Sunday, July 21, 2013

Is the game rigged? Bernanke comments push stocks to new record

(21 July 2013)  Is the game rigged?  After yet another reassurance from Ben Bernanke last week that the Fed will do whatever is necessary to stimulate the economy and boost job growth, one may wonder if the stock market will ever go down again.  After all, stocks have risen by more than 150% since their low in 2009 in no small part as a result of the Fed's loose money policies.  Whenever markets have shown signs of falling back into the depths, Bernanke has stepped in with the latest version of quantitative easing (QE) which aims to reduce interest rates and thereby push more money into riskier assets such as stocks.    Even if QE hasn't done that much to improve the US job market, it has been a bonanza on Wall Street.  Bernanke's pledge last week helped to boost stocks last week as the Dow finished at another all-time record of 15,543.  Indian stocks also did well as the Sensex edged higher to 20,149. 

The gains were not surprising given the presence of the Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune alignment.  While I thought we might have seen a little more caution creeping into the markets late in the week, the overall result mostly confirmed our understanding of the bullish effects of Jupiter when it forms geometric exact angles with other planets.   The dominance of Jupiter is also a reason why commodities such as gold and oil have also been recently rising in price.

While the markets are likely rigged to some extent, many of the ups and (occasional) downs are still reflected by the ongoing movements of the planets.  If stocks have generally been rising for the past four years, it is because the planetary alignments have been more more positive.   That means that bullish planets like Jupiter have been more prominent in its aspects than bearish planets like Saturn or Ketu (South Lunar Node).  In that sense, no matter how much Bernanke and his Wall Street buddies are trying to pump up stocks to keep the whole thing afloat, the entirety of the game should be reflected in the planetary geometry.  That is the theory anyway. 

As I noted last week, however, there is a time for every season.  Jupiter will not enjoy its current predominance indefinitely.  While we can see it will form some aspects with Pluto, Rahu and Uranus in August, it is unclear just how much of a positive effect that can have on stocks.   That is because Saturn is due to move back into the limelight as it is due to conjoin Rahu (North Lunar Node) in mid-September.   The Saturn-Rahu conjunction is a meeting of two naturally malefic energies which is likely to increase pessimism and caution, even to the point of irrationality.  Saturn has a fairly good track record of pushing stocks lower so this upcoming conjunction is definitely one to watch. 

Aside from the transit effects (Saturn conjunct Rahu) it is also useful to examine just where the conjunction will land with respect to the key natal charts.  The chart of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is sometimes instructive in this regard.   As a general rule, when malefics like Saturn form close angles (0,45,90,120,180) with the position of key natal planets in this chart, the market is more likely to decline, other things being equal.  When Jupiter forms angles with those natal points, the market is more likely to rise.  It goes without saying that these are not perfect correlations but rather probabilistic ones with margins of error that should be respected.  

Saturn will conjoin Rahu (True Lunar Node) on September 16th at 14 degrees of sidereal Libra.  Due to the previous retrograde motion of Saturn in the spring, we can see that Saturn transited this same point in April.  US stocks suffered a small 3% pullback in April which culminated an interim low on the 19th.  Saturn was less than one degree away from its exact 180-degree opposition aspect to Venus at the time of this low.  Venus is a planet that symbolizes buying and assets and the aspect from Saturn suggests a restriction or loss of value.  As a possible objection, we should note that the exact opposition occurred about a week later when stocks were already rising again.  The lesson here is that planetary aspects are best understood as having a certain window of influence.  While the theoretically strongest influence should occur when the aspect is exact, the fact is that all the other planets are part of the equation also and these can augment and shift the effects of the primary aspects.  Collective sentiment therefor reflects the totality of the interconnections of all nine planets, as well as all the other lesser asteroids, stars and comets that astrologers usually omit for reasons of brevity and parsimony.

So what is interesting here is that Saturn will return to that exact same spot at 14 degrees of Libra opposite Venus in September as it resumes its forward motion.  This time around it will be joined by Rahu (North Lunar Node).  Rahu is perhaps somewhat less malefic in nature than Saturn as it symbolizes acquisitiveness and greed.  When it is associated with a positive planet, Rahu can actually coincide with gains in confidence and therefore increases in prices.  But that is not the case here.  A more likely interpretation is that Rahu's tendency to exaggerate and distort will end up making Saturn's cautious and reserved nature more problematic than it otherwise would be. 

However much the stock market is being rigged by the Fed or manipulated by Wall Street insiders, there is some reason to think that the recent run of new all-time records and stunning returns may be interrupted by September.  No matter how powerful Ben Bernanke is, I would argue he is not more powerful than Saturn.  Of course, Saturn's aspects come and go, while the Fed's loose monetary policy appears to be eternal.   That could give the Fed the temporary advantage in this respect, or at least until the next Saturn aspect. 

This week could be a little more mixed as malefic Mars passes its conjunction with Jupiter on Monday.  However, there is a fairly nice looking alignment of Sun-Moon-Venus with Neptune on Wednesday that offers some hope and optimism.