Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ISIS bombing kills 22 at Manchester concert in UK

(24 May 2017)  As the planet of violence, Mars has no mercy.  On Monday, the UK became the latest target of ISIS as a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Manchester Arena shortly after a pop concert.  The attack was apparently perpetrated by a UK citizen of Libyan descent, Salman Abedi, and arrests have made in both in the UK and Libya.  The UK is now on high alert with troops stationed at key locations in the aftermath of this second attack of 2017.

There are several possible ways to look at this event.  It is possible to focus solely on the transits for the time of the explosion (10.30 p.m.), but in my experience this provides only limited information.  In hindsight, we can see whatever we want to see in transits and the resulting chart is usually not conducive to prediction.  In my view, a more compelling approach is to use the relevant national chart, in this case, the UK national chart, dated 1 January 1801 at midnight.  While hindsight is always 20/20, at least we can make a better assessment of how the chart is operating and whether such an event was predictable. 

For all violent attacks, we should see Mars very prominently placed in the chart by transit.   And we do.  At the time of the attack, Mars was just one degree past an exact opposition aspect to Mercury.  Mars-Mercury aspects usually coincide with tense or stressful situations of all kinds.  In the UK chart, however, Mercury takes on a greater importance since it rules the 1st house through its rulership of Virgo.  The first house (i.e the body) represents the nation as a whole so this Mars aspect was an act of violence against the whole country. 

Significantly, we can also see this Mars-Mercury theme through the transit of Mercury (13 Aries) which is widely conjunct Mars (20 Aries) and also close to the 8th house cusp (16 Aries).  The 8th house is a malefic dussthana house and symbolizes misfortunes and death-like situations. This repeated Mars-Mercury connection is one reason why a fairly common once-a-year Mars-Mercury opposition would have produced a major terrorist attack.  Natal Mercury was under pressure from Mars by transit but Mercury, in turn, was substantially weakened in its ability to resist the violent nature of Mars because it was so afflicted by its transit of the 8th house and Mars.  This is a kind of planetary chain reaction.  As a general rule, weak or damaged planets are more likely to produce hardship when they are transited by malefics like Mars.  That is definitely the case here in the UK chart. 

I should also add that Mars is approaching its maximum declination (24N19) in early June so it may be stronger than usual at this time. This is likely to manifest as a background effect that increases tension and frustration and could allow simmering disputes to boil over into outright conflict.  There is an increased risk of more violent incidents generally.

A couple of other difficult set ups are evident.  Transiting Rahu (4 Leo) was conjunct the natal Saturn (2 Leo) in the 12th house of loss.  This Saturn affliction by Rahu is a classic indicator of sorrows and negative outcomes involving disappointment and sadness.  It may have provided the necessary underpinnings for the fast-moving triggering transit of Mars.  Rahu moves quite slowly so it should not be surprising if the country remains very somber and introspective for several more weeks during this transit of Saturn.

The Moon and Venus were transiting Pisces at the time of the bombing, in an exact conjunction with natal Rahu (22 Pisces).  This Moon-Venus-Rahu alignment may be symbolic of an event which distorted and disturbed (Rahu) national emotions (Moon) and happiness (Venus). 

There is now talk in the media about whether the upcoming election on 8 June will be postponed due to security concerns.  That seems unlikely in any event even if the planets look difficult for several weeks to come.  For what it's worth, Mercury (= elections) will conjoin natal Mars on 26-28 May so that may be a time when tensions are running high again.  This is probably not another attack or the postponing of the vote but there could be more conflictive and tense developments in the UK.  Interestingly, this is the same time window when Mars opposes Saturn by transit. This is likely to mark a period of high stress and anxiety generally.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have largely moved sideways since last week.  US stocks drifted higher higher late last week on the Venus-Jupiter alignment but have been stronger thus far this week.  Indian stocks have been weaker on profit taking after several previous record highs. 

As noted in last week's market forecast, I have been expecting more downside from the approach of the Mars-Saturn opposition which is exact on Monday 29 May.   So far we haven't seen much fireworks from this nasty planetary pair.  However, the rest of this week looks more vulnerable to declines.  Friday stands out in this respect as the Moon conjoins Mars and opposes Saturn.  The Moon-Mars conjunction is closest during the US trading day.  While Monday is closed for Memorial Day in the US, the shadow of the Mars-Saturn opposition may well extend into early next week. 

Perhaps all this Mars-Saturn related anxiety is what is driving up Bitcoin to record highs.  It now trades at $2500 and has doubled its value over the past month.  There are a couple of plausible horoscopes for Bitcoin out there: 1) the first electronic trade on 12 Jan 2009 and 2) the first real world trade/purchase for pizza on 22 May 2010.  Both charts look fairly negative this summer so I would think a major decline is likely.  That is perhaps not a stunning prediction given that the current parabolic rally is unsustainable over time.  But the summer Saturn-Rahu alignment does look bad for Bitcoin as it activates a few key points in both charts.   I hope to post a more in-depth analysis of Bitcoin by next week.

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.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Stocks fall as Trump crisis deepens

(17 May 2017) When it rains, it pours.  The embattled presidency of Donald J. Trump appeared to enter a new and more tumultuous phase yesterday with the revelation that he may have asked FBI chief James Comey to stop his investigation into pro-Russia former cabinet member Michael Flynn.   If proven true, the attempted intervention in the FBI's work could amount to an obstruction of justice.  This would be an impeachable offense under US precedent as president Richard Nixon was forced to resign for a similar intervention during the Watergate cover-up.  And tonight there is word that a Special Counsel has been appointed to Russia inquiry to clear the air.

The possibility that Trump obstructed justice comes after a very difficult week following the firing of James Comey after he asked for more resources for Russia-Trump probe and the controversial sharing of classified intelligence with Russia during an unprecedented visit by Russian officials to the White House.   All this turmoil in DC is finally taking a toll in financial markets as stocks fell sharply today as markets began to factor in the possibility that Trump may be unable to push through his pro-business tax and regulatory reforms.   For the first time, investors (and betting markets) are now seriously assessing the odds that Trump will be impeached.  Of course, the irony is that Wall St. would likely prefer a President Pence anyway.

The worsening political crisis in Washington is in keeping with the troubled planetary alignments in the key horoscopes: 1) Trump's natal chart; 2) the USA national chart; 3) the Nov. 9th PEOTUS chart and 4) the Jan. 20th Inauguration chart.  As I noted more recently last week, Trump was likely to come under increased pressure in the month of May from the transit of Rahu, the North Lunar Node.  In Trump's personal natal horoscope, Rahu (4 Leo) is conjunct his natal Mars (3 Leo) which is, in turn, very close to his Ascendant (6 Leo).  Rahu-Mars alignments tend to reflect times of increased stress and agitation and are often implicated in serious or uncontrolled conflicts.  This is very much the case here as the Trump presidency appears to taking on water like a sinking ship, seemingly too dysfunctional to right itself.  Something has to give, and soon. 

The position of Rahu at 4 Leo also hits the exact 12th house cusp of the PEOTUS chart dated from the moment Trump was declared elected in the early morning hours of November 9th.   The Rahu-12th house connection is a classic textbook indicator of illegal or immoral behavior that produces scandal and embarrassments.  Trump's words and actions are increasingly indefensible even among notoriously partisan Congressional Republicans.   The GOP control of both houses of Congress has protected Trump so far but this week's development has set off alarm bells as Republicans are beginning to distance themselves from Trump as more are calling for an independent Russia investigator and for the FBI to disclose Comey's notes. 

Trump's Downward Spiral

So what comes next? I would expect Trump's fortunes to hit a temporary bottom at the end of May when Mars opposes Saturn.  This Mars-Saturn opposition happens once every two years but this one may bring some serious implications for the President since it aligns with most of the key horoscopes.  Trump's natal chart will be activated forcefully as Mars conjoins his Sun while Saturn sits very close to his Moon-Ketu conjunction.  The alignment with his natal chart is closest on May 29th although the days leading up to that date are likely to see increased frustrations and stress as Mars first conjoins Trump's natal Rahu on May 22-23.  The Mars-Saturn opposition similarly activates the Trump Inauguration chart as Mars will align with the Mars-Saturn square.  This is a kind of maximum pain alignment for the Trump presidency as all the malefics will be in a close aspect with each other. 

Hopeful Democrat and other anti-Trump readers may ask if Trump might even resign under this difficult Mars-Saturn opposition.  It's conceivable although I would not predict it.  There is an absence of planetary affliction to the USA chart that really should accompany a presidential resignation.  We saw that Nixon resigned in 1974 under serious transits to the USA chart.   Saturn (=loss) conjoined the Sun (=leaders), Ketu aspected Saturn in the 10th house of government (=change to authority), and Uranus conjoined the unequal 10th house cusp (MC) (=change in government).    Currently, both Saturn and Ketu are aspecting not the Sun or Saturn but rather Mars.  On the other hand, Uranus (2 Aries) is opposite the 10th house cusp (MC) so that may be one reason why the US government is so unstable in 2017. 

Whatever opposition there may be to Trump's presidency, the affliction to Mars would seem to point more to some significant military engagement.  Perhaps this will be a diversionary tactic from a besieged Trump presidency to bomb or attack an geopolitical adversary.  It's definitely more likely in the next few months under this double affliction of Saturn and the Ketu.  Alternatively, since Trump is so closely associated with the planet Mars (i.e. it was on the horizon at the time of his birth), we cannot completely dismiss the possibility that the Saturn-Ketu affliction to Mars could somehow translate into the elimination of Mars from the USA, i.e. the removal of the Mars-ruled Trump.

But I do not want to give out false hope to readers who are hopeful for a swift end to the Trump presidency.   If Trump was going to resign this year, then the chart of VP Mike Pence should be very strong as he would take over the Presidency.  As I see it, it isn't that strong.  Pence's chart (N.B. time unknown) looks stronger in mid-2019 just around the same time that the Sun in the USA chart comes under a powerful double affliction by Saturn and Rahu.  2019 is therefore a more likely time when Trump could be impeached or forced to resign.  On the face of it, this makes more sense since it would be after the 2018 November midterm elections which could turn the control of Congress over to the Democrats if current trends continue.  While the current GOP Congress could vote to impeach Trump if the situation got too out of hand, I would think it is quite likely that the powers-that-be will find a way to paper over the cracks and keep Trump in power until the last possible moment.

I should note a second nadir in the Trump chart in the late summer in August/September around the time of the Saturn direct station on August 25th.  This will conjoin his Moon-Ketu conjunction and could coincide with a period of isolation, disappointment and defensiveness.  Trump's Moon is debilitated in Scorpio in the sidereal Vedic zodiac system so it fits very well with a person who takes umbrage at any personal slight.  No wonder his co-writer for The Art of the Deal noticed that in boardroom settings during his real estate career no one dared to challenge his views on anything.   His delusional emotional immaturity is further reflected by the close conjunction of the Moon with Ketu which accentuates changeability and fickleness.

But I'm less confident that this summer alignment could translate into resignation or impeachment.  It does look bad for him to be sure and some kind of new setback is likely based on his natal chart.  But the PEOTUS chart looks less afflicted so without that confirming evidence, I would not expect a resignation from Trump.  One possible scenario may be that we will still be in the impeachment preliminaries at that time, as Trump plays cat-and-mouse with the Special Prosecutor or some other such defensive scenario. 

I should also note that I was off in my timing for this kind of major Trump setback.  Shortly after the election, I noticed that Trump's chart was heavily afflicted throughout the first months of his presidency and that both Hillary and Bill Clinton's chart were quite strong in March and April.  I assumed that any Clinton gains would be offset by Trump's losses.  That really didn't happen for the Clinton's although Trump's presidency has been beset with controversy from Day 1.  Now I don't know what may be occurring behind the scenes with the Clintons, but so far they have yet to enjoy any obviously positive developments.  That seems more likely to change here in May with this possible impeachable offense for obstruction.  If impeachment talks grows louder in the coming days as I expect, it will boost both the Clintons and the Democrats fortunes as their allegations of election interference will carry more weight.   While any upside for the Clintons may be largely symbolic at this point, it may still help to boost the sagging fortunes of the Democratic Party.  So we will have to see how things play out now. 

Weekly Market Forecast

As mentioned above, US stocks fell sharply Wednesday as markets finally realized that there are consequences to Trump's capricious style of governance.  And yet for all the political media hype, the Dow is only 3% below its all-time high.  Indian stocks have continued to rally higher as investors anticipate more domestic reforms.  The Sensex  has  moved steadily higher since my last post as it closed Wednesday at 30,658.  As expected, I thought we were likely to see some downside last week although that was only the case in US and Europe.  I expected some gains this week on the Venus-Jupiter alignment although they appear to have manifested in the first half of the week already. 

More broadly, I had cautioned about late May as a time when stock markets were likely to decline given the Mars-Saturn opposition and then also the larger alignment with Rahu, the North Lunar Node.   While we could see some brief upside tomorrow or Friday in the US on the Venus-Jupiter opposition, I would think the down trend will continue at least through next week.

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.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trump fires FBI's Comey: Nixon revisited?

(10 May 2017) The Trump presidency took an unexpected and disturbing turn on Monday with the surprise firing on FBI chief James Comey.  Comey has been a controversial figure on both sides of the aisle in Washington since his very public investigation of Hillary Clinton and her private email server and then later with his unprecedented intervention in the election.  It now seems likely that Comey's letter to Congress on October 28th cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.   Recently, Comey and the FBI had been leading an investigation into the alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.  It has now come to light that Comey's dismissal came just days after he requested additional resources to probe more deeply the Trump-Russia connections.

While his firing of Comey may solve one of Trump's imminent problems, it is unlikely to boost his political fortunes in the short run.   The optics are terrible for Trump as it now looks like he is a man on the run desperately trying to silence further questioning about possible collusion with Russia.   Where this all is leading is hard to say although the astrological perspective suggests that Trump is unlikely to find solace for the rest of the month of May at least.   The problem would appear to center on Rahu, the North Lunar Node. 

Trump's horoscope is strongly influenced by Rahu at the current time.  Rahu is a malefic planet by nature and is symbolically linked to situations that disrupt the status quo.   That's why Rahu (and Ketu) is always close by whenever there is an eclipse, the time that the Lunar Nodes step in and interrupt the constant light of the Sun or the Moon.   When the chart is afflicted, the bad side of Rahu may predominate and this can burden the native with secrecy and scandal. 

Transiting Rahu (5 Leo) is closely conjunct Trump's Ascendant (6 Leo).  Rahu is undermining Trump's sense of self (1st house) and may be a source of confusion for him.  The added problem for Donald Trump is that Rahu is also conjunct Mars (3 Leo) and hence there will be more areas of his life that will be subject to disruption and uncertainty.  Mars is related to action and leadership, so it seems appropriate that Trump's summary firing of Comey should have caused such a storm of upset in the halls of power in DC. 

Previously, I've written about how the Saturn station in the first two months of the Trump presidency coincided closely with many of his current problems.  Saturn tends to deny or delay rewards so it was not surprising that Trump's approval rating would be hitting rock bottom at 40% or below during his first 100 days.  For all the bluster and talk, his presidency got off to a poor start.  Even the passage of the much-vaunted GOP health bill has done little to change perceptions as he may find the Senate a less cooperative body.

But now Rahu seems to have taken the baton from Saturn.  The other first-class malefic could be focusing our attention on the shadowy nature of Donald Trump and his presidency.   Trump's natal chart will sustain a Mars transit (27 Taurus) starting the week of May 22nd which could further intensify public scrutiny.  Mars is due to conjoin the natal Rahu on the 22nd and will then oppose his Moon (28 Scorpio) on the 23-24th.  These are unlikely to be times of triumph for the President as his enemies may become more active against him.

Rahu was similarly prominent in the chart of disgraced former President Richard Nixon at the time that he was on the defensive and fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the "Saturday Night Massacre" on October 20, 1973.  Cox had been appointed to investigate the Watergate break-in earlier that year in May but Nixon pulled the plug on him in an effort to short-circuit the investigation.  While Transiting Rahu (8 Sagittarius) wasn't close to Nixon's Ascendant, it was conjunct the key stellium of Mars-Mercury-Jupiter at 7-9 Sagittarius.  This stellium of planets was the most important feature of Nixon's chart and could be said to act like a de facto second Ascendant.  Rahu's transit of these planets introduced typically Rahuvian qualities of scandal, intrigue and secrecy into Nixon's political career.  Just one week after Cox's firing, the American public largely turned against Nixon and would remain opposed to his presidency until his resignation in the following August.

So maybe my previous analogy with Nixon might not be far off.  I had suggested that Trump inauguration chart bore certain common qualities with the Nixon inauguration chart in 1973.  I didn't think the afflictions in the Trump chart were quite as stark but there were some similarities given the close Mars (power) and Saturn (authority) alignments.  The raw, self-serving exercise of power may be the common thread in both inauguration charts although I am still uncertain about whether Trump will be able to serve out his term. 

The upcoming Mars-Saturn opposition on May 28th may serve as another focal point for additional troubles for "45".   It is quite possible we could see voices grow louder for an independent investigation of his Russia links leading up to this time, perhaps including the appointment of a special prosecutor. 

Interestingly, the chart of the President-elect of the United States (PEOTUS) also suggests that Trump will likely suffer further from the placement of Rahu in early Leo.  As I previously suggested, the transit of Rahu to the equal house 12th house cusp (= secrets, loss through unscrupulousness) in late April and May was likely to bring more problems to Trump.   I would expect the furor surrounding this latest Trump move to last into early June when Mars opposes Saturn and opposes the natal Venus in the PEOTUS chart and squares the Ascendant.  The Sun's transit (21 Taurus) opposite natal Saturn (21 Scorpio) on June 4th may be another hint that Trump's authority will be further questioned at this time. 

Trump could catch a break around the Jupiter direct station on June 9th.  He is running the Jupiter dasha period so its forward motion may straighten out some ongoing questions.  And yet it is difficult to imagine Trump suddenly becoming successful and wildly popular this summer since Saturn will station direct in close conjunction with his Moon-Ketu conjunction in late August.  It's a very difficult combination which suggests isolation and disappointment.   Could the Trump presidency somehow get even worse this summer?  It seems it may.  But I would be surprised to see his resign with these transits.  It will likely be bad for him but it's not that bad.  Or at least, not bad in that way.  Given the double affliction to the USA's Mars (0 Gemini) this summer, it seems more likely that some major military action will become foremost on Trump's agenda. 

Weekly Market Forecast

All of this political intrigue has yet to affect financial markets,  as stocks are still trading near their record highs.  The Dow finished Tuesday's session largely unchanged from the previous week at 20,943.  Meanwhile, Indian shares have pushed higher this week as the Sensex finally made a new all-time high above 30,000.  I thought there was some bearish potential in the Saturn influence on the Mercury direct station late last week and early this week.  We did get some very modest downside last week, but sentiment looks somewhat better so far this week. 

The rest of this week looks mixed.  Friday stands out for its difficult Moon-Mars opposition, especially in the US.  A decline is more likely on this aspect.  Thursday looks less problematic for its part.  Next week could see more gains around the Venus-Jupiter aspect.  This is exact on Friday in Asia and Europe although its positive effects may manifest a day or two earlier.

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.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Shiller, Saturn and the NASDAQ: perspectives in market timing

(3 May 2017) Conventional wisdom is that the stock market is the best place to put your money for the long term.   While periods of volatility can cause some sleepless nights, it is hard to argue with the basic premise that stocks do better in the long run than most other assets like bonds, cash, or even gold.  A case in point is the NASDAQ, the US-based technology index. If you had invested just $100 at the time of its inception in 1971, your investment would have increased 60-fold as the NASDAQ is now trading at a record high above 6000.  Even adjusted for inflation, the investment has grown impressively by 10 times over that 46-year period, which amounts to a 5% return compounded annually.  That's definitely way better than holding cash when you think about what $100 would have bought back in early 70s. 

But just how long is the long term?  It you had been unlucky enough to have bought a basket of tech stocks in 2000 at the very top of the tech bubble, your investment would only have begun to show profit in 2016 in what would certainly have been a long and painful exercise in investor patience.  Actually, when corrected for inflation that ill-timed investment in 2000 would still be down 10%.  Similarly, money invested the stock market in 1929 before the crash would have taken at least 25 years to have shown a positive return.  Clearly, the long term is sometimes a very long time indeed.

And this is why many investors try to time markets.  As difficult and stressful as timing the market may be, there may be some ways which can simplify the process.  Economist Robert Shiller's CAPE Index (Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings Ratio) has attempted to identify periods when stocks will tend to do better.  As stocks become more expensive relative to corporate earnings, the implied return of stocks goes down.  As the chart shows,  as the CAPE Index strays too far above its historical mean of 17, the average annual return of stocks falls. It is currently at a very lofty 29.5 which is one of the highest readings in recent history.  Only the 2000 tech bubble and the peak of the 1929 market have been higher.  According to Shiller's model, the implied return of stocks is now actually negative (-1.7%).  In other words, Shiller's CAPE Index argues against investing in the market for the long term at this time as returns will likely be negative until the CAPE moves closer to its historical mean.  This can be achieved either through an increase in corporate earnings or through a stock market decline.

Astrology offers its own unique perspective on the question of market timing.  There are many timing techniques we can consider in an astrological analysis.  Dasha periods are often helpful in forecasting trends although they are sometimes unclear.  Currently, the NASDAQ chart (Feb 8, 1971 10.00 a.m.) is running the Venus-Rahu period.  Venus is a benefic planet and its period began in the depths of the 2008 meltdown.  Stocks have rebounded strongly since then so that is an argument for its bullish influence.  Rahu is more of a question mark as it is malefic in nature although it tends to do well in the 11th house as it is here.  The Venus-Rahu period began in November 2015 and will run until November 2018.  The period has certainly been bullish thus far, but Rahu is an unreliable indicator due to its changeable nature. 

Transits may a more reliable predictive technique.  The current rally in the NASDAQ may be a reflection of the Jupiter retrograde station at 29 Virgo which closely aspected the dasha minor lord Rahu in February.  Transiting Jupiter has since aspected the Sun (also bullish) and will end its retrograde cycle in close conjunction with Uranus on June 9th.  While further gains are possible around this Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in June, it is important to remember that trends are the result of the interplay of all planets, especially the slower moving planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, and the Lunar Nodes,  Rahu and Ketu.  Jupiter's bullish influence may therefore come under increased pressure as the nodal opposition of Ketu-Rahu gradually tightens in the weeks ahead. 

In addition to the nodal opposition in the natal chart, there will be a significant alignment of two malefics, Saturn and Rahu, this summer.  Moreover, the alignment will last much longer than usual due to the retrograde motion of Saturn.  And even more telling will be the fact that the Saturn-Rahu alignment will likely activate the natal Rahu in the NASDAQ horoscope at 0 Aquarius.  The nodal opposition and conjunction is often bearish as it was in the spring of 2008 when Rahu conjoined its natal position in the midst of the year-long bear market.  The Ketu-to-Rahu conjunction can also be problematic, especially if the dasha of one of the nodes is running as will be the case this summer during Venus-Rahu. 

Saturn is due to station in late August at 27 Scorpio and will thus simultaneously cast a third house aspect to the natal Sun (25 Capricorn) and also come under the influence of natal Ketu (0 Leo).  Due to the slow velocity of Saturn this summer, these aspects will be within range for a month on either side of the actual station on August 25th and possibly longer.  Both aspects should be considered negative for market sentiment.

Jupiter's entry into Libra in September could be more positive since it aspects both Rahu and the Ascendant.  This could produce another significant rally in the late fall and early winter.   It is difficult to tell if this possible fourth quarter rally will be strong enough to offset any potential summer decline and produce higher highs. 

Whatever the Q4 uncertainties, the bottom line is 2017 is shaping up to have its fair share of market turbulence.  The higher probability of a correction reduces the likelihood of net gains for the year.   Along with Shiller's CAPE Index, the planets offer more evidence that returns in the stock market are likely to be less than their historical mean and that a negative annual return is also a possible risk.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have been somewhat flat since my post last week.  The Dow continues to trade just below its all-time high at 21,000 while India's Sensex can't quite crack the elusive 30,000 barrier.  It has actually pulled back a bit in recent days.  I thought we might have seen some gains early this week around the Mercury-Uranus conjunction but gains have been tiny in the US.  Wednesday's Fed statement more or less guaranteed the next rate hike for June but that did little to dampen the mood.

Mercury returned to direct motion today (Wednesday) so we could see some changes in outlook in the coming days.  Mercury is still conjunct Uranus for the rest of the week so more upside would not be surprising.  And yet its forward motion will soon put in into alignment with bearish Saturn.  That somewhat increases the likelihood of declines on Thursday, Friday and even into early next week.

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, April 25, 2017

How long will the Trump rally last?

(25 April 2017) Most global markets were strongly higher this week after the win by pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French election.  The narrow defeat of anti-EU right wing populist Marine Le Pen allowed investors to breath a sigh of relief as the status quo carried the day.  Many stock markets are now at or near new all-time highs.  Much of this bull market can be explained by the deliberate attempt by the Fed to increase asset prices (read: stocks) through its zero interest rate policy and later its experimental QE program after the 2008 financial crisis.  But the most recent upward leg in the markets have been as a result of the election of Donald Trump and his pro-business agenda.  Since the November 8th election, US stocks have risen almost 15%, with similar gains posted in Europe and some emerging markets such as India. But how long can this Trump rally last?

There is no single chart that can answer this question simply or unequivocally.  One difficulty lies in translating planetary positions with market moves of a specific size.  Even if we can isolate a future bearish planetary alignment, for example, it is unclear if it will produce sufficient downside that would negate the rally (i.e. -15%).   A bearish alignment involving  Saturn or Mars may only coincide with a minor 5% pullback rather than a full-blown 10-20% correction.   Therefore, even when we get some garden variety bearish planetary patterns, the Trump rally is likely strong enough to withstand some downside without seriously underlying its upward momentum. 

With today's rise, the Dow is again approaching its all-time high set March 1st just above 21,000.  Are we looking at an historic rally that could last for months or even years in the way that, say, President Reagan presided over the beginning of the longest and most powerful bull market in history from 1982 to 2000?   That seems unlikely for several reasons, not the least of which is astrological.  Let's look at the horoscope for the birth of the Trump rally and see how things could play out in the weeks and months ahead.

While other interpretations are possible, I would time the birth horoscope of the Trump rally for the open of trading in New York on November 9th.  This is the morning after his shocking victory over Hillary Clinton and after stock futures had reversed higher after suffering severe overnight losses.  US indexes opened sharply higher at the 9:30 open and did not look back.  The US market kept moving higher until March but have traded sideways since then. 

We can see how this Trump rally horoscope may be playing out.  One of the most bullish things about this horoscope is the placement of Jupiter - the planet of optimism - on the MC, or the unequal 10th house cusp.  The MC is one of two power points in the chart along with the Ascendant to it can act as a conduit for whatever energies are resonating on that point.  It is also placed in the whole sign 11th house which symbolizes gains. 

Stocks rose as Jupiter moved forward towards its station at 29 Virgo on February 9th.  Two things to note here.  29 Virgo is almost exactly on the equal 11th house cusp (27 Virgo) so that is an obvious indication for gains as long as Jupiter is near that point.  But the other thing to note is that stocks continued to rise after Jupiter began to retrograde away from its station.  Why?  One reason is that Jupiter was still very close to that point by the all-time high in stocks on March 1st, at 28 Virgo.  It was still therefore conjunct with this very bullish point in the chart.  Also, it was closely aligned with Mars and Uranus at 28 Pisces just a couple days before on February 27-28.  Close alignments of planets can often indicate highs or lows depending on the nature of the planets involved. 

A skeptic might raise the question why didn't the market stumble when Saturn had transited over this Ascendant at 27 Scorpio in late December and early January.  Saturn is a bearish foil for Jupiter and when it is prominent there can be a rise in pessimism and caution.  It's a good question.  We should note that the market was a bit listless for much of December and into January during the approach of Saturn to this Ascendant.  The Dow was essentially flat from mid-December to early February.  True, this is not quite what we might have expected from nasty, old Saturn but it is important to remember that the horoscope needs to be seen holistically with many factors included in the analysis.  Jupiter was still very strong in late December and January as it was exactly conjunct its 11th house cusp at 27 Virgo and thereby aligned exactly with Uranus at 27 Pisces.  The Jupiter-Uranus pairing are almost invariably bullish and the presence of this aspect likely offset most of the negativity present in Saturn's crossing of the Ascendant. 

So what lies ahead?  As we head into May, we can see that Jupiter is retrograding back towards its natal position and the MC at 18-19 Virgo.  As it happens, Jupiter will station at 19 Virgo in early June. That's bullish no matter how you slice it.  However, Saturn will be backing up towards the Ascendant and could introduce some negativity into the mix.  This could suggest a replay of December's sideways market perhaps, especially since Mars will also aspect the Ascendant in late May.  This could heighten the negative effect of Saturn's proximity to the Ascendant.

But the bigger concern is the effect of the Lunar Nodes, Rahu and Ketu.  Rahu (North Node) closely aligns with transiting Saturn as we move further into June and beyond.  Rahu will aspect natal Venus exactly in June and then gradually aspect the Ascendant by October. These successive Nodal influences distinguishes the chart from its interplay of Jupiter-Saturn that may have produce a flat trend in December.   As I see it, this Saturn-Rahu alignment through the summer should bring about some significant declines in stocks.  It is a bearish pairing in any event and the fact that it aligns with the Ascendant of the Trump rally horoscope is even more reason to expect some significant problems in the market. 

The other difference between this summer and the December-January period is that Saturn is due to station direct exactly on the Ascendant at 27 Scorpio in August.  Previously, it was moving forward at its normal velocity and hence it had less power to do damage.  The conjunction around the Saturn station lasts much longer and will likely reflect rising pessimism and declines in the market.

We should see some temporary downside as early as next week (May 1-5) when Mars (15 Taurus) squares the Ketu-Moon-Neptune conjunction.  However, this does not seem unequivocally negative since Venus will be in aspect with bullish Jupiter and Mercury will return to direct motion while conjunct Uranus and hence align closely with both Mercury and Venus in the Trump rally chart. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have generally moved higher over the past five sessions.  I thought we might have seen more downside late last week and into this week.  I did think this week's Mercury-Uranus conjunction was likely going to translate into gains at some point this week.  It seems the upside has come earlier than I expected.  This is one of the difficulties in interpreting alignments around planetary stations when the alignments are close for several days.  Mercury is due to station direct on May 3rd next week and therefore it has entered an unusually long-lasting conjunction with Uranus and 120 degree angle with Saturn. 

This week could easily see more upside on this Mercury-Uranus conjunction.  However, the late week Moon-Mars conjunction looks bearish and could produce some nervous selling.  Next week could see some further upside in the early going.  But as I have noted, the Mercury station on Wednesday the 3rd could indicate a shift in the mood. 

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, April 18, 2017

North Korea's Kim Jong-Un under pressure from US

(18 April 2017) What to do about North Korea?  US President Trump is now confronted with the same thorny question that has confounded most of his predecessors.  The hermit kingdom of North Korea has long operated outside the norms of international politics and has frequently resorted to threats of war in order to secure any strategic or economic advantage.  Under the uncertain leadership of Kim Jong-Un, North Korea continues to pursue its nuclear weapons program aimed at providing the ultimate bargaining chip with any hostile foreign powers.  By most accounts, the isolated totalitarian regime only survives through the largesse of its only patron, China, through generous trade and aid agreements.

Recent missile tests have provoked a more assertive reaction from the Trump administration.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and now Vice-President Mike Pence have both argued for a tougher stance again the North Korean regime which may well be approaching a critical moment in its push for nuclear weapons.  For the US, the time for diplomatic talks and negotiations may be coming to an end as military options have now been put back on the table.  This tougher stance and the possibility of a unilateral US strike against weapons installations has, in turn, angered Kim Jong-Un, as tensions have increased to a dangerous and unpredictable level. 

Trump and North Korea

As we know, President Trump's planets are very afflicted in the current period.  Transiting Saturn is still closely aligned with his Mars while Rahu (North Lunar Node) is fast approaching his Ascendant.  It is clearly a difficult and stressful time for him.  He has been fairly quiet recently as ongoing foreign policy troubles in North Korea and Syria may be proving to be way over his head.  He is now allowing surrogates such as Tillerson and Pence to do the heavy lifting, perhaps out of fear of making a bad situation worse from his half-baked tweets and shallow understanding of the complexities of global geopolitics.  

Not surprisingly, Trump's horoscope looks more difficult when it is relocated to North Korea.   When we relocate Trump's chart to Pyongyang, his assertive and powerful Mars on the Ascendant is suddenly sitting on the Descendant on the 7th house cusp.  This is a reversal of his own bullying Mars-nature so that he himself may be more likely to be bullied by others, such as by President Kim Jong-Un. Interestingly, Trump's chart is exactly reversed in North Korea: in his birthplace in New York, 6 Leo rises while in Pyongyang, 6 Aquarius rises.  The chart is a mirror-image.   Could the ego-driven billionaire president from Queens abruptly have the tables turned on him on the other side of the world by an equally megalomaniacal authoritarian?

Kim Jong-Un

Kim Jong-Un has been the unrivaled leader of North Korea since the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il in 2011. President Kim has ruthlessly eliminated all opposition to his rule through an internal policy of censorship, intimidation and murder.  It is unclear how stable his government is given his own unpredictability and its single-minded pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Western media have depicted him as a reckless and dangerous dictator who is capable of anything. 

His horoscope suggests these depictions may not be far from the truth.  While his date of birth is not known with certainty, new information suggests that Kim Jong-Un was born on 8 January 1984.  From a BBC report several years ago, his mother said he was the "Morning Star King", hinting that Venus, often known as the morning and evening star, was visible in the sky before the sun rose on the day he was born.  As astrologer Paul Saunders has noted, this not only confirms the likelihood of the 8 January 1984 birth date but also that he probably has sidereal Scorpio or Sagittarius rising. (Thanks to Barry Rosen for pointing out this out to me.)

Venus was above the horizon between 5 a.m. and about 8 a.m. in Pyongyang just before sunrise.  I tend to think he is likely early Sagittarius rising, if only because that would give him a very powerful stellium of Jupiter-Neptune-Mercury near the Ascendant.  We don't know much about his life so it is difficult to pinpoint his Ascendant against life events.  But we do know his father died on 17 December 2011 and this eventually led to a passing of the mantle of supreme power to him.  This occurred when Saturn (authority, responsibility) was conjunct his MC-Mars conjunction and Jupiter (6 Aries) was stationing direct in an exact 120 degree aspect with his Ascendant-Jupiter-Neptune-Mercury conjunction at 3-8 Sagittarius. 

For the moment, I would consider 7 a.m. to be a plausible time of birth.  This would give him about 8 Sagittarius rising.   The ruler of the 1st house (Jupiter) would be very strong in the 1st house conjunct the ruler of the 10th house of status (Mercury).  Neptune adds further to this yoga for name and fame through its tight conjunction with Mercury and Jupiter.  The Sun is also there in Sagittarius in the 1st house to give a further boost to his social profile, tendency towards egotism and elevated status.

Kim Jong-Un's reputation for unpredictability is clearly warranted through the condition of his Moon.  The Moon is associated with emotions and the inner self.  When it is aligned with difficult planets, it can create a tendency towards emotional problems.  Kim Jong-Un's Moon is closely square Uranus, the planet of rebellion and independence.  When these two planets align in a more favourable aspect such as conjunction or trine, the individual is often creative and independent but not really unstable or troubled at all .  However, the square and opposition alignment can produce a more unstable person who is restless and changeable in a disruptive and damaging way.  

His Mars-Pluto conjunction in Libra in the 11th house is typical of someone who can gain advantage quickly through forceful actions.  Mars in the 11th suggests gains through conflict and violence which is more or less how North Korea operates since it is a totalitarian dictatorship.  Pluto's placement with Mars intensifies Kim's reliance on power and coercion to achieve his ends.  I would not say this placement explains his violent or cruel means but it does contribute to a bottom line, instrumental approach to interpersonal relationships.  A diplomat he is not. 

Pressure from US

Kim's current difficulties are highlighted by the conjunction of transiting Saturn (3 Sagittarius) to his natal Jupiter.  Saturn retrograde station two weeks ago activated his Jupiter and may provide one explanation why the Trump administration is taking a tougher stand against him now.  Saturn's conjunction with his Jupiter is an apt alignment that suggests a 'blocking of progress' or a 'restriction to achievement' or more fundamentally 'a denial of optimism.'   Sunday's failed missile launch may also be seen through this prism of Saturn's negative influence on Kim's Jupiter and 1st house more generally.  Transiting Mars was also exactly casting its 8th house (210 degree) aspect to Jupiter at the time of the failed launch.  Overall, it is often hard to move forward when Saturn is transiting the 1st house close to the Ascendant.

But how could this latest confrontation unfold in the weeks ahead?  Saturn is backing off its conjunction with Jupiter so that could indicate better outcomes for North Korea and perhaps a lessening a tension on Kim Jong-Un personally.  But Jupiter is also under the 120 degree aspect of transiting Rahu for several more weeks.  That can be troublesome as Rahu introduces a disruptive energy into one's life.  Moreover, Ketu (South Lunar Node) closely aspects Mars during this time.  Clearly, the next two months will be characterized by high levels of conflict and an elevated potential for military violence.  And the fact that Uranus is opposite Kim's Mars for the next several months means that military action is much more likely. Uranus (4 Aries) is due to station retrograde exactly opposite his Mars (4 Libra) in August.  The Uranus-Mars combination is often found in situations of sudden and destructive conflict.

As I see it, Kim's chart is more vulnerable to setbacks over the next several weeks at least.  It is possible we could see more troubles appear this week for him as Mars aligns with Rahu but I suspect they will not be decisive.  A more important alignment may occur with the entry of Mars into sidereal Gemini on May 27th as it will create a close opposition to Saturn and this could again activate Kim's Jupiter.  It could mark the beginning of a very negative three-week window for him and his country where a major setback is more likely. 

An attack by the US is one possible scenario that could fulfill this planetary promise.  However, I should also note that North Korea's problems could also take a less dramatic form.  It is also conceivable that the late May and early June period could see China pivot away from its traditional support for the Kim regime.  A removal of aid or the imposition of sanctions by China on Pyongyang would also be a huge strategic setback for Kim Jong-Un.  Overall, 2017 looks bad for North Korea.  I will try to post updates on this ongoing situation with reference to other relevant charts including the horoscopes of China, South Korea and the US. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have moved slightly lower over past two weeks as geopolitical concerns in North Korea and Syria have weighed on sentiment.  The Dow is trading near 20,500 today while India's Sensex has also lost ground this week and is now at 29,300.  The modestly bearish mood is broadly in keeping with my expectations as the Venus-Saturn square remains in effect this week. Square 90-degree angles involving the planet Saturn are often bearish and this one is no exception.  This one is somewhat unusual in that both planets were moving very slowly as they were near their respective stations and hence the square aspect is within range for much longer than normal.  More generally, I had expected the Venus retrograde period (Mar 4 - Apr 15) to be generally negative and it was in the US as stocks experienced modest declines.  Emerging markets such as India's fared somewhat better, however, and posted small gains over that period. 

The proximity of the Venus-Saturn square suggests that markets are unlikely to move much higher this week.  The late week in particular looks more problematic as Mars (6 Taurus) aligns with Mercury (5 Aries) and Rahu (7 Leo).   I would be particularly concerned about Friday the 21st as the Moon conjoins Ketu.  This is a possible astro-signature for unwelcome geopolitical developments.   This alignment also seems to activate President Trump's chart (Asc = 6 Leo) so markets may be put on edge here.  More downside therefore looks likely this week and probably into early next week.  Mars will remain in fairly close alignment with Rahu on Monday.  However, I would think there could be some improvement in sentiment as Mercury approaches its conjunction with Uranus later in the week.  There is still some question about when the upside from this pairing will occur since Mercury will still be retrograde next week.   We may well have to wait for Mercury's direct station on May 3rd to gain more clarity.

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.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

China's Xi meets Trump as Saturn turns retrograde

(5 April 2017) The leaders of the two most economically powerful countries on the planet are due to meet tomorrow.  US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will meet Thursday and Friday in Mar-a-Lago, Florida to discuss a range of issues from global trade to North Korea.  There is some trepidation that the meeting could be rather tense given Trump's often blunt and hostile comments about China and its economic practices.  Trump's unpredictability means anything is possible, although it seems more likely that everyone will be all smiles in front of the cameras.  What insights does astrology offer on this meeting?

While we don't know President Xi's birth time, we do know he was born 15 June 1953.    As it happens, Xi's birthday is just one day after Trump's so both men will have a close conjunction of their Suns, although Xi's is in the first degree of Gemini and Trump's is in the last degree of Taurus.   Right there, we may note a small difference in approach. Trump is the sensualist and assertive bull (Taurus) while Xi may be more the intellectual data-collector typical of many Geminis.   Xi is much more the thinker of the two due to his very strong Mercury in its own sign of Gemini in a close conjunction with Uranus.  The wider conjunction with Mars and the Sun also boosts his rational thinking capacity (Mercury).  Xi can think quickly on his feet and may be quite open to innovative solutions where they are deemed necessary.

The synastry between the charts hints at some intriguing dynamics between the two men.  The fact that they are meeting the same day that Saturn turns retrograde is interesting enough.  Saturn symbolizes responsibility and order and its retrograde periods are often times when established practices are reviewed and come under criticism.  This is perhaps unsurprising since Trump is intent on changing the dyanmic of "Chimerica" whereby the US buys what China makes without any tariff barriers while China agrees to purchase US debt.  But the times, they are likely changing.  Saturn's heaviness will also be in focus as the burden of both of their nations will weigh heavily on them as they discuss ways to improve their respective economies.


The square alignment between their respective Saturns could mean that agreement and compromise may be particularly difficult.  Xi's Saturn (27 Virgo) also squares Trump's Venus in early Cancer so that may mean an hardness and distance to the interaction as if Xi's formal and resolute approach may block any attempt by Trump to create more friendly ties (Venus). 

We can also see that Trump's Rahu (29 Taurus) very closely aspects Xi's Saturn-Neptune conjunction.   Trump's penchant for off the cuff comments and breaking with tradition (Rahu) are likely to not be well received by Xi's stronger sense of propriety and responsibility.   It is possible this disruptive Rahu effect could put Xi on the defensive and somehow benefit Trump in any discussions.   With transiting Mercury turning retrograde at 10 Sagittarius just after the meeting, Xi could be somewhat confused or disoriented by the meeting and its immediate aftermath.  Mercury (communication) will station in an exact square alignment with his Rahu/Ketu.   Another unhelpful element is that transiting Ketu (8 Aquarius) is in close aspect with Xi's Mars (7 Gemini).  This can increase annoyance and could produce significant disputes and conflict.

The transits for the meeting would seem to favour Trump actually since the Sun (24 Pisces) will oppose his Jupiter (24 Virgo) on Friday and thereby set up a larger positive alignment with transiting Jupiter (24 Virgo) which is exactly conjunct its natal placement.   But there is a lot going on in Washington, and the Sun-Jupiter opposition is perhaps just as likely to represent the Senate confirmation of Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. 

Longer term, I wonder if China's Xi Jinping will ultimately get the better of Trump due to the exact placement of Mars (7 Gemini) on Trump's 11th house cusp represents gains and wishes fulfilled.   There is no single way to interpret this placement but one possibility is that China will aggressively (Mars) take profits (11th house) from Trump and the USA.  Alternatively, China may win gains through military action (Mars) with Trump.  However, without Xi's birth time it is hard to be anything more than speculative on these sorts of questions.

Trump is still under tremendous stress and strain from the exact Saturn (3 Sagittarius) retrograde station on Thursday with his natal Mars (3 Leo).  Saturn stations play out over several days and even sometimes weeks due to its slow velocity.  But the bottom line here is I still think that Trump is likely to have a bit of a win here on the Sun-Jupiter, if only to break the heaviness of the Saturn influence which will likely remain in the air for much of April.   The 8th house aspect of Mars to Trump's Moon-Ketu conjunction will be exact over the weekend and into early next week.  That will likely bring more difficult situations and frustration for him. 

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks have generally slipped a bit lower since my previous post last Tuesday.  The Dow reversed lower today after the release of the latest Fed minutes showed its greater willingness to raise interest rates by selling the bonds on its balance sheet first acquired during the QE stimulus program.   The great unwinding has begun.   As expected stocks were mostly lower late last week and rebounded somewhat on Monday and Tuesday this week.  The Dow finished today around 20, 600.  Indian stocks have been stronger, however, as the Sensex finally regained its all-time high of 30,000 today on optimism over the GST bills and renewed global enthusiasm for emerging markets.

While some further gains are possible late this week on the Sun-Jupiter opposition, I would think the downside risk is rising here as Saturn turns retrograde tomorrow and Uranus has now just re-entered the sign of Aries.  These two placements are likely to correspond with more uncertainty and a rise in caution.  Early next week also looks difficult as Mercury turns retrograde while in aspect with the Lunar Nodes and Venus will form a close square aspect with Saturn. 

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.