Sunday, October 20, 2013

GOP surrenders to end shutdown; Obamacare still under fire

(20 October 2013)  The US government shutdown came to an end last week as a deal was hammered out on the day before the debt ceiling deadline.  Without much real bargaining power, the GOP essentially surrendered on almost every point under discussion.  Obamacare was left intact and no serious cuts were made in the budget.  Both sides agreed to postpone further budgetary talks until early 2014.   It was clearly a political victory for President Obama who enjoyed a much-needed win after a string of setbacks in recent months.   

Last week, I wrote that the current transit picture in Obama's chart suggested the possibility of some last-minute complications in negotiations.  Alternatively, I thought that some of the tension in the President's chart might also manifest as more fallout from the Obamacare roll-out.  It was this latter scenario that turned out to fulfill the planetary promise as the White House and Health Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has come under increased criticism for the problem-filled roll-out of the long-awaited Affordable Care Act (ACA).   Obama's Sun is under aspect from Saturn and this can be understood as obstacles or setbacks to leadership. 

The win for Obama on the shutdown is perhaps better seen through the transit of Venus through his 11th house of gains in Scorpio.  Transiting Venus was fairly close to the 11th house cusp (24 Scorpio) at the time of the deal and this was likely enough to secure the total defeat of the hapless and divided Republicans.  It is worth noting that the favourable position of Venus in his chart also links back to Saturn since Saturn is placed in Libra, a sign that Venus rules.  In this way, the Saturn-Sun aspect likely lost some of its sting and ability to damage him.   Saturn is also the ruler of the benefic 1st house, so that also doesn't hurt.  Jupiter's (25 Gemini) very close aspect here to the equal 10th house cusp (24 Libra) is also likely quite helpful for most matters relating to career and status.

Obama may his troubles increase again after Venus leaves the 11th house and enters the 12th house (Sagittarius) on or around October 30th.  It will transit the 12th house through the month of November.  Suddenly, Venus as ruler of the 10th house of status will be in the shadows of the 12th house of loss.  This is likely to make that Saturn-to-Sun transit more difficult also.  Mercury's retrograde transit through Libra may also become more troublesome.  Mercury is the ruler of the 6th (health) and 9th (justice) houses  so there may be more problems in those areas.  An unexpected or politically awkward Supreme Court decision is therefore more possible in November.  We may also speculate that Obamacare may continue to receive even worse reviews in the media since the 6th ruler Mercury will be weakened by the 12th house transit of its dispositor, Venus.  The period around the end of the Mercury retrograde period on Nov 11th looks somewhat difficult for Obamacare.

The entry of Mars into Virgo in late November may also coincide with new setbacks for Obamacare since Mars will aspect several planets in the ACA horoscope through the month of December.  I suppose the key question here is: will any of this move beyond just criticism or will the January 15th deadline for enrollment be changed to allow for all the fixes necessary in the glitch-ridden ACA website.   I think some kind of formal acknowledgment of the problem is very possible, perhaps more likely after Venus turns retrograde on December 21st.   But that may be leaving it a bit too late.  If there is going to be an extension, one would realistically expect it to occur in November so as to allow people more time to sign up.  Perhaps that will occur around that Nov 11th pattern with Mercury.  While the problems are likely to continue or even get worse, I think Obama will be able to avoid much political damage while Jupiter is parked very auspiciously at 26 Gemini through much of November.  After it moves off this point in December and beyond, Obama may come under more pressure from the shortcomings to the ACA roll-out. 

Not surprisingly, financial markets cheered the resolution in Washington as US stocks gained more than 1% on the week.  Indian stocks fared somewhat better, boosted in part in the hope for an upcoming electoral win by the market-friendly BJP.   The gains were not altogether unexpected as I thought we would see some midweek gains on the Mercury and Venus aspects.  The early week declines were quite modest, however. 

This week looks less positive than last week as Mercury turns retrograde early on Monday while in close aspect with Jupiter.  The Mercury-Jupiter aspect has likely been positive for markets recently but the reversal of Mercury may well coincide with a reversal in sentiment.  After Saturday's lunar eclipse, we have also entered a twice-a-year eclipse period which can indicate increased volatility.  The solar eclipse on November 3rd is arguably a more important eclipse to watch since it occurs right in the middle of the Saturn-Rahu conjunction.   This is a fairly bearish set up in terms of astrological influences.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

US government shuts down as debt ceiling deadline looms

(6 October 2013) The shutdown showdown in Washington shows no signs of ending anytime soon.  American's ongoing budget fight entered its sixth day today as both Obama and Boehner refused to budge in their respective positions.  Boehner is demanding a one-year delay to the unpopular Obamacare program while the President is having none of it as the Affordable Care Act may well be the only lasting legacy of his presidency.   A complicating factor here is that the US debt ceiling deadline of 17 October is fast approaching.  If the two sides cannot also agree to raise the debt ceiling that allows for more government borrowing, then the US will default on its debt.  This possibility is widely seen as far more disruptive than the shutdown as global financial markets would likely react very badly to such a default. 

So what are the chances of a default?  Most commentators do not expect it is going to happen.  It is very much the 'nuclear option' that both sides will want to avoid since a default may well produce a market crash and another downgrade to the US credit rating.  It would also be a huge blow to US prestige in the world. 

In previous posts, I have discussed some of the problems in President Obama's chart including the ongoing affliction of his Sun (leadership, confidence) by Saturn (restrictions, obstacles).   This aspect will likely remain in effect for the rest of October and does not argue for a quick or successful resolution to this dispute.  While it is conceivable that the Saturn influence could represent something other than the current impasse, I tend to think that his leadership will continue to come under increased scrutiny in the weeks ahead.  

The USA horoscope is also under significant affliction at the moment.  From a medium term perspective, the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square aspect continues to be in close hard aspect with the natal Jupiter in this chart. Most fundamentally, Jupiter symbolizes law and philosophy so it is somewhat fitting that the government should be thrown into such disarray with these aspects.  Uranus (independence, instability) and Pluto (power, manipulation) are both showing their harder edges in their aspects as the very basis of the US political system is now coming into greater relief.  Government gridlock and internal divisions were built into the US system from its inception as a check against the temptation of tyranny.  Too often, however, this division of powers has prevented the government from moving forward on important and necessary policies.   If the 6.30 pm chart is correct, then the condition of Jupiter becomes even more important since it rules the entire chart which has Sagittarius rising.  This double-barreled affliction by Uranus and Pluto would then represent much more instability and disruption in the country as a whole. 

More specifically, there are a couple of fast-moving transits upcoming that suggest that tensions are more likely to increase rather than decrease in the days ahead.  First, transiting Mars will oppose Neptune next week (Oct 14-19).  Mars will therefore oppose the natal Moon in the USA chart.  This is a bad transit that heightens the likelihood of discord, especially with Neptune so close to a conjunction with the Moon.  Mars-Moon-Neptune combinations are often found in situations of deception and conflict.  In light of the current shutdown and impending default, this aspect would tend to suggest that a last-minute agreement before the October 17th default deadline is less likely.   If there is an agreement, it may have some conditions attached to it.  Maybe there will only be a postponement rather than a proper resolution. 

The other aspect to watch is the approaching Mercury retrograde station on October 21st.  On the face of it, this seems quite positive since it occurs in close aspect with Jupiter.  Mercury stations at 24 Libra while Jupiter sits on 25 Gemini in a near-exact 120 degree trine aspect.  But the problem here is that Mercury will be in a very tight 30 degree alignment with the natal Saturn (24 Virgo) in the USA chart.  While this is not an aspect in the proper sense, it is still a geometric alignment that may describe some state of tension or frustration in the country.  Such Mercury-Saturn aspects are common when things are not going according to plan and goals are not realized.  And since Saturn is placed in the 10th house government, this Mercury Rx station to Saturn could well mean problems, headaches and setbacks involving government.  Of course, Jupiter in the mix there, too, so I would be a bit surprised to see a outright breakdown and default.

What this astrological analysis suggests is that the conventional wisdom of a timely resolution to the shutdown and debt ceiling debate may be overly optimistic.  The presence of these two Mars and Mercury transits do not bode well for a typical resolution.  While the chart does not look bad enough to predict a full-blown default, there would seem to be some reason to expect some twists and turns in this story before the thing gets settled.   I would therefore expect financial markets to be on edge in the coming days as nervousness is more likely to increase. 

Thus far, financial markets are not overly worried.  US stocks only declined slightly last week as most investors expected cooler heads to prevail.   As expected, the midweek Sun-Saturn-Rahu alignment did coincide with the shutdown.   This brought some weakness to stocks but gold was more sharply affected since it tends to move in close relationship with the condition of the Sun.  Indian stocks ended higher on the week overall.  

This week could see some turbulence around the early week Mercury-Saturn conjunction.  However, the midweek Venus-Neptune and Sun-Jupiter alignments may improve sentiment.   Underneath it all, however, is the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square which is tightening in the coming days to a near exact angle.  This is a potential source of unease and disruption.