Saturday, November 5, 2011

Stocks fall on EU soap opera; Mars-Neptune peaks this week

Investors were not amused by the latest Greek attempt to turn the ongoing EU debt drama into a sitcom ("Everybody Hates Papandreou") as stocks stumbled on most world markets. In New York, the Dow lost more than 2% closing at 11,983 while the S&P500 finished at 1253. Indian markets also followed the down trend as the Sensex slipped more than 1% closing at 17,562 with the Nifty ending the week at 5284. Overall, this outcome was in keeping with my expectations. With Jupiter moving into the background here, we did see less optimism and more of a focus on Saturnian austerity as markets contemplated the implications of a possible disorderly Greek default. As expected, the early week period saw the largest declines as Mars entered sidereal Leo. Some significant recovery began midweek as Mercury conjoined Venus and formed an alignment with risk-taking Uranus. Friday also largely fit with the forecast as most global markets were lower.

Whatever its economic merits, the EU bailout plan is now confronting the rather difficult political realities surrounding austerity. Greek PM Papandreou has won a confidence vote and will remain in power through some new coalition and has promised not to call a referendum on the EFSF. Meanwhile, Italy is now coming under more scrutiny as the bond market is now questioning its ability to adhere to the austerity measures requested by the plan. Italian government bonds saw a spike in yields last week despite reassurances from PM Berlusconi that all was well. Berlusconi may well on the verge of resigning. While economics may be neatly theoretical, politics is messy and more uncertain. All this austerity talk is very much a reflection of Saturn's rising influence at the moment as it prepares to enter the sign of Libra on November 14. Politicians are looking for ways to persuade their electorates to accept less. That is the way of Saturn -- it removes what is no longer needed no matter if you are ready to accept the loss or not. Standards of living are just beginning to fall throughout the developed world as the financial meltdown which started in 2007 continues to work its way through the system.

In addition, there is a significant amount of confusion in the air at the moment. Can the new Greek coalition government actually work and will the Greek people accept the new plan? Will Berlusconi survive the current crisis and what role does the IMF "monitoring" play in Italy? There are a lot of unknowns at the moment. It is therefore not surprising that Neptune should be more prominent. Neptune symbolizes confusion and vagueness, which can sometimes morph into outright deceit. Neptune is now concluding its retrograde cycle and is especially powerful right now as it is stationary in the fifth degree of sidereal Aquarius. It reverses direction and resumes forward motion on Wednesday November 9. We may see more Neptunian confusion this week since it will be opposed by malefic Mars. This is definitely a bad time to try to form any lasting arrangements.

Mars exactly opposes Neptune on Monday so we might expect more downside impact then. Nonetheless, the aspect is still within range for most of the week so the fallout may manifest at any time throughout the week. In addition, Saturn forms a minor aspect with Mercury and Venus on Tuesday so that suggests the first half of the week could be more negative. Gains are perhaps more likely on Thursday or Friday, although Mercury and Venus are moving towards their conjunction with unpredictable Rahu at that time.