Monday, January 26, 2015

Anti-austerity Syriza romps to victory in Greece

(26 January 2015)  Yesterday's election in Greece of the anti-austerity Syriza Party opens a new and uncertain chapter in European politics.  The new PM Alexis Tsipras has vowed to renegotiate the EU bailout agreements and end the harsh austerity policies that has seen the GDP of his country fall by more than 30% over the past four years.  While both sides have avoided sounding publicly intransigent thus far, it is unclear how Tsipras will manage to walk the tightrope between increasing public spending and therefore incurring yet more debt and keeping his European paymasters happy who understandably want their loans paid back.

Financial markets are keenly watching developments in Greece as there is a greater risk to the Eurozone as a whole if Greece should decide to default on its loans or if it leaves the EU.  Neither of these extreme scenarios looks likely at this point, as the collective risk to all financial actors likely outweighs the potential upside to one side or the other.  And yet we shouldn't be surprised by anything that might happen here.  The Syriza victory is now been seen as a lightning rod to popular opposition to EU elites and status quo capitalism as a whole.  The popular movement against the EU could conceivably evolve into something much bigger than a simple election win of leftist party in the periphery in the Eurozone.

So what kind of government might Syriza be?  The horoscope for the swearing-in of Alexis Tsipras provides a window on this question.  Tsipras was sworn-in at 4.07 p.m. in Athens today as Uranus and Ketu (South Lunar Node) were high in the sky in the 10th house.  This is a pretty classic signature for a government that seeks change and wants to shakes things up.  Uranus is the planet of independence and innovation while Ketu erases boundaries and transcends the status quo.   The 10th house represents goals and ambitions and that is more or less what Syriza wants: to end the rule of capitalist elites in Brussels and Berlin.  

Gemini rises in the 1st house and suggests a government that emphasizes communication and frequent interaction with interested stake holders.  Gemini is ruled by Mercury (20 Capricorn), and it is placed in the 8th house with the Sun.  The 8th house rules research and innovation so this is another clue that the Syriza government will not shrink from its desire to promote a genuinely new agenda for Greece.  This is definitely not a chart of a government that wants to play by the rules and adhere to traditions! 

The extent to which Tsipras will be successful in achieving these aims gets a nice boost from Jupiter's 2nd house placement.  Jupiter in the 2nd house of economy and wealth generally speaks well of economic matters.  One wonders if it may also indicate a tendency towards inflation (and devaluation) since Jupiter seeks to expand whatever areas it is associated with (money).    Jupiter also aspects Mercury and Sun in the 8th house, so that is another sign that the incoming government will likely make some tangible progress in its innovative efforts to rewrite Greece's obligations in the EU.

On the downside, however, Mercury is closely aspected by Rahu (18 Virgo).  Like Ketu, Rahu is also an agent for change and undermining the status quo.  But Rahu's influence here on Mercury (and a retrograde Mercury at that) looks disruptive, to the point of perhaps indicating unreliability.   Jupiter's influence can combat this Rahu affliction to some extent, but I think there is a good chance that Syriza's desire to have its cake and eat it too could create a credibility problem over time.  Most skeptical observers likely already expect something like this to happen, but it is interesting to see how this possible tendency towards capriciousness and unpredictability can be seen in the chart.  Rahu in the 4th house is also closely afflicted by Mars which also suggests some inherent instability in the government. 

Even with these problems, I have to say that the chart is better than I thought it would be.  While their anti-austerity program is a rational response to sharply falling living standards, my sense was the the Syriza party had an unrealistic, utopian vision and thus the government wouldn't be able to get anything done and wouldn't last.  This may not be the case, however.  It may be somewhat unstable and changeable in its behaviour, but it may last longer than some of its skeptics think.

In terms of possible future developments, I would focus on the June to August 2015 period when Saturn stations direct at 4 Scorpio.  Saturn will square the natal Venus in this chart and quincunx the Moon simultaneously.  This should be a very stressful and unhappy situation for the government.  The Moon and Venus symbolize well-being and economic health so their double affliction by Saturn may mean a serious economic problem which again limits public spending.  This could be the time when the honeymoon is over for PM Tsipras and he discovers that the EU are not willing to indulge him indefinitely. 

A larger affliction seems to occur in the summer of 2016.  Transiting Ketu will conjoin Mars while Saturn squares up against that same Mars.  This looks more serious and could result is a major setback for the government, such as a possible exit from the Eurozone and/or debt default which could threaten the viability of the government itself.

Weekly Financial Markets Update

Stocks moved generally higher last week as the ECB's Mario Draghi finally launched his QE stimulus program.  The Dow rose by 1% on the news of more than a $1 Trillion of fresh money sloshing around Europe while India's markets cheered the news even more loudly as stocks rose 4%.  On the whole, this outcome was not surprising as I had generally expected a larger QE program which would be bullish for stocks.  The Euro fell as expected on the news and is now trading at 1.12.  Parity with the US Dollar now seems increasingly likely.

The planets this week tilt bearish as Mars aligns with Mercury, Rahu, Uranus and Pluto at various times in the week.  That's a lot of Mars energy for markets to contend with.  It usually means sudden or hasty decisions are more commonly undertaken when anxiety trumps optimism.   There is really a lot going on in the sky this week so we could see some major movements here.  The late week is no less interesting as the Sun conjoins Mercury while Venus squares Saturn.  Neither is especially positive.