Monday, December 28, 2015

Is the sun setting on oil? An astrological price analysis

(28 December 2015)  It is very tough times for the oil industry these days.  After trading north of $100 a barrel for much of the past five years, crude oil prices have collapsed since mid-2014 as OPEC increased supply while demand has fallen off a cliff.  Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate now both trade for less than $40, a level last seen in the depths of the economic meltdown in 2008.  The decade-long bull market in commodities like oil was closely tied with the emergence of China as an economic superpower but now that China is slowing, crude oil is suddenly much less valuable. 

The recovery of the US Dollar since 2014 is another part of the story since oil is priced in Dollars.  And if that wasn't enough, the historic climate change agreement recently signed in Paris suggests there may be a long term move away from fossil fuels.  While carbon taxes and pledges to cut oil consumption may not have an immediate impact on prices, it is an added source of concern for the oil industry.   Is the sun really setting on crude oil and will prices keep falling as energy use shifts away from fossil fuels?  And will a prolonged economic slump also depress prices as recent OPEC reports have suggested?  Let's see what the stars say.

Previously, I have made some price forecasts based on the US-based WTI chart.  This week I thought I would revisit the oil question using the Brent horoscope.  Brent crude (from the North Sea) was first traded on the NYMEX exchange in New York on September 5th 2001.  The time of the first trade is a matter of some debate, although we may use 9.30 a.m. for the moment. 

What is striking about this chart is how the dasha sequence does seem to offer some insights on previous price movements.  Since it's first trade in 2001, Brent crude has been in the Mercury major dasha period.  This period will continue until April 2016 when the Ketu major dasha period will begin.  Mercury is a benefic planet by nature and it is well placed in the chart in the 1st house in its own sign of Virgo opposite the Moon.  This long term Mercury influence is one reason why prices have generally been elevated for most of this period.  In 2001, Brent was trading at $26.  Despite the recent bear market decline, it is still well above that level and hence essentially validates that benefic Mercury influence.

Even more telling, however, are the effects of the minor dasha periods.  What would we expect from these shorter minor periods? One of the core principles of the Vedic approach to financial astrology is that we would expect price increases during the minor periods of benefic planets like Venus and Jupiter and declines during the periods of malefics like Mars and Saturn.  We might also adjust those expectations depending on the specific condition of each minor dasha lord in the chart. 

Here we can see how clearly the planets appear to correlate with price movements.  The Venus minor period (Mercury-Venus) ran from September 2002 to July 2005 and should have been quite positive since both Mercury and Venus are benefic planets and Venus is well-placed in this chart in the 11th house symbolizing gains. Venus loses some of its possible upside impact perhaps from the 3rd house/sextile aspect from malefic Saturn but it still looks good overall.  Not surprisingly, the price of Brent doubled in this three-year period from $28 to $57. 

Prices continued to generally rise through the Sun and Moon minor periods from 2005 to 2007 as the Mercury-Moon ended when prices had risen above $80.  While the Sun is usually treated as a natural malefic in Vedic astrology, I have found it to be a more neutral influence.  In the Brent horoscope, the Sun is in the 12th house of loss (not good) but it is strengthened because it is in its own sign of Leo.   The Moon is a benefic and is further strengthened because it is aspected by Mercury and it rules the 11th house of gains (Cancer).  It does receive an aspect from Mars so that can create some problems (e.g.  the sharp decline in late 2006) but overall it looks fairly well-placed. 

The Mercury-Mars period is perhaps the most complex.  A lot happened during this period from October 2007 to October 2008.  Prices went parabolic in early 2008 and created a what is known as a "blow-off top" which was then followed by a shocking decline in prices towards the end of 2008 as the financial markets crashed.  Mars is a malefic, of course, so we can't be too surprised that the net outcome of its period was in fact a decline.    Moreover, it is closely conjunct Ketu in the 4th house which is another malefic planet in this context.  So the awkward question is: how could prices have temporarily exploded higher to $147 by July during this supposedly malefic Mars minor period?  

First, I think it is important to remember that dashas do not explain everything.  No single astrological factor can do that.  Dashas are still subject to the varying influences of transits, progressions, returns, and any number of other factors we might bring into consideration.   Secondly, Mars does have some strength and ability to do good in this chart due the aspect it receives from Jupiter.  Also Mars is placed in Sagittarius, which is a sign ruled by Jupiter.  So that double Jupiter influence should be seen as a mitigating factor on Mars and hence, on its minor dasha period from Oct 2007 to Oct 2008.  But the bottom line was that Mars was malefic as prices fell during its period: the Mars period began in Oct 2007 with Brent at $85 and it ended in Oct 2008 with Brent at $65 and falling fast.

Mercury-Rahu then followed and lasted into May 2011.  Prices bottomed in December 2008 just after the Mars minor period ended, and then began a major bull market.  Also a natural malefic, Rahu is often positive for material things like prices, money, status and the like. This is all the more likely when it is associated with a benefic planet as it is here through its conjunction with benefic Jupiter.  The Rahu minor period was therefore very likely going to correlate with a gain and indeed prices almost doubled for the duration of this period from $65 in October 2008 to $115 in May 2011. 

Mercury-Jupiter came next and ran from 2011 until Aug 2013.  Jupiter is benefic and hence its influence is usually bullish.  In this case, however, prices only went sideways, staying around $110.  Jupiter's conjunction with Rahu is one possible reason why its period may have underperformed.   So while Rahu benefited from its association with Jupiter, Jupiter may have been burdened somewhat by its association with Rahu.  This is one reason why prices did not climb further during the Jupiter minor period.  We can at least say that prices did not fall. 

And the final dasha period here is Mercury-Saturn.  Saturn is perhaps the most malefic planet and its periods are more likely to create problems, although here too they can be ameliorated if associated with good planets.  But that is not the case here as Saturn is by itself in the 9th house and opposite Pluto, another unhelpful influence.  Prices crashed during this Saturn minor period from $110 in August 2013 down to their current $37.  We still have four more months of this Saturn period before Ketu begins in April.  It is important to note that prices could still recover somewhat in early 2016 without invalidating this negative Saturn effect.  The logic of Saturn's bearish dasha period would still obtain as long as Brent remained well below $110 by April 2016, and that seems quite likely.

But the outlook doesn't seem very good for Brent during the upcoming Ketu period.  Ketu is often negative influence on prices as it is seen as a more non-material or spiritual sort of energy.  The added problem here is that Ketu is with Mars.  This could make Ketu's 7-year long period quite difficult.  To be sure, there is the aspect from Jupiter which may provide for some upside along the way, but the outlook seems to confirm the more bearish forecasts that are out there on crude prices. 

That said, I would still expect a significant rally in crude during the Ketu-Venus period between September 2016 and November 2017.  Venus was very bullish during the previous Mercury period and I would expect more strength during its minor period here.  The Ketu influence may limit the gains, of course, but the trend is more likely to be positive. 

But what about the long term?  Will concern over climate change promote the shift away from oil and other fossil fuels?  Based solely on the dashas, I would say that any movement away from fossil fuels will take place gradually and in a way that does not depress prices.  The Venus major dasha period is due to begin from 2023 and last for 20 years until 2043. Venus should be bullish for Brent prices so I would expect a significant gain to take place during that 20-year period.  It is still possible that the world will gradually move away from oil but for other reasons, prices will be fairly high.  This suggests some combination of falling supply (e.g. interruption of Middle East oil) and rising demand (e.g. global economic recovery).  Another scenario would be that supply may be restricted through climate change agreements, so that could also be a way that prices move higher in the long term.

One important caveat here is that I am only considered dasha periods in this analysis.  A complete investment analysis would require proper consideration of other factors such as transits and dashas.  For more specific oil price forecasts that have a short and intermediate term focus, readers are welcome to subscribe to my weekly investment newsletter. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks moved higher ahead of the Christmas holiday last week.  US stocks climbed more than 2% with the Dow finishing at 17,552 while India's Sensex added more than 1% closing at 25,838.  This outcome was somewhat more bullish than I expected in last week's market forecast, although the Venus-Jupiter alignment towards the end of the week seemed to coincide with gains.

Stocks may have an uphill battle this week.  US and European stocks are already lower in Monday's trading at the time of writing.  Indian stocks were higher although Asia was more generally mixed.  The problem this week is that Mars is square Mercury.  This is usually bearish.  The aspect is closest on Monday and Tuesday so those days are perhaps more problematic.  The late week could see some rebound although as I mentioned last week, this is an unusually long-lasting aspect because Mercury is slowing down ahead of its retrograde station on January 5th.  The negative energy that Mars casts upon Mercury is therefore more likely to manifest for more than just one down day. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Yellen fulfills promise as Fed finally hikes rates

(21 December 2015)  As the most powerful woman in the world, Janet Yellen fulfilled her promise and finally delivered on the long-anticipated interest rate hike last week.  The Fed Chair announced the Federal Reserve would hike rates for the first time in nine years and thereby end the experimental zero interest rate policy that was launched in the depths of the meltdown in December 2008.  The hike to 0.25% was widely seen as positive as stocks markets around the world generally rose on the news of an improving US economy.  The unassuming Ms. Yellen has certainly come a long way since her senior year in high school in 1963 as she attempts to guide the global economy back to normal after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

We can see from Yellen's horoscope how she may be feeling confident and having things go her way for the most part at the moment.  Jupiter (at 28 Leo) is slowing down and soon to station at 29 Leo in early January.  It is therefore setting up a nice alignment with her natal Sun (27 Cancer) , Uranus (27 Taurus) and Jupiter (29 Virgo).  This is not a traditional Jupiter aspect (usually, 120 or 240 degrees) but I have found such close angular alignments (i.e. of any multiples of 30 degrees) are often reflective of the transiting planet's inherent energy.  The Jupiter influence here would likely have given Yellen confidence to act and should improve the consequences of her actions for the time around the Jupiter station. 

Looking ahead, transiting Rahu (North Lunar Node) will soon align with the aforementioned planets in her natal chart in February and March.  This could be a more challenging time for her.  Rahu tends to be disruptive of the status quo so we could be forced to adapt to fast-changing circumstances.   The Rahu-Sun alignment also suggests that she may be put on the defensive as her ego (Sun) could be undermined by developments that go against her.  Even more telling perhaps is that transiting Saturn will station retrograde at 22 Scorpio and this will be conjunct her natal Ketu (24 Scorpio).  This is usually a stressful transit and may reflect situations where her assumptions are called into question.  I would therefore expect the Fed will face some significant financial turbulence in February and especially March. 

Weekly Market Forecast

I had generally expected a rate hike on Wednesday as the Sun entered the optimistic sign of Sagittarius in the sidereal (Vedic) zodiac.  I also thought the planets generally suggested a mostly favorable market reaction to the Fed's move.  This proved to be largely correct as stocks rose in the early week and on Wednesday in the US and into Thursday in Asia and Europe.  In addition to the Sun influence, bullish Venus was also aligning with Uranus and Pluto so I had added reason to think stocks would generally rise.  Indeed, US stocks gained more than 3% into Wednesday and Indian stocks added more than 2% in the run-up to the decision.  However, stocks declined late in the week as investors took a more sober second look at the new investing reality.  In last week's stock market forecast, I had wondered if we might see some late week selling on the Mars-Jupiter alignment influence. 

This week will likely be fairly quiet due to the Christmas holiday break on Friday.  The outlook seems mixed.  Monday's trading was mostly higher as Mercury aligned with Uranus and the Moon approached its aspect with Venus.  Once the Moon-Venus aspect begins to separate around noon GMT on Tuesday, I would think markets will become somewhat weaker.  But the Venus-Jupiter alignment on Thursday suggests more upside, even if it doesn't get very far due to thin holiday trading.  Could this be the makings of a year-end Santa Claus rally?  It could be, although as I have written previously, the planets do not clearly favor a strong rally into the New Year.  Some gains are possible, but the prospect of an unusually long-lasting Mars-Mercury square aspect from December 27th to January 6th could well be an added psychological burden on investors.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fed's Yellen in spotlight again as Sun enters Sagittarius

(14 December 2015) All eyes are on Fed Chair Janet Yellen this week as the long-awaiting rise in interest rates may finally come to pass.  After a false start in September in which the Fed apparently got scared off a hike after a sharp sell-off in world markets in August, the stage is set again for Yellen & Co. to pull the trigger and raise rates for the first time in 9 years.  The consensus view is that she will follow through this time and raise the trend-setting overnight lending rate 0.125% to 0.25%.  The larger question is what kind of language she uses to signal the pace of future hikes in 2016 and beyond.  Given the fragility of markets these days, there is a sense that she will do everything possible to downplay fears of a fast schedule of rate hikes which could wreak havoc in many financial markets. 

Interestingly, the Sun enters sidereal Sagittarius on the same day of the Fed announcement on Wednesday the 16th.  Sagittarius is a sign that is associated with optimism, and it is no coincidence that it is ruled by the planet Jupiter, which is known as the Great Benefic.  The entry of the Sun into Sagittarius may therefore reflect some optimism and confidence in the Fed decision, perhaps as Yellen emphasizes all of the positive economic indicators that justify a rate hike.  But will this then translate into a favourable market reaction to Yellen's decision?  This is a more complex question. 

First off, we can see there are no clearly negative alignments in play this week like we saw last week.  So that suggests that a major sell-off after the decision is unlikely.  But whether stocks can significantly rise after the decision is harder to predict.  

If we look at the horoscope of the Federal Reserve, we can see that some kind of bold action is very likely on Wednesday as transiting Mars (25 Virgo) will form an exact square with the natal Mars (26 Gemini) in the chart.  In the current circumstance, that suggests the Fed will raise interest rates, although it should be said that "bold" Mars-type action could be interpreted in different ways.  

Such Mars-to-Mars hard aspects are symptomatic of tense situations (yes!) and may even indicate some short-lived turmoil following the announcement.  But aside from the Mars aspect, there are no really nasty influences here so this is another reason why I would doubt any huge reaction to the decision.  Also, we can see that transiting Venus will conjoin the natal Moon in the chart.  This is a more calming influence and signifies favourable outcomes, at least from the Fed's perspective.  The last thing Yellen wants is a market sell-off or a huge Dollar rally, so that also argues for a fairly muted reaction to the announcement.  

The Fed horoscope appears much more afflicted in March when transiting Ketu exactly conjoins natal Rahu and Saturn stations in close conjunction with the natal Mercury.  I would think that March will be a time when the Fed will have to confront more pressing problems.  By contrast, this December FOMC meeting looks quite mild by comparison.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks fell across most of the world last week as investors reacted to the sharp decline in crude oil and diminishing growth prospects for the economy.  In New York,  the Dow had its worst week since August falling 3% closing at 17,265.  In India, the Sensex lost 2% closing at 25,044.   This bearish outcome was not surprising as in last week's market forecast I had noted a scary-looking Mars alignment with Uranus and Pluto in the second half of the week.  I thought we might have got more gains in the early part of the week on the Venus influence but certainly the latter part of the week did live up to its negative potential.

This week is all about the Fed, of course, and its announcement on Wednesday afternoon.   Besides the diffusely positive Sun influence, the Venus alignment with Pluto and Uranus also suggests some bullish sentiment.  Mars may cause some problems on Thursday or Friday perhaps as it approaches an alignment with Jupiter.  However, I suspect this negative Mars effect may not occur until next week.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Euro soars as ECB disappoints market

(7 December 2015) Markets were shaken last week as the ECB announced only cautious stimulus measures which fell short of expectations.  Investors were hoping that Mario Draghi would introduce more QE-type easing but instead he chose merely to extend the current program into 2017.  Most global stock markets fell on the news as European bourses lost 3% while the US market lost 1.5% and India also ended generally lower on the week.  While I thought we would see some midweek downside, the extent of the selling was a bit surprising given the typically bullish entry of Venus into sidereal Libra on Monday.   At least Friday was higher in the US as stocks surged 2% on a strong jobs report.  This coincided nicely with the late week Mercury-Jupiter alignment that I mentioned in last week's market forecast.

In my subscriber newsletter, I had suggested that the Euro was more likely to rise at the expense of the Dollar last week.  That is precisely what happened as the Euro enjoyed its biggest one-day gain in months as it climbed from 1.06 to 1.09 on Thursday after the disappointing Draghi announcement.  There were several astrological reasons for my prediction of a rise in the Euro at this time.  First, the entry of Venus into Libra is generally supportive of risk currencies such as the Euro.  Second, bullish aspects like last Friday's Mercury-Jupiter square are also often favourable towards risk-taking at the expense of safe havens such as the US Dollar.  This would also be a generally positive influence on the Euro at some point. 

But it was the horoscope of the Euro (1 January 1999; 00.00 CET) that held the most crucial pieces of information.   That late week square involving Mercury (25 Scorpio) and Jupiter  (27 Leo) square aligned almost exactly with a similar natal square involving Mercury (27 Scorpio) and Jupiter (28 Aquarius).  This was within two degrees of exact on Thursday and Friday.  Since both of these planets are considered bullish most of the time, their aspects (i.e. degree separation of 30,45, 60, 90, etc.) will tend to be bullish for the Euro and bearish for the Dollar.  

While other aspects might be seen to be more problematic such as the conjunction of Rahu to the Ascendant and the alignment of transiting Mars to the natal Sun and natal Mars, it seemed more likely to me that we would see a bullish outcome.  As always, one of the most difficult elements in financial astrology is weighing the relative strength of each factor.  

Since the planetary positions are always unique and constantly changing (i.e. literally, the current positions of all nine planets is unique and has never before occurred in human history), it is very challenging to predict the overall outcome in a way that incorporates all factors.  The multiplicity of variables is one reason why financial astrology remains only a probabilistic enterprise.  It's other main source of error, of course, it happens to share with economics, sociology, and political science.  Namely, its objects of study are human beings who possess consciousness and therefore do not follow the simpler rules of the physical sciences that govern atoms and molecules.

Weekly Market Forecast

This week is a mixed bag.  While the bullish Venus in Libra effect could be felt at various points along the way, there is also a strikingly negative alignment involving malefic Mars with Uranus and Pluto.  The Sun is close to participating in this alignment but its aspect with Uranus occurs a day or two earlier than the Mars alignment.  We could therefore see some early week gains around this Sun-Uranus aspect.   But the Mars alignment looks tense and could reflect some violent or unexpected events.  Sentiment is therefore more likely to be cautious for part of the week, especially in the second half.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Astrological explanations of the Santa Claus rally

(30 November 2015) As we begin the month of December, investors are anticipating the greater likelihood of improved stock market returns due to the traditional Santa Claus rally.  Research on seasonal variation in returns has shown that December tends to outperform most other months of the year in US markets.  In particular, the week between Christmas and New Year's tends to be most bullish as stocks have posted an average gain of 1.5% in that short five-day period. Nobody knows exactly why stocks tend to rise in December although several plausible theories have been suggested including holiday optimism, reduced trading volumes and year-end accounting and tax considerations.

I would also offer an astrological explanation for the relative buoyancy of stocks during December, particularly the second half.  That is: the Sun transits through sidereal Sagittarius between December 15 and January 13 (+/- 1 day).  The reason why the Sun's transit of Sagittarius should tend to be positive is that according to astrological tradition, Sagittarius is said to be "ruled" by the planet Jupiter. Jupiter is the quintessential bullish planet that symbolizes expansion, optimism and growth.  When the Sun makes its 30-day transit through its sign, some of that optimistic Jupiter energy is more likely to manifest in the world. Naturally, this includes the stock market which is nothing if not an ongoing barometer of collective human sentiment.

And it is worth noting that this phenomenon is much less apparent in the Western tropical zodiac whereby the Sun transits tropical Sagittarius between November 22 and December 22.  Instead, it is the sidereal zodiac that is widely used in India that seems to reflect this clearer symbolism of optimistic Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius.

Year Sun enters Sagittarius
Sun exits Sagittarius
% change
2015-2016 Dec 16 Jan 14 ???
2014-2015 " " +1
2013-2014 " " +3
2012-2013 " " +4
2011-2012 " " +6
2010-2011 " " +4
2009-2010 " " +3

From the table, we can see how US stocks rose in each of the past five transits of the Sun through Sagittarius.   The gains are consistent and significantly large.  To be sure, we have seen a bull market since 2009 so it stands to reason that most months or 30-day time periods would be positive.  Without getting into highly technical statistical analysis, I would still suggest that the mid-Dec to mid-Jan gains still outpaces the annual averages.  Interestingly, February returns are well below the monthly average and are actually negative.  This also confirms astrological assumptions since the Sun transits through Saturn-ruled signs Capricorn and Aquarius during the month of February.  Saturn, of course, is a bearish influence and is considered to be the planet of contraction, pessimism and negativity. 

So what can we expect for this year's version of the Santa Claus rally in December?  As I noted previously, the transit of Venus through Libra from today (Nov 30th) until Dec 24 is a more positive influence.  Besides the transit effect of the Sun through Sagittarius beginning Dec 15th, the odds also favor some upside due to this Venus in Libra effect.  After the 24th, however, it could be more difficult to stocks to rise.  While the Sun will continue its transit in Sagittarius, the loss of the boost from Venus may cause some problems.  Somehow I think the Santa Claus rally will not quite play out as expected this year.  Perhaps if gains are significant enough before the 24th, then stocks may end up more neutral.  We shall see. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks were generally mixed last week as fears over a slowing economy were offset somewhat by the acceptance of a December interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.  US stocks were mostly flat while European and Indian markets posted a modest gains.  As expected, the month of November ended modestly lower which was in keeping with the bearish influence of the Venus transit of Virgo.  This year's decline makes it six consecutive negative outcomes for the four-week transit of Venus in Virgo since 2009.  The low actually occurred in the middle of the month and we have seen a rebound higher since then. 

This week will be an opportunity to see the effects of the sign change of transiting Venus.  Its entry into Libra today (Nov 30th) increases the likelihood of gains somewhat although it is not as robust a correlation as the Venus in Virgo transit.  Nonetheless, this week leans bullish in any event given the late week Mercury-Jupiter alignment.   If there is a negative day here, Wednesday could be more susceptible to declines in the US, while Tuesday looks somewhat problematic for India.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Venus enters sidereal Libra on 30th November: research on financial astrology

(16 November 2015)  So far, so Virgo.  Or more precisely, Venus in Virgo.  Ever since Venus began its transit of sidereal Virgo on 3rd November, most global stock markets have fallen.  In some cases, such as in the US and Europe, the entry date came very close to the interim high whereas other markets such as India's has seen declines that began in October extended further. 

In any event, the bearish influence of the transit of Venus in Virgo appears to be confirmed yet again.  As I have shown in a previous stock market analysis, recent incidents of this once-a-year transit have correlated with declines.  The four-week-long transit of Venus in Virgo has correlated with declines in each of the last six years.  The astrological reasoning is fairly simple: Venus is seen as the planet of money and value and traditionally it is said to do poorly in Virgo, which is considered its sign of debilitation.  Amazingly, this very basic one-factor model of stock market movements has generally outweighed most other planetary factors.  

As stocks rose today (Monday), we still have two weeks to go in this transit of Virgo so we cannot rule out a rebound in stocks towards the end of the month.  But so far, it is looking like the overall 27-day bearish influence of Venus in Virgo will hold for another year.

But what happens when Venus leaves Virgo and enters Libra on 30th November?   According to astrological tradition, Venus is said to "rule" the sign of Libra.  There is a general affinity between the symbolism of the planet Venus and the sign of Libra: amity, sociality, optimism, diplomacy.  From a purely deductive point of view, one would think that Venus would do well in Libra.  Since financial astrology places a special importance on Venus through its rulership over notions of value, there is some reason to expect stocks would generally rise during its four-week transit of Libra.  Let's see what the recent data of this transit suggests.

Venus in Libra

In the chart above and table below, we find good evidence that the transit of Venus in Libra is in fact bullish for US stocks.   I would expect this relationship to generally hold for other national markets although the strength of the correlation may be somewhat different.   Obviously, this is a very small dataset so I am not making any definitive truth claims here.  But it is an interesting observation nonetheless.  On several occasions, the actual day of the entry of Venus into sidereal Libra correlated with a very large gains in stocks.  This happened most famously in 2010 on September 1st and the Ben Bernanke speech at Jackson Hole that argued for more quantitative easing (QE).  It also occurred on 2011 on October 4th immediately after the market bottomed following the US debt default crisis that year. 

Please note that I am referring to sidereal Libra as used in India and not tropical Libra as used more commonly in the West.  There is now a 24 degree difference between zodiacs which complicates this question about the effects of sign transits of different planets.


Year Venus entry date Venus exit date Market outcome - DOW
2007 November 29 December 24 +2%
2008 September 19 October 13 -16%
2009 November 3 November 26  +6%
2010 September 1 October 7 +20%
2011 October 4 October 27 +7%
2012 November 17 December 10 +4%
2013 September 6 October 1 +2%
2014 October 19 November 11 +8%
2015 November 30 December 24 ???

We should note a rather glaring anomaly, however.  Stocks plunged 16% in 2008 during that year's Venus transit of Libra.  This was part of the larger financial meltdown brought about by the US mortgage crisis.  How are we to make sense of this?  I would say it is an obvious outlier, since there were several other strongly bearish alignments in play at that time.  The alignments were so strongly bearish that I made mention of them several times on my blog and website back in 2008.  The chances that stocks would rise during that period were very small despite the apparently bullish transit of Venus in Libra.  Just as in economics, astrology has to contend with a multiplicity of factors which have to be assessed for their impact on the ultimate outcome.  In 2008, I did not expect the transit of Venus in Libra to have much bullish effect at all in light of the overwhelmingly negative alignment of Saturn, Rahu and Neptune.

But if 2008 is an outlier, then what is the likelihood that the 2015 Venus transit of Libra will produce higher stock prices?  Since the Saturn-Neptune square will be separating and hence, weakening through the course of the 2015 transit in December, I would think the chances are good that stocks will rise during the course of this transit.  This is not a certainty, of course, but rather an educated guess based on the previous track record of this transit.  I offer more details on this question in my weekly subscriber newsletter.

Weekly Market Forecast

Markets were mostly lower last week as investors pondered the implications of a possible Fed rate hike in December.   Monday trading was higher across the board despite the Paris terror attacks.   I had been fairly bearish in last week's market forecast given the Mars-Rahu conjunction.  Thursday in particular was bearish on the Moon-Saturn alignment, although the Sun-Jupiter failed to boost stocks much at all. 

The clouds remain in place this week as both Mercury and the Sun align with Ketu (South Node) into midweek.  Wednesday and Thursday look more bearish in this respect so any gains we might have seen in the early going this week could be vulnerable to these later moves.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Gold falls further: more evidence for financial astrology

(9 November 2015) The steep sell-off in gold last week was a nice confirmation of the inner workings of financial astrology.  Despite the unquestionable beauty of this Gustav Klimt painting, Gold plunged 4% on the week closing below $1100 for the first time since August.  In last week's post, I thought the chances were good that gold would decline given the difficult situation of the planet of Venus.  

Venus is one of the main planetary significators for the price of gold (along with women and art, of course!) and when it is under pressure gold typically declines.  I had noted that Venus entered its sidereal sign of debilitation on Tuesday November 3rd.  This sign transit of Virgo lasts four weeks and is often a bearish indicator.  To top it off, Venus also conjoined Mars just the day before and was still minutes of arc past its exact conjunction.  As a malefic planet, the proximity of Mars to Venus is also a factor that often depresses gold as my investigation of previous Venus-Mars conjunctions showed fairly clearly.  As a consequence of this alignment, gold fell sharply on Tuesday as it broke a key technical support level.

Another angle on the collapse of gold prices can be seen through the a key natal horoscope for the yellow metal.  Gold's first publicly traded price was established among London gold dealers on September 12, 1919.  This chart has repeatedly provided strong indications of the ups and downs of gold prices.  As a rule, close aspects involving Saturn or the Nodes (Rahu and Ketu) correspond with declines while Jupiter aspects are more bullish.  Of course, not all aspects are created equal so it is a matter of some interpretation to determine which aspect will prevail.  On the whole, Saturn aspects outweigh Jupiter aspects.  This may be an artifact of Saturn's slower velocity, although it may just be a feature of Saturn itself. 

The current situation is clear enough: transiting Saturn (10 Scorpio) is approaching its square aspect with Neptune (13 Aquarius) in the coming weeks.  This is a negative influence although not necessarily specific to gold.  But the real problem is that the Saturn-Neptune is aligning very closely with the natal Mercury-Saturn conjunction at 11-12 Leo.  That is specific to gold.  Even worse, Saturn will be aligning with the 2nd equal house cusp (12 Scorpio) and therefore it will be afflicting the 11th equal house cusp almost exactly throughout the month of November.  The 2nd house is associated with wealth while 11th house is connected with gains -- a double whammy on these "money houses".  Therefore, this close Saturn square aspect makes further declines more likely. 

The reason why gold took such a nosedive last week is that the Venus-Mars-Rahu conjunction in Virgo was in the 12th house (of loss!) and in close trine aspect with natal Ketu (5 Taurus).  Ketu is another first-rate malefic (along with Saturn and Mars) so any transit interaction with natal Ketu in this chart is likely to correlate with declines.  The whole week was negative with another large decline on Friday just as the Venus and Mars were moving into a near-exact 120-degree trine aspect with Ketu.  So between this obvious natal situation in the 1919 chart and the difficulty of Venus going into Virgo with Mars in tow, the probability of a significant decline was very high indeed last week.

Of course, Jupiter is also in the picture here as it approaches its conjunction with natal Sun and Venus in Leo.  This is likely to produce some upside in gold over the next couple of months as Jupiter turns retrograde at 29 Leo in early January, just a few degrees past the Sun-Venus pairing.  But I would think that the Saturn-Neptune square has to move away first, which may be felt only after the end of the November when the aspect begins to separate. 

Weekly Market Forecast

While gold slumped against the rising US Dollar, stocks were more mixed last week.  US markets were fairly flat while Indian stocks suffered a more significant tumble.  In last week's market forecast, I thought we would get some downside last week given the placements of Mars and Saturn.   As expected, Wednesday and Thursday were generally lower.

Stocks extended their declines today (Monday) as Mars conjoined Rahu (North Lunar Node).   We may well see further downside this week from this malefic pairing although I would expect some upside likely on either Tuesday or Wednesday as the Sun aligns with Jupiter. Thursday's Moon-Saturn conjunction could undermine some of this optimism, however. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Predicting the price of gold with the Venus-Mars conjunction

(2 November 2015)  It's not a good time to be a gold bug these days.  After peaking in 2011 above $1900, gold has since fallen 40% and shows few signs of returning to those lofty levels.  Not even recent strong hints from the European Central Bank (ECB) that it will begin a new round of QE managed to do much for the yellow metal.  With official inflation still below 2% in most developed economies, there is less need for the safe haven as a traditional storehouse of value.  While recent currency volatility has made gold somewhat more attractive to investors in emerging markets and other commodity-based economies, its value as measured in US Dollars remains low.  Gold took it on the chin again today as it declined $8 closing at $1133. 

As I have noted in previous posts, there are many astrological factors to consider when accounting for fluctuations in the price of gold.  Certain horoscopes figure prominently such as the chart for the first London gold fix in 1919 and the chart of the first US futures trade in 1974.  There are also any number of simple transit influences on gold.  Financial astrology typically relates the condition of the Sun and Venus to gold prices.  The Sun symbolizes government and historically a nation's currency was expressed in terms of gold and silver.  Venus enjoys a special affinity to gold because it is seen as representing value and luxuries. As a planet of abundance and expansion, Jupiter is also associated with gold.  Jupiter's connection with gold may be as a result of its symbolism of growth expectations and inflation, both of which are closely tied to gold prices.  The more expansionary an economy, the greater the inflationary pressures and hence the likelihood that gold will increase in value. 

This week I thought I would examine one simple planetary pairing and its apparent correlation with gold prices -- Venus and Mars.  I would argue that when Venus is strong and well-aspected, gold is more likely to rise.  Venus is said to be strong when it is transiting one of its own signs like sidereal Libra or Taurus, or its sign of exaltation, Pisces.  A well-aspected Venus would be one that is under the influence of Jupiter or perhaps Rahu (North Lunar Node).  Uranus, Neptune and Pluto may also be positive for gold prices if they form soft aspects with Venus.  But when Venus is afflicted by malefics like Saturn or Mars, we should expect the price of gold to come under pressure. 

This is exactly the situation in recent days as Venus has conjoined Mars in the last degree of Leo.  The exactly conjunction takes place today and tomorrow (November 2-3).  Due to the retrograde cycle of Venus, this is the third Venus-Mars conjunction this year.  In years when Venus is not retrograde, there is only one period of conjunction which lasts about 40 days.  Rather than narrowing down the exact conjunction to a single day, I like to think of it as conjunction window -- a period of about 40 days on average where Venus and Mars are separated by less than 10 degrees of longitudinal arc in the sky.  If neither planet is retrograde, this means that the faster-moving Venus will approach its conjunction with Mars for about 20 days and then gradually separate from Mars over the next 20 days.  This 10-degree conjunction window can vary substantially when either planet is retrograde. 

The previous Venus-Mars conjunction took placed in August and September in sidereal Cancer and Leo.  When retrograde Venus came to within 10 degrees of Mars on August 22nd, gold traded at $1159.  By the time Venus formed an exact conjunction on August 31st, gold had fallen to $1133.  When Venus was 5 degrees past Mars on September 7th, gold fell further to $1120. 

As a complicating factor, Venus ended its retrograde cycle on September 6th and began to move forward again.  This meant that Venus started to approach a conjunction with Mars again and was never located fully 10 degrees away.  At its furthest angular separation of 9.5 degrees in late September, gold prices recovered somewhat to $1145.  This was still lower than the $1159 at the beginning of the conjunction window but much less so than at the time of the end of the retrograde cycle.  So we can say that this retrograde cycle and unusually long period within the 10 degree conjunction window puts an asterisk next to this particular Venus-Mars conjunction.

Actually, we are still in that same unusually long Venus-Mars conjunction window that has been active in August 22nd.  For illustrative purposes, I have separated them in the chart and table below but the conjunction is still ongoing.  Venus will finally move out of range in late November. 

Before that, Venus conjoined Mars in early 2015.  When Venus approached Mars to within 10 degrees on January 31st, gold traded at $1283.  By the time of its exact conjunction on February 22nd, gold had fallen to $1201. On the day that Venus was separating by 10 degrees on March 15, gold had tumbled further to $1153.  This was a strong correlation that lasted well past the exact conjunction.  The standard astrological assumption is that the affliction by a malefic planet like Mars is greatest on the day of the exact conjunction.  As noted above, however, we know that this is only one factor out of many to consider.  The apparent negative correlation between price and the angular separation of Venus and Mars may manifest well past conjunction in some instances.

The chart below lists the dates and price correlations the last five Venus-Mars conjunctions.  N.B. There were no conjunctions in 2012 or 2014.

    Year          angular separation           Date           Gold Price  
   2011           -10     May 2       $1577
              0     May 22       $1508
           +10     June 12       $1529
        Net Change -4%
   2013             -10       March 16       $1604
               0       April 7       $1573
             +10       April 27       $1462
        Net Change -8%
   2015             -10       Jan 31        $1283
                0       Feb 22        $1201
              +10      March 15        $1153
        Net Change -10%
   2015           -10      Aug 22       $1159
              0      Aug 31       $1133
             +10*      *Sep 25       $1145
       *only 9.5 degrees     Net Change -1%
             -5       Oct 21      $1166
              0       Nov 2      $1133
             +10      Nov 23       ???

While this correlation looks fairly solid, it doesn't always hold.  In late summer 2010, gold prices actually rose sharply during a Venus-Mars conjunction.  This anomalous result does not necessarily invalidate the effect of Venus-Mars conjunctions on gold but merely reminds us that it is one factor among many.  It may not even be the most important factor at any given time.  In 2010, I would note that Venus was stronger than normal because it was transiting Libra, a sign it rules and does well in.  So that was one mitigating factor to reduce the negative effects of Mars.  Also, there was a very close conjunction of Jupiter with Uranus at that time.  This was likely bullish for inflation expectations and hence gold prices were more likely to rise, Venus-Mars notwithstanding. 

So what will happen to the price of gold over the rest of the current conjunction window?  By tomorrow, the Venus-Mars conjunction will be in the first degree of Virgo.  Venus is said to be debilitated in Virgo so that may be an added burden for gold besides whatever effects Mars may exert.  The conjunction window will end on November 23rd so it seems fairly likely that we will see gold fall below its current levels at some time between now and then.  However, it doesn't mean that it will be at its lowest point at the end of the window.  The low could come well below that end date, and indeed even after it as well.  The 10-degree window should only be seen as an approximate guide to the assessing the influence of this pairing. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks were generally mixed last week as investors digested the latest indication from the US Federal Reserve that a December rate hike may be forthcoming.  US stocks held steady as the Dow ended fractionally higher on the week at 17,663.  Emerging markets such as India sold off as the Sensex lost 3% closing at 26,656.  In last week's market forecast, I thought that the market would likely move lower on the various Saturn influences.  Tuesday and Thursday were indeed lower in the US and the selling continued into Friday in other markets after the Fed announcement.

This week has so far started on a positive note in the US, although Asia was more bearish on Monday.   Tuesday's Venus-Mars conjunction in Virgo increases the probability of some downside in the days ahead although it may not occur immediately.  Wednesday and Thursday may be more problematic in this respect given the Moon-Saturn aspect that pervades both of those days.  Overall, I think the planets are leaning bearish.  As I have written previously, this transit of Venus through sidereal Virgo over the next four weeks is usually negative for stocks. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

New House Speaker Paul Ryan faces US debt ceiling showdown

(26 October 2015)  And so it begins again.  The annual political wrangling to raise the US debt ceiling is now in full swing as both parties vie for advantage before the November 3rd deadline.  Since the US government must rely on borrowed money to stay solvent, Congress's failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause a default.  Previous debt ceiling crises occurred in 2011 and 2013 and brought sharp declines in the stock markets before 11th-hour compromises were finally found.  As always, Republicans are loathe to sign off on the ever-increasing debt load and are seeking fiscal concessions from the Democrats.  Of course, many Republicans also do not want to to see the US default on its debt as the financial consequences could hurt the whole country in the form of financial instability, lowered credit ratings and higher borrowing costs on its bonds. 

As an added wrinkle, this year's game of political chicken in Washington, DC will feature a new Speaker of the House.  Paul Ryan will likely be formally elected on Thursday as he replaces outgoing John Boehner.  Ryan faces an immediate test of his leadership skills as the right-wing of the GOP is more willing to risk the negative consequences of a default and may be less likely to back down in any negotiations.  Moreover, the Tea Party wing has serious reservations about Paul Ryan as the new Speaker and may work to undermine his leadership, perhaps using the debt ceiling fight for this purpose.

So what the chances of a potentially disruptive default?  The astrological indications suggest they are actually substantially higher than one would think.  Normally, both sides engage in the requisite levels of brinkmanship but the worst case scenario is avoided.  Most recently, this means that spending concessions are wrought by the Republicans in exchange for signing off on raising the debt ceiling.  This year I'm less sure we will get a repeat of this well-rehearsed script.  Alternatively, we may see a replay of 2011, when there was a failure to compromise by the deadline and we saw stocks plunge on a theoretical default.  But thanks to some arm-twisting and creative accounting, the US managed to step back from the abyss a few days after the passing of the deadline.

The horoscope of incoming Speaker Paul Ryan offers some clues about the chances for discord right at the time of the deadline on November 3rd.  Initially, he will likely be approved as House Speaker this Thursday, October 29th.  He thereby is benefiting from the triple conjunction of Venus (25 Leo), Mars (27 Leo) and Jupiter (22 Leo) transiting very close to his unequal 10th house cusp at 24 Leo (i.e. the Midheaven or MC).  This is very much in keeping with we would expect since the 10th house symbolizes status and achievement.  Jupiter also casts a near-exact 120 degree aspect to Mercury (21 Sagittarius) which is the lord of the 11th house of gains. 

The Wisconsin-based Congressman Ryan has now reached his highest level of political success with this election as House Speaker, the 3rd highest office in the land.  But his ascension has not been easy or smooth, a fact perhaps reflected in the prominence of transiting Saturn (9 Scorpio) just past his Ascendant (7 Scorpio).  This Saturn-Ascendant conjunction connotes hard work, heavy responsibilities and the possibility that he may not enjoy his fair share of public recognition.  On Thursday, the day of the House vote on his Speakership, 11th lord Mercury conjoins his natal Moon while the Sun conjoins Jupiter.  Those are usually very winning planets and exactly what one would expect for a promotion of this sort.

But the situation becomes more complicated by the time of the debt ceiling deadline next week on Tuesday, November 3rd.  Jupiter is now beginning to separate from its aspect with Mercury and opens the door to the possibility that Ryan's good fortune may be ending.  Transiting Mercury (8 Libra) comes under close opposition aspect of Saturn (9 Aries) and 8th house aspect cast from natal Mars (9 Pisces).  This not only suggests that a deal is less likely at the deadline, but it also indicates a disappointment or setback. 

With the transiting Sun (17 Libra) also in aspect with natal Rahu (18 Aquarius), there is some reason to think that there could be some unexpected developments that produce unwanted outcomes around this issue.  Perhaps the Venus-Rahu conjunction at 6 Virgo on November 8th is a more likely time for favorable outcomes for Ryan in this matter.  The Venus-Rahu conjunction occurs just one degree away from the cusp of the 11th house and suggests some kind of advancement or victory. 

We can also see the potential for problems with this debt ceiling debate in the USA horoscope.  Both Venus and Mars are both due to enter sidereal Virgo on the 3rd of November.  This will form a tight alignment with the Mars-Neptune square in the USA chart.  Mars is the planet of conflict and violence so the odds are greatly heightened for some manifestation of this Mars energy in the first week of November.  While this alignment doesn't necessarily signify a failure of the debt ceiling negotiations and a default, it increases the risk of this outcome.  Neptune's role here may well introduce an element of subterfuge and deception in the proceedings. 

It is tantalizing to think that that this debt ceiling deadline may somehow be related to the entry of Venus and Mars into Virgo on November 3rd.  As I have noted last week, this transit of Venus through Virgo has been quite negative for the stock market over the past six years.  While no single factor enjoys a 100% correlation with market movements, the fact that this transit occurs on the same day of the debt ceiling deadline is food for thought.  It is another reason to assume a more cautious stance with the markets in early November.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks generally rose last week as China's central bank cut rates in an effort to boost growth while the ECB talked up the possibility of more stimulus.  The Dow climbed 2% on the week to 17,646.  India's Sensex also rose 1% finishing the week at 27,470.   As I suggested in last week's stock market forecast, we saw some modest declines early last week on the Moon-Saturn pattern.  We also got some of the anticipated gains from the Mercury-Venus-Pluto alignment later in the week. 

This week seems more difficult than last week.  We did get some gains in Asia on Monday on the strength of Sunday's Venus-Jupiter conjunction.  But now this benefic pairing is weakening, there may be less positive energy available for markets to tap into.  US markets finally lower.  Tuesday's Sun-Saturn and Merucury-Mars alignments look more negative.  The Fed makes its latest policy announcement on Wednesday but there is an absence of close aspects that day so I'm less inclined there will be a sharp market reaction.  But the Moon-Saturn opposition on Thursday and even into Friday indicates more disappointment and an elevated possibility of declines.  Overall, this is not shaping up to be a great week for stocks.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Financial markets stable ahead of Venus transit of Virgo

(18 October 2015)  When used wisely and judiciously, financial astrology can be a useful tool to investors.  While no one can predict the direction of the market 100% of the time, there are many well-established correlations which have a good track record of prediction.  One of these is the transit of Venus through the sign of Virgo.  Or more specifically, through the sign of sidereal (star-based) Virgo as is commonly used in Vedic astrology in India.  Western astrology employs the tropical (i.e. seasons-based) zodiac but evidence suggests that this correlation does not hold in that system.

I have found that stock markets generally do poorly during the four weeks that Venus transits through Virgo.  In financial astrology, Venus is considered the planet of money and value.  When it is well placed and unafflicted, stocks are more likely to rise.  However, when it comes under pressure from malefic planets like Mars or Saturn, stocks are more likely to decline.  And since Virgo is traditionally believed to be a sign where Venus is said to be debilitated, its transit of Virgo is similarly bad for stock markets around the world.

I have written previously about this fascinating and surprisingly simple correlation between the stock market and the Venus.  In the summer of 2013, I warned that the upcoming transit of Venus in Virgo would likely be bad for stocks.  Indeed, it was bad as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3% during its 25-day transit of sidereal Virgo.  This pattern also held in 2014, as stocks also declined 5% when Venus transited Virgo in late September and early October.  This bearish transit happens once a year between the months of August and December and lasts for about four weeks.  The chart below shows how reliable this transit has been recently since the Great Meltdown of 2008.  What's more impressive about this correlation is that the declines have occurred during a massive bull market where US stocks have almost tripled in value.  Clearly, this is a fairly robust correlation that can outweigh other potentially countervailing factors. 


Year Venus entry date Venus exit date Market outcome
2009 October 9 November 2 -4%
2010 July 31 August 31 -6%
2011 September 9 October 3 -6%
2012 October 22 November 16 -7%
2013 August 11 September 5 -3%
2014 September 24 October 18 -5%
2015 November 3 November 29 ???

This year, Venus is due to enter sidereal Virgo on Monday, November 3rd.  It will continue to transit Virgo until Sunday, November 29th. I am fully expecting stocks to decline once again during this period, perhaps significantly given the other difficult planetary influences during the month.   I would think that a decline in the upper range of previous losses (6-7%) is likely and we could even see something more than that, at least measured from tip to trough.  Interestingly, the US Federal Reserve is due to release its latest policy statement just a few days before Venus enters Virgo on October 28th.  This may well be the catalyst for a negative market reaction that lasts through much of the month of November.  In any event, this upcoming transit is likely to see stocks tumble again.  The day of its exact entry into Virgo on November 3rd is more likely to cause problems since it will be conjoined (and hemmed in) by malefics Mars and Rahu (North Lunar Node). 

Weekly Market Forecast

Last week, stocks generally extended their gains as investors digested the idea that the Fed likely would not raise rates until next year.  The likelihood of more loose money in the US meant that risk assets like stocks were a safer bet.  In New York, the Dow climbed gained 1% closing at 17,215.  India's market enjoyed similar upside as the BSE-Sensex rose 200 points to 27,214.  This October rebound has not been surprising given the fading of the Saturn-Ketu (South Lunar Node) aspect since September.  As expected, we did see markets decline going into that aspect in mid-September but stocks have generally bounced back since then, perhaps as Jupiter has closely aspected Pluto.  Jupiter-Pluto aspects are usually bullish. 

This week may see further gains, although I would note that the Jupiter influence may be weakening now that it is separating from Pluto.  Perhaps the gains will be modest and possibly short-lived.  Also, the Moon is aspected by Saturn on Tuesday and Wednesday so we are likely to see some declines near those aspects.  The late week may be more positive, however, as Mercury aligns with Venus and Pluto. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Jobs report disappoints: could the US be heading into recession?

(5 October 2015)  Friday's disappointing US jobs report is the Fed's worst nightmare.  Despite six years of near-zero interest rates and $4 Trillion worth of QE-style money printing, the US economy only added 142,000 new jobs in September, a number well below expectations and the key 200K level.  The US economy therefore remains very fragile and could tip into recession if global economic headwinds get worse.  The conundrum for the Federal Reserve is that it could be trapped at zero percent here with little room to maneuver in the event of another major economic slowdown.  The Fed had been promising for many months to raise rates back towards normal levels as the economy strengthened in late 2015.  Now that seems increasingly unlikely as the Fed may well be forming contingency plans for perhaps another round of quantitative easing (QE4) or even the dreaded nuclear option of negative interest rates.

But is the US economy really headed for another recession?  The horoscope of the US may offer some insights on this question.  To be sure, it is very difficult to extrapolate economic activity based on planetary transits alone.  Numerous other factors have to be considered and even then, we may only get an impressionistic picture.  But there is some evidence to suggest that whenever malefics Saturn and Ketu (South Lunar Node) are prominent in the USA chart, collective pessimism and economic contraction becomes more likely.  Specific afflictions to the Sun, Moon and 2nd house (= wealth, economy) may also indicate a slowdown of business activity and rising unemployment.  The matter is not a 'yes-no' proposition but more along the lines of a 'more likely-less likely' continuum.  The greater the number of these factors that are present in the chart, the more likely a recession becomes.

By way of example, the Great Recession of 2008-2009 occurred when transiting Saturn opposed the Moon for over a year including a near-exact direct station in June 2008 when the US job losses began to accelerate.   The Moon represents the population as a whole as well symbolizing the emotional state of the nation.  An extended transit by Saturn to the Moon is usually bad on a variety of levels, including the economy.   The 2nd house of wealth was doubly afflicted during this recession since the 2nd house ruler Saturn was aspected by Rahu in the second half of 2008.   Rahu then continued along its retrograde path to conjoin natal Ketu in the 2nd house (=wealth, economy) late in 2008. 

Currently, we can see that transiting Saturn is squaring the Moon so that might have accounted for the disappointing jobs report last week.  Saturn's forward square aspect is not a full strength aspect and it is moving more quickly now so it may not have a lasting impact.  Transiting Ketu's aspect to Mercury, the planet of commerce, may be another source of economic weakness at the present time.  But neither of these influences will last too long so I would think the chances of a further US slowdown in late 2015 are quite small. 

However, 2016 has a couple of potential trouble spots.  In March, transiting Saturn will station retrograde at 22 Scorpio while under the 3rd house aspect of natal Saturn.  This looks like it could reflect negatively on the economy, even if it may not herald a full-blown recession.  Interestingly, Saturn will square Jupiter at that time when both planets station in March and April.  This one way Saturn-to-Jupiter aspect should be seen as a negative indicator for economic sentiment, not just in the US but for the world generally.  As an added burden, we can see that the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square will line up against the natal Saturn at 24 Virgo in hard aspect.  This is likely to further weaken economic activity and increases the possibility of sudden (Uranus) and intense (Pluto) economic problems. 

The second half of 2016 looks perhaps even more challenging as transiting Saturn stations direct at 15 Scorpio and thus falls under the exact aspect of natal Rahu.  In this instance, Saturn, as 2nd house ruler, represents the economy and its extended affliction by Rahu is a strong indication of economic difficulties worsening in July 2016.  In addition, transiting Ketu will aspect the natal Sun-Jupiter-Venus conjunction throughout the second half of 2016.  While this is not conclusive evidence of a US recession in 2016 but it definitely increases the probability of a significant slowdown and possible recession. 

Weekly Financial Forecast

Stock markets generally rose last week as the jobs report meant the Fed was more likely to keep its zero interest rate policy in place a while longer.  In New York, the Dow gained about 1% closing at 16,472 while India's Sensex added more than 1% to 26,220 following a surprise 50 basis point rate cut by the RBI.  In last week's market forecast I had been fairly equivocal about last week although I did expect some gains into midweek at least as Venus entered sidereal Leo. 

Stocks were strong today (Oct 5th) as the Sun aligned with the favourable Jupiter-Pluto aspect.  This could produce some more upside perhaps going into midweek but there are three potential obstacles.  The Mars-Neptune opposition will tighten Tuesday and Wednesday.  This is usually a bearish influence although it may be partially muted by the Jupiter-Pluto aspect.  The late week may be disrupted by the Mercury conjunction with Rahu (North Lunar Node) on Thursday and Friday.  Moreover, Mercury is stationing direct on Friday and hence the conjunction may be that much more powerful. 

Also, there is a degreewise alignment with Saturn here to contend with.  Friday also features a close Venus-Saturn square.  In actuality, Venus, Mercury and Rahu are all aligning with Saturn in the late week.  This is a unusually large alignment of planets which may correspond with a significant market development.  Saturn's presence is generally negative although its effects sometimes manifest only after the alignment begins to separate (i.e. next week).  It should be an interesting week.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Supermoon draws blood on Wall St.

(28 September 2015)  Sunday night's 'Supermoon' seems to have sparked a big sell-off across most European and US stock markets today.  The Blood Moon (or 'Supermoon') is a fairly rare celestial event that occurs when a lunar eclipse coincides with the lunar perigee when the Moon makes its closest approach to the Earth.  The result is a bigger than normal sized full moon that appears red in colour as the shadow of the eclipsed Earth passes over it.  It certainly makes an impressive and beautiful nighttime display.  And there is no shortage of symbolic angst and dread attached to it, including passages from the Bible.

Maybe all the cultural beliefs and media hype around it merely produced a self-fulfilling prophecy as investors looked for any reason to lighten their risk.  Or maybe it was another piece of empirical evidence that shows that astrology is true and there are real and measurable correspondences between the motions of the planets and life on Earth.   Alas, the paradoxes in proving astrology is a problem for another day.  The daily movements of markets provide better a proving ground for testing our ideas.

The Dow lost 2% on the day finishing near that crucial level of 16,000.  Indian stocks were infected only briefly with the lunar malaise as the Sensex lost 1% in the afternoon closing at 25,617.  The Monday declines followed a negative week last week.   In last week's stock forecast, I had noted the probability of declines last week, especially towards the end of the week and the Mars-Saturn square aspect.  This assessment proved to be largely true as US stocks fell throughout the week.  I also noted that Monday's lunar eclipse would likely correspond with increased uncertainty.  That definitely proved to be the case as European and US investors are becoming more unsure about the state of the Chinese economy as the world's economic engine is showing more signs of sputtering. 

Traditionally, eclipses may have been feared because they were associated with uncertainty and interruption of the status quo, just as the light of the Sun and Moon was suddenly lost or distorted.  But eclipses may also be seen as harbingers of change, either positive or negative.  Some observers have suggested that stocks are more likely to reverse their direction around eclipses.   One study of the effects of the perigee-apogee cycle indicated that stocks are more likely to make lows at the perigee (i.e. yesterday) and highs at the apogee.  It is unknown why this might be so, although if we extrapolate from conventional symbolism we can say that the closer the Moon to the Earth, the more likely people will act in an emotional and therefore irrational manner.  But this doesn't explain why collective sentiment should be negative (i.e. bearish) rather than irrationally positive, or following Alan Greenspan, irrationally exuberant. 

Whatever the case may be, I do think we could say the odds of a reversal higher are somewhat greater now then they were last week.  Much of this global stock market swoon over the past six weeks has been associated with Saturn's aspects.  Currently, the ringed planet is getting very close to its exact alignment with Ketu, the South Lunar Node.  As a general rule, the closer alignments of Saturn are more likely to mark a bottom in stock prices.  Of course, transiting Saturn (6 Scorpio) is still sitting exactly opposite the natal Sun of the NYSE chart so that could make it difficult for stocks to rally.  Therefore, it is a complex picture with many factors operating simultaneously.  Overall, I would think we are getting closer to some kind of bottom in stock prices here, at least for the time being.  As I noted last week, Saturn is due to form a close square with Neptune late November.  This is a very difficult pairing of energies that should coincide with some significant declines.  Whether it is a mere extension of the present decline or a separate move lower is a question which I discuss in my subscriber newsletter.

I would think that Wednesday's entry of Venus into sidereal Leo ought to bring some optimism so we could see a rebound into midweek.  On the other hand, the inferior conjunction of Mercury (Rx) and the Sun on Wednesday is often negative.  Its 150 degree alignment with Neptune isn't particularly inspiring either.  That could well offset some of the Venus optimism.  Friday's Mercury-Mars alignment also looks a bit tense.   So the short term aspects this week look both choppy and volatile. The longer term aspects continue to look bad, however.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Markets left dazed and confused by Fed as Mercury turns retrograde

(21 September 2015)  Is the Janet Yellen losing her touch?  Or more to the point, is the Fed losing control of financial markets?  Most global markets declined last week after the Fed Chair chose to leave interest rates unchanged at zero percent after citing concerns over the state of the Chinese economy and iffy US data.  The usually reassuring and dovish Fed Chair left investors puzzled and anxious as she painted a more sober picture of the economy than expected.  There also appears to be growing confusion over which criteria the Fed is using to time its eventual interest rate hike.  Besides US inflation and employment data, the Fed now seems to be including China into its calculus for when the "lift off" in interest rates will finally take place after six years of ZIRP.  This was a change in messaging and left many confused about just how or when the Fed will rate hikes, if they ever do. 

In last week's financial forecast, I thought the planetary influences argued somewhat for a hike given the strong Saturn influences here.  However, I noted a possible alternative view whereby the dominance of Saturn could restrain the Fed from making any move at all out of fear of damaging confidence and crashing the stock market..  This appears to have been the case as the mood darkened on Wall St and throughout most European markets.  Besides possibly signaling a desire to tighten money supply through an interest rate hike, Saturn is also correlated with pessimism and declining markets. 

I had also noted the possibility that markets could be confused in some way by the Fed statement since Mercury turned retrograde just 9 minutes after its release.   We definitely got that in spades in the US and Europe sold-off sharply after the puzzling and disappointing statement and continued to decline on Friday.  This late week decline was therefore in keeping with my bearish predictions in my subscriber newsletter. Asian and emerging markets rose, however, as the US Dollar weakened and enhanced the appeal of those riskier assets.

Stocks appear to be rebounding so far this week.  This makes sense given the close Venus-Uranus alignment that is exact on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I would think stocks are more likely remain fairly strong into midweek.  However, the Sun conjoins Rahu on Wednesday and this could activate its alignment with Saturn so any gains could be reversed quickly. 

And as I have noted previously, the Mars-Saturn square aspect (exact on Friday the 25th) looks tense and could coincide with more selling pressure by the end of the week.  And this comes at a time when Saturn is exactly aligning with Ketu (South Lunar Node) and both will also align with the natal Sun in the NYSE chart.  There is definitely some major downside risk in that pattern.  And as if to up the cosmic ante, there will be a lunar eclipse on Monday the 28th.  Eclipses are associated with times of uncertainty and interruption of the status quo.

As we move into October, markets will likely take a break from the often difficult influence of Saturn.  However, I would note that Saturn is due to form another important aspect at the end of November, this time with Neptune.  And with Venus, the planet of money, transiting through sidereal Virgo, its sign of debilitation, for much of November, there could be more rough waters ahead.  If stock markets remain as depressed as they are now, one would think the Fed will remain reluctant to raise interest rates in October, December and even beyond.  After all, one of the tenets of the Fed in this era of interventionist central banks is to prop up stocks through any means necessary.  Let's see what the money magicians at the Fed, ECB and PBOC will pull out of their hats next.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Will she or won't she: Yellen's difficult choice

(14 September 2015) All eyes are on the Fed this week (yet again!) as investors wonder: will she or won't she?  Fed Chair Janet Yellen has been leaving a trail of fairly strong hints in recent months that an interest rate hike is coming sometime this year and possibly as soon as Thursday.  The Fed's policy statement will be released on Thursday at 2 p.m. as it reveals if the unprecedented six-year long zero interest rate policy is finally over.  Analysts and commentators are sharply divided on this question, although it seems that the consensus position is that she will leave it unchanged for a bit longer and raise it either in October or December. 

It's unclear what the market's reaction to a hike might be, although most believe it could spark some sort of decline.  That said, enough traders have already discounted the possible 25 basis point hike (yes, that's just 0.25% at the low end of the range) that any decline will be fairly orderly and perhaps even modest. 

So what does astrology have to say about the probability of a rate hike on Thursday?  The alignments I'm seeing do not look clearly one way or the other although I tend to think they lean towards an interest rate hike.  That is due in part to the prominence of Saturn in the current celestial geometry.  As I have noted for the past several months, September stood out as having significant Saturnian potential due to the exact 120 degree aspect between Ketu (South Lunar Node) and Saturn.  This is exact in the final week of September but is already effectively in aspect within one degree.  Saturn, of course, is the planet of pessimism and caution and hence it is associated with stock market declines. Saturn is also the planet of restraint and restriction so it may have a more natural affinity with tighter money, i.e. raising rates.

As a historical analogue, Saturn was also prominent back in 2004 when then Fed Chair raised rates for the first time in three years following the dot-com bubble collapse and 9/11 attacks in 2001.  On June 30, 2004 Greenspan hiked rates in what would become a three year long interest rate increase from 1% in 2004 to 6% by 2007.  At the time, Saturn (21 Gemini) was conjunct both Mercury and the Sun within a few degrees and aspected Jupiter (19 Leo) within two degrees. Saturn was also aligned with Neptune (21 Capricorn) in a 150 degree quincunx aspect.   That was also a strong Saturn-influenced pattern that may have reflected the tighter money policy that Greenspan announced that day.

While Saturn may incline collective actors towards a more cautious and fearful approach to the future, it is important to recognize that this could manifest in the Fed leaving the rate unchanged.   That is because the Fed could fear what might happen if they raised rates too soon, either in terms of a stock market crash or more economic slowdown in the US and abroad.  In that sense, this Saturnian energy could manifest in either scenario.  Obviously, this fails Popperian standards of theory falsification but it is worth noting all the same. 

Saturn is also highlighted here because Mars is approaching its square aspect with Saturn this week and next (exact on 25th September) and those two malefic planets are usually difficult energies for investors.  So not only is Saturn connected with renunciatory Ketu, it is also linked with irascible Mars.  Those are difficult aspects to be sure.  As an added shot of Saturn, tropical Saturn enters Sagittarius on Friday just a day after the Fed statement.  The bottom line is I think that Saturn's correlation with declines is sufficiently well-established that a tightening and a subsequent sell-off is the most likely scenario although I would not be surprised if things play out differently because of that alternate interpretation. 

I should also note an intriguing third possibility here.  Mercury turns retrograde at 2.09 p.m. EDT, just nine minutes after the release of the statement.  Mercury retrograde is traditionally associated with situations of confusion and dysfunction so there could be something about this statement that causes the markets to flinch in some way.   Could the Fed raise rates while at the same time promising to launch another round of quantitative easing (QE)?  Or could the Fed announce a completely new policy instrument to boost the economy that the markets can't make quick sense of?  Or more simply: could the statement be delayed?  It's interesting to think about these sorts of scenarios given the Mercury retrograde proximity to the statement release.  Or it could be nothing much at all except perhaps the market reacting in a confused way to Yellen's usual panoply of reassuring platitudes that keep the game going a bit longer.  It will be an interesting week. 

I should think stocks are likely to remain a bit jittery before the statement since Mars enters sidereal Leo on Tuesday.