Sunday, May 31, 2015

Is this the endgame for Greece?

(31 May 2015) After suffering through five years of a seemingly endless cycle of financial panics, ultimatums and bailouts, it seems we are now in the final act of the Greek debt crisis.  Last ditch negotiations continued through the weekend before Greece has to make a major debt repayment on 5 June.  The fun may only be starting as its current bailout package will expire on 30 June.  Greece has been financially insolvent since 2010 and has required several bailout packages provided by the EU, ECB and IMF. 

But is this really the end?  Another bailout package is possible which would essentially kick the can down the road for another year or two as Greece tries to lift its moribund economy out of its depression.  But if the EU decides that enough is enough, then Greece would default on its debt.  The problem is that it isn't clear what would happen next.  Would Greece voluntarily leave the Eurozone, or would it be asked to leave? Or could a defaulted and bankrupt Greece somehow stay in the Eurozone? 

The current situation is an apt reflection of the astrological influences on the swearing-in horoscope of the new Tspiras government.  As I predicted back in January when the government took office, I thought the June to August period would be difficult for Tsipras and the Greek government and that economic hardship would likely intensify due to the close Saturn transit to the Moon and Venus.  I thought that the patience of the Germans and the EU could finally run out and that another bailout package may not be forthcoming.  I was unsure if an outright default could occur this year or whether some of the alignments in 2016 might better symbolize a full-blown default and exit from the Eurozone.  The 2016 chart looked worse so I wondered if that might signal that the Tsipras government itself might fall at that time.

Now that we have moved that much closer to the alignments in question, we may offer a few more observations about might happen here.  The Jupiter-Uranus aspect is still quite helpful for this Greek government chart so I would not expect any kind of worst case scenarios to occur in June.  A quick default or "Grexit" seems unlikely as long as the protective affects of Jupiter-Uranus aspect and the Jupiter-Jupiter conjunction are in place. 

However, the transit of retrograde Mercury this week looks difficult for this chart as it aligns with natal Saturn and Neptune.  This is definitely not what one would expect if a major deal with the EU were reached.  Some kind of deal has to be reached by Friday 5 June, but the planets are suggesting that it won't be smooth sailing.  An alternative interpretation might be that the short term payment is somehow made (or deferred) by Friday but the larger debt problem will remain a heavy burden on the Tsipras government.

Things could get more interesting after 22 June as the Jupiter-Uranus aspect begins to separate.  As the supportive influence of Jupiter wanes, we see that the Saturn aspect to the Moon and Venus will move that much closer.  The tension and sense of burden and suffering will likely be quite strong at least until the Saturn station on 2 August.  In addition, transiting Ketu will form a trine aspect with natal Saturn through much of July.  Ketu aspects are often harbingers of change and disruption.  And we are currently in the Ketu-Mars dasha period in this chart.  That's not the greatest pairing to be sure.  But after 29 July, Ketu-Rahu begins.  That is usually a worse dasha period and may signal a deepening of the financial crisis for Greece.  This period will last until August 2016. 

So will see see a default by July?  It's possible. It's difficult for me to infer exactly what kind kind of manifestations we can expect from these Saturn and Ketu afflictions.  Certainly, there is a worsening of the government's position with these transits.  And it seems quite likely that the economy will also get worse.  Of course, this needn't be the result of a default or exit from the Eurozone.  But given the gravity of the current situation, those kinds of scenarios are looking a bit more likely during the summer. 

Weekly Financial Update

Stocks were generally lower last week as investors contemplated the possibility that a deal might not get done between Greece and the EU.  The Dow lost about 1% closing at 18,010 while the Sensex slipped about 100 points to 27,828.  This decline was in keeping with last week's stock market forecast as I thought the midweek Mercury-Mars conjunction would likely produce a negative result overall.  Somewhat paradoxically, stocks actually rose on Wednesday -- the day of the exact conjunction.  The declines were spread throughout the week due to the wider alignment with North Node Rahu and Neptune. 
While this week lacks any clearly negative alignments, I'm not convinced we will get much upside despite Jupiter's ongoing supportive influence.  Tuesday's Full Moon looks problematic due to the close proximity of Mars to the Sun.  And with Venus aligning with Saturn on Friday, we are likely to see some additional downside here.  While stocks may have their share of gains this week, they seem less likely to hold by the end of the week. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Jupiter continues to underwrite stock markets

(25 May 2015)  Stocks remained fairly strong last week as the release of the minutes of the latest Fed meeting suggested an early rate hike was very unlikely.  Markets love zero interest rates of course (literally, free money) as investors chase yield in riskier assets like equities since safe assets like cash and bonds offer very little return.   US stocks were actually mostly unchanged on the week as the Dow closed at 18,232, just a stone's throw away from its all-time high.  Indian stocks were more positive as foreign institutional buying picked up as the Sensex gained 2% closing at 27,957. 

I thought we might have got more downside on the Saturn alignments on Monday and Friday but only Friday was mildly negative.  The midweek gains more or less coincided with the positive Venus-Mercury alignment. 

Stock markets around the world are still very much in rally mode these days as central banks continue their unprecedented attempts to kick start the largely stagnant global economy through the experimental program known as quantitative easing.  As long as the Fed, the ECB and all the other central banks are determined to print money through these asset buying QE programs, some people believe that stocks could continue to rise indefinitely.  I don't think this is possible in any event as the growing worldwide debt burden will eventually have to collapse.   Moreover, my understanding of the key astrological influences at work suggest some significant problems ahead. 

For the moment, collective sentiment appears to be supported by the condition of the planet Jupiter.  Jupiter is the bullish planet par excellence and it is still exalted here in sidereal Cancer.  When a planet transits through its sign of exaltation it is said to be able to better express its more positive qualities.  After transiting through Cancer for the past year or so, Jupiter will finally leave Cancer and enter the sign of Leo in mid-July.  I don't think this Jupiter exaltation is the primary reason for the current market rally but it is a noteworthy secondary reason nonetheless. 

Another factor at work is that Jupiter (22 Cancer) has aligned with Pluto (21 Sagittarius) in May.   Jupiter aspects with other slow moving planets like Pluto are often moments where optimism is on the rise.  The other more important influence here is that Jupiter is still applying to its 120-degree trine aspect with Uranus on June 22nd. 

Jupiter-Uranus aspects are usually reliable indications of rising stock markets.  There are exceptions, of course, as with all planetary alignments.  One notable exception was that the 1987 crash occurred just a week before an exact Jupiter-Uranus aspect.  The Jupiter influence there may have acted as an amplifier for more dominant negative conditions such as the Uranus ingress into sidereal Sagittarius one day before the crash, the conjunction of Mars with Ketu (South Lunar Node) and the proximity of Saturn to the Uranus node, among others.

Generally, however, Jupiter-Uranus aspects mark time periods when optimism is growing and prices are rising.  These time periods typically last for a few weeks before the aspect is exact.  If one or more of the planets is retrograde or stationary, then that can lengthen the time period when these bullish influences can manifest as happened in 2010. 

Things can change once the Jupiter aspect is past exact and optimism fades.  The presence of any offsetting bearish Saturn aspects are other parts to the cosmic equation, of course.  We are due to have several Saturn aspects in the next several months as Saturn aligns with Pluto (June), Jupiter (July-August) and then Rahu (North Lunar Node)(September).  With Saturn on the rise and Jupiter due to recede into the background a bit, there is good reason to be very cautious about the future of the stock market.

More immediately, this week looks worse than last week in terms of planetary influences.  The main aspect in play is the Mercury-Mars conjunction on Wednesday at 16 Taurus.  Mars aspects are often negative, and this one looks a bit worse given the larger alignment with Rahu (14 Virgo) and Neptune (15 Aquarius).    This clustering of planets at the middle degrees of their respective signs increases the likelihood of some significant declines during the week.  Jupiter will likely be there offering some support, but these short term aspects look troublesome. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

What do the stars predict for stocks over the next year?

(17 May 2015)  The New York Stock Exchange is 223 years old today.  On May 17, 1792, near the corner of Broad and Wall Streets in lower Manhattan, the first regulated trading of stocks and bonds took place.  The auspiciousness of the planets on that date would foretell the NYSE becoming the largest and most well-known stock exchange in the world. 

As a time-based science, astrology takes special notice of birthdays.  Each birthday marks the return of the Sun to its place at the time of birth. The resulting Solar Return (or Varshphal) chart can provide hints of what will happen in the year to come.  When benefic planets like Venus or Jupiter are prominent in the Solar Return chart, positive outcomes are more likely.  Conversely, a birthday that falls at a time when malefics like Saturn or Mars are prominent will tend to indicate a year of difficulties and challenges. 

This year's Solar Return chart for the NYSE is very mixed.  On one hand, there is a nice conjunction of the Moon with Venus opposite Pluto which also aligns with Jupiter in a lesser aspect.  This is a generally positive pattern that suggests that stocks may enjoy significant gains between now and May 2016.  On the other hand, Rahu forms an aspect with Mercury and Mars.  This is unhelpful for sentiment generally as suggests instability.  Even worse, there is a very close opposition aspect from Saturn to the Sun which is extremely negative.  Saturn is the most bearish planet for the stock market and its hard aspects (0/90/180 degrees) are usually the most difficult.  It is hard to see how stocks can move higher over the next 12 months with this close opposition aspect. 

We can see how previous hard aspects of Saturn to the Sun have corresponded with significant declines.  Saturn takes about 29 years to make a full revolution through the zodiac.  Therefore, it takes about 7-7.5 years to move through a 90-degree arc.  The last major Saturn-Sun hard aspect occurred in 2008 when global markets plunged during the Great Recession.  Saturn (8 Leo) squared the Sun (6 Taurus) within just two degrees.  Even though this was not a full-strength Vedic aspect, it was close enough that it likely was a major reason why the markets declined 35% from May 2008 to May 2009.  

Interestingly, the previous hard Saturn aspect to the Sun before that occurred in 2001.  The conjunction was almost four degrees from exact but it will still quite close.  The Dow Jones Industrial average lost 16% from May 2001 to May 2002.    There may well have been other negative factors in the Solar Return to account for this decline but I suspect that the Saturn-Sun conjunction was still key. 

The bottom line here is that Saturn-Sun aspects that occur near the Solar Return chart on May 17th (or rather the 21st thanks to the precession of the equinoxes) will tend to have a depressing effect on the stock market.  While it is only one factor, I would think that it could well outweigh other positive factors in the chart.  This is another indication that stocks are likely to suffer a decline over the coming 12 months. 

Weekly Financial Forecast

Stocks ended modestly higher for the most part last week on news that China cut interest rates again and would likely begin its own QE program to boost its economy.  The Dow gained a half of one percent finishing at 18,272 while the Indian Sensex added one percent to 27,324.  I thought we might have seen more downside on the late week Mars-Saturn aspect but stocks were actually fairly strong on Friday.  Tuesday was more negative as expected, however, and that correlated closely with the entry of Mars into tropical Gemini.

This week has some significant Saturn action as Monday's sees the Moon align with Mars opposite Saturn.   Generally, that should be a signal for caution.  Friday's Sun-Saturn opposition aspect is also problematic as confidence is often in short supply.  In between, we could see some gains as Mercury aligns with Venus.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

UK election aftermath: Cameron wins big

(10 May 2015)  By all accounts, Thursday's UK election was one of the most dramatic in years as David Cameron's Conservatives scored a surprising victory over a humiliated Labour Party.  The Conservatives shocked pollsters by winning an outright majority of seats and therefore they did not require a coalition as in the previous parliament.   Nicola Sturgeon's SNP was the other big winner on Thursday as her pro-independence party took 56 out of a possible 59 seats in Scotland.  Despite last year's defeat of the Scottish referendum, this huge win will likely put the independence issue back on the table.  

The big losers on the night were Labour's Ed Miliband who resigned immediately after the disastrous results were announced.  Nick Clegg and Liberal Democrats were reduced to a rump of just eight seats and he also resigned after the election.   Finally, UKIP's Nigel Farage kept his promise and resigned after he failed to win his own seat. 

Cameron's win was certainly in line with my interpretation of the planets of the party leaders.  Last week, I was quite confident in predicting that Cameron and the Conservatives would win the election.  His chart was looking strong using a variety of indicators -- the Sun dasha, the Jupiter transit to the 11th house, the Venus transit to the 10th, as well as a few different progressions.  But I was a bit unclear just how he would win, however, since the horoscope of his then coalition partner Nick Clegg of the LDP didn't look very good.  Now we know why -- the LDP party lost most of its seats and popular support as he was forced to resign. I had wondered if Clegg's weak planets might somehow translate into a lower seat total but still big enough for the LDP to keep Cameron in power.  But as it turned out, Cameron's win was so big that no additional seats were needed.  While Cameron's win was quite predictable using astrology, it was unclear just how big the win would be.  This is one of the limitations of doing political predictions in multi-party Parliamentary systems where not all wins are created equal.  By contrast, the US two-party system produces unequivocal results that better lend themselves to clear predictions. 

Nicola Sturgeon's success was also not surprising given her powerful Jupiter-Mars dasha as well as the transit of Jupiter through her 10th house.  I thought the nodal transit of (Rahu) to her difficult 6/12 house axis might cause some problems.  Perhaps the weakness of Labour and the strength of the Conservatives meant that her ultimate goal of a governing coalition with Labour could not occur.  But the size of the SNP sweep certainly took  a lot of the sting out of that failed scenario. 

Miliband's chart was as bad as forecast.  There was very little chance he could win with his weak Mercury-Moon dasha.  He also suffered a nodal transit to the 6/12 axis.

From my perspective, the biggest puzzle of the election was Nigel Farage and UKIP.  I thought we would have been more successful given his fairly good Rahu-Jupiter dasha and the Jupiter transit to his Sun.   While the UKIP only won one seat, they did raise their vote total from 3% in 2010 to more than 12%.  That was positive result for Farage to be sure and reflected the UKIP growth in popularity over the past several years.  However, his failure to win his own seat meant that he had to resign the party leadership so I missed the mark there.  In hindsight, the Saturn opposition transit to his 10th lord Venus (=status) was likely one reason why he suffered this setback.  But the story of Farage and UKIP may not yet have been written, since many commentators expect him to stand again for re-election as party leader in their next convention in September.  Unlike Clegg and Miliband, Farage's election night resignation may only be temporary.   I hope to revisit this intriguing question of Farage's political future in the coming weeks.

David Cameron's swearing-in chart may provide more information about the nature and direction of his new administration.  I would think the swearing-in horoscope could help us better understand the risks of Scottish secession during the next five years.

Weekly Financial Update

Stocks were mixed last week as US and European markets mostly rose while Asian markets including India moved lower.  I had been fairly cautious about last week given the range of planetary influences in play.  I thought we might have seen more selling in the second half of the week but stocks were generally weaker from Tuesday until Thursday in most markets. 

This week looks similarly iffy as Saturn is again prominent as Mars opposes it on Friday.  The aspect brings together the two most malefic planets in astrology and hence should be seen as a warning.   Gains are still possible but they are more likely to be erased by any sudden sell-offs.  Mars enters tropical Gemini on Tuesday so that is an added burden on collective sentiment this week.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Camerons seeks second term as the UK goes to the polls

(3 May 2015)  Britain goes to the polls on Thursday as the electorate decides if Prime Minister David Cameron deserves a second mandate.  Cameron and his Conservative Party won the last election but required a coalition with Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats to form a government.  Most observers are predicting another "hung parliament" in which no single party has a majority of the 650 seats.   Recent polls show a virtual dead heat in popular support for the Conservatives and the Labour Party.  However, most seat projections gives the Tories a slim edge over Labour due to uneven vote distribution but not enough to form a government.  It therefore seems likely that the winner of this election will again require to form another alliance with a smaller party to reach the critical 326 seat threshold. 

The left-leaning Scottish National Party (SNP) would seem to be a natural ally of Labor while the Liberal Democrats are more closely aligned with the Conservatives.  The right-wing UKIP has significant popular support but little chance of winning many seats.  The outcome of the election may therefore have as much to do with the success of these smaller parties as what happens to the two major parties.

After examining the key horoscopes, it seems most likely that Cameron will be re-elected.  Cameron has a number of positive factors at the moment.  He just began his Sun dasha in April and his Sun is well-placed in the 1st house in Virgo conjunct benefic Venus.  It is aspected by onerous Saturn but the orb is very wide -- more than twenty degrees.  Overall, his dashas are a plus, although it should be noted that they are rarely decisive factors. 

Cameron's transits also look good.  Jupiter is transiting his 11th house of gains and is in wide conjunction with his natal Jupiter and Moon.  On the day of the election on 7 May, transiting Venus will be in his 10th house just a couple of degrees from his equal 10th house cusp and Midheaven.  This gap of a few degrees could prove helpful since it may take several days after the election for Cameron to cement an alliance partner.  Venus will be exactly conjunct those 10th house cusps on the following weekend. Transiting Rahu (North Node) is conjunct his Venus which is typical for situations with positive outcomes.  Saturn sits on his equal 3rd house cusp which could indicate some very intense efforts and struggles but Saturn tends to do well in the 3rd house.  It also is not closely aspecting any other planet in his chart.  So Cameron's basic chart factors look good.  Some of the other factors I look at also seem positive.

By contrast, the horoscope of Labour leader Ed Miliband looks flat.  He is running the Mercury-Moon dasha.  Mercury is in the 9th house which is generally positive but not necessarily good for gaining political power.  The Moon is opposite Mercury in the 3rd house in Gemini.  This can symbolize strong and creative efforts to realize his goals but again, it is not a great influence for actually winning the election.  As an added burden, the Moon receives full strength Vedic aspects from Saturn and Rahu. So Miliband's dashas are mixed at best and not really helpful for his chances. 

His transits looks negative.  The Moon's Nodes, Rahu and Ketu, straddle his equal 6th and 12th house cusps.  This is often problematic as it means that suffering from conflict (6th house) and losses (12th house) are more likely at this time.  Jupiter is placed in the indifferent 4th house and does not form any close aspects that might be clearly beneficial.  Transiting Mars (2 Taurus) casts its 8th house aspect (i.e. quincunx) to Venus (1 Gemini) at the time of the election.  This is usually bad for happiness.  Transiting Mercury (13 Taurus) falls under the square aspect of his natal Mars (13 Aquarius).   Overall, Miliband's transits look quite negative and suggest he will not win. 

The chart of LDP leader Nick Clegg looks mixed.  His dashas aren't great as he is running Venus-Saturn.  Venus is fine in the 3rd house opposite Jupiter but Saturn isn't doing him any favours in the 5th house in a close opposition with Uranus.  While it does receive a helpful aspect from Jupiter, the Uranus aspect is closer and more problematic.  Transiting Saturn (8 Scorpio) is closely conjunct his Moon (9 Scorpio) in the 1st house.  By itself, this isn't necessarily a deal-breaker.  The difficulty for Clegg is that transiting Mars (2 Taurus) is opposite his Moon right now and hence it has to deal with both malefics Saturn and Mars in the aftermath of the election.  It's definitely not a recipe for a positive surprise on election night. 

It could still mean that Clegg could enter into another alliance with Cameron, but it may be one where he has less influence.  On the plus side, transiting Rahu (15 Virgo) is exactly conjunct his equal 11th house cusp.  The 11th house represents gains and Rahu usually does quite well in that house.  As an added plus, Rahu is conjunct the unequal 10th house cusp, (Midheaven).  This is usually good for status-related situations. 

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon could play the role of king-maker in this election as both main parties will likely come up short of the 326 needed to win.  Her chart looks quite good.  In April, she began her Jupiter-Mars dasha.  Jupiter is well-placed in the 1st house although is suffers from aspects from Saturn, Rahu and Mars.  Mars is placed in the 10th house in Cancer.  Although it is said to be debilitated here, it gets a shot of energy from its conjunctions with Sun and Mercury, as well as the opposition aspect from its dispositor, the Moon.  On balance, her dashas are positive.

Her transit situation is also pretty good.  Jupiter is transiting her 10th house of status so that bodes well for boosting her public profile.  But the nodes (15 Virgo/15 Pisces) are very close to her 6/12 axis (13 Virgo/13 Pisces) so that could upset her plans to achieve her ultimate goal.  Of course, the added wrinkle here is that goals may lack a simple definition.  Presumably, the best case scenario for Sturgeon and the SNP would be an alliance with Labour.  But would an alliance with the Tories be much different as long as the SNP gets what it wants for Scotland?  However unlikely that may sound, it is something to consider. 

UKIP's Nigel Farage is also likely to benefit in some way from this election as his chart is quite good.  UKIP is unlikely to play a key role in the formation of the next government as its support is not concentrated in enough constituencies to translate into many seats.  And yet, they could enhance their political legitimacy through increased seat and popular vote totals.  Farage is more likely to do well since he is running the Rahu-Jupiter dasha now.  His Rahu is placed in the 11th house of gains while Jupiter is acceptably placed in the 9th house with Mercury.  It is also in a tight aspect with the Moon.  Transiting Jupiter is in a close aspect with his Sun, a classic signature for success.  Farage's star is likely on the rise.

While I think the stars do favour the re-election of Cameron as PM, it is less clear how he gets there.  Clegg could assume a lesser role if the Conservative-LDP coalition is revived for another term.  Or somehow Sturgeon could prop up a Tory government.  We shall see.

Weekly Financial Forecast

Stocks were mostly lower last week on the rebounding price of oil and worries of a possible Greek default.  In New York, the Dow was down slightly closing at 18,024 while India's Sensex lost 400 points and finished at 27,011.  The decline was in keeping with expectations as I thought the Saturn-Uranus aspect and Venus-Mars alignment would likely act as drags on collective sentiment. 

This week looks similarly unsettled.  Mars enters sidereal Taurus on Monday so that could raise anxiety levels and push stocks lower.  The Sun's aspect with Jupiter on Monday might mitigate some of the negativity, however.  The second half of the week is more susceptible to declines as the Sun aligns with that ongoing Saturn-Uranus aspect.