Sunday, July 26, 2015

Stocks dive on China worries

(26 July 2015)  Global stock markets slumped last week as worries about the implications of a slowdown in China caused some investors to hit the sell button. US stocks fell by 2% as the Dow finished the week at 17,568 while Indian equities slipped 1% as the BSE-Sensex ended at 28,112. Ironically, Chinese stocks extended their recent rebound despite weak economic data as the Shanghai Composite again moved above 4000.  Gold declined sharply on reduced inflation expectations and finished below $1100.

I had been fairly equivocal in last week's stock market forecast, although I hinted at some potential trouble spots from malefics Saturn and Mars.  In keeping with the negative symbolism of Mars, Friday's Mars-Uranus aspect coincided closely with a significant down day on most world markets. Gold's 3% decline on the week was also in line with last week's predictions given the difficult Venus-Saturn aspect.  Venus is one of the planets most associated with gold prices, and when it is aligned with Saturn, it usually signals declines.  This was clearly the case last week.

Financial markets are looking especially vulnerable these days given the the predominance of Saturn aspects.  As I have noted previously, Saturn (4 Scorpio) has formed a close 45-degree alignment with Pluto (19 Sagittarius) for the past few weeks and this is usually an oppressive influence that makes stock market gains hard to come by.  Saturn is also forming a very unusual double square aspect with Venus and Jupiter this week and next which may create more headaches for investors.  Of course, these transits are only part of the story since we also need to take into account what is happening in the horoscopes of the relevant natal charts of key stock exchanges and commodities.

To that end, let's take a look at what is happening with the chart of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) these days.  Even if we just look at the transit picture, we can see that stocks are in an uphill battle against that Saturn transit.  Saturn is currently opposite the Sun-Mercury conjunction in Taurus which makes gains much more unlikely.  Saturn is more often correlated with declines when it forms hard aspects against key chart points like the Sun or Moon.  That seems to be playing out here as the Sun-Saturn opposition has been in play for several weeks already.  Since Saturn has been retrograde, this negative energy has had a greater influence on collective sentiment.  With Saturn due to station direction on August 2nd, this bearish Saturn effect on the Sun could well continue to negatively manifest through August and September.   Transiting Jupiter (2 Leo) is also aligning with the NYSE's Sun-Mercury conjunction so this could conceivably mitigate some of the Saturn's negative effects. 

While I am omitting any consideration of progressed placements or any other layer of planetary influence,  it should be said that the current transit position of Saturn in this chart suggests the stock market will likely fall further in the weeks to come.  Given the pivotal nature of the NYSE, this will likely spill over into most other global stock markets.

Weekly Financial Update

This week will see Venus move into closer conjunction with Jupiter while tightening the square aspect with Saturn.  Venus and Uranus turned retrograde this weekend and that alone could bring some significant developments in world markets.  Venus is now moving backwards towards its conjunction with Jupiter and alignment with Saturn.  Sometimes, these multi-planet aspects can produce outsized (i.e. two-tailed) gains despite the presence of bearish Saturn.  But downside risks nonetheless remain heightened this week and next.   We can also see that Mars (27 Gemini) will align with the natal Moon (28 Pisces) and Mars (27 Leo) in the NYSE chart early this week.  This is another reason why caution may be the watchword this week.   Mars then leaves Gemini and enters sidereal Cancer on Thursday, a sign where it is said to be debilitated.  Planets in their signs of debilitation are usually weaker and more likely to reveal their more negative symbolism.  For Mars, this means its bearish potential is somewhat more evident.  The time windows around Mars sign changes are usually negative for stocks. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Gold falls to lowest level since 2010

(19 July 2015) Stock markets breathed a sigh of relief last week after a late night bailout deal was finally reached between the EU and Greece.  While financial chaos was averted, the distrust and enmity in the Eurozone is now plain to see.  The EU has lost its innocence and may well be on its way to a more profound shake-up as a growing number of countries no longer want to subsidize a bankrupt Greece.  Global stocks rallied on the news of Monday's deal, but other financial markets took a more negative long term view. The Euro itself fell further as currency traders pondered the viability of the monetary union in the long run.  Gold also fell through a key support level as investors preferred the US Dollar as a safe haven.  

In last week's stock market forecast, I thought we might have seen more declines in stocks as the midweek alignment of Mercury-Mars-Pluto looked troublesome.  The early week entry of Jupiter into sidereal Leo was bullish as I thought it might be, and this reflected the optimism of Monday's overnight deal.  The collective fallout of Mercury-Mars-Pluto was perhaps better reflected in the assertion of Germany's power and the lingering ill will that the agreement generated.  Nobody liked the deal but it seems there was no real alternative.  As I noted previously, we could see more EU-related problems flare up again around the Mars-Uranus square around 25th July.

While gold's decline was not particularly huge (it fell almost 3% on the week), it was more important for its technical implications for the market since it broke support at $1140.  This is the lowest price for gold since 2010.  I had warned of significant declines for gold at this time in my subscriber newsletter due to a series of difficult aspects.  In the 1974 gold chart (dated for the beginning of public trading in the US), we can see that Friday's transit of Mars and Mercury lined up almost exactly with the Saturn (22 Gemini) in this horoscope.  With Pluto (20 Sagittarius) anchoring the other side of this axis, the alignment to the Saturn and Mercury opposition in the gold chart was activated quite forcefully.  Saturn is the bearish planet par excellence, and Mars also tends to be negative in its market effects.  This was therefore a clearly recognizable pattern for a decline.

The other problem with gold is that the transit picture is now dominated by Saturn.  Jupiter and Venus are both in the sign of Leo now and in most instances that should be positive for gold prices since Leo (ruled by the royal Sun) is generally a friendly sign for precious metals.  But any potential optimism is negated because Saturn forms a square aspect to both Jupiter and Venus.  Saturn exactly squared Venus last week and that was likely another factor in the weakness in the gold market. Venus will station retrograde on the 25th and will then move back into a difficult square aspect with Saturn in early August.  Jupiter is also moving closer to forming a square with Saturn which is exact in the first week of August.  And the impact of Saturn is further heightened since the ringed-planet itself is due to station and turn direct on August 2nd.  The combined effects of these patterns suggest that gold is likely to fall further in the coming days.  To be sure, the technical outlook for gold is similarly negative now that it has fallen to new lows.  But the takeaway here is that the astrological indications offer confirmation for that bearish view.  Gold may enjoy a temporary revival once Jupiter has moved past its aspect with Saturn after August 3rd.

Weekly Market Update

This week is a mixed bag.  Saturn aligns with the Sun and Mercury early in the week so that could coincide with some declines.  But then Mercury aligns with Venus and the Sun on Thursday which ought to boost optimism and produce some upside for stocks.  Friday is a bit of a question mark, however, as Mars moves to within one degree of a very unstable aspect with Uranus.  Uranus is due to station retrograde on the 26th anyway, but this Mars influence looks volatile.  Expect the unexpected.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Germany asserts its power against Greece

(12 July 2015)  Sunday has now come and gone in Brussels without any decision on the possible bailout deal between Greece and the European Union.  Sunday had been touted as the 'final deadline' for a negotiated settlement, but perhaps no one should really be surprised that everything is still very much up in the air. The sticking point now is that Germany's Angela Merkel and the other fiscal hawks in the EU want more guarantees that Greece will abide by the measures outlined in the bailout. 

The quixotic and unpredictable actions of Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and his former Financial Varoufakis in recent weeks has caused an erosion of trust at the bargaining table which is now an impediment to any deal.  His referendum ploy backfiring badly, Tsipras now has to agree to even more austerity and exceptional conditions on this latest bailout offer or else leave the Eurozone.  There is growing talk that Germany and its fiscally conservative allies in the EU actually want a 'Grexit' and are attaching so many unpalatable conditions for Greece that Tsipras will have to be the one to walk out first.

In last week's post, I suggested that the astrological alignments in the Greece-related charts suggested that a quick and simple negotiated bailout was unlikely in the coming days.  That is already in evidence now as there is now more opposition to giving Greece another €100 Billion to solve their chronic financial problems.  Even if this bailout happens, it will be unlike any other previous bailout since Germany is demanding that Greece hand out its sovereign control over most its finances to the EU.  Germany simply doesn't trust the Greek government to carry out the promised reforms to get its fiscal house in order.  I should also note that my prediction regarding serious difficulties for FM Varoufakis has come to pass albeit somewhat unexpectedly.  Tsipras' former Finance Minister suddenly resigned last Sunday in order to create a more conducive atmosphere for negotiations.

I still think a bailout is more unlikely, or if their is one there will likely be major setbacks in terms of its required political approval and implementation.  This is in part due to the serious afflictions in the Tsipras government horoscope that I noted back in January.  The Saturn station aligns exactly with both the Moon and Venus in this chart.  This suggests very serious developments which will cause suffering and hardship for the Greek people.  But the complicating issue here for making a prediction is that this kind of dire Saturnian suffering will take place in both scenarios. 

If Germany's latest hard line offer with its unprecedented invasive conditions carries the day, Greece will lose a lot of control over its economy and it will continue to be mired in recession.  So I would acknowledge the possibility that this hard line bailout may actually satisfy the symbolism of the current planetary alignments.  But I think it's important to note that this double affliction by Saturn opens to the door to the very real possibility that Greece could finally find itself left outside the Eurozone looking in.

We can also see the current sense of unease and fractiousness in the chart of the European Union, dated for the Maastricht Treaty on 1 November 1993.  There is transiting Saturn (4 Scorpio) sitting just a few degrees from the Mars-Pluto conjunction (1 Scorpio).  Saturn also opposes the Moon with that same three degree orb.  Saturn is retrograde and backing into its station on 1st August so this very heavy pressure on the EU is likely to continue until that date at least.  Saturn symbolizes setbacks, burdens, hard work and in many cases, loss and disappointment.  Given that there are three planets involved in this Saturn transit, the extent of this Greece crisis cannot be overestimated.  This is a very nasty transit indeed. 

The instability of the present historical moment is also reflected in the close nodal transit to its natal position.  Transiting Rahu (10 Virgo) is aspecting Ketu (9 Taurus) and vice versa.  These nodal transits are usually times of difficulty where the status quo is upset.  While not necessarily predictive of one outcome over another, it is a further measure of how serious the current crisis is and how it threatens to be a game changer for the European Union.

Uranus (26 Pisces) is exactly opposite Venus and square the Uranus-Neptune conjunction for the next few weeks as Uranus is also due to station on 26th July. Uranus is the planet of independence and rebellion and its more disruptive side is usually in evidence when it forms hard aspects as is the case here.  Venus represents happiness and economic well-being so this extended dose of the Uranian desire for freedom is pretty much just what one would expect to see when an organization or union is coming apart.  We can see that the transiting Sun (25 Gemini) today aligned exactly with Uranus and the Venus-Uranus/Pluto square in the natal chart.   The egos (Sun) of Merkel, Hollande, et al were on display as the leaders of the EU failed to come to any agreement despite the deadline.

While Uranus may not have the final say about whether Greece stays or goes, this is a strong indication that the desire to resist solidarity and breakaway from the status quo will be very strong over the next couple of weeks. Again, this alignment argues for Greece leaving the Eurozone if a decision is made in July.  But the corollary to that is that if Greece can manage to hang on until August, then the outlook may improve for the bailout and staying in the Eurozone currency union as the Uranus and Saturn energies begin to recede. 

So what is going to happen?  The key time window to watch in this respect may be the Mars transit to 25 Gemini on 22-24 July.  At this time, Mars will align exactly with Venus, Neptune and Uranus.  Mars is usually a destabilizing energy so if Greece was going to really leave, then these dates look somewhat more likely for that outcome.  And that means that if they aren't out by then, the odds begin to rise that they will stay in and accept the bailout offer.

Weekly Financial Update

US Stocks ended flat on the week after recovering on optimism that a bailout could be found for Greece.  The rebound in the Chinese markets also helped to boost stocks later in the week after some early selling.  The Dow actually ended slightly higher at 17,760.  Indian stocks fared worse, however, as the Sensex lost 400 points on the week and closed at 27,661.

In last week's stock market forecast, I suggested that worst case scenarios were unlikely despite the surprising No vote in the Greferendum and thought that any declines might be modest.  This was more or less the case, and European markets ended higher on hopes that a deal would get done. 

This week looks more difficult, however.  On the plus side, Jupiter enters sidereal Leo on Monday.  That is normally associated with some upside.  But gains may turn out to be very brief if they happen at all as Venus is exactly squared by Saturn for much of the week, although most closely in the first half.  Then a very tense alignment of Mercury, Mars and Pluto dominates the midweek period.  This alignment is associated with coercive exercises of power and the obsessive application of logic and rules.  Looks like Ms. Merkel will be busy.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Greece says No

(5 July 2015)  With the strong No vote in today's EU bailout referendum, the Greek people have taken a giant leap of faith into the unknown.  Following the lead of their popular left wing PM Alexis Tsipras, Greeks have issued a stunning rebuke to the status quo in Europe as they rejected austerity imposed from without in favour of self-determination.  But what will happen next is anyone's guess, as the EU must now prepare a response to the referendum result at an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

Will the EU cave in once again to preserve the integrity of Eurozone to avoid financial chaos and make actually a better offer to Tsipras?  Or will Merkel and Hollande take a tougher stand and carry through with their threat to let Greece default and thereby hasten the departure of Greece from the Eurozone?  It seems unlikely that there will be any quick resolution to the crisis, even if one or the other of these or any other paths is taken.  There are just too many variables here and too many ways things could go wrong. 

I was unsure what the outcome of the referendum would be but I did think the stars generally favoured uncertainty and pessimism in July rather than resolution and optimism.  In previous posts on the swearing-in chart of the Syriza government and Finance Minister Varoufakis, I thought the June-July period would likely be very difficult indeed.  This prediction has largely come to pass regardless of what kind of developments we may see from here on in.  I still think that the crisis has not passed and the government and the Greek people are likely to remain under major stress for weeks to come.  To me, this suggests that an EU deal is unlikely to be struck.  Perhaps that means that Germany and France will in fact take a harder line with Greece now that the people have rejected the bailout offer.

If we look at the chart of the date of the proclamation of the Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1822, we can see how agitated and pivotal the current period is.  Just looking at the transits today, there is Jupiter in a close trine aspect (less than one degree) with Saturn and Jupiter.   Jupiter transits to Saturn often coincide with constructive progress as traditions (Saturn) are subject to renewal (Jupiter).  Jupiter to Jupiter transits can be times of expressions of wisdom and philosophy, as we evidenced from this exercise in popular democracy, that most Greek invention.  But Jupiter is quickly moving past this helpful transit in the coming days so the celebratory is unlikely to last.

At the same, Mars is very strong in its opposition aspect to Uranus and Neptune.  This is a more difficult energy that reflects all of the social and political turmoil that Greece is currently undergoing.  Fortunately, this aspect is exact today, so that offers some hope that things will calm down in the coming days. 

Disruptive Uranus is also prominent through its transiting square aspect with Mercury.  Mercury is associated with business and commerce and the square aspect is usually difficult. This pairing with rebellious and independent Uranus is indicative of the Greek people's proud refusal to submit to more EU austerity.  Given its upcoming station at 26 Pisces in late July, this aspect will hang around for a while yet and could undermine the ability of the government to get things back to normal.

But another aspect is more worrying.  Saturn (4 Scorpio) is due to station on 1st August very close to its current position and this will form an exact square aspect with Ketu (South Lunar Node) at 4 Leo.  This is usually problematic for social stability since Ketu symbolizes unexpected events and fragmentation when it comes under transit pressure.  Given the very low velocity of Saturn over the next month or two, this aspect to Ketu suggests the current chaotic atmosphere in Greece is likely to continue, albeit perhaps not quite with same level of anxiety as we saw in the run-up to the referendum. 

More troubling is that Saturn will be casting its full strength 3rd house (60 degree) aspect to the Sun (1 Capricorn).  This only out by a few degrees so it looks quite potent.  The Sun represents vitality in general as well as the government and state apparatus.  This is bad news for Tsipras and his Syriza government as it means they are likely to remain under pressure for another couple of months.  This stressful period could be the result of simply the current disastrous state of the Greek economy which saps the country's vitality (Sun).  But I suspect the stress will also manifest as growing criticism of the government as the current crisis drags on.

The bottom line here is that there is unlikely to be any quick fixes for Greece.  It also suggests that a new negotiated agreement with the EU is unlikely.   It is possible we could see some kind of deal made in the coming days, but the transits suggest that something will go wrong.  Either the Greek Parliament will not approve it, or there will be some backsliding by the Europeans.  Either way, I think Greece is unlikely to come out of this easily or quickly. 

Weekly Financial Update

Stocks generally fell last week as investors began to weigh the possible impact of the Greek default and the potential for its exit from the Eurozone.  US markets were down by about 1% with the Dow finishing at 17,730.  Indian stocks fared better, however, as the Sensex rose on positive earnings data and closing up 1% to 28,092.  I thought markets would have been somewhat more positive last week given the key Venus-Jupiter conjunction on Tuesday the 30th.   Stocks did recover somewhat around this midweek pattern but the week as a whole was negative in most markets.   I had previously noted in this space (and in more detail in my newsletter) the potential financial importance of this late-June alignment of Venus, Jupiter and Uranus and how it could well correspond with major economic developments and turning points.  This could well prove to be the case here as Greece is again threatening to derail this Fed-fueled bull market.

This week is likely to see more volatility.  Monday's session is very likely to be negative in any event as stock futures are sharply lower around the world after the No vote in Greece.  Monday will be marked by a tense Sun-Pluto opposition in any event.  But I'm not convinced we will see any worse case scenarios this week, however.  While the Jupiter influence is waning and hence there is less optimism available, the short term aspects are more mixed into mid-week.   The late week Venus-Saturn square aspect is definitely cause for concern but it is unclear if it will manifest this week or next.  That said, the week could well be bearish but perhaps not as bearish as some people may fear.  And I would not be surprised to see some markets actually posted a gain.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Greece moves to the brink as EU talks collapse

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

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

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

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

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


Financial Markets Update

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

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

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jupiter aligns with Uranus: a signal of change?

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Market Forecast

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

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lessons of Financial Astrology: the case of Bill Gross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Financial Update

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

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

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