Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ben Bernanke: The Most Powerful Man in the World

Ben Bernanke was in the spotlight again on Friday as he delivered his annual speech on the state of the economy from Jackson Hole, Wyoming.   While Bernanke argued forcefully for the necessity for further stimulus measures to bolster the weak US economy, he stopped short of actually announcing anything concrete.  Nonetheless, Bernanke's QE3 talk was enough to lift stocks higher on Friday.  Without risk of exaggeration, Bernanke and the Fed governors are perhaps the most powerful people in the world these days, as their decisions affect almost everyone on the planet in some way.  If the Fed decides on more stimulus, it will certainly raise the price of commodities like gasoline and food all over the world.  Stimulus measures like QE3 are inflationary by design as they create money "out of thin air" in an effort to boost economic activity.   But as we know, inflation is not benign.  Rising food prices have been indirectly blamed for much of the civil unrest and popular uprisings in the Middle East over the past two years.  Food inflation is also worsening the lives of the poor who no longer have sufficient income to buy even the bare essentials of life.  On the other hand, if Bernanke and the Fed decide not to embark on QE3, the stock market is likely to decline sharply and this will hit anyone with investments, 40lk, or any kind of pension fund.  The knock-on effects of a stock market decline are somewhat harder to measure,  although they could conceivably spark another recession as consumer spending dries up.  Bernanke therefore shoulders an enormous burden of responsibility at the moment as his next move will directly and indirectly impact the lives of literally billions of people.

Ben Bernanke's horoscope reveals the huge amount of pressure he is currently living under.  While we do not have his birth time, we know he was born on December 13, 1953 in Augusta, Georgia.  We can see that transiting Saturn (2 Libra) is exactly conjunct his Mars-Neptune conjunction.   This is a very apt planetary influence since Saturn to Mars transits are often associated with hard work and increased stress.  Saturn symbolizes burdens and responsibility while Mars embodies the notion of action and decision-making.  Clearly, Bernanke must be trying to cope with an almost unimaginable amount of responsibility for the actions he will take in the next Fed meeting on September 13.  In some cases, this Saturn to Mars transit can lead to very damaging outcomes.  Both planets are considered malefics so there is always that possibility, especially when other chart factors confirm.  In Bernanke's case, Saturn is exalted in his natal chart in Libra, so this may reduce the likelihood of negative fallout from any actions he makes.  In addition, the dispositor of Mars and Saturn in Libra is Venus, and it is placed in Scorpio in the natal chart.  Venus is currently under the strengthening influence of transiting Jupiter so this may help to support the outcomes of this Mars-Saturn transit.

We can see that there will be an interesting mirroring of transit influences this weekend in Bernanke's chart.  Not only is transiting Saturn conjunct his natal Mars, but transiting Mars is conjunct his natal Saturn this weekend.  This likely represents situations of maximum intensity and pressure as if the key decisions about QE3 may be made this weekend.  There is an awful lot of malefic energy in this rare mirroring of transits.  It looks like there may be some significant amount of upset and discomfort along the way, as if Bernanke may be forced by external circumstances into making a decision.  Perhaps this is related to developments in Europe as the ECB attempts to cobble together its own stimulus package.  In fact, some analysts have suggested that Bernanke's decision on QE3 may ultimately be determined by what happens in Europe over the next two weeks rather than by any new US economic data.

On the day of the expected announcement on September 13, Venus will move to 13 degrees of sidereal Cancer.  This will put it on a collision course with his natal Saturn at 12 Libra.  Venus-Saturn aspects tend to be somewhat difficult and often reflect situations that are disappointing or produce unhappiness.  Venus will be a bit past exact, so that is one potential saving grace. On the plus side, both Mercury and the Sun will form larger t-squares with Bernanke's natal Sun-Jupiter opposition.  T-square patterns are still somewhat untrustworthy, however, even when they involve positive planets as they do here.  In any event, the pattern highlights the importance of that period around September 13.  Overall, there are some problematic possibilities here that suggest that Bernanke's decision may not have a warm welcome.  This would likely be the case anyway, since he does harm to consumers by launching QE3, while he does harm to asset owners if he does not launch it.

Bernanke may encounter even more problems starting in October as transiting Rahu will tightly aspect Ketu.  At that time, Rahu will station near 1-2 degrees of Scorpio for a period of two months.   This  Rahu to Ketu transit is often difficult and usually involves situations that are outside of our control.  I would therefore expect this transit could translate as a particularly uncertain and disruptive time for the Fed Chair.  What makes this transit especially troublesome is that it will also activate his natal Mars-Neptune conjunction that is also at 2 degrees of its sign of Libra.  While September looks like a time of increased pressure and stress, October to December may actually prove to be more negative in terms of outcomes.  Perhaps this may mean that Bernanke is losing control of his fellow Fed governors who must collectively decide on policy.  Or it may mean that the economy is not responding in a way that he has expected.   It looks as if there are circumstances or people beyond his control that may be creating some headaches or obstacles for him.

Despite Bernanke's encouraging words from out on the Wyoming range, stocks edged lower last week as Euro worries continued to weigh on sentiment.  The Dow was off by less than 1% closing at 13,090 while the S&P 500 finished at 1406.  Indian stocks also declined as positive GDP numbers reduced the likelihood of a rate cut. The Sensex lost 2% closing at 17,380 while the Nifty ended the week at 5258.  I thought we might get more upside around Thursday's Sun-Uranus-Pluto alignment but that energy showed up somewhat later than expected on Friday in the US.   Gold also benefited from the Sun aspects late in the week.  As expected, we did see some downside early on in the week, however.

This week appears to have some significant negative aspects in play, especially in the early part of the week.  Venus is aspected by Saturn on Monday so this is likely to depress buying.  US markets are closed for Labor Day, so it is possible that the negative mood could extend into Tuesday.  Mercury and Mars form a fairly powerful alignment with Uranus and Pluto on Tuesday and Wednesday so that is another potential trouble spot for markets.  I'm less convinced that it can produce much downside though.  The second half of the week may be better as Venus is aspected by Rahu Wednesday and Thursday and the Sun teams up with Jupiter in a square aspect on Friday.