Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Trump's trial by Saturn: Flynn resigns from WH post

(14 February 2017) The Trump presidency is still less than a month old and there are growing signs of chaos and conflict within the administration.  Yesterday, national security advisor Michael Flynn  resigned amid suspicion that he was vulnerable to Russian blackmail after discussing the lifting sanctions before he had been sworn-in and lying about it to VP Mike Pence.  And President Trump's travel ban remains in limbo awaiting further judicial clarification.  Meanwhile, a chaotic picture of insider leaks, backbiting and factional conflict within the White House is emerging. 

While much of the his ad hoc shock-and-awe governing style may be welcomed by supporters, there is a sense that all is not quite right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Polls shows Donald Trump is less popular than he was on Election Day while 40% of the country want to see him impeached already.   Some of this is due to growing pains, perhaps not unexpectedly given that Trump and his inner circle have no experience in government and are trying to implement historic changes in DC.   Creating chaos may not even a bad thing for Trump, Bannon et al., as it keeps the establishment off balance and guessing as to their next move.  With so many storylines injected into the news cycle every day, Trump can evade closer scrutiny, especially since the media has been given reduced access to the administration.

But my understanding of these chaotic early weeks for President Trump is informed more by some difficult astrological alignments.  It's impossible to say if things are unfolding as Trump would like them but the planets are suggesting that life in the Oval Office is proving more difficult than a reality TV show.   Judging from his impulsive Mars-dominated personal style, he may not be thinking too far ahead.   I suspect his improvisational approach to problem-solving is leading him into more than a few blind alleys due to the twin afflictions of Saturn and Rahu, the North Lunar Node.

I've already discussed the upcoming Saturn retrograde station in early April which aligns exactly with his natal Mars.   This is not a full-strength aspect so there is some possible room for him to maneuver to avoid its full impact.  But Saturn-Mars alignments are usually not very good and this one is likely to give Trump some additional headaches as his initiatives and goals will be blocked or will fail to achieve their desired ends. 

The other problem for Trump is that transiting Rahu (9 Leo) is moving closer to his Ascendant at 6 Leo.  This is usually not the kind of transit a new president would want as it is associated with chaotic change and disruption.  The President will likely feel the disruptive and sudden effects of this transit when it is triggered by fast-moving planets that align with the Ascendant.  This occurs this week as the Sun opposes Rahu and conjoins Ketu.  The Sun represents authority and ego so we should expect Trump's air of authority to take a hit in the coming days.   The resignation of Michael Flynn yesterday already coincided with the Sun opposite Mars within just two degrees  As the Sun now moves on to oppose the Ascendant through Friday, we can expect Trump to stay on the defensive.  As I previously noted, Jupiter is a less reliable source of successful results for Trump now that it is retrograde (since Feb 6) and moving away from its aspect with his Sun. 

But Trump's problems are likely to worsen on the weekend and into next week as Mars opposes his Jupiter and in so doing also aspects the USA Sun and Saturn.  This is a very difficult alignment for government.  Disputes and conflict are likely to be ratcheted up significantly during those days (Feb 18-23).    Remember that Jupiter is President Trump's current dasha lord so those Mars aspects to Jupiter are more likely to cause problems for him.   This could take the form of a new scandal that focuses on legal and ethical questions (Jupiter). 

The Trump administration may become even more besieged and embattled in March as Mars aligns with Rahu, the North Lunar Node.  This will highlight the approaching Saturn-Mars alignment in Trump's personal horoscope and it will also activate both the Ascendant and natal Rahu in the USA national chart.  Rahu is dasha lord in the USA chart so any afflictions to Rahu are more likely to coincide with significant events.  In this case, scandal and secrets are more likely to be in focus since the USA's Rahu is placed in the 8th house. 

So while we can see that Trump's approval ratings are likely to continue to fall for the next several weeks, it is unclear what the long term effects may be.   Trump's chart shows several times of turbulence and distress over the next four years.  The September-November 2018 period looks especially difficult as transiting Rahu is conjunct the 12th house cusp and Jupiter sits on the malefic 4th house cusp symbolizing "the end of the matter".   Transiting Mars is also opposite his Mars.  While one could construct a case that Trump will resign during this alignment, a most logical and likely reading of those influences would be a GOP loss of control of the Senate and/or the House due to public dissatisfaction with his administration.   That's not really a stunning prediction in any event as many administrations suffer defeats in the midterm elections.  But Trump's chart looks especially negative so the losses may be more damaging -- quite possibly the loss of both Houses of Congress.

And I still think that 2019 will be the time of the most intense difficulty for Trump.  He could be fighting for his political life at that time as Rahu transits through his 12th house and conjoins both Venus and Saturn.   It is certain to be a very tough time for him.  And this happens just as both Saturn and Rahu are in aspect with the USA's Sun.   The Sun represents government and specifically the President, so that double affliction spells very bad news for Trump in 2019. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks generally held their own last week.  The up trend has continued so far early this week as the Dow is still trading above 20,000.  India's Sensex is almost as strong and remains well above 28,000 at the end of Tuesday's trading.  This mostly positive outcome is not unexpected as I noted in last week's forecast that the ongoing influence of the Jupiter-Uranus alignment would act as a support for stocks and some commodities as well.  Gold and oil are also trading near multi-month highs after the recent pullback in the US Dollar. 

This week could see some declines starting as early as Wednesday on the Mercury-Mars alignment.  While some downside looks quite likely here, the declines do not look big enough to change the basically positive outlook in February.  Buying may well resume early next week as the Sun conjoins Ketu, the South Lunar Node, and Mercury aligns with Jupiter.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Monday, February 6, 2017

US checks and balances stifle Trump; courts block travel ban

(6 February 2017) After giving up the freewheeling celebrity lifestyle of a billionaire businessman, Donald Trump is facing a more constrained range of action in his new job as president.   His controversial travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim nations has been put on hold by a Washington state judge who declared Trump's executive order did not adhere to the principles of the Constitution.

However deep his authoritarianian impulses may run (thanks to his angular Mars), Trump must now learn to work within the US political system with its elaborate system of checks and balances.  The US Constitution was written specifically to prevent a dictatorship as power is divided between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.  The Trump administration has appealed the stay of the judge but it is unclear when the case will finally be settled.  Many observers now think it could go up to the Supreme Court within weeks, if not days, in order to produce clarity on the matter.

Aside from the very predictable uphill (read: Saturnian) battles Trump is facing here, it is worthwhile to examine Trump's potential relationship with the courts from an astrological perspective. Can the courts keep the racist extremes of his "America First" agenda in check over the course of his four-year term?  More specifically, will Trump's executive order eventually be upheld by the split Supreme Court or will the ninth pro-Trump judge have to be appointed first?  I'm not sure astrology can answer all of these questions but some insights are still possible.

Using the horoscope of the US Supreme Court (i.e. "SCOTUS") dated September 24, 1789, we can see that there is a significant potential for conflict and disputes with Trump.  The overlay of the two charts shows that Trump's Sun (29 Taurus) and Moon (28 Scorpio) are closely squared by the SCOTUS Saturn (28 Aquarius).  Since Saturn represents tradition and accepted norms and precedents, this tense aspect with Saturn strongly hints that Trump's wishes and actions are more likely to be thwarted by the judiciary.  The courts will therefore more likely act as a brake on his executive excesses.  As a rule, we would expect more supportive court rulings for Trump only if there were several aspects involving benefics like Jupiter, Venus and Mercury to his natal planets. 

But this isn't the case.  In fact, there are a few close aspects involving malefics that indicate to me that Trump will more often have an adversarial relationship with the courts throughout his administration.  This is perhaps to be expected given Trump's desire to break with the status quo and change the system, but the planets do paint a picture of opposition and conflict.  The SCOTUS Mars (3 Cancer) is conjunct Trump's Venus-Saturn conjunction in the 12th house of loss and secrets.  This may be interpreted a few different ways but I would say: 1) it suggests the courts will act in opposition to Trump's goals and 2) there could be many landmark and historic interactions with the courts over the next four or eight years.   In other words, this Muslim travel ban is only the beginning of what should be a tense relationship with the judiciary.

We can also see that the SCOTUS Mercury-Neptune conjunction (0 Libra) is tightly square Trump's Saturn (0 Cancer).  The Mercury-Neptune conjunction may symbolize the abstract ideals of justice in the US system and they will likely be inimical to Trump's plans (Saturn).   Yes, the Mercury-Neptune does align more positively with Trump's Sun-Rahu conjunction but I don't see this as helping Trump's legal outcomes too much since Rahu is an unreliable source of benefits.  It may mean that Trump will try to disrupt and fundamentally change (Rahu) the court system, but the weight of the other aspects suggest it will be an unsuccessful struggle for him. 

It's not all bad news for Trump, however, as the court's Jupiter is close to his Mars and Ascendant.  This should give him some benefits and victories along the way.  He may well eventually get his appointee Neil Gorsuch installed on the bench, for example.  And the SCOTUS Venus (12 Libra) is also nicely placed in Trump's chart in the 3rd house which could give Trump some useful advantages when discussing or communicating legal affairs with the American people.  The 3rd house rules communication. 

As for the travel ban, we could see a period of uncertainty last well into March and April.  I have previously noted how the Saturn retrograde station at 3 Sagittarius in early April will impact President Trump's chart given the exact 120 degree alignment.   Saturn-Mars alignments suggest stress, intense efforts, and usually more than a little frustration.  Interestingly, this Saturn station will also be prominent in the SCOTUS chart as it forms a 210 degree ("quincunx") angle with the natal Mars at 3 Cancer.   The station occurs on April 6th so it is tempting to think that this judicial process may remain unsettled until at least that date.  Since Trump's chart looks difficult, I tend to think the travel ban will be struck down.  From the SCOTUS chart, it is harder to get a clearly confirmatory picture, however.  The April Saturn station may also refer to troubles arising from the Gorsuch hearings. 

Previous landmark cases often occur when important planets in the SCOTUS chart come under heavy affliction.  This was very much the case, for example,  in Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion on January 22, 1973.  Saturn and Mars both aligned with the Moon (intense emotions) in this chart and transiting Pluto was exactly conjunct the Sun (power brought to bear on a situation).  Uranus was also conjunct the Mercury-Neptune conjunction indicating major and sudden changes.  The planetary afflictions reflect the intensity of feelings and political interests in the case which was controversial at the time and quite divisive.  It still is a sore point for many conservatives who are seeking to overturn it, possibly after the Trump administration appoints more pro-life judges to the court in the years to come. 

And we have some similar afflictions now in the SCOTUS chart.  Besides the near-exact Saturn-Mars alignment in March and April, we will see a close opposition aspect of Uranus to the Mercury-Neptune conjunction.  Uranus is a planet of independence and change so we could see the Supreme Court acting in an unexpected way.  A sense of rebelliousness and surprise is even more likely since it is the opposition aspect rather than the conjunction.  Depending on how the case evolves, this could be interpreted either way.  However, the independent quality in this transit makes me wonder if the court will manage to avoid following the administration's lead in this case and rule against the travel ban.  If on the other hand, the travel ban is resolved more quickly in February, then those tense April alignments would more likely refer to the Gorsuch hearings.  The stressful nature of the alignments suggest that confirmation is unlikely, or perhaps only after an unusually long delay. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks remain quite strong after the Fed issued a fairly dovish statement last week and Friday's US jobs report beat expectations.  While we did see some early week declines on the Moon-Mars conjunction, stocks rallied after that as Mercury aligned with Jupiter.  US stocks were down only fractionally.  As I suggested in last week's market forecast, Indian stocks rose following last Wednesday's budget release. Gold also rallied as the Dollar weakened on a reduced likelihood of aggressive Fed rate hikes this year.

This week is a mixed bag.  Jupiter's retrograde station on Monday has had a hand at boosting some stocks and commodities thus far.  However, I would think some midweek declines are more likely.  The late week looks bullish again as the Sun is aspected by Jupiter.  Taking a somewhat longer view, I would expect some positive outcomes for stocks in February as Jupiter approaches its alignment with Uranus later this month.   This Jupiter-Uranus alignment should have a protective effect on stocks and further gains are quite possible.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump's Muslim travel ban creates chaos and outrage

(30 January 2017) So it turns out that Donald Trump should be taken both seriously and literally.  As America's experiment with authoritarian populism entered just its second week, President Trump has sparked outrage and confusion with an executive order banning refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Trump campaigned on getting tough on terrorism and radical Islamists and he is following through on that promise regardless of consequences.  The new order was quickly stayed by Federal judges on constitutional grounds so it remains to be seen how this partial Muslim travel ban will play out. 

Certainly, it has added to chorus of anger and protest that has followed Trump since the election.  Emotions have become so inflamed that opponents of Trump now speak about organized resistance to his whole administration rather than merely single issue protests.  It is shaping up to be a long and loud four years as Trump tries to completely remake the US in the face of popular and institutional opposition.  Depending on one's point of view, this is either the thin edge of the fascist wedge or merely a necessary period of disruption as the post-war outward-looking Pax Americana is dismantled in favour of an inward "America First" stance. 

The protest, anger and conflict fit neatly with the ongoing Saturn aspect to Mars in the natal USA horoscope.  As I noted previously, the Saturn influence on Mars began in December and will continue for most of 2017.  Saturn's retrograde period from April to August will therefore serve to extend this difficult aspect for an unusually long time.  In other words, it means that the Trump administration will continue its controversial policies for the foreseeable future and they will fan the flames of protest for the rest of the year.  Well, I guess we didn't need astrology to know that.  And yet the ongoing affliction of Mars does symbolize the animosity towards Trump in stark terms. It also increases the likelihood of conflict overseas involving the US.   I will try to offer more specifics on that latter question in the near future.

Additionally, we can see that transiting Rahu (9 Leo) exactly aspects the Ascendant of the USA chart.  Rahu (North Lunar Node) is said to be associated with foreigners and marginalized populations so it is quite appropriate that this aspect should be active at this time.  The 9th house symbolizes long distance travel and foreign places so that also dovetails with the particulars of this executive order which targets Muslims. 

Mars (5 Pisces) is just now beginning to square all of the USA planets in Gemini so that speaks to a period of intensifying discord and anger in the country.  This more intense Mars transit period could extend into the first week of March when Mars squares the USA's Mercury at 3 Cancer. 

As I noted previously, Donald Trump's first weeks as president were quite likely to be marked by stress and difficulty due to the placement of Saturn.  Saturn is approaching its retrograde station in early April at 3 Sagittarius.  At that point, it will form an exact 120 degree angle with Trump's natal Mars at 3 Leo.   I would expect Trump's problems to continue to undermine his presidency into that date and probably beyond.  And again, the Saturn retrograde station will hit Vladimir Putin's chart exactly in the form of a conjunction with Mars so there is some increased possibility that their fates may be intertwined in some way at this time.

More immediately, Trump may come under severe stress during an upcoming transit window of Mars.  Starting near February 18th, Mars will closely oppose his Jupiter.  Since Jupiter is linked to prudence and "right action",  the Mars influence can indicate a tendency to make errors or to be seen to be making errors of moral judgment.  The logical corollary there would be some kind of potential scandal, as if Trump hasn't got enough of those already.  Mars-Jupiter aspects can also be related to money and expenditure issues so one possible manifestation of the transit may be that Trump has to face up to conflict of interest questions regarding his business holdings. The Mars-Jupiter opposition is probably doubly important here since Trump is running his Jupiter-Jupiter dasha period.  This intense transit period will likely continue as Mars enters Aries and thereby opposes his Saturn and Venus near March 5th.  Therefore, we should see the Feb 18 - Mar 5 window as one where Trump is especially vulnerable to significant setbacks in his agenda and the credibility of his presidency.

And we should not forget that Jupiter is due to turn retrograde on February 6th.  As dasha lord, Jupiter's backwards motion from February to June could be another signal that Trump may be less successful in implementing his agenda.  I do not subscribe to the belief that retrograde planets are inherently negative, but I think you can make the case that they do open up an additional vulnerability for planets when they come under transit affliction.  That is the case here with the Mars transit in the second half of February.  Remember, too, that once Jupiter begins to move backwards, it will separate from its exact 120 degree aspect with Trump's Sun (authority, leadership, confidence).  I would think that Trump's legitimacy as president will come under increased scrutiny after February 6th as the boost previously provided by Jupiter will diminish. 

The bottom line here is that President Trump is entering a very difficult period that will likely last into April at least.  I think he will survive it, but he will likely be further damaged politically by some of these transits.   As Saturn aligns with Rahu (North Node) in late May and June, we could see a new flare-up of conflict and protest as the USA's Mars will be activated once again.  This pattern also looks quite potent and opens the door to violence and military action.  More details on that front when I have a better idea about it.

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks have been holding up well recently.  The Dow pushed above 20,000 last week on optimism that the new administration would cut taxes and boost spending.  I would have thought that we might have seen more selling pressure last week given the entry of Saturn into sidereal Sagittarius, however.  Stocks are moving lower today in the wake of the controversial Trump Muslim travel ban so that may speak to the growing Saturn influence.   Indian stocks rose sharply last week in the run-up to this Wednesday's Budget. 

This week looks more bearish for stocks.  On Tuesday, the Moon conjoins Mars and Venus so we could see another down day, especially in US and European markets.  The midweek Mercury-Jupiter alignment may be more bullish, however.  Indian shares look somewhat more positive this week and I would think a positive reaction to the Budget is likely on Wednesday and even Thursday given the Mercury influence.  The late week is more of a question mark, however, especially on Friday's Mercury-Saturn alignment.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Trump Inauguration Horoscope: more like Reagan... or Nixon?

(17 January 2017) The day is finally upon us.  On Friday, Donald Trump will be sworn-in as the 45th President of the United States.  The outspoken businessman and reality TV star will takeover as commander-in-chief and begin to undo not only the legacy of Barack Obama but much of the post-war global consensus.  It is a potential sea change in world affairs that cannot be underestimated in its historic magnitude. 

But how successful will Trump be in realizing his nationalist vision by reshaping the economic and political landscape?  There is no shortage of anxiety surrounding Trump who is threatening to end free trade and globalization and usher in a new period of protectionism.  Economists fear that Trump's policies may boost economic activity in the US in the short term, but may prove more damaging in the longer term as inefficiencies take hold and global trade declines. 

There are different ways to analyze this question.  The easiest is to look at the horoscope of the swearing-in at noon, January 20th in Washington, DC.   The inauguration chart doesn't supersede other charts such as the USA national chart or Trump's individual chart, but it can provide a quick snapshot of Trump's term in office in the White House.

Donald Trump will be inaugurated at a time when the planets are very unsettled.  Specifically, Saturn will be in a gandanta state on Friday. A condition of gandanta occurs when a planet is near the junction of a water and fire sign and is said to represent an unresolved karmic knot.  Saturn is in the last degree of watery Scorpio and is due to enter fiery Sagittarius just a few days later on January 25th according to the Krishnamurti ayanamsha.  This makes Saturn's energy more unstable and therefore may indicate suffering from disruptions in the upcoming administration.  A gandanta Saturn is less reliable to deliver its symbolic portfolio of stability, traditions, and order.

Of course, Trump seeks disruption of the status quo in his efforts to remake the US into a more isolationist nation in a multi-polar world.  In that sense, the gandanta designation may actually be appropriate for the goals of the Trump administration in its efforts to bring about thoroughgoing change.  ("I love gandanta.  We are going to have tremendous gandanta, folks!")  It should be noted, however, that gandanta planets have a malefic reputation as the changes they bring usually involve difficulty and hardship. 

We should also note that Mars, the planet of conflict and violence, is also prominent in the first degree of Pisces on Friday.  This newly-minted Piscean Mars is also unstable since it is in the first degree of its sign.  Having both malefics, Saturn and Mars, is less-than-stable conditions therefore casts a shadow over the inauguration horoscope.  Both planets will therefore be more powerful and more likely to do ill.  Symbolically, this Mars may mean an increase in conflict and disputes while the Saturn indicates the assertion of limits and a loss of freedom and as well as an increase in suffering. 

What is particularly unusual is that Mars and Saturn are in a near-exact square alignment with each other. This likely intensifies the problems that could be wrought by the new Trump administration.  To be sure, Mars and Saturn do not aspect each other according to standard Vedic rules so their mutual influence may be diminished to some extent.  However, I would argue that alignments this close are still meaningful since they still entail exact aspects, albeit in less than full strength. 

And if we look more closely we can see that both Mars and Saturn align with the Moon in this chart.  Saturn is 45 degrees away from the Moon while Mars is 135 degrees away.  Both are considered significant albeit lesser aspects in Western astrology as both are divisors of the 360 degree circle.  The Moon represents the population as a whole and the emotional state of the nation.  Having the Moon aligned with Mars (conflict, anger, violence) and Saturn (limits, loss, suffering) is a terrible indication for the next four years.  Now one possible saving grace is that these are minor aspects and not proper Vedic aspects.  This could mean that popular sentiment in the US may not be that negative with these twin influences.  But no matter how minor they may be in a technical sense, these alignments are not what you want to see in an inauguration chart as they accentuate the negative rather than that positive.  At best, they represent huge obstacles that are unlikely to be easily overcome. 

By why of comparison, let's look at the 1981 inauguration chart of Ronald Reagan.  This is a much better chart and reflects the relative success of his first term.  In some ways, Trump is trying to model himself after Reagan as he is also trying to break with the past and bring a new kind of thinking into government.  Reagan de-regulated the economy and cut taxes and helped to jump start the boom of the 1980s.  The long term negative economic effects of the Reagan era notwithstanding, his first term was deemed successful and he was easily re-elected in 1984. 

We can see why.  Mars is exalted in Capricorn atop the chart in the 10th house conjunct Mercury, Ketu and the Sun.  This is a good placement.   Ketu (South Lunar Node) denotes change and that is very much the case with Reagan who ended the stagflation of the 1970s.  Both malefics are associated with benefics as Mars is with Mercury and Saturn is with Jupiter.  This neutralizes their negative effects and makes their impact more constructive.  Moreover, benefic Jupiter aspects all of the 10th house planets in Capricorn.  This confers a sense of "right action" and abundance upon all of those planets and their significations.  It's generally a good chart. 

At the other end of the spectrum is the 1973 inauguration chart of Richard Nixon.   Nixon won re-election to a second term in 1972 but was forced to resign in August 1974 as a result of the Watergate scandal.  At the time of his resignation, impeachment proceedings were already underway.  The most striking feature of the Nixon inauguration chart is the near exact opposition of Mars and Saturn.  The two most malefic planets were tightly aligned and therefore resonated more intensely with each other.  Moreover, both planets were situated on the 8th and 2nd house cusps, respectively, and were therefore more powerful to do harm.  It is a very afflicted chart that befits a failed administration and a resignation of a disgraced president. 

Mars is the key planet in this respect since all inauguration horoscopes (since 1933) have an Aries Ascendant in the 1st house.  Since Aries is ruled by Mars, the condition of Mars becomes a shorthand for the fate of the incoming administration.  The 1st house represents the presidency as a symbolic whole, so any afflictions involving Mars raises the likelihood of problems and setbacks.  Mars in the 1973 Nixon chart was about as afflicted as one could imagine, but Trump's inauguration Mars may not be quite so bad.  The Trump inauguration chart falls somewhere in between the Nixon and the Reagan chart.  Although it is a matter of interpretation and not cut and dried, I would say the Trump chart is much closer to Nixon than to Reagan.  Mars still has considerable problems attached to it in the Trump inauguration chart so that suggests his presidency is likely to be troubled. 

Some observers on the left have also openly discussed the possibility that Trump himself may not survive politically to the end of his term.  His inauguration chart certainly offers some support to this view as Mars and Saturn are aligned and in difficult positions.  However, I would note that the afflictions don't quite acquire Nixonian-levels that one might expect for impeachment or resignation.  The Trump inauguration chart is bad enough that resignation is worth considering, but it does not seem to be a high probability to me.

There are many serious planetary afflictions that hit Trump's inauguration chart over the next four years.  A couple look serious enough that they could well mark times when his hold on power is tenuous or even lost.  Given the series of Saturn afflictions in the USA chart over the next few years, it could well become a presidency in a state of permanent crisis, either in terms of legitimacy or through a bad economy or both.  The affliction of Mercury by Rahu in the Trump swearing-in chart is an unhelpful for promoting economic growth.

One very clear time of governmental crisis will be the summer of 2019 when malefics Saturn and Rahu both align with the Sun (=government) in the USA chart.   This Saturn-Rahu alignment will occur near the 9th house cusp in the Inauguration chart so it is more likely to coincide with a major event.  There are no hits to key planets in the chart, however, so it is possible it may not be strong enough to remove Trump from power.  

Also we should note that Trump enters his Jupiter-Saturn dasha period in November 2018 so that could weaken his ability to fend off attacks.  Currently, his Jupiter-Jupiter period may be strong enough to allow him to continue to wield power with his usual ad hoc, shambolic aplomb.  But Trump's Saturn is another matter altogether.  Although it is strengthened by its conjunction with Venus, his Saturn is in the 12th house of loss and it is considered somewhat weak by virtue of being in the first degree of Cancer.  It should therefore be seen as a background negative in his chart.  We may also speculate if he may become more vulnerable to losses through females (Venus) during this 2018-2021 period.

Other alignments also look difficult including April 2017, October 2017, and September 2018.  But I haven't correlated the specifics yet across all the relevant charts but I hope to revisit the timing of these rolling crises in the weeks and months ahead.  Hopefully, we won't all have Trump fatigue by then, if we don't have it already.  And his administration hasn't even started yet!

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have moved sideways through last week and into this week as traders await the Trump inauguration.  US stocks dipped slightly late last week as the Dow has yet to climb above the 20,000 mark.  Indian stocks were generally higher last week as the US Dollar retreated and inflation data moderated.  This outcome was in keeping with expectations in last week's market forecast as I thought we would see some upside for much of last week on the Sun-Jupiter-Saturn alignment on Wednesday and Thursday.  However, I thought the late week might be more troublesome.  As expected, this week has also been lower as Mars aspects Jupiter and then aligns with Saturn.

I would expect volatility to continue for most of this week.  Mars enters Pisces on Thursday and aligns with Saturn at the end of the week.  I don't have a specific forecast for Inauguration Day although the general influences here look bearish.  That said, we cannot rule out a brief rise as bullish Venus aligns with Pluto that day.  The entry of Saturn into Sagittarius on January 25th is another reason why caution and pessimism may predominate in the days ahead.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Trump poised to assume presidency amid controversy and opposition

(10 January 2017) There are just ten days before Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.  According to recent polls, Trump will enjoy the lowest popularity of any incoming president in US history.  The Trump transition from the November election to the January 20th inauguration has been as controversial as his campaign.  Despite Trump's initial dismissal of Russia's interference in the campaign, last week's US intelligence revelations confirmed that Russian hacking had been ordered by President Vladimir Putin and had been intended to favour Trump and discredit Hillary Clinton. Putin's logic was simple: undermine Clinton whose stated foreign policy sought to oppose Russian expansion and boost Trump who has been far more conciliatory towards Russia's strongman.  Mission accomplished: Moscow will now have a friend in the White House. 

I have previously written that Trump's problems would likely worsen in January and this difficult phase could well extend through the rest of the winter.  Trump survived December with little damage despite all the symbolic gnashing of teeth surrounding the Electoral College and the record number of faithless electors.  But the Russian hacking has been a significant embarrassment that has forced Trump to agree with the GOP Senate leaders and admit that it was real.  No matter what kind of gentleman's agreement he may have already struck with Putin, Trump knows that he needs Congress on his side or his legislative program will not succeed.  This means he may now have to actually punish Russia for its illicit actions in the US election.

Astrologically, Trump's January problem lies in the transit of Saturn in late Scorpio which conjoins with his Moon-Ketu (South Lunar Node).  Trump's Moon is already debilitated in sidereal Scorpio and its conjunction with Ketu is one key reason why Trump is so emotionally volatile and often times unpredictable and unhinged.  Trump's famously petty Twitter rants are the direct result of this volatile and emotional Moon (insecurity) combined with his highly active Mars (anger) on the Ascendant. 

Saturn transits are often difficult for most people but they do more damage when the planet they are conjoining or aspecting is vulnerable and weak.  That is very much the case with Trump as his Moon is likely one of his weakest planets and therefore more susceptible to setbacks, disappointments, and distortions.  While Trump has come under a lot of criticism, I thought things might actually be worse for him than they presently are.  For the moment, Trump is managing to stay above the fray (literally) by avoiding the media while holed up in his 5th Avenue redoubt in New York City.  He is due to finally hold his first press conference tomorrow on January 11th.

This Saturn transit will begin to wane in influence over the next week or two as Saturn prepares to enter Sagittarius on Jan 25th.  He is likely to come under further scrutiny over the coming days as the transiting Sun opposes Saturn (stress and conflict from authorities) and then the Mars square to the Moon and Rahu (North Lunar Node).  The Mars transits may mean even more angry emotional outbursts from the thin-skinned President-elect as he flails against all who deign to criticize him. 

We can see that Trump's difficulties are also reflected in GOP Speaker Paul Ryan's chart.  In addition to dealing with the fallout of Trump's ad hoc approach to governing, Ryan has come under fire for promising to repeal Obamacare without having a clear replacement plan in hand.  Ryan is currently at the tail end of the Saturn-Venus dasha period which, on balance, looks generally positive.  However, his 6th Saturn (opposition, conflict, and health(!)) is currently under the aspect of transiting Rahu.  Since the aspect will be very close for most of the rest of January, Ryan and the GOP will likely have a difficult time achieving their goals. 

The end of this week could be marked with some unusual and disruptive event as transiting Venus (and minor dasha lord) alongside Neptune is conjunct his natal Rahu in Aquarius while Mars conjoins his unequal 4th house cusp on the IC/MC.  I would not expect anything too earth-shaking, although there could be something along the lines of a Trump cabinet appointee who fails to gain approval with these aspects.  Other setbacks are also possible with these alignments.

The day of the Inauguration may be marked by strife and conflict.  If Trump was hoping for the nation coming together behind him when he takes the oath, he will likely be disappointed.  Saturn (obstacles, tradition) opposes his Sun while Mars (conflict) forms a very close square aspect to the same Sun (self, ego).   I hope to take a closer look at the Inauguration horoscope next week in order to discern what kind of presidency we may expect.  Suffice to say, there are intense, close alignments involving Mars and Saturn which suggest the next four years will be marked by conflict and controversy.  Well, no surprise there.  Trump may well be in permanent campaign mode for most of his term.

Like Trump, Ryan's chart suggest he may enter a quiet and more productive period in late January and February as Jupiter (29 Virgo) stations retrograde near his Moon (0 Libra), but March and April look difficult again.  Saturn station in square aspect his Pluto in the 11th house -- denial of success through applications of power.  The mid-March period looks quite troublesome for Ryan and the GOP as Mars aligns with Rahu and both will therefore activate Ryan's 6th house Saturn.  When afflicted, transits to Saturn in the 6th can indicate disputes, sometimes with legal consequences.  Opposition to the GOP agenda and Trump is therefore likely to intensify at this time.  Late-April also looks extremely difficult as Mars squares Rahu and aligns closely with Ryan's Ascendant (7 Scorpio), as well as Donald Trump's Ascendant (6 Leo).  This could further undermine the legitimacy of Trump and thereby make his agenda harder to implement. 

While it may be a mere astrological coincidence, this March-April is also the time that I had previously suggested a significant gain or reward for Hillary and Bill Clinton.  It seems as if whatever events transpire during this time will damage the GOP and benefit the Democrats in some significant way.  Trump's tax returns finally leaked to reveal debts owed to Russian oligarchs?  GOP defections in the Senate that give the Democrats control?  It could be something fairly major along those lines.  I hope to propose some more specific scenarios as the new dynamics emerge in the first weeks of the Trump administration. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Financial markets have generally moved sideways over the holiday period.  US stocks have remained strong although the Dow cannot seem to move above the 20,000 level. Investors may be taking a wait-and-see approach on Trump's ability to deliver the goods.  Indian stocks appear to have bounced off their lows and have mounted a rebound here in early 2017.  

The recent market strength is due in part to the alignment of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus around 27-28 degrees of their respective signs.  We could see further upside this week as the Sun will align with the aforementioned three planets. Once the Sun begins to separate on Wednesday (or possibly Thursday), however, there could be some new vulnerability in the market.  Next week is shaping up to be more volatile as Mars aspects Jupiter on Monday and Tuesday and then aligns with Saturn at the time of the Inauguration on Friday.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The World in 2017: the New Year's Horoscope

(20 December 2016) As 2016 winds down to a merciful close, it's time to reflect on the year that was and ponder what may lie ahead for the New Year.  2016 will likely go down in history as a year of popular revolt against the status quo and the rise of 21st-century nationalism.  It may also be remembered as a year that globalization died.  The Pax Americana that began with the Bretton Woods economic agreement in 1944 may well have run its course now with the election of the nationalist Donald Trump to the presidency.  Trump has vowed to tear up free trade agreements and renegotiate US treaty obligations in an effort to reduce its superpower footprint.  The isolationist and protectionist Trump has promised to "Make America Great Again" by raising tariffs on imports, and preferentially buying and hiring American in an effort to jump start the stagnant Main St. economy and narrow the wealth gap between the haves and have nots.

A major thrust of this popular right-wing revolt has been the re-assertion of power by nativist populations in the UK and the US against outsiders, both in terms of immigrants and international regulatory bodies.  In June, the UK voted to leave the European Union, driven in large part by a desire to regain control of its sovereignty in terms of law and immigration.  Immigration was also front and center in the US election as Trump used the resentment and fear of immigrants from Mexico and the Muslim world as part of his rallying cry for change.  In both instances, it was stunning rebuke to the political and financial establishments.

Reviewing 2016

To some extent, I had forecast these developments in last year's New Year's horoscope analysis. Each year, I like to look at the planetary alignments for midnight on January 1st (I use Washington, DC but the chart doesn't change much for other cities) as a way of glimpsing into the future for the year to come.  It's a somewhat unconventional approach since the New Year has no astronomical significance.  However, I have found the midnight chart does often contain insights, possibly due to the huge subjective importance we collectively place on that moment in the calendar.

In last year's chart (see above), I noticed a tense square aspect between Mercury and Mars and wondered if the economy would be negatively impacted.  That really hasn't been the case although the evidence could be argued either way.  But I also suggested that the Mars affliction to Mercury along with the aspect of Rahu (aka, the North Lunar Node) could signal a rise in cyber disputes and hacking involving national governments.  That is a plausible hit given the possible Russian involvement in the US election.  Russia may well have acted to help Trump get elected through its hacking efforts against the Clinton campaign and more generally in its attempts to destabilize the democratic process through planting fake news stories.   Here is what I wrote on 1 January 2016:

Communications are also targeted by this Mars-Mercury affliction and the presence of Saturn in the 3rd house of communication is also unhelpful.  Worse still, Rahu makes a close aspect to Mercury.  This could manifest in the form of major cyber disputes and hacking, even involving national governments.  Rahu's influence may also be indicative of undercover criminal activity, especially involving high tech.

In last year's analysis, I also thought the Moon-Rahu conjunction in the 1st house would likely highlight notions of change.  This has very much been the case in the US and UK at least (and to a lesser extent in Italy) as the globalization status quo has been pushed aside in favour of a more nationalist future.  I also thought that "political dissatisfaction from the process of globalization" would be on the rise.  Finally, I noted that since Mars was also in alignment with the Moon and Rahu, the larger question of immigrants and outsiders would become more prominent in 2016.  This was largely true as the UK Brexit vote hinged on limiting uncontrolled EU immigrants and Trump campaigned to build a wall to stop illegal Mexicans and to ban Muslims from entering the US.  Again from 1 January 2016:

The presence of the Moon and  Rahu in the 1st house in Virgo is a good indication that it will be a year that focuses on change.  Of course, accelerating technological and social change has become a fact of life over the past 20 years since the introduction of the internet and other computer-based technologies.  But this pairing focuses on the disruptive psychological effects of these changes to a point where there could be a growing sense of frustration or alienation with our current direction.   Rapid economic changes have also undermined social stability for many people so we are more likely to see more social and political dissatisfaction from the uncertainty generated from the process of globalization.  Migrants and "outsiders" will likely stay in the forefront of events as Moon-Rahu aspects bring our attention to people who are different in some way from the majority, including ethnicity, race, or religion.  With Mars (conflict) partially in this planetary equation, I would expect the issue to continue to be a source of disagreement in places like Europe and the US. 

2017: A year of change, innovation, and persistence

As is often the case, this year's January 1st horoscope contains both good and bad alignments.  However, the bad alignments look quite difficult and suggest some challenges ahead.  The first thing that catches my eye is that Mercury is retrograde and is under the close aspect of Rahu (North Lunar Node).  Taken literally, this symbolizes change (Rahu) in thinking (Mercury).   The impetus towards social change that began in 2016 is therefore likely to continue in 2017, albeit in a different form. 

Whereas the Rahu-Moon represented a change and disruption in mood, the Rahu-Mercury aspect could signify a change in thinking and rationality.  Rahu is all about erasing boundaries -- between tradition and innovation but also between logic and irrationality.  It's very much a two-edged sword in that respect.  Mercury represents thinking and rational thought so the Rahu influence here may undermine conventional logic.  And just when we thought that much of the world was already crazy!  Well, maybe we will see what a "post-truth" society looks like in practice this year. 

The Rahu-Mercury aspect also echoes last year's affliction of Mercury and suggests that cyber security will again be front and center in 2017.  Rahu typically has a distorting effect on the planets its aspects and since Mercury symbolizes communication, trade, and transport there is a heightened risk of hacking, computer/power outages, and disruption of normal everyday activities.  These disruptions are likely to be significant and hence more newsworthy. 

But more generally, it could symbolize simply new ways of communicating as they supplant old forms of media and self-expression.  In that sense, each planet also has a positive side and that is no less true with malefic Rahu.  Rahu-Mercury aspects should translate to more important technological breakthroughs as Rahu governs research and breaking the boundaries of conventional wisdom. 

Technological innovation is also boosted by the close Jupiter-Uranus aspect since Uranus has some association with new technology.  The close alignment of Saturn with these planets suggests that this technological innovation may have tangible, practical uses very quickly.  Saturn emphasizes the notion of the practical and the everyday and its connection here may mean things like driverless cars, travel to Mars or virtual reality take big steps closer to becoming commercially viable. 

A more troubling placement in the chart is the Mars-Neptune-Ketu conjunction in the 6th house.  This is a bad one.  The Mars-Neptune conjunction is exact and its also almost exactly on the equal 6th house cusp of protection, conflict and health.  Not exactly cheery stuff.  Mars (conflict, harm, aggression) is usually a negative influence and its conjunction with Neptune could be seen as suffering as a result of water/liquids (floods), sickness (epidemics) or poison (e.g. chemicals, drugs, toxins). 

It doesn't take much imagination to dream up some scary scenarios with this planetary combination.   The presence of Ketu (South Node) here only makes it worse unfortunately.  Ketu suggests sudden developments that have out-of-control impacts.  The good news is that Saturn is not aligned with these planets so perhaps the actual damage and hardship may be fairly limited.  But the alignment is sufficiently prominent that it could be the big story of 2017.

The economy may struggle to keep its head above water.  There are no strong influences here although there are some negatives that will likely cast the deciding vote.  The Rahu influence on Mercury is somewhat negative since Mercury is partially associated with commerce and trade. So that is a mild negative.  But Venus represents value and money and it is in fairly good shape in the 6th house.  It's in a wide conjunction with Ketu (South Lunar Node) which is also somewhat negative, but it's not really close. 

Basically, I don't foresee the global economy going over a cliff or anything in 2017 but even maintaining its current low growth levels will be difficult.   The Moon (= the people, mass sentiment) is fairly strong in Capricorn in the 5th house but it does receive an unhelpful aspect from Saturn.   The aspect is seven degrees off but it could still be enough to depress the collective mood somewhat.  Fortunately, Jupiter also casts its benefic aspect on to the Moon with the same orb so this could offset the influence of Saturn. 

Overall, it's a picture of people persisting in the face of hardship and adapting to changing circumstances.  Capricorn is a very pragmatic sign and the Moon's placement here may mean that people focus on their day-to-day lives as best they can.  There is a quiet, heroic, "everyman" quality to this Moon placement that gives me faith that we will come through 2017 alright.   I think there is good reason to believe that we will find new ways to adapt and thrive while keeping our dignity and ideals intact. 

Whatever the future may bring, I want to wish all of my readers a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. 

Final Thoughts on the December 19 Electoral College vote

The Electoral College made Trump's election as president official yesterday.  Despite numerous protests and petitions, the Electoral College voted as expected and guaranteed Trump's election to the White House.  While I thought we might have seen more in the way of unexpected twists and turns in this vote, the final outcome was not that surprising.  The Mercury retrograde station yesterday lined up against the Sun in the USA chart in an intriguing way that hinted as unforeseen events.  Whatever else may have occurred yesterday in that vein, it was not manifest in the EC vote.  Not every aspect plays out the way you think it might.  While it was disappointing that nothing much happened, it was always a less than probable outcome. 

As I noted shortly after the election, I thought the most likely outcome was that Trump would be inaugurated. However, I thought that the path to inauguration would be fraught with many obstacles and setbacks for him.  While there has been predictable outrage and opposition from Democrats, so far we haven't seen any significant obstacles yet, except for the questions about Russia.  I do think that this Russian election interference has the potential to fulfill that prediction of a major pre-inauguration setback even if it won't deny him the presidency.  It may still damage him politically and it could undermine his legitimacy in the long run.  In that respect, January always looked worse for Trump than November and December.  So the turbulent transition period is still very much a going concern here. 

There is still a good chance that there will be a bipartisan committee on Russian interference in the election although it is unclear just when this will convene. Trump is opposed to it but one would think he will have to yield to it eventually.  Presumably, he would be more inclined to accept a committee only after he's been sworn-in.  At the moment, Trump is avoiding the media as he has canceled a scheduled press conference last week which now may happen in early January.   In some ways, Trump is on the defensive here as he tries to find a way to keep the debate focused on his cabinet appointees and new policy proposals.

I will update my thoughts on Trump next week before his troublesome Saturn-to-Moon conjunction takes hold in early January.  I hope to also discuss the timing of potential high and low points in the incoming Trump administration and whether or not he can finish out his first term.  There is some opinion on the left that Trump will actually be impeached or will have to resign at some point.  I will address that question in the coming weeks before the inauguration on January 20th.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have been mixed over the past few days.   US and European stocks have enjoyed modest gains this week but trended lower last week following the Fed's rate hike on Wednesday.  Indian shares have been more bearish, however, as the rising Dollar has hurt FII inflows.   In last week's market forecast, I had been fairly bearish as I thought the Full Moon would damage sentiment.  This was proven partially true although its effects were minimal.  However,  yesterday's Mercury retrograde had no effect in the US although Indian equities extended their losing streak.

This week could see more uncertainty into midweek but the late week leans slightly bullish as Venus aligns with Jupiter and the Moon on Thursday.  The approach of the Uranus direct station on December 29th may be the planetary catalyst necessary to produce a change in the trend.  US and European stocks are especially vulnerable in that respect as they have been rallying since the election. 

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Trump's Russia problem: Did Putin interfere with the US election?

 (13 December 2016) The Trump transition hit a major speed bump over the weekend as the CIA indicated there is now a strong case that Russia interfered in the US election.  The CIA stated that not only is there evidence of Russian hacking of the DNC and RNC but that the interference was intended to help Donald Trump get elected.  Although long-suspected by the Clinton campaign, the CIA Russia release has prompted calls for a bipartisan investigation on Capitol Hill. 

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has rejected the CIA's assertion and has said there is no need for an investigation.  Some on the GOP side have even suggested the whole story has been concocted by sore loser Democrats.  But Trump is now at odds with many in his own party as the GOP Senate leadership has called for a formal investigation in the days and weeks to come.  This, in turn, has led some left-leaning Democrats to call for a delay in the Electoral College vote on December 19th.  Some Electors have also requested access to the CIA security briefing before they cast their vote on the 19th. 

So things are finally getting interesting ahead of the vote.  The swing state recounts were either blocked by state governments in Pennsylvania or Michigan or came to nothing as in Wisconsin which did not alter the original result.  But the possibility that the Russians actively helped to get Trump elected now raises the stakes significantly.  Suddenly, it is more plausible that we could some big surprises come December 19th as 1) Mercury turns retrograde while in an 2) intense conjunction with Pluto and 3) directly opposite the USA's Sun at 22 Gemini.  Just before the election, I had noted the unique intensity of this configuration and the possibility that it could coincide with some unusual events around the Electoral College vote that would not follow standard expectations. 

We're still a long way from seeing Trump fail to win the crucial 270 votes, but at least now we can see how we might get there.  This Russian interference investigation is a real thing and it could well shape the rest the this transition period up until the Inauguration on January 20th.  This is the kind of thing I had envisaged in my previous posts on how Trump could run into problems in late December and in January.  As the investigation goes forward, Trump could be on the defensive.

So what happens on December 19th?  Short answer: I don't know. I think there is a reasonable chance that he doesn't get to the required 270 votes that day for various reasons.  Either the EC vote itself is postponed or there are enough faithless electors who vote for someone else or who abstain.  I still can't quite bring myself to say that this is a probable outcome but it seems more likely than betting markets are reflecting.  Hillary Clinton is now seen as having a 33-1 chance of winning the presidency at this point on Predictit.org.  I think they are higher than that, although likely not worth risking too much money on. 

Alternatively, there could be a record number of faithless electors which serves to irritate The Donald no end as his thin skin will have a hard time accepting why Republican Electors might not cast their votes for him.  But in that soft EC scenario, he could still go over 270 and therefore technically win the presidency.  But as I have noted previously, the planets look worse than that, as if there will be something more disruptive around the vote.  Time will tell. 

Trump's other problem is the impact of this investigation on his incoming administration.  His horoscope looks very stressed in January so even if he happens to get 270+ votes, he will likely face serious obstacles either from the first Congressional meeting on January 6th or in the days that follow.  Saturn will be conjunct his Ketu-Moon conjunction.  This is a difficult transit that indicate emotional difficulties,  distortions and burdens. 

This transit could coincide with bad news for Trump from the investigation.  No matter how much the GOP wants Trump to become president, I would think that solid CIA evidence of Russian interference would create big problems for him.  And obviously, if there was evidence of any communication between the Trump campaign and the Russians before the election, this would become disqualifying for Trump, and perhaps even indictable.  Treason can be an ugly word that is tossed around callously, but many liberal Democrats could find themselves pushing hard in that direction. 

But can astrology provide any insight into a possible connection between Putin and Trump?  Not definitively.  Astrology just doesn't work that way.  But if we think inferentially, then there are some clues that suggest at least there is a mutual self-interest at work, if not an outright alliance.  If we can see the planetary alignments working at the same time in the same direction for both Trump and Putin, then that would suggest that there fortunes are connected.  Of course, this would simply reinforce the widely held notion that Putin wanted Trump to beat Hillary Clinton.  Putin strongly dislikes Clinton, while Trump's foreign policy would be hands off and allow Putin more freedom to resume Russian control over Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East.

Importantly, Putin's chart is moderately afflicted on December 19th but perhaps less than Trump's is.  Mercury-Pluto is square the Sun-Saturn in Putin's chart.  That's tense and unhelpful to be sure.  But perhaps this suggests that whatever setback befalls Trump will less injurious to Putin.  Well, it's Trump that is trying to become president and not Putin so that's less surprising. 

Mars (6 Aquarius) is squaring the Moon (9 Taurus) but it's still three degrees out from exact.  I would think that if the Putin birth time is correct (a big if, I will admit), then Putin is more likely to experience stress and problems around Christmas, say around the 23-26th. Mars (conflict, frustration, anger) is in close square the Moon (emotions), while disruptive Rahu is in an exact aspect with the Ascendant (self).  

Near Christmas Trump's chart looks like it could be confronting some significant uncertainty as Saturn is moving into close conjunction with Ketu while Jupiter aspects Rahu.  Ketu and Rahu are the Moon's Nodes, of course, and are prominent during eclipses.  Given the negative symbolism of eclipses, aspects involving Ketu and Rahu are also seen to have increased risk of unexpected developments which put us on the defensive.  While this looks difficult for Trump, his Mars transit looks less intense. 

So there is some overlap there between the two charts, but I would not say it's compelling evidence of simultaneous affliction over the next two weeks.  So that's a maybe.

But what is more intriguing is what happens in January and beyond.  On January 6th, Congress will meet to accept the votes of the Electoral College.  If Trump does not have 270 votes, then GOP-controlled Congress is empowered to decide the presidency.  The planets on January 6th look mixed.  Mercury ends it retrograde cycle on January 8th as it returns to direct motion.  This is just two days after Congress meets so Mercury will be moving very slowly still and therefore much more energized that usual.  The problem for Trump is that Mercury (5 Sagittarius) will form a close alignment with his Mars (3 Leo).  This is the theoretically less damaging 120-degree trine aspect but it still warrants some attention. Mercury-Mars aspects mark times of intense communication -- not always bad -- and may also indicate an increase in frustration regardless of outcome.  

But at the same time, the Sun (ego, leadership) will conjoin Pluto (power, dominance) at 22-23 Sagittarius in direct opposition to the USA's Sun once again.  And that conjunction will form a near exact 135 degree aspect with Trump's Ascendant.  Not surprisingly, power is first and foremost at this time as this is the scheduled time when Trump could accede to the presidency.  I don't see enough obvious affliction in the chart to suggest he will be denied the presidency on January 6th.  I may be missing something so it's possible, but Mars isn't sufficiently negative for Trump here on this crucial day.  Of course, if the Congressional ratification of the EC vote is postponed due to the investigation, then the matter becomes moot.  But I would think that it is most likely that Trump will be awarded the presidency on January 6th, although with considerable opposition within Congress itself. 

Putin's chart that day also places the Mercury direct station in close proximity to his Mars and this time it is the more potent conjunction.  Moreover, the Sun-Pluto conjunction lines quite close to a square with his natal Saturn (24 Virgo).  That suggests blockage, obstacles, and basically not getting what you want.  Mars is also prominent here in a bad way as it aspects the Sun by 8th house aspect.  This indicates conflict and competition but given the other aspects it seems stressful.  On the plus side, Venus-Ketu are conjunct and align nicely with Putin's Ascendant.  Overall, there is more affliction here than in Trump's chart so Putin may come under increased scrutiny around the time of the Congressional meeting.  It may be that the Congressional opposition to Trump makes explicit and damaging mention of Russian meddling even if Trump wins the vote anyway.  So early January looks bad, but I think not really bad enough to deny Trump the presidency. 

However, an even more interesting pattern sets up for early April when Saturn stations retrograde.  On April 6th, Saturn stations at 3 Sagittarius and will then begin its four-month backward journey through the sky.  What's important to note is that this will align exactly with Trump's Mars at 3 Leo.  This is not a full-strength Saturn aspect, but I think it is an alignment with teeth.  Saturn-Mars aspects coincide with times of intense effort and stress and if other influences are negative, it can represent a big setback.   And there are other negative influences.  A lot of them.  Saturn itself will retrograde back over his Moon-Ketu conjunction -- not good at all for progress and success as it is more likely to indicate oppressive situations.  Transiting Rahu will be bearing down on his Ascendant at 6 Leo.  The exact conjunction occurs in April at the same time Saturn aligns with his Mars and then turns retrograde.  And then incredibly enough, Uranus (instability, change) is due to exactly square his Saturn (discipline, order) in April. 

More amazingly, Uranus will enter the sign of sidereal Aries on the day before Saturn turns retrograde -- April 6th.  It's definitely worth circling your calendar since Uranus sign changes have a track record of correlating with shocks and surprises.  The Brexit vote occurred when Uranus previously entered Aries on June 24th.  After its retrograde cycle for most of 2016, it again enters the sign of Ram in early April where it will remain for the next seven years. 

Since Putin's Mars is exactly aligned with Trump's Mars, that Saturn station will hit both of them at the same time.  Saturn will exactly conjoin Putin's Mars in early April and indicates a time of intense stress and conflict.  As I noted in last week's post on the Electoral College, one peculiar feature of Hillary Clinton's chart was a minor progressed Jupiter station in -- you guessed it -- early April.  Jupiter brings rewards and gains while Saturn typically presides over losses.  Is it possible that Hillary will enjoy some schadenfreude at this time at Donald's expense?  Yes, it's very possible but exactly what is hard to say. 

I'm thinking of a few possible scenarios here. One is that even if Trump is sworn-in on January 20th, the investigation may be ongoing in his first months as president.  That seems more likely than not.  But the investigation may reveal some embarrassing evidence for Trump that seriously undermines his legitimacy.  The Left has already essentially gone on notice to deny Trump's legitimacy, but I wonder if there will be more evidence and scandal during February and March.  Worst case, Trump could be forced to resign.  A lesser scenario would be that his errors of moral judgment are brought to light (e.g. his tax returns are finally made public) and his standing is diminished by a broader segment of the American public.  Hillary would certainly welcome that development, even if it meant President Pence in the worst case. An apologetic Trump seeking public forgiveness could be a kind of symbolic vindication for Hillary Clinton after their bruising campaign. 

The other scenario is more far-fetched.  That is that Hillary Clinton is awarded the presidency in April or thereabouts after a Congressional investigation.  This seems a way beyond the pale (even for me!) but it does reflect one conceivable reading of the relative strengths of the horoscopes involved.  Clinton's chart gets better in early 2017 while Trump's chart gets worse, much worse.  I will admit I am very biased in this matter so it is hard to be objective. 

So we will have some interesting times ahead.  One thing that's safe to predict is that this latest Trump reality show will remain the top-rated show on television for months to come.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks extended their recent rally last week as the ECB provided the latest fix of easy money for investors as Mario Draghi announced an extension of his QE asset purchase program.  The Dow rose by 3% on the week to 19,756 and it's up again early this week.  20,000 can't be far off now.  Indian stocks also enjoyed gains, although the Sensex added a more modest 2%.  The Sensex has also been positive this week and ended Tuesday's session at 26,697.  In last week's market forecast, I thought we might have seen more downside around the late week Sun-Saturn conjunction but this was not the case. 

This week features rising downside risk.  I'm not certain how bearish stocks will be, but Tuesday's Full Moon looks difficult.  Some kind of pullback is more likely around the Full Moon, if not exactly on Tuesday. The Fed makes its latest announcement on interest rates on Wednesday so that is another source of uncertainty for the market.  Janet Yellen will make her first public statements on the possible impact of Trump's policy plans.  And then Monday's Electoral College vote looms as Mercury turns retrograde while conjunct bearish Pluto.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.