Sunday, January 18, 2015

Swiss abandon peg to falling Euro

(18 January 2015)  Investors got another bone to nervously chew on last week as the Swiss National Bank (SNB) abruptly removed the cap on the value of the Swiss Franc relative to the Euro which had been in place since 2011.  In recent months, this cap on the value of the Franc had come under increasing pressure as the Euro had lost 15% of its value.  With the ECB expected to launch its own QE program this week, the cap on the Swissie's value would increasingly distort the Swiss economy as speculators would take advantage of the undervalued Franc and bid up local stocks and real estate to bubble-like levels.  The SNB announcement of the decoupling sent shock waves through financial markets as the Franc shot up 20% in just one hour.  The Euro naturally continued its slide as it fell another 3% and ended the week at 1.15 against the US Dollar.

None of this current slide comes as a surprise as I have been forecasting a major decline in the Euro in my newsletter over the past couple of years.  In my posts on this website, I have also alluded to the probability of a sharp decline and possible re-organization of the Eurozone starting in 2014.   The horoscope of the Euro (Jan 1 1999 at midnight) reveals several layers of affliction for the 2014-2016 period which made this current situation quite predictable. 

The dasha periods are a starting point for grasping this affliction.  The Euro entered the Rahu major dasha period back in 2002.  Rahu is a changeable influence which can coincide with both big gains and huge losses.  Rahu's placement in the 11th house (gains) of the Euro chart is helpful as Rahu usually does well there.  However, it is weak in the last degree of Cancer and is not really in the center of the house where it is strongest.  In fact, you can even make a case that this Rahu might have some 12th house characteristics since it is just 6-7 degrees from the equal 12th house cusp.  Rahu in the 12th is a difficult placement and would tend to produce losses and greater disruption over the duration of its period. The Rahu period lasts until 2020. 

The minor dasha periods also reflect the trajectory and current weakness of the Euro.  Note how the Euro rose under Rahu-Jupiter from 2004 to 2007 and then fell sharply in the meltdown in 2008 during Rahu-Saturn.  Jupiter is a benefic planet and is well-placed in the chart in the 6th house while Saturn is badly placed in the 8th house in its sign of debilitation.  The rebound of the Euro more recently occurred under Rahu-Mercury.  The Euro crisis in 2012 occurred just before the Rahu-Ketu period, a classic combination of malefics that usually mark stressful and uncertain situations.  While we should note that the Euro actually rose during this period, it was not on very solid footing.

Since 2013, the Euro has been in the Rahu-Venus dasha period.  Since Venus is a good planet, one would think that it ought to do well from 2013 until 2016.  But a closer look at the situation of Venus in the chart reveals the problem: it is tightly squared by Saturn.  It's 5th house placement is a plus but the Saturn influence is bad news and I suspect the conjunction with Neptune also doesn't help matters either for the Venus minor dasha period.  The Euro did appreciate in value in 2013 and early 2014 but it has fallen on hard times in the past six months.  My general expectation is that it is unlikely to recover its previous levels (1.40) during this Venus minor period.  Venus is just too afflicted. 

Dashas aren't the whole story as transits and progressions also enter into the equation.  Currently, transiting Saturn (8 Scorpio) is in the 3rd house in Scorpio and is fairly close to the equal cusp at 5 Scorpio.  That's usually a negative influence. Saturn also casts its full strength 3rd house aspect (i.e. sextile/60 degrees) onto Venus, which is the minor dasha lord.  This is another clear minus for the current period.  Saturn is due to station at 10 Scorpio in March which may be far enough away from Venus and the 3rd house cusp to boost the Euro around that time.  However, Saturn will then turn retrograde and station direct at 4 Scorpio in early August.  This will be very close to an exact aspect with Venus and even closer to the cusp of the 3rd house.  That kind of transit setup seems likely to coincide with new problems in the Eurozone which could even mark a new crisis and a further decline in its value.

Weekly Financial Markets Update

Stocks were generally weaker in the US and Europe last week as worries over growth continued to erode confidence.  Despite a strong finish to the week on Friday, the Dow lost 1% and closed at 17,737.  The mood was more upbeat in India as a surprise rate cut from the RBI saw a late week surge.  The Sensex rose almost 3% finishing at 28,121.  I had been agnostic about last week given the wide range of apparently powerful influences in play.  I thought we might have got more midweek gains on the Mercury-Venus pattern but these only really appeared on Thursday in Asia and then on Friday in the US.  I thought the late week Mars-Saturn aspect would have created more downside but this clearly was not the case.

All eyes will be on the Mario Draghi and the ECB on Thursday as he is widely expected to announce a QE program of debt purchases in order to entice more capital into riskier asset classes which ought to (theoretically!) generate more economic growth.  The question for investors will be how big the program will be.  A Trillion Euros is one figure that is getting tossed around as satisfactory so anything less could spark a decline in stocks.  Anything that size or bigger would likely be more positive for the markets.  

The planets on Thursday are complicated.  Venus enters sidereal Aquarius that day so that is often connected with optimism and rising stocks.  However, the Sun comes under the exact aspect of Saturn that same day and this is usually more negative.  Saturn's influence tends to be cautious and conservative so it is also possible that Draghi will be reluctant to announce anything too radical.  So we have a mixture of influences here.  I think the Euro chart suggests further downside so that ought to translate into a large QE program which would be bullish for stocks.  It will be interesting to see how these diverse influences play out.  Western markets still look to be on shaky ground for a little while longer since Jupiter won't be making any major angles with other planets until February.