Sunday, March 29, 2015

Andreas Lubitz and the tragedy of Germanwings 9525

(29 March 2015)  In the end, Andreas Lubitz got what he wanted.  The 27-year old Germanwings pilot had told a former girlfriend that he wanted to make a spectacular gesture so that 'everyone would know his name'.  The world has recoiled in shock and horror on learning that Lubitz deliberately crashed his plane into the French Alps killing himself and all the other 149 people on board on March 24.  It has now emerged that young pilot had hidden his history of clinical depression from his employer in order to keep his job.

There is some uncertainty about the the birth date of Andreas Lubitz.   Some sources report he was born on 18 December 1987 while others say he was born on 28 December, in the town of Montabaur, Germany.  I prefer the chart for 18 December for reasons I outline below.  As an additional obstacle, his birth time is unknown so a full analysis of his horoscope is impossible. However, even his birth date chart reveal some major planetary stresses for the present time. 

In cases of mental illness, the condition of Moon and Mercury are key.  The Moon rules the mind and the emotional self.  Mercury is said to be associated with the rational thinking process.  When both of these planets are afflicted, the odds of some kind of mental anguish increases. 

The Moon is probably more pivotal in this respect and we can see that Lubitz may well have born with the Moon debilitated in the sign of Scorpio.  This can make a person somewhat reactive and intense in their emotional responses to situations.  There is nothing wrong with Scorpio Moons per se, however, but the debilitation factor becomes more important when we look at its corresponding co-factors.  Scorpio is ruled by Mars and Mars is placed in the 12th house from the Moon, the house of loss and isolation.  This should be seen as a negative influence on the Moon and his mental well-being.  And the relative proximity of Mars to the Moon is an additional problem as Mars can be an agitating influence.  If Lubitz was born on the morning then the intensity of Mars would be more strongly felt by his Moon.  

I tend to think he was born in the afternoon or evening as the other main difficulty with his Moon is the close trine aspect from Rahu (North Lunar Node).  Rahu-Moon aspects can create instability in a person.  There can be heightened powers of imagination and creativity but the vulnerability to upset and mood swings increases also.  It is something of a trade-off in that respect: enhanced imagination in exchange for less mental calm and emotional predictability. 

Mercury is also afflicted in his chart as it is in a tight conjunction with Saturn.  Saturn is the planet most connected with depressive moods and sadness so it is no surprise here that Lubitz' main struggles in life were Saturnian in nature.  To be sure, Mercury (29 Scorpio) is also closely aspected by Jupiter (26 Pisces) and that would lend him a high intellectual capacity that was required for being a good pilot.  However, Saturn's influence is stronger in the chart since it is closer.  People with strong Saturn charts need order and control to do well in life.  When these are taken away, the result can be paralyzing or sometimes even chaotic.  Lubitz's girlfriend had recently refused to marry him and had ended their relationship a few weeks ago, so this no doubt affected his self-perception. The order and stability in his life had suddenly been cast aside.

Saturn figures even more prominently in his chart since it is also conjunct the Sun and Uranus.  People with Sun-Uranus conjunctions like to think 'outside the box' and abhor convention.  Coupled with Lubitz's emotional problems, the Sun-Uranus preference for excitement and breaking with the mainstream may have played a role in his seeking a final act of notoriety which would make him famous.

The transits at the time of the crash were particularly stressful.  First, we should note an ongoing Saturn conjunction to his Moon in early Scorpio.  Saturn had been in fairly close conjunction for many months and this was no doubt weighing on him.  Saturn transits to the Moon are usually darker times, especially when individuals have such vulnerable Moons, as Lubitz had.  People with unafflicted Moons usually can come out of such Saturn transits without any problems at all, and can even benefit from the regimentation and discipline that Saturn often brings.  But a debilitated Moon in aspect with Rahu in proximity with Mars is another story. 

Lubitz's Mars (22 Libra) was also activated by the double alignment of Uranus (21 Pisces) and Pluto (21 Sagittarius).   Mars is the planet most associated with sudden or quick actions and is connected with violence in extreme situations.  The Uranus and Pluto transits here were ongoing for several weeks but the partial aspects were still very close and therefore this had to be very agitating for him.  He felt the strong desire to do something big -- to make 'everyone know his name'.

The insanity of his plan would be more likely be brought to fruition because of transiting Mars' aspect to the Moon, as well as the lesser degreewise alignment to Mercury, Saturn, Sun, Uranus and Venus.  This short term Mars aspect was likely the triggering influence for this terrible event. Mars (0 Aries) had just entered Aries and it therefore cast its most malefic 8th house aspect (210 degree) to the natal Moon.  Mars to Moon transits are classic indications of anger and emotional outbursts.  All of his well-laid plans could finally be played out in this sinister act of flying a plane at 400 mph into a mountain and taking the lives of 149 innocent people.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks generally declined last week as worries over Yemen and slow growth data out of China encouraged more investors to take profits.  The Dow lost 2% closing at 17,712 while the Indian Sensex tumbled almost 3% and finished at 27,458.  This outcome was broadly in keeping with my expectations for a bearish March as Jupiter's bullish influence is waning.  Jupiter formed an exact 120 degree angle with Uranus on March 3rd -- just one day before the all-time high for Indian stocks and one day after the all-time high for US stocks.  Once these Jupiter aspects begin to separate, collective sentiment tends to recede and markets are more susceptible to pullbacks and corrections. 

This week looks quite volatile given the lunar eclipse that is due on Saturday.  The Sun's conjunction with Ketu on Tuesday is front and center in this respect since the Moon's nodes are harbingers of eclipses.  As it happens, there are also some bullish short term aspects in the mix also as Venus aligns with Uranus and Pluto on Monday and the Sun aligns with bullish Jupiter on Wednesday.  The markets look quite active here with larger than normal moves more likely although it is less clear if there is a consistent direction indicated by the planets.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Is the Fed's patience wearing thin?

(16 March 2015)  All eyes in the financial world are on Janet Yellen this week as the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee meets on Wednesday.  In recent weeks, there has been a growing sense that Yellen will shift the language around a possible interest rate hike later this year.  The Fed's "patient" stance on a possible rate hike may be dropped as the US economy picks up steam and inflationary pressures build.   Although any actual hike may still be months away (June at the earliest), markets are keenly aware that any changes in wording could move stocks significantly.  An abrupt shift in language could persuade investors to trim their holdings and push the market lower.  A retention of "patient", or a substitution of any similarly accommodative language would be unexpected and could spark a rally.  So are there any astrological clues that may reveal what will she say?

I can't predict what words she will use but the planets do seem to have a fairly unusual layer of intensity on Wednesday.  Looking at Janet Yellen's horoscope (actually her approximated horoscope since we don't know her birth time), we can see that transiting Mars (26 Pisces) will be in a close trine aspect with Ketu (25 Scorpio), the South Lunar Node.  This kind of Mars-Ketu aspect suggests a greater expenditure of energy and the necessity of quick reaction to unexpected developments.  Although it's broadly stressful, it doesn't necessarily mean that Yellen will suddenly be in the hotseat. 

On Wednesday, Venus (7 Aries) will form a close square with her Saturn (8 Cancer) which may indicate some level of sadness or unhappiness. With Saturn (10 Scorpio) just having stationed retrograde in fairly close alignment with her Mercury (11 Cancer), there is some evidence that Yellen is under considerable stress here.  Saturn-Mercury aspects tend to coincide with major obstacles that are often work-related and may signify a setback.

As an added layer, we can see that there is a similar Mars influence in the Fed horoscope as Mars squares its natal position.  Mars transits ratchet up the energy surrounding a one or two-day window.  The square aspect is often problematic in some way so that conflict or annoyance is more likely to manifest.  This is not a transit one would find if, for example, a Fed announcement was welcomed by the market with a major rally.  Another red flag here is that Saturn's station at 10 Scorpio forms a tight 135 degree aspect with the Ascendant of the Fed chart.  This is another sign of a setback or complication in their plans. 

Taken together, these influences suggest that whatever choices Yellen and the Fed will make this week, they will be the result of imperfect options.  There is also the possibility that things will not go according to expectations and they may be forced to do something she would rather not.  Now, whether this means staying patient about zero interest rates is harder to say. 

Given Yellen's dovish stance, this seems more likely to mean raising rates sooner rather than later.  This might also explain the strong Mars and Saturn influences here which tend to be prominent in unwanted or negative situations.  It it possible that Yellen and the Fed will only get into trouble from her testimony after the formal printed announcement is released.   The Mercury-Neptune conjunction on Wednesday seems to suggest some confusion is possible, although it could simply represent an idealized (Neptune) interpretation of her communication (Mercury) -- "the economy is getting better".  Neptune often symbolizes things that do not exist in reality and is more concerned with dreams and illusions.  That may refer to Yellen's dream of an economic recovery as the rest of the world appears to be slipping into recession. 

The bottom line is it's hard to see a simple positive market reaction to Wednesday's announcement with these planets.  It's still conceivable the market could still move higher this week but the planets suggest that Yellen and the Fed will be in the spotlight where they are more likely to receive more criticism and scrutiny.

Weekly Market Update

Stocks were lower last week as growing concern over the sharply rising US Dollar convinced investors to reassess their portfolios.  The Dow lost 1% on the week closing at 17,749 while the Indian Sensex slumped 3% to 28,503.  This negative outcome was very much in keeping with our expectations as I thought the Mars alignment with Uranus and Pluto would likely cause some problems, especially given the apparent waning influence of Jupiter in the wake of its aspect with Uranus on March 3rd. 

This week could see some bigger moves as a result of Wednesday's Fed announcement.  Wednesday's Mercury-Neptune conjunction could go either way actually, although the Mars-Saturn alignment on Tuesday looks more difficult.  Whether its effects bleeds into Wednesday is unclear, however. Friday's solar eclipse could introduce more uncertainty into the mix, especially given the close Venus-Saturn alignment that day. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Hillary Clinton email controversy

(10 March 2015) Hillary Clinton has been back in the news recently, but for all the wrong reasons.  The frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic Party nomination has come under scrutiny for her emails during her tenure as Secretary of State.  Ms. Clinton apparently did not use government email as required by the rules and instead used a private email address.  In addition, she sent and received emails through a private email server located in the Clinton house in New York.

It's really the last thing she needs right now as rumors were rife that she was on the verge of formally announcing her candidacy for President.  She is likely to speak publicly the email controversy and thereby hopes to clear the air in order that she can declare in the coming weeks.  Whether or not she can quickly douse this fire remains to be seen, however.

Her horoscope provides some intriguing clues about the current situation. While there is some uncertainty about her birth time, I use the 8.00 am chart but try to keep an open mind about it. When The New York Times broke the story on March 2nd, we can see that retrograde Jupiter (20 Cancer 41) had just past its conjunction with her natal Mars (20 Cancer 58) while Mercury (21 Capricorn) opposed Mars within one degree.  On the face of it, that doesn't look too bad given Jupiter's bias towards favorable outcomes. 

But one way of thinking about this Jupiter-to-Mars conjunction is that it was already past exact on the day of the Times' story.  It became exact on Feb 27, some three days before.  Whatever positive effects Jupiter may have been exerting on Ms. Clinton were therefore diminishing as Jupiter moved away from her natal Mars.  So Jupiter's approaching conjunction may have protected her in the days and weeks leading up to the conjunction in late February, but once past, the protective effects lessened and allowed other negative planetary influences to come to the fore. 

The other part of the equation here is that Clinton's Mars is currently in alignment with both Uranus (20 Pisces 34) and Pluto (21 Sagittarius 03).  Both of these outer planets are within minutes of exact angles to Mars.  Both Uranus and Pluto are formally neutral influences but can become much more negative if hard aspects are involved (not the case here) or if malefics are involved, which is the case here.  Mars is a malefic planet by nature and her Mars is debilitated in Cancer thus increasing possible damaging effects when it is involved in a bad transit alignment. 

So how damaging could this be to her political ambitions?  My guess is she will not suffer too much long term damage even if the current controversy may last a while.  Uranus is moving forward now and thus weakening its ties with Mars in the coming days.  That should help her.  Pluto moves more slowly so its alignment and potential fallout could linger for a while.  Pluto tends to be associated with power plays and coercive situations so we could see Ms. Clinton on her heels somewhat for several more weeks.  The good news for Hillary is that Jupiter will station direct on April 9th and therefore is due to pass directly over her Mars again in May.  This again could create a protective effect on her and boost her candidacy later in the spring.

Weekly Financial Market Update

Stock markets wobbled last week after Friday's strong US jobs report increased the likelihood of a Fed interest rate hike.   Since the 6-year old bull market has been largely dependent on the Fed's ultra-loose monetary policy  (i.e. money printing), the Dow tumbled and finished the week at 17,856.  Indian stocks fared somewhat better as enthusiasm for the recent Budget gave investors more of a reason to buy.  The Sensex gained less than 1% on the week closing at 29,448.  This tentative outcome was not surprising as I thought the early week Jupiter-Uranus aspect had bullish potential but that it could well run out before the week was done, especially given the unpredictable midweek Mars-Ketu (South Lunar Node) conjunction.  That was pretty much the case as commodities like gold and oil followed most stock markets lower later in the week. 

This week will be an important test of the ongoing influence of the Jupiter-Uranus aspect.  Although it remains very close to exact, it is nonetheless waning.  As we have seen with Hillary Clinton's situation, these close but separating aspects can sometimes shift their polarity in the blink of an eye.  And with Mars conjoining Uranus here and forming a square aspect with Pluto midweek, one would expect collective anxiety and fear to become more prominent.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Euphoria becomes reality: the BJP's cautious first budget

(2 March 2015)  The new government of Narendra Modi announced its much-anticipated first budget last Saturday to initially positive, if muted, reviews.  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's budget was expected to begin the herculean task of reforming the Indian economy away from its statist and populist orientation towards a more deregulated, pro-growth stance.  The budget was seen as rather cautious and piece-meal, however, as Jaitley did not reduce subsidies nor did he introduce a general sales tax which is widely seen as necessary to fund overdue infrastructure improvements.  Markets rose only modestly on Saturday in reaction to the budget and Monday's session similarly only mildly positive suggesting a lack of enthusiasm and perhaps even a twinge of disappointment.  All of the optimism over the promise of sweeping change from the Modi government now appears to fading as reality takes over.

Perhaps we should not be surprised that PM Narendra Modi has been having a tough go of it lately.  On February 10th, Modi's BJP was trounced in the high-profile Delhi election by the anti-elite upstart AAP.  The defeat was seen a partial critique of Modi's administration, although it is just in the first year of its mandate.  Reforms have been too slow for business and the rising middle class but too fast and destabilizing for popular sectors. Now the budget appears to continue this overly cautious approach which tries to be all things to all people. 

To some extent, the current malaise of the Modi government can be seen in the astrological alignments of the swearing-in chart.  Mr. Modi was sworn-in at 6.13 p.m. on May 26th 2014.  As I suggested in a post I made at the time, Modi was likely to suffer some kind of setback in early 2015 sometime between February and April.  The key astrological feature in this regard was the Saturn retrograde station on March 14th. 

Saturn is due to station and turn retrograde at 10 degrees of Scorpio which is almost exactly opposite the Sun (11 Taurus) in the swearing-in chart.  Saturn aspects tend to favour caution over boldness so the budget may also be seen in that light.  Saturn-Sun aspects are usually indicators of disappointment, failure, and loss.  The loss to the AAP in Delhi in February effectively marked the end of the hope and euphoria of Modi's win the year before.  Saturn, via the AAP, ended Modi's political honeymoon.  Saturn was situated at 10 Scorpio 06 on Feb 10 just one degree from the natal Sun at 11 Taurus 14. Due to its slow velocity, Saturn had only moved to 10 Scorpio 46 on Budget Day thus reiterating an even closer affliction to the natal Sun.

On May 28th 2014, I wrote that this Saturn affliction to the Sun would likely reflect some big problems for Modi:

In terms of timing, the transit that stands out most is the Saturn retrograde station at 10 Scorpio in March 2015.  Saturn will station in quite a close opposition to the Sun (11 Taurus) between February and April and may correspond with a significant setback, especially concerning Mr Modi himself, as the Sun symbolizes leaders.

The other source of his problems is that transiting Rahu (16 Virgo) is closely conjunct the natal Mars in this chart at 15 Virgo.  Rahu-Mars tends to be more associated with sudden developments, especially those involving a sense of conflict, anger and violence.  I'm not convinced the BJP Delhi defeat or the muted budget reaction is reflected in this transit.  My sense is that the government may have further obstacles to overcome in the months of March and April that are more in keeping with the symbolism of Mars.  It could be some political dispute that arises from the budget or it could even be some significant act of violence in the country.  Although Saturn will gradually back away from its aspect with the Sun after March 14th, Rahu stations at 15-16 Virgo until May and will only be just one degree past in June.  The next two to three months may therefore prove to be quite challenging on several fronts for the Modi government. 

Weekly Financial Update

After the budget drama, Indian stocks were modestly higher last week as the BSE-Sensex closed up less than 1% at 29,361.  US Stocks were largely flat despite more testimony from Fed Chair Yellen that she was in no rush to hike interest rates.   The Dow finished at 18,132.  I had been fairly non-committal last week although I noted the likelihood of a favorable reaction to the Indian budget on Saturday.  The early week Saturn aspects were only mildly bearish with Monday's Sun-Saturn square being the worst.  Jupiter is likely one of the key influences keeping sentiment as positive as it is at the moment. 

But this week could see some important developments as Jupiter's bullish aspect with Uranus will exactly culminate its 120 degree angle on Tuesday.  Bullish Venus conjoins Uranus on Wednesday while the Sun aligns with Jupiter-Uranus on Thursday.  There are a high density of aspects in play this week which could magnify trading outcomes both in terms of size and significance.  Mars also conjoins Ketu (South Lunar Node) on Wednesday and Thursday so that introduces an element of the unexpected and the unwanted.  It could turn out to be quite a week.  The main question is: what happens to the market after Jupiter starts to separate from its angle with Uranus this week? 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ukraine suffers humiliating defeat at Debaltseve

(22 February 2015)  Score one for Vladimir Putin. Again.  Ukraine suffered an embarrassing military setback in eastern Ukraine this week as pro-Russian rebels took control of the strategic town of Debaltseve.  The Ukrainian army was forced to flee the town on Wednesday after the superior weaponry of the rebels (courtesy of Russia) made the town impossible to defend.  The irony was that it all took place just a week after a much-heralded ceasefire that had been brokered by Germany and France.  To make matters worse, there is growing evidence that Russian troops are now actually fighting alongside the rebels.  

However unscrupulous he may be, Putin has again apparently out-foxed the West and its client state, Ukraine.  Given the failure at Debaltseve, more commentators are suggesting that the Ukraininan army may be on the verge of collapse unless the West finally decides to supply them with weapons.  The Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko has said that they are now preparing for total war with Russia.

This latest chapter in the Ukrainian conflict with Russia isn't too surprising given Putin's track record.   But it was all quite predictable with astrology.  As I noted in two posts in 2014, I suggested that military action would flare up again in early 2015 and that Ukraine would likely come out on the short end of the stick.  This prediction was based on the chart of the swearing-in of Poroshenko after he was elected PM as well as Putin's own horoscope.  In June 2014, here's what I wrote:

Looking ahead, one obvious time frame to watch will be early 2015.  In February, Saturn (9 Scorpio) will station in a close square aspect to the Ascendant (8 Leo) just as transiting Rahu will conjoin the natal Mars at 17 Virgo.  Although each of these aspects needn't bring problems in themselves, their simultaneity increases the probability of a major setback for Ukraine, including a significant situation involving military action (Rahu-Mars).

The defeat of Ukrainian army at Debaltseve may well turn out to be quite significant and could be a game changer.   It may signal the beginning of a new rebel offensive that takes even more territory in eastern Ukraine.  Alternatively, it may also compel the US to commit to military support of Ukraine, a move it has been desperately trying to avoid over the past year.  If the US gives weapons to Ukraine, it will ratchet up the geopolitical tension and heighten animosity with Russia.   It would essentially become a Cold War 2.0 where the US and Russia fight wars against each other through their client states.    So what does the future hold for Ukraine?

I think there is still a couple more weeks to go before the current atmosphere violence subsides for a while.  The problem is that Rahu (North Lunar Node) at 16 Virgo is still very close to natal Mars (17 Virgo).    Due to Rahu's slow velocity here, it won't fully move past Mars until April.  It could well peak during the first week of March as transiting Mars (17 Pisces) will oppose natal Mars (17 Virgo) with the nodes, Rahu and Ketu still just one degree away.   I can't say if the US will end up arming Ukraine, but that Mars-to-Mars transit on March 5-6 looks quite intense and will likely correlate with a losing or defensive situation that involves violence.   This time period could mark the most intense or significant part of the conflict. 

As Rahu moves away in subsequent weeks (by April), fighting may be less strategically important (although it may well continue in some form), but the chart still looks weakened by the ongoing placement of Saturn at the bottom of the chart at 10 Scorpio near the equal 4th house cusp.  Even if there is a more sustainable ceasefire in April, Ukraine still looks to be in a bad situation since Saturn will station retrograde there in mid-March and then slowly move back over the 4th cusp in the coming weeks.  Its next station occurs at 4 Scorpio in July which is still very close to a square with the Ascendant and hence close to the 4th cusp also.  It is very hard for the country to move forward into peace and prosperity with that kind of ongoing planetary burden.

At this time, I can't predict if Putin will completely take over Ukraine or merely be content to settle for this buffer zone in the east.  But the late summer period looks difficult again for Ukraine as Saturn and Rahu will align with the natal Moon and Ascendant.  September and October look extremely stressed from this alignment.  It looks like the Poroshenko government will likely suffer another major blow in the late summer or early fall.   I can easily see the loss of more territory with this pattern.  March and April of 2016 will see transiting Saturn station opposite the natal Sun.  This perhaps isn't quite bad enough to coincide with total defeat at the hands of Putin and the rebels, but it could be an indicator of the fall of the Poroshenko government.  So some tough times ahead for Ukraine.

Financial Markets Update

The other big news last week was the 11th hour agreement between Greece and the EU to extend a bailout to that beleaguered country for four more months.  Most observers assumed that despite the tough talk of the PM Tsipras and FM Varoufakis, some kind of compromise deal would be worked out before any of the Greek debt came due at the end of the month.  In a previous post, I also thought this would be the case as Varoufakis' horoscope showed mostly favourable planets in January and February.   Another factor was likely the approaching Jupiter-Uranus trine aspect (120 degrees).  This is usually a positive influence on collective sentiment that can boost financial markets and give a sense of hope.  Stocks generally rose last week with the news and this was largely expected given the ongoing Jupiter influence. 

As noted previously, the Jupiter-Uranus aspect is exact on March 3rd so we could be getting very close to a maximum level of optimism and preference for risk-taking as far as the markets go.   The question is what happens after this aspect begins to separate on the 4th?  The short answer is that optimism is going to be harder to come by as Jupiter loses its strength in the days and weeks that follow.  

This week we could see what effect, if any, some Saturn aspects may have on the markets.  There are no less than three quick aspects with Saturn involving the Sun, Venus and Mars in the first half of the week.  Saturn is usually a negative influence, but with Jupiter still operating at full steam in the background, declines could be muted at best.  The late week sees the Sun and Venus align with Neptune which suggests more optimism.   Saturday the 28th is Budget Day in India and markets there will be open in a special session so investors can adjust their portfolios as they see fit.  The planets also tilt bullish on the weekend so one would think the markets will welcome whatever FM Jaitley has on offer.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Oil prices surge: is this the beginning of a rebound?

(8 February 2015)  After its long and relentless decline through the second half of 2014, the price of crude oil showed signs of life last week as investors were buoyed by improving demand prospects in Europe.  Crude oil enjoyed a 10% gain last week as West Texas Intermediate crude rallied over the $50 level.   It had previously traded as low as $44.  So we can ask the question: can oil begin to recover now and gradually climb back to its more familiar levels of $80, $90 or even $100?  Most financial analysts do not expect a swift return to its previous heights and many even think that crude will decline further in the months to come as the shale oil shakeout will continue.

The horoscope of Crude Oil Futures offers some useful clues to this question.   As noted in previous posts, the beginning of the decline in crude occurred just as transiting Ketu (South Lunar Node) conjoined the natal Mars. This is a classic bearish combination that began the correction.  Transiting Saturn then soon made its own bearish contribution as it opposed Venus and then hit the 6th house cusp (29 Libra) in November.  I had thought that Jupiter's station at 28 Cancer in December might have provided a temporary lift but this never really materialized as the transit was offset by ongoing difficult progressed alignments.  

Last week's bounce may be partially the result of some better progressions as well as the approaching Jupiter-Uranus aspect that is exact on March 3rd.  This aspect will line up exactly on the natal Mercury in the Futures chart so there is some reason to expect more gains in the next few weeks.  Of course, there are some negative influences at work here, too, not the least of which is Ketu's conjunction to the Sun and Pluto's square to Mercury which is exact during much of February.   Ketu's conjunction will be conjunct in March.  Both of these latter alignments are more troublesome so they could dampen the enthusiasm for any rally that coincides with that Jupiter-Uranus aspect.  Nonetheless, that Jupiter influence may well prevail for a while as prices firm up.  Once Jupiter begins to separate from Uranus in early March and into April there may be less optimism.  A re-assessment of the key influences will be necessary at that time. 

Financial Markets Update

US stocks powered higher last week as fears receded over Greece.  The Dow climbed more than 3% closing at 17,824.  I thought there would be some upside early in the week on the Mercury-Venus-Neptune alignment but that the second half of the week looked more uncertain with some down days likely.  This was partially correct as Wednesday and Friday were lower as most of the week's gains occurred on Monday and Tuesday.  Indian stocks actually declined on profit taking after making fresh all-time highs the previous week. 

This week looks somewhat bearish biased as Mars changes signs and enters sidereal Pisces.  As a malefic planet, Mars tends to be associated with rising tension and anxiety and therefore markets tend to decline when it forms significant placements and alignments.  The sign change is one such placement that is a fairly reliable indicator of a down day or two.  The sign change takes place on Thursday.  This time around, the Sun will form an alignment with Mars so that could magnify its significance as well as modify its most likely day of manifestation.  Thursday is still focusing on, but Wednesday and Friday could also be suspect.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Greece attempts to renegotiate its EU debt deal

(3 February 2015)  Anxiety in financial markets seems to have eased a bit in recent days as the newly-minted Greek government endeavours to negotiate a new debt deal from the EU.  The anti-austerity Syriza government is trying to postpone their debt repayment in order to give a boost to the domestic economy.  Spearheading these efforts is the new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who has become something of a celebrity through his wit and casual style, as contrasted in this picture with the buttoned-down formality with his UK counterpart, George Osborne.  Varoufakis has reiterated his government's desire to remain in the Eurozone under any circumstances by citing the lyrics to the old 70s pop song Hotel California, "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

Varoufakis has the horoscope of someone who is both intellectually inclined and who seeks novel solutions.  While we don't know his birth time, he was born March 24, 1961 in Athens.  For convenience, we will use noon and use the Chandra Lagna chart as a stand-in for the proper rasi chart. Right away, we can see that key Moon-Mars conjunction in Gemini.  Gemini is a very cerebral sort of sign as it gives prominence to the exchange of information and communication.  The Moon-Mars conjunction is a classic signature for a quick-thinking and intelligent person. regardless of the sign it is placed in.  The Gemini placement likely makes him that much more witty and voluble. 

And of course the bottom line planet for intellect is Mercury.  Varoufakis' Mercury is placed in an air sign (Aquarius) in a tight conjunction with Ketu, the South Lunar Node. Mercury-Ketu conjunctions often confer a preference for originality and a special sense of perception that may fall outside the mainstream.  Ketu is all about erasing or challenging boundaries, which is why it is prominent in the charts of people who follow a spiritual path.  It seeks to transcend the everyday world in its search for meaning and union with the Absolute.  When it is paired with Mercury, the thinking process is liberated from the simple rules that govern rational thought so that the individual may become more creative and be more apt to think unconventionally.  The fact that both the Moon and Mars are placed in a sign that is ruled by Mercury (Gemini) means that this unusual and even iconoclastic quality may be manifested more widely as the Gemini energy has an outlet to spread through the rest of his chart (and his life).

His intellect may be more obsessive and penetrating due to the exact opposition aspect with Pluto.  Pluto's influence on Mercury is often one what is capable of great focus and may give the native a desire to delve deeply into matters of perception and logic.  Taken together, this trio of Mercury-Ketu-Pluto is quite a clear indication of a very intelligent and focused person who is able to makes sense of complex problems.  This is not to say that his particular solution to the Greek debt problem is more correct than anyone else in the EU. Rather, his career in economics can be seen as a reflection of this intense desire to solve problems according to some kind of rational paradigm.  Both left-wing and right-wing politics can be said to follow rational paradigms, even if their ethical assumptions differ fundamentally. 

Other placements in his Moon-as-Ascendant chart are also positive for a successful career.  Sun is in the 10th house from the Moon (status, high profile) and his near-stationary retrograde Venus is in the 11th house (gains, high income, wishes fulfilled). 

This current rise to fame is less clearly seen in the transit chart in Chandra Lagna but may be more evident through his tertiary progressed chart.  The close Sun-Jupiter conjunction is the perfect astro signature for the gains and rewards he is no doubt enjoying in his recent appointment as finance minister.  Progressed Jupiter moves very slowly -- just a bit more than one degree per year -- but the progressed Sun moves about one degree per month so it should be seen as an accurate timing device for Varoufakis' ascension onto the world scene. The fact that this conjunction isn't exact until April suggests that the odds favour some kind of solid debt deal in the days and weeks to come.  The man is definitely on a roll which should see him preside over a successful renegotiation of Greek sovereign debt. 

But difficulties may surface as progressed Mercury and Venus align with progressed Saturn in the coming months.  That alignment appears to be closest in June and July, although the Mars station in May also looks a bit troublesome.  Just what these alignments may indicate is hard to say.  More bad economic data out of Greece?  German impatience with Greek internal restructuring to limit public spending?  Whatever it is, it seems likely that Varoufakis' honeymoon period is likely to end by late spring or early summer. 

Financial Markets Update

Stocks slumped last week as the latest comments from the Federal Reserve suggested a more hawkish policy towards rate rises in the future. The Dow lost about 3% closing at 17,164.  Indian stocks fared rather better (as has been the case recently) with only a modest pullback as the Sensex remained above 29,000.  This bearish outcome was in keeping with expectations as I thought the various Mars aspects during the week would likely mean declines.  Even the late week Sun-Mercury conjunction seemed suspect as stocks fell sharply on Friday. 

Thus far this week stocks have risen predictably given Monday's Mercury-Venus-Neptune alignment.  I had noted the bullish tendencies of this alignment in my investor newsletter. We could see a little more upside in US markets today (Tuesday) on the Moon-Jupiter conjunction, but the rest of the week looks less positive.  The problem here is that Mercury is in a bearish aspect with Saturn for much of the rest of the week.  While it is quite unlikely we will see a decline through the rest of the week, one would think that this bounce won't last and that some downside will occur.