Saturday, June 16, 2012

Greek election pushes Europe to the brink

The Eurozone debt crisis has reached its latest climax as Greece prepares to vote in an pivotal election on Sunday.  Historian Niall Ferguson is calling it the financial equivalent of the Cuban Missle Crisis.  A win by the leftist Syriza party could generate dire consequences for the Eurozone and the world's financial system.  Syriza has vowed to reject the austere EU bailout plan that was agreed upon last year.  If the bailout package was abandoned,  the EU's loans to Greece would soon end and the country would default on its debt in a matter of weeks. This would likely force several large European banks into insolvency since they are larger holders of Greek debt.  It would also hasten the departure of Greece from the Eurozone.  The most recent polls show Syriza in a tight race with the right of center and pro-bailout New Democracy party.  A win by New Democracy would be seen as positive for the Eurozone and would be cheered by financial markets.

This kind of high drama is precisely the sort of thing we were expecting here in June as a number of major planetary patterns are reaching their maximum intensity.  As I have noted previously, June stood out as a potentially tumultuous time because of the simultaneous occurrence of two fairly rare events.  First, there is a square aspect between Uranus and Pluto.   These distant planets are rarely in aspect with each other but when they do, big things happen.  Both planets are symbolically associated with change, albeit different types. Uranus tends to reflect situations of sudden and radical change which seek to establish independence and novelty.  It is seen as a planet of revolution.  Pluto's change is no less profound, but tends to change more deliberately and thoroughly through the exercise of power and manipulation.  When these two planets combine their energies, it can correspond with periods of major social upheaval.  The last time these two planets interacted was in the mid-1960s when society was undergoing a major social and cultural revolution.  It is worth noting that that was a conjunction.  The last time there was a Uranus-Pluto square aspect in the sky was in the early 1930s during the depth of the Great Depression and the rise of fascism and the welfare state.  The square aspect is seen as more difficult and disruptive than the conjunction so we need to be mindful of the possibility of some serious developments during the next two to three years.  Due to the slow velocity and retrograde motion of these planets, this aspect will be in effect until approximately 2015.  From now until then, there will be three exact aspects, the first of which occurs next week on 24 June.  

The second rare planetary pattern upcoming is a Saturn direct station on 25 June (yes, just a day after the Uranus-Pluto square!) while in a close 135 degree aspect with Venus.  Saturn is best understood as the planet of pessimism and caution.  Its station marks the end of its four-month long retrograde cycle as it reverses direction from backwards to forwards.  Saturn is therefore more powerful at this time and has more ability to do harm and weaken confidence.  To top it all off, Venus itself will end its retrograde cycle on Wednesday the 27th and this will also be an additional source of energy. 

So the planets are very much reflecting the intense and historic nature of the events on Earth at the moment as the world may be teetering on the brink of another financial disruption that could set off a chain reaction with unpredictable consequences.  Of course, we want to know what the outcome will be to all this intense build-up of energy.  Will we return to a state of relative calm in the aftermath of the Greek election or will the situation worsen after a negative result?  To state the obvious, there is no clear scientific way to interpret the impact of planetary patterns.  Have the negative effects of the current aspects already manifested in the form of uncertainty and the recent weakness in the Euro and the markets?  Or are more negative manifestations likely in the near term?  It's hard to say for sure, but my sense is that these aspects should coincide with more difficult situations for Europe and the financial markets in the coming days.  Given the nature of the planets involved in these aspects, there is a rising possibility for more serious outcomes.

Stocks rose last week as the IMF promised a coordinated central bank intervention in the markets in the event of an unwelcome result in the Greek election.   In New York, the Dow was higher by more than 1% closing at 12,767 while the S&P 500 finished at 1342.  Indian stocks also rose on hopes of an RBI rate cut on 18 June.  The Sensex rose more than 200 point closing at 16,949 while the Nifty ended the week at 5139.  While I was somewhat ambivalent, this bullish outcome was not surprising as I thought the presence of the favourable Mercury-Venus aspect could well push stocks higher overall. 

This week appears to have Saturn in the driver's seat as it forms aspects with Mars and Mercury. Saturn aspects are usually bad news for markets since it tends to reflect caution and disappointment.  The Mars-Saturn aspect is exact on Monday but since it is a minor aspect it may be less damaging.  More troubling is the Mercury-Saturn square aspect on Wednesday and Thursday.  This is a bearish influence can could coincide with some significant disappointment.  Given the Fed meeting on Wednesday, there is a greater chance that investors will be disappointed in what Bernanke has to say.  Perhaps he will not be announcing any QE3 or an extension of Operation Twist.   The early week also features a fairly nice looking configuration of bullish Venus with Uranus and Pluto.  That is one astrological reason why we may not see a huge sell-off on Monday and the possibility for a status quo result in Greece.  At the same time, it is important to note that if the election is close, it may be several days before we know who will be leading the government as the parties attempt to cobble together a coalition.