Sunday, March 30, 2014

Narendra Modi to be next Indian PM?

(30 March 2014)  If recent media polls are any indication, it looks like the BJP's Narendra Modi will be the next Prime Minister of India.  Modi has enjoyed a large double digit lead over Congress rival Rahul Gandhi for several months and with voting to begin on 7 April, it seems quite likely that the BJP will oust the Congress Party in the Lok Sahba elections.  The elections take place over a five-week period with the announcement of the final results due on 16 May.  The Indian stock market rallied strongly on the expectation of a BJP win as investors anticipate more pro-business policies from a Modi-led government.

While we do not know Modi's time of birth, we can cast his Chandra Lagna chart from his date of birth, 17 September 1950.  When the Ascendant is unknown, the Moon can be used as a substitute Ascendant to approximate the 1st house in a chart.  The Moon is in Scorpio with Mars suggesting a capable and assertive character who can act decisively.  He was born was a very strong stellium of planets in close conjunction in sidereal Virgo: Saturn, Sun, Mercury and Ketu (south lunar node).  The exact Sun-Mercury-Saturn conjunction is indicative of an intellectual, rational and disciplined orientation.  The Saturn influence here is typical of a person who understands and respects rules and traditions.  The Saturn influence on Mercury and the Sun also gives him a natural caution and discipline and an ability to think deeply and systematically on the matter at hand.

If there is a wild card in the chart, it is through the presence of Ketu at 5 Virgo in close proximity to these other Virgo planets.  Ketu brings a more subtle form of perception and a possible need to link actions to a higher purpose or meaning.  Ketu is often linked to spiritual or other-worldly considerations among individuals who are so inclined.  This may or may not be relevant to Modi's leadership of the BJP, which is an explicitly Hindu party unlike the secular and multicultural Congress Party.  In more everyday matters, a prominent Ketu can indicate a willingness to entertain unorthodox solutions to common problems.  Modi is widely seen as someone who is likely to overturn the vested interests and corruption of India's political and bureaucratic classes in favour of a more streamlined and market-driven approach to the economy.    Modi's high profile and level of success can be glimpsed in the relative positioning of that four-planet conjunction in Virgo (or the last degree of Leo in the case of Saturn) in the 11th house from the Scorpio Moon.  The 11th house represents gains and wishes fulfilled and is often prominent in the charts of very successful people.  Put simply, a strong 11th house means the person realizes their goals and gets what they want.  This is one important difference between a successful and high profile person and one who is more modest in their achievements. 

Without his birth time, it is difficult to make any specific predictions about the election outcome.  Certainly, his chart looks strong in 2014 so that should be generally commensurate with wide recognition and success.  One interesting thing we can do is to see how Modi's horoscope fits with the horoscope of India.  This is a way of understanding to what extent he can capture the energy of the country as a whole and how he will leave his mark.  We can see that his Moon-Mars conjunction in Scorpio sets up nicely close to the 7th house cusp, directly opposite the Ascendant at 7 Taurus.  I see this as an essential resonance between his actions (Mars) and feelings (Moon) and those of the country (Ascendant).  Modi's real political connection with India may be his Jupiter at 6 Aquarius.  His Jupiter sits at the very top of the India chart in the 10th house representing status and leadership, just one degree away from the equal 10th house cusp at 7 Aquarius.  Jupiter symbolizes wisdom, wealth and fortune and therefore should be seen as Modi's trump card in this election.  This very powerful placement of his Jupiter suggests that Indians see him a wise and noble person who can improve their lives.  This is an excellent placement for any politician who is contesting an election.

Modi's chief rival is Rahul Gandhi (19 June 1970) of the Congress Party.  His chart enjoys no similarly exemplary overlays with the chart of India.  There may be some positive contacts in Rahul's chart but the presence of his Rahu in India's 10th house seems less promising.  Based on this criteria, we would have to say: advantage Modi. 

Financial markets update

Indian stocks rose sharply last week as the Sensex gained 3% closing at new all-time highs above 22,000.  By contrast, US stocks were more mixed as persistent worries over the Ukraine kept the bulls from running.  The Dow was mostly flat closing at 16,323.  I had been fairly neutral about last week as I noted the blend of positive and negative aspects.  The midweek Mercury-Jupiter aspect seemed to fit with gains in India but US stocks were mostly weaker after Tuesday's gain. 

This week looks quite bullish to start as the early week Sun-Uranus conjunction will align with Jupiter and Pluto.  Just how many up days we will see remains to be seen as Mercury aligns with Mars and Saturn midweek.  One would think that once the Sun-Uranus conjunction occurs, we are likely to see some declines.  Of course, with the Jupiter-Uranus aspect still approaching (due April 20th), there is good reason to stocks should be able to mostly hold their own here.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Yellen comments boost US Dollar

(24 March 2014)  Fed Chair Janet Yellen threw the US Dollar a life preserver last week.  Yellen's off the cuff remark that the Fed could raise interest rates just six months after ending its QE program later this year caught markets by surprise as it was sooner than many expected.  Stocks and gold sold off and the Dollar took flight on anticipation the higher rates may be on the way as soon as early 2015.  Despite the threat of higher rates, the Fed is maintaining its zero interest rate policy for the foreseeable future and will likely only raise rates if there is more weak economic data to justify such a move.  As long as official core inflation remains below 2% and growth is sluggish, the Fed has promised to keep the cost of borrowing money as low as it can. 

But the question is whether Yellen's comment was a rookie mistake or a sign of an evolution of interest rate policy as the Fed seeks other means to support the US economy.  More pointedly, is the Dollar going to extend its rally against other world currencies as more investors anticipate higher US interest rates?   My analysis suggests that the Dollar may have turned the corner as it is likely to strengthen in the weeks and months ahead against a backdrop of rising interest rate expectations. 

Ideally, we could look for confirmation in the horoscope of the US Dollar.  Alas, no such chart exists.  The Dollar was created by a legislative act in early 1792 but the exact timing of it is unknown.   As a proxy for the Dollar, I have found it more useful to use the horoscope of the Euro which is better documented and then infer the converse movements of the Dollar from that chart.  While several starting times are possible for the Euro, I have found that its legal inception at midnight on January 1, 1999 works fairly well. 

We can see how afflictions to the Euro chart corresponded closely with the sudden rally in the US Dollar after Yellen's comments.   Transiting Mars (1 Libra) is exactly square the natal Venus (1 Capricorn).  This is usually a negative influence although due to the relatively slow velocity of Mars in its retrograde cycle, this aspect was in effect for several days.  Transiting Ketu (4 Aries) is conjunct natal Saturn (3 Aries), although here again the slow motion of Ketu (South Lunar Node) means that this influence was in effect for several days (if not weeks) and was not specific to the day of the Fed meeting.  But the transiting Sun does move more quickly at one degree per day and we can see that the Sun had aligned exactly opposite the Ascendant of this chart.  This highlighted the Ketu-Saturn affliction since the Sun formed an alignment with Ketu/Rahu on a transit basis, irrespective of the natal chart.  The fact that this Sun-Ketu alignment occurred in aspect with both the Euro's Ascendant and Saturn made it have that much more impact. 

This chart also suggests that the recent strength in the Euro in February and March may not continue into April.  The Euro had strengthened in February and early March likely due to the extended Jupiter-Uranus aspect which activated the natal Sun at 16 Sagittarius.  The Euro peaked just under 1.40 a week after Jupiter stationed on March 6th and resumed forward motion at 16 Gemini while in exact opposition aspect to the natal Sun.  Jupiter is a positive influence here with Uranus mostly supporting this strength in the Euro and weakness in the Dollar.  But now that Jupiter and Uranus are both moving away from their aspects with the Sun, I would think that the Euro will be more susceptible to declines.  Since the US Dollar Index is overweighted for the Eurodollar, this means that the Dollar is more likely to rise as Jupiter moves further from its station at 16 Gemini. 

The other good news for the US Dollar is that transiting Ketu will remain in close conjunction with natal Saturn in the Euro chart (and in alignment with the Ascendant) for several more weeks.   In fact, the true node measurement for Ketu has it exactly conjoining Saturn in mid-June.  Since both Ketu and Saturn are considered bearish influences, it suggests that the Euro is likely to weaken further between now and June.  Therefore, the Dollar looks likely to extend last week's gains in the weeks ahead. 

Financial Markets Update

While stocks declined after Yellen's comments, US stocks actually rose for the week with the Dow closing at 16,302.  Indian stocks edged slightly lower with the Sensex finishing at 21,753. The mostly bullish outcome was in line with our expectations as the early week Venus-Jupiter aspect did coincide closely with gains.  I also noted that the Sun-Rahu aspect fell on the day of the FOMC meeting and that it might be less than positive.

This week looks like a mixed picture.  Monday's saw gains in Asia for declines in the US and Europe.  The midweek Mercury-Jupiter aspect looks quite bullish generally but Mars enters Virgo this week and then aligns with Saturn by Friday.  This would seemingly limit any upside and also increase downside risk.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gold outlook: Is the rally for real?

(16 March 2014)  Gold prices moved higher last week as Russia tightened its hold on Crimea and threatened a full-scale invasion of the rest of Ukraine.  Gold is a traditional safe haven investment that often does well in times of geopolitical uncertainty, as the current crisis in Ukraine shows.  Gold finished the week at $1382, well above its recent low of $1180 set at the end of December.   But can gold extend its rally and recapture its previous levels of $1900 or is this just a short-lived technical bounce?  With the Fed going ahead with its taper of QE, gold seems less attractive as currency debasement and inflation fears are receding. A major war on European soil would no doubt revive gold's fortunes, but that seems unlikely as most analysts do not expect NATO or the US going to war over Ukraine, a traditional Russian satellite within its sphere of influence.

There are any number of astrological techniques that are useful in forecasting the price of gold.  The one I would like to highlight today is tertiary progressions. 
Tertiaries are a Western astrological technique that assume a symbolic equivalence between time frames of planetary motion.  Tertiary progressions (TP) assume that one day's worth of motion of the planets will contain a symbolic significance for one lunar month.  This is a condensed ratio of time that is 1:27, in which 27 is the approximate number of days in a lunar month.  The advantage of tertiary progressions over transits, for example, is that they move less slowly and are therefore more powerful in describing major events and trends.  In a tertiary progressed chart the inner planets such as the Sun, Mercury and Venus move about one degree per month of real time while more distant planets like Jupiter and Saturn may only move a few minutes of arc per month.  Since motion is slower than with regular transits, close alignments are rarer and last longer.  They are therefore more likely to produce significant manifestations.

We can take a look at the horoscope for gold prices to see how this technique works.  Using the 1919 London Gold chart, we can see that the high for gold at $1920 in September 2011 occurring during a very favourable pattern in the tertiary progressed chart.  TP Neptune (24 Cancer) is just one degree from the MC or 10th house cusp, one of the most sensitive points in the chart.  Jupiter (23 Libra) is closely aligned with Neptune represents a clear bullish influence that had been in place for several years as its angle with Neptune tightened.  This Jupiter-Neptune alignment was joined by benefics Mercury (20 Capricorn) and Venus (24 Scorpio).  TP Mercury had stationed retrograde in June 2011 at 22 Capricorn but was still within range of the slower moving duo of Jupiter and Neptune. 

Three of the four planets in this alignment were bullish planets and this was a key reason why this pattern represented the culmination of an up trend.  Once the planets began to separate, the bullish energy began to fade.  While TP Jupiter would continue to tighten its 90 degree angle with Neptune for several more months, it would lack any supporting planet such as Venus or Mercury that would help to bring out its positive energy.  As a result, the gold price started to fall. 

By way of comparison, let's look at the progressed chart for first low of $1180 in late June 2013.  Not surprisingly, Saturn is more prominent in this chart.  Saturn is a bearish planet that is often implicated in significant lows.   Mars is in close opposition to Saturn here, and Mars sits in a conjunction with the natal Moon.  Mars is another malefic planet that tend to be involved with declines and market lows.  This was an additional layer of affliction to gold and represented the end of a huge and somewhat shocking price decline after gold's celebrated all-time high less than two years before.  Once Mars had moved off from the Moon and out of its alignment with Saturn, gold rallied somewhat.  Gold would revisit this low of $1180 in December as progressed Saturn was once again activated by an alignment with Jupiter and Venus. 

Looking ahead, the tertiary progressed chart for gold looks uninspiring for the rest of 2014.  We can see that TP Saturn remains in close opposition to the natal Moon.  This is usually a negative influence and argues against any major rally in gold.  Jupiter, Saturn and Rahu (NN) are all in close alignment at the moment and I take this is a largely mixed to negative influence.  While Jupiter is bullish and Rahu can go either way, the presence of Saturn in this very slow moving alignment undermines everything else. TP Mercury will align with these other planets later in the year in August-September so that is another potential low point for gold. 

To be sure, this rather mixed tertiary chart does not preclude more short term upside for gold.  Tertiary progressions are less useful for finely tuned predictions and better for identifying medium term trends.  With that caveat in mind, we can say that this tertiary chart suggests that gold is unlikely to move much higher in 2014.  Moreover, the presence of the Mercury-Saturn aspect and later the Venus-Mars aspect in Q4 means that gold will likely suffer significant declines.  Mercury's opposition with natal Mars and TP Neptune in the next several months are also problematic aspects in this respect.  One wild card is that the TP Sun-Uranus conjunction in August does seem quite bullish and may indicate a sudden, sharp rally.  However, this seems unlikely to be sustainable in the longer term.

Financial Markets Update

While gold rallied last week, stocks stumbled as investors bailed out of risky assets.  The Dow lost 2% closing at 16,065 while in India the Sensex suffered only marginal losses finishing at 21,809.  This decline was in keeping with our expectations as I thought the two Saturn aspects on Tuesday and Thursday would likely be a drag on sentiment.  Interestingly, the Dow's two biggest down days of the week occurred on Tuesday and Thursday. 

This week looks somewhat more encouraging as the early week Venus-Jupiter aspect suggests a rebound.  The midweek Sun-Rahu alignment is somewhat more problematic, however, so that is more of a question mark.  Interestingly, the Sun-Rahu aspect occurs just as the Fed releases its latest policy statement on Wednesday.  This is not a hugely negative aspect so I would be surprised if there was a strong reaction to Yellen.  That said, it does not seem conducive for a big market rally either. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The mystery of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370

(9 March 2014)  Almost two days after it disappeared from radar screens, there is still no sign of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.  Originating out of Kuala Lumpur and bound for Beijing, MH370 apparently vanished from tracking radar less than two hours into its flight.  It is believed to have gone down somewhere in the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam.  There was no distress call from the pilots and thus far there is also no sign of wreckage in the sea.  There were 279 people on board.  There is a possibility of terrorism as several passengers were travelling with stolen passports but that remains speculative at this point.  The vanishing plane is a mysterious and disturbing event that has so far not yielded any answers.

A horoscope cast for the time of take-off provides an intriguing picture.  MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur at 00.41 a.m. on March 8th.  The resulting chart of the flight shows nearly exactly angular Moon and Neptune.  The Moon (13 Taurus) is exactly on the 7th house cusp while Neptune (11 Aquarius) sits precisely on the unequal 4th house cusp (or IC).   This combination is about as appropriate as one can imagine since Neptune symbolizes mystery, confusion and above all, water.  The 4th house also has the connotation of the "end of the matter", so Neptune's placement there is a reflection of the airplane's potentially watery fate.  The Moon is similarly considered a somewhat water-related planet, although it is worth noting the Moon was not in a water sign.  The Moon symbolizes humans and human emotion in such mundane charts and its pairing with Neptune may be seen as the difficult emotions felt by the relatives of the passengers as they await word of their loved ones.  It seems a tragic end is inevitable in this matter, but the tragedy is unfolding in slow motion as the whereabouts of the plane is unknown. 

Interestingly, the flight only contains some partial Mars afflictions.  Scorpio is rising in the chart, a sign that is ruled by Mars.  Mars is placed in the 12th house of loss, isolation and faraway places conjunct weird and unpredictable Rahu (North Lunar Node).  To be sure, this is a difficult placement that may further reflect the mysterious and violent nature of this case.  And yet, many flights take off under similar sorts of Mars-Rahu afflictions and land safely.  It may be that the Moon-Neptune factor created an extra burden on this flight that produced a different outcome.

Even then, I would not say that this chart is afflicted enough to describe, let alone, foretell, the missing flight nor its probable fate.  The extra dimension in this equation is still missing.  That is, the place and time where the plane went down.  Other flights may have taken off just a couple of minutes before or after MH370 and did not meet with any unexpected developments.  However, I would think the actual path of the plane is another part of the puzzle that could hold additional clues.   Fast-moving transits of the angles (ASC/MC) to the take-off chart may have activated more malefic planets.

Financial Markets Update

Stocks generally rose last week as the imminent threat of military action in Crimea subsided.  We did get some the expected early week jitters on the Mars-Venus aspect but then the Jupiter-Uranus influence took over and pushed stocks higher.  This bullish result was not too surprising given the underlying strength of the Jupiter-Uranus influence.  Bullish Jupiter stationed on Thursday and has since resumed its forward motion in the sky.  The Dow came to within one percent of another all time high closing at 16,452.  Indian stocks surged on pre-election optimism as investors anticipated the victory of the business-friendly BJP-led government.  The Sensex jumped 4% making a new all-time high closing just under 22,000. 

This week looks a little more tentative for stocks as there are two different aspects involving the planet Saturn -- one on Tuesday and one on Thursday.  Friday's Mercury-Mars aspect is also another potential source of trouble.  Not all these aspects will necessarily translate into declines, of course, since other factors can influence the overall outcome.  And this is even more the case now that bullish Jupiter is moving towards it aspect with Uranus.  But it does mean that stocks may have a harder time making new highs this week.  We shall see.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Putin calls Obama's bluff in Crimea

(2 March 2014)  Vladimir Putin apparently called Barack Obama's bluff this week as Russia prepared to invade the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine.  Despite Obama's repeated warnings not to invade, Putin nonetheless received Parliamentary approval to send the Russian army into this predominantly ethnic Russian region in Eastern Ukraine. Putin has taken advantage of the instability in Ukraine which was just in the process of forming a new government after ousting President Yanukovych. With the US and the West seemingly reluctant to engage Russia militarily, Putin is taking a calculated risk that Obama and his allies will not be able to intervene.  And even if the West did decide to help Ukraine to defend its borders, any military aid may be too little and too late to stop the nearby Russian tanks.

We can see some clear sources of trouble in President Obama's horoscope that reflect his latest foreign policy problem.  Most crucial is that Mars, the planet of conflict and violence, had just stationed retrograde at 3 degrees of Libra on Saturday, the day after the covert invasion of advanced forces.  Mars is almost exactly aspecting Obama's Saturn at 2 Capricorn by square aspect.  The Mars-Saturn square is usually difficult and reflects frustrating situations and setbacks.  The aspect was likely to bring more hassles for Obama because it was station and hence the angle would last longer.  Saturn is also Obama's dasha lord and lagna lord, so the Mars affliction was that much more potent.  Mars is probably an awkward energy for the ever-diplomatic Obama since it is placed in his 8th house of obstacles and embarrassments in his natal chart.  Mars transits are therefore likely to bring this difficult 8th house energy to bear in his chart. 

The conjunction of transiting Venus to Saturn at the same time may have reflected Obama's sense of isolation and separation.  Two days before, Mercury had just stationed on Obama's Ascendant.  Mercury rules the 9th house (Virgo) which represents foreign lands and its conjunction with the Ascendant brings foreign policy to the fore at this time.  As an added burden, transiting Ketu is forming a close aspect to Obama's Rahu.  Such node-to-node transits are usually problematic, especially when the other transit impacts are negative as they are here.  And we may wonder what the impact is of the Saturn station on March 2nd which forms an exact 60 degree angle to Obama's Mars.  While this is not a full strength Vedic aspect, it is too exact to ignore.  Saturn stations are very powerful sources of stress and unwanted situations, however necessary they may be in the long run.  Saturn afflictions to Mars are classic indicators of stress and failure arising from conflictive situations. 

Even more interesting perhaps is the relationship between Putin and Obama.  It is widely believed that the two men do not get along as past meetings and summits show a strained body language and a lack of rapport.  And overlay of their two horoscopes is revealing and show why Putin seems to be able to gain the upper hand against Obama.  Putin scored a big foreign policy win in Syria last year as Obama's infamous "red line" quickly dissolved in the face of domestic opposition to his proposal to strike at the Asad regime.  The same thing seems to be occurring here.  Putin's birth time is unconfirmed, but just the placement of the planets on the day of his birth show why Putin may give Obama problems.  Putin's Rahu is sitting on Obama's Ascendant at 24 Capricorn.  Rahu represents uncertainty and change and when it is focused on a key point (e.g. Ascendant, Moon, Sun) in another person's chart, it can mean that the Rahu person is unpredictable and unknowable for the Ascendant person.  Obama may try to logically outsmart Putin but Putin may be operating by a different set of rules that Obama cannot understand. 

Even more telling is that Putin's forceful and unrelenting Sun-Saturn conjunction sits almost exactly on Obama's 9th house cusp.  Putin's Saturn in this position suggests he will create foreign policy losses and disappointment (Saturn in 9th house) for Obama.  This pattern seems to be happening all over again in the Ukraine and Crimea.  Putin's Uranus sits on Obama's 6th house cusp.  Uranus represents an independent and rebellious energy while the 6th house symbolizes conflict.  Putin's Uranus points to surprising and sudden expenditures of energy that may cause conflict for Obama that force him into a defensive posture.  To say the least, this is not conducive to a mutually beneficial and cooperative relationship.

While Mars now backs off its station in early Libra, it will transit into Virgo which happens to be Obama's 9th house.  (= conflict abroad).  It will station in mid-Virgo in May.  The Ketu to-Rahu aspect will also be in effect until May also thus suggesting that Obama's problems in this matter could last a while.  Saturn will similarly back away from its aspect with Mars but it could be some time before Obama feels relief from this movement.  In other words, this difficult situation is likely to continue to occupy Obama's attention for several more weeks at least.  Obama's chart only improves once Jupiter enters sidereal Cancer in July where it will aspect his Saturn and conjoin his Mercury and Sun. Any diplomatic or military victories are therefore more likely to come after July.

The planets here do not suggest a quick resolution or a sudden backing down by Putin.  While we don't know his birth time, Putin's chart looks quite energized as Mars will back over his Virgo planets between now and May.  Mars will resume its forward motion in May and then activate his Sun-Saturn once again in June.  Mars is the "bringer of war" so that is a clue that Vladimir Putin will try to assert Russia's sphere of influence in this matter. 

Financial Markets Update

While the chaos in Ukraine has dampened the mood on some European financial markets, stocks rose on most other exchanges such as the US, India and Japan.  The gains were not too surprising given the ongoing Jupiter-Uranus aspect which will last into April.

This week we will see what the immediate effects are of the rare quadruple planetary stations of Mercury, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. Markets have a tendency of reversing their trends around planetary stations so we will see if the recent new highs in the US markets are followed by some kind of decline.  Certainly, the early week looks more negative as Mars is in aspect with Venus.  But the late week is seemingly less negative so perhaps stocks can bounce back once again. Jupiter is still in close aspect with Uranus through all of March so that may lend some support to the stock market.  Even if we do see pullbacks, they are less likely to be large.