Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ukraine suffers humiliating defeat at Debaltseve

(22 February 2015)  Score one for Vladimir Putin. Again.  Ukraine suffered an embarrassing military setback in eastern Ukraine this week as pro-Russian rebels took control of the strategic town of Debaltseve.  The Ukrainian army was forced to flee the town on Wednesday after the superior weaponry of the rebels (courtesy of Russia) made the town impossible to defend.  The irony was that it all took place just a week after a much-heralded ceasefire that had been brokered by Germany and France.  To make matters worse, there is growing evidence that Russian troops are now actually fighting alongside the rebels.  

However unscrupulous he may be, Putin has again apparently out-foxed the West and its client state, Ukraine.  Given the failure at Debaltseve, more commentators are suggesting that the Ukraininan army may be on the verge of collapse unless the West finally decides to supply them with weapons.  The Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko has said that they are now preparing for total war with Russia.

This latest chapter in the Ukrainian conflict with Russia isn't too surprising given Putin's track record.   But it was all quite predictable with astrology.  As I noted in two posts in 2014, I suggested that military action would flare up again in early 2015 and that Ukraine would likely come out on the short end of the stick.  This prediction was based on the chart of the swearing-in of Poroshenko after he was elected PM as well as Putin's own horoscope.  In June 2014, here's what I wrote:

Looking ahead, one obvious time frame to watch will be early 2015.  In February, Saturn (9 Scorpio) will station in a close square aspect to the Ascendant (8 Leo) just as transiting Rahu will conjoin the natal Mars at 17 Virgo.  Although each of these aspects needn't bring problems in themselves, their simultaneity increases the probability of a major setback for Ukraine, including a significant situation involving military action (Rahu-Mars).

The defeat of Ukrainian army at Debaltseve may well turn out to be quite significant and could be a game changer.   It may signal the beginning of a new rebel offensive that takes even more territory in eastern Ukraine.  Alternatively, it may also compel the US to commit to military support of Ukraine, a move it has been desperately trying to avoid over the past year.  If the US gives weapons to Ukraine, it will ratchet up the geopolitical tension and heighten animosity with Russia.   It would essentially become a Cold War 2.0 where the US and Russia fight wars against each other through their client states.    So what does the future hold for Ukraine?

I think there is still a couple more weeks to go before the current atmosphere violence subsides for a while.  The problem is that Rahu (North Lunar Node) at 16 Virgo is still very close to natal Mars (17 Virgo).    Due to Rahu's slow velocity here, it won't fully move past Mars until April.  It could well peak during the first week of March as transiting Mars (17 Pisces) will oppose natal Mars (17 Virgo) with the nodes, Rahu and Ketu still just one degree away.   I can't say if the US will end up arming Ukraine, but that Mars-to-Mars transit on March 5-6 looks quite intense and will likely correlate with a losing or defensive situation that involves violence.   This time period could mark the most intense or significant part of the conflict. 

As Rahu moves away in subsequent weeks (by April), fighting may be less strategically important (although it may well continue in some form), but the chart still looks weakened by the ongoing placement of Saturn at the bottom of the chart at 10 Scorpio near the equal 4th house cusp.  Even if there is a more sustainable ceasefire in April, Ukraine still looks to be in a bad situation since Saturn will station retrograde there in mid-March and then slowly move back over the 4th cusp in the coming weeks.  Its next station occurs at 4 Scorpio in July which is still very close to a square with the Ascendant and hence close to the 4th cusp also.  It is very hard for the country to move forward into peace and prosperity with that kind of ongoing planetary burden.

At this time, I can't predict if Putin will completely take over Ukraine or merely be content to settle for this buffer zone in the east.  But the late summer period looks difficult again for Ukraine as Saturn and Rahu will align with the natal Moon and Ascendant.  September and October look extremely stressed from this alignment.  It looks like the Poroshenko government will likely suffer another major blow in the late summer or early fall.   I can easily see the loss of more territory with this pattern.  March and April of 2016 will see transiting Saturn station opposite the natal Sun.  This perhaps isn't quite bad enough to coincide with total defeat at the hands of Putin and the rebels, but it could be an indicator of the fall of the Poroshenko government.  So some tough times ahead for Ukraine.

Financial Markets Update

The other big news last week was the 11th hour agreement between Greece and the EU to extend a bailout to that beleaguered country for four more months.  Most observers assumed that despite the tough talk of the PM Tsipras and FM Varoufakis, some kind of compromise deal would be worked out before any of the Greek debt came due at the end of the month.  In a previous post, I also thought this would be the case as Varoufakis' horoscope showed mostly favourable planets in January and February.   Another factor was likely the approaching Jupiter-Uranus trine aspect (120 degrees).  This is usually a positive influence on collective sentiment that can boost financial markets and give a sense of hope.  Stocks generally rose last week with the news and this was largely expected given the ongoing Jupiter influence. 

As noted previously, the Jupiter-Uranus aspect is exact on March 3rd so we could be getting very close to a maximum level of optimism and preference for risk-taking as far as the markets go.   The question is what happens after this aspect begins to separate on the 4th?  The short answer is that optimism is going to be harder to come by as Jupiter loses its strength in the days and weeks that follow.  

This week we could see what effect, if any, some Saturn aspects may have on the markets.  There are no less than three quick aspects with Saturn involving the Sun, Venus and Mars in the first half of the week.  Saturn is usually a negative influence, but with Jupiter still operating at full steam in the background, declines could be muted at best.  The late week sees the Sun and Venus align with Neptune which suggests more optimism.   Saturday the 28th is Budget Day in India and markets there will be open in a special session so investors can adjust their portfolios as they see fit.  The planets also tilt bullish on the weekend so one would think the markets will welcome whatever FM Jaitley has on offer.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Oil prices surge: is this the beginning of a rebound?

(8 February 2015)  After its long and relentless decline through the second half of 2014, the price of crude oil showed signs of life last week as investors were buoyed by improving demand prospects in Europe.  Crude oil enjoyed a 10% gain last week as West Texas Intermediate crude rallied over the $50 level.   It had previously traded as low as $44.  So we can ask the question: can oil begin to recover now and gradually climb back to its more familiar levels of $80, $90 or even $100?  Most financial analysts do not expect a swift return to its previous heights and many even think that crude will decline further in the months to come as the shale oil shakeout will continue.

The horoscope of Crude Oil Futures offers some useful clues to this question.   As noted in previous posts, the beginning of the decline in crude occurred just as transiting Ketu (South Lunar Node) conjoined the natal Mars. This is a classic bearish combination that began the correction.  Transiting Saturn then soon made its own bearish contribution as it opposed Venus and then hit the 6th house cusp (29 Libra) in November.  I had thought that Jupiter's station at 28 Cancer in December might have provided a temporary lift but this never really materialized as the transit was offset by ongoing difficult progressed alignments.  

Last week's bounce may be partially the result of some better progressions as well as the approaching Jupiter-Uranus aspect that is exact on March 3rd.  This aspect will line up exactly on the natal Mercury in the Futures chart so there is some reason to expect more gains in the next few weeks.  Of course, there are some negative influences at work here, too, not the least of which is Ketu's conjunction to the Sun and Pluto's square to Mercury which is exact during much of February.   Ketu's conjunction will be conjunct in March.  Both of these latter alignments are more troublesome so they could dampen the enthusiasm for any rally that coincides with that Jupiter-Uranus aspect.  Nonetheless, that Jupiter influence may well prevail for a while as prices firm up.  Once Jupiter begins to separate from Uranus in early March and into April there may be less optimism.  A re-assessment of the key influences will be necessary at that time. 

Financial Markets Update

US stocks powered higher last week as fears receded over Greece.  The Dow climbed more than 3% closing at 17,824.  I thought there would be some upside early in the week on the Mercury-Venus-Neptune alignment but that the second half of the week looked more uncertain with some down days likely.  This was partially correct as Wednesday and Friday were lower as most of the week's gains occurred on Monday and Tuesday.  Indian stocks actually declined on profit taking after making fresh all-time highs the previous week. 

This week looks somewhat bearish biased as Mars changes signs and enters sidereal Pisces.  As a malefic planet, Mars tends to be associated with rising tension and anxiety and therefore markets tend to decline when it forms significant placements and alignments.  The sign change is one such placement that is a fairly reliable indicator of a down day or two.  The sign change takes place on Thursday.  This time around, the Sun will form an alignment with Mars so that could magnify its significance as well as modify its most likely day of manifestation.  Thursday is still focusing on, but Wednesday and Friday could also be suspect.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Greece attempts to renegotiate its EU debt deal

(3 February 2015)  Anxiety in financial markets seems to have eased a bit in recent days as the newly-minted Greek government endeavours to negotiate a new debt deal from the EU.  The anti-austerity Syriza government is trying to postpone their debt repayment in order to give a boost to the domestic economy.  Spearheading these efforts is the new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who has become something of a celebrity through his wit and casual style, as contrasted in this picture with the buttoned-down formality with his UK counterpart, George Osborne.  Varoufakis has reiterated his government's desire to remain in the Eurozone under any circumstances by citing the lyrics to the old 70s pop song Hotel California, "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

Varoufakis has the horoscope of someone who is both intellectually inclined and who seeks novel solutions.  While we don't know his birth time, he was born March 24, 1961 in Athens.  For convenience, we will use noon and use the Chandra Lagna chart as a stand-in for the proper rasi chart. Right away, we can see that key Moon-Mars conjunction in Gemini.  Gemini is a very cerebral sort of sign as it gives prominence to the exchange of information and communication.  The Moon-Mars conjunction is a classic signature for a quick-thinking and intelligent person. regardless of the sign it is placed in.  The Gemini placement likely makes him that much more witty and voluble. 

And of course the bottom line planet for intellect is Mercury.  Varoufakis' Mercury is placed in an air sign (Aquarius) in a tight conjunction with Ketu, the South Lunar Node. Mercury-Ketu conjunctions often confer a preference for originality and a special sense of perception that may fall outside the mainstream.  Ketu is all about erasing or challenging boundaries, which is why it is prominent in the charts of people who follow a spiritual path.  It seeks to transcend the everyday world in its search for meaning and union with the Absolute.  When it is paired with Mercury, the thinking process is liberated from the simple rules that govern rational thought so that the individual may become more creative and be more apt to think unconventionally.  The fact that both the Moon and Mars are placed in a sign that is ruled by Mercury (Gemini) means that this unusual and even iconoclastic quality may be manifested more widely as the Gemini energy has an outlet to spread through the rest of his chart (and his life).

His intellect may be more obsessive and penetrating due to the exact opposition aspect with Pluto.  Pluto's influence on Mercury is often one what is capable of great focus and may give the native a desire to delve deeply into matters of perception and logic.  Taken together, this trio of Mercury-Ketu-Pluto is quite a clear indication of a very intelligent and focused person who is able to makes sense of complex problems.  This is not to say that his particular solution to the Greek debt problem is more correct than anyone else in the EU. Rather, his career in economics can be seen as a reflection of this intense desire to solve problems according to some kind of rational paradigm.  Both left-wing and right-wing politics can be said to follow rational paradigms, even if their ethical assumptions differ fundamentally. 

Other placements in his Moon-as-Ascendant chart are also positive for a successful career.  Sun is in the 10th house from the Moon (status, high profile) and his near-stationary retrograde Venus is in the 11th house (gains, high income, wishes fulfilled). 

This current rise to fame is less clearly seen in the transit chart in Chandra Lagna but may be more evident through his tertiary progressed chart.  The close Sun-Jupiter conjunction is the perfect astro signature for the gains and rewards he is no doubt enjoying in his recent appointment as finance minister.  Progressed Jupiter moves very slowly -- just a bit more than one degree per year -- but the progressed Sun moves about one degree per month so it should be seen as an accurate timing device for Varoufakis' ascension onto the world scene. The fact that this conjunction isn't exact until April suggests that the odds favour some kind of solid debt deal in the days and weeks to come.  The man is definitely on a roll which should see him preside over a successful renegotiation of Greek sovereign debt. 

But difficulties may surface as progressed Mercury and Venus align with progressed Saturn in the coming months.  That alignment appears to be closest in June and July, although the Mars station in May also looks a bit troublesome.  Just what these alignments may indicate is hard to say.  More bad economic data out of Greece?  German impatience with Greek internal restructuring to limit public spending?  Whatever it is, it seems likely that Varoufakis' honeymoon period is likely to end by late spring or early summer. 

Financial Markets Update

Stocks slumped last week as the latest comments from the Federal Reserve suggested a more hawkish policy towards rate rises in the future. The Dow lost about 3% closing at 17,164.  Indian stocks fared rather better (as has been the case recently) with only a modest pullback as the Sensex remained above 29,000.  This bearish outcome was in keeping with expectations as I thought the various Mars aspects during the week would likely mean declines.  Even the late week Sun-Mercury conjunction seemed suspect as stocks fell sharply on Friday. 

Thus far this week stocks have risen predictably given Monday's Mercury-Venus-Neptune alignment.  I had noted the bullish tendencies of this alignment in my investor newsletter. We could see a little more upside in US markets today (Tuesday) on the Moon-Jupiter conjunction, but the rest of the week looks less positive.  The problem here is that Mercury is in a bearish aspect with Saturn for much of the rest of the week.  While it is quite unlikely we will see a decline through the rest of the week, one would think that this bounce won't last and that some downside will occur.