an aspect with Mercury and Mars.  This is unhelpful for sentiment generally as suggests instability.  Even worse, there is a very close opposition aspect from Saturn to the Sun which is extremely negative.  Saturn is the most bearish planet for the stock market and its hard aspects (0/90/180 degrees) are usually the most difficult.  It is hard to see how stocks can move higher over the next 12 months with this close opposition aspect. 

We can see how previous hard aspects of Saturn to the Sun have corresponded with significant declines.  Saturn takes about 29 years to make a full revolution through the zodiac.  Therefore, it takes about 7-7.5 years to move through a 90-degree arc.  The last major Saturn-Sun hard aspect occurred in 2008 when global markets plunged during the Great Recession.  Saturn (8 Leo) squared the Sun (6 Taurus) within just two degrees.  Even though this was not a full-strength Vedic aspect, it was close enough that it likely was a major reason why the markets declined 35% from May 2008 to May 2009.  

Interestingly, the previous hard Saturn aspect to the Sun before that occurred in 2001.  The conjunction was almost four degrees from exact but it will still quite close.  The Dow Jones Industrial average lost 16% from May 2001 to May 2002.    There may well have been other negative factors in the Solar Return to account for this decline but I suspect that the Saturn-Sun conjunction was still key. 

The bottom line here is that Saturn-Sun aspects that occur near the Solar Return chart on May 17th (or rather the 21st thanks to the precession of the equinoxes) will tend to have a depressing effect on the stock market.  While it is only one factor, I would think that it could well outweigh other positive factors in the chart.  This is another indication that stocks are likely to suffer a decline over the coming 12 months. 

Weekly Financial Forecast

Stocks ended modestly higher for the most part last week on news that China cut interest rates again and would likely begin its own QE program to boost its economy.  The Dow gained a half of one percent finishing at 18,272 while the Indian Sensex added one percent to 27,324.  I thought we might have seen more downside on the late week Mars-Saturn aspect but stocks were actually fairly strong on Friday.  Tuesday was more negative as expected, however, and that correlated closely with the entry of Mars into tropical Gemini.

This week has some significant Saturn action as Monday's sees the Moon align with Mars opposite Saturn.   Generally, that should be a signal for caution.  Friday's Sun-Saturn opposition aspect is also problematic as confidence is often in short supply.  In between, we could see some gains as Mercury aligns with Venus.