Sunday, July 26, 2015

Stocks dive on China worries

(26 July 2015)  Global stock markets slumped last week as worries about the implications of a slowdown in China caused some investors to hit the sell button. US stocks fell by 2% as the Dow finished the week at 17,568 while Indian equities slipped 1% as the BSE-Sensex ended at 28,112. Ironically, Chinese stocks extended their recent rebound despite weak economic data as the Shanghai Composite again moved above 4000.  Gold declined sharply on reduced inflation expectations and finished below $1100.

I had been fairly equivocal in last week's stock market forecast, although I hinted at some potential trouble spots from malefics Saturn and Mars.  In keeping with the negative symbolism of Mars, Friday's Mars-Uranus aspect coincided closely with a significant down day on most world markets. Gold's 3% decline on the week was also in line with last week's predictions given the difficult Venus-Saturn aspect.  Venus is one of the planets most associated with gold prices, and when it is aligned with Saturn, it usually signals declines.  This was clearly the case last week.

Financial markets are looking especially vulnerable these days given the the predominance of Saturn aspects.  As I have noted previously, Saturn (4 Scorpio) has formed a close 45-degree alignment with Pluto (19 Sagittarius) for the past few weeks and this is usually an oppressive influence that makes stock market gains hard to come by.  Saturn is also forming a very unusual double square aspect with Venus and Jupiter this week and next which may create more headaches for investors.  Of course, these transits are only part of the story since we also need to take into account what is happening in the horoscopes of the relevant natal charts of key stock exchanges and commodities.

To that end, let's take a look at what is happening with the chart of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) these days.  Even if we just look at the transit picture, we can see that stocks are in an uphill battle against that Saturn transit.  Saturn is currently opposite the Sun-Mercury conjunction in Taurus which makes gains much more unlikely.  Saturn is more often correlated with declines when it forms hard aspects against key chart points like the Sun or Moon.  That seems to be playing out here as the Sun-Saturn opposition has been in play for several weeks already.  Since Saturn has been retrograde, this negative energy has had a greater influence on collective sentiment.  With Saturn due to station direction on August 2nd, this bearish Saturn effect on the Sun could well continue to negatively manifest through August and September.   Transiting Jupiter (2 Leo) is also aligning with the NYSE's Sun-Mercury conjunction so this could conceivably mitigate some of the Saturn's negative effects. 

While I am omitting any consideration of progressed placements or any other layer of planetary influence,  it should be said that the current transit position of Saturn in this chart suggests the stock market will likely fall further in the weeks to come.  Given the pivotal nature of the NYSE, this will likely spill over into most other global stock markets.

Weekly Financial Update

This week will see Venus move into closer conjunction with Jupiter while tightening the square aspect with Saturn.  Venus and Uranus turned retrograde this weekend and that alone could bring some significant developments in world markets.  Venus is now moving backwards towards its conjunction with Jupiter and alignment with Saturn.  Sometimes, these multi-planet aspects can produce outsized (i.e. two-tailed) gains despite the presence of bearish Saturn.  But downside risks nonetheless remain heightened this week and next.   We can also see that Mars (27 Gemini) will align with the natal Moon (28 Pisces) and Mars (27 Leo) in the NYSE chart early this week.  This is another reason why caution may be the watchword this week.   Mars then leaves Gemini and enters sidereal Cancer on Thursday, a sign where it is said to be debilitated.  Planets in their signs of debilitation are usually weaker and more likely to reveal their more negative symbolism.  For Mars, this means its bearish potential is somewhat more evident.  The time windows around Mars sign changes are usually negative for stocks. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Gold falls to lowest level since 2010

(19 July 2015) Stock markets breathed a sigh of relief last week after a late night bailout deal was finally reached between the EU and Greece.  While financial chaos was averted, the distrust and enmity in the Eurozone is now plain to see.  The EU has lost its innocence and may well be on its way to a more profound shake-up as a growing number of countries no longer want to subsidize a bankrupt Greece.  Global stocks rallied on the news of Monday's deal, but other financial markets took a more negative long term view. The Euro itself fell further as currency traders pondered the viability of the monetary union in the long run.  Gold also fell through a key support level as investors preferred the US Dollar as a safe haven.  

In last week's stock market forecast, I thought we might have seen more declines in stocks as the midweek alignment of Mercury-Mars-Pluto looked troublesome.  The early week entry of Jupiter into sidereal Leo was bullish as I thought it might be, and this reflected the optimism of Monday's overnight deal.  The collective fallout of Mercury-Mars-Pluto was perhaps better reflected in the assertion of Germany's power and the lingering ill will that the agreement generated.  Nobody liked the deal but it seems there was no real alternative.  As I noted previously, we could see more EU-related problems flare up again around the Mars-Uranus square around 25th July.

While gold's decline was not particularly huge (it fell almost 3% on the week), it was more important for its technical implications for the market since it broke support at $1140.  This is the lowest price for gold since 2010.  I had warned of significant declines for gold at this time in my subscriber newsletter due to a series of difficult aspects.  In the 1974 gold chart (dated for the beginning of public trading in the US), we can see that Friday's transit of Mars and Mercury lined up almost exactly with the Saturn (22 Gemini) in this horoscope.  With Pluto (20 Sagittarius) anchoring the other side of this axis, the alignment to the Saturn and Mercury opposition in the gold chart was activated quite forcefully.  Saturn is the bearish planet par excellence, and Mars also tends to be negative in its market effects.  This was therefore a clearly recognizable pattern for a decline.

The other problem with gold is that the transit picture is now dominated by Saturn.  Jupiter and Venus are both in the sign of Leo now and in most instances that should be positive for gold prices since Leo (ruled by the royal Sun) is generally a friendly sign for precious metals.  But any potential optimism is negated because Saturn forms a square aspect to both Jupiter and Venus.  Saturn exactly squared Venus last week and that was likely another factor in the weakness in the gold market. Venus will station retrograde on the 25th and will then move back into a difficult square aspect with Saturn in early August.  Jupiter is also moving closer to forming a square with Saturn which is exact in the first week of August.  And the impact of Saturn is further heightened since the ringed-planet itself is due to station and turn direct on August 2nd.  The combined effects of these patterns suggest that gold is likely to fall further in the coming days.  To be sure, the technical outlook for gold is similarly negative now that it has fallen to new lows.  But the takeaway here is that the astrological indications offer confirmation for that bearish view.  Gold may enjoy a temporary revival once Jupiter has moved past its aspect with Saturn after August 3rd.

Weekly Market Update

This week is a mixed bag.  Saturn aligns with the Sun and Mercury early in the week so that could coincide with some declines.  But then Mercury aligns with Venus and the Sun on Thursday which ought to boost optimism and produce some upside for stocks.  Friday is a bit of a question mark, however, as Mars moves to within one degree of a very unstable aspect with Uranus.  Uranus is due to station retrograde on the 26th anyway, but this Mars influence looks volatile.  Expect the unexpected.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Germany asserts its power against Greece

(12 July 2015)  Sunday has now come and gone in Brussels without any decision on the possible bailout deal between Greece and the European Union.  Sunday had been touted as the 'final deadline' for a negotiated settlement, but perhaps no one should really be surprised that everything is still very much up in the air. The sticking point now is that Germany's Angela Merkel and the other fiscal hawks in the EU want more guarantees that Greece will abide by the measures outlined in the bailout. 

The quixotic and unpredictable actions of Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and his former Financial Varoufakis in recent weeks has caused an erosion of trust at the bargaining table which is now an impediment to any deal.  His referendum ploy backfiring badly, Tsipras now has to agree to even more austerity and exceptional conditions on this latest bailout offer or else leave the Eurozone.  There is growing talk that Germany and its fiscally conservative allies in the EU actually want a 'Grexit' and are attaching so many unpalatable conditions for Greece that Tsipras will have to be the one to walk out first.

In last week's post, I suggested that the astrological alignments in the Greece-related charts suggested that a quick and simple negotiated bailout was unlikely in the coming days.  That is already in evidence now as there is now more opposition to giving Greece another €100 Billion to solve their chronic financial problems.  Even if this bailout happens, it will be unlike any other previous bailout since Germany is demanding that Greece hand out its sovereign control over most its finances to the EU.  Germany simply doesn't trust the Greek government to carry out the promised reforms to get its fiscal house in order.  I should also note that my prediction regarding serious difficulties for FM Varoufakis has come to pass albeit somewhat unexpectedly.  Tsipras' former Finance Minister suddenly resigned last Sunday in order to create a more conducive atmosphere for negotiations.

I still think a bailout is more unlikely, or if their is one there will likely be major setbacks in terms of its required political approval and implementation.  This is in part due to the serious afflictions in the Tsipras government horoscope that I noted back in January.  The Saturn station aligns exactly with both the Moon and Venus in this chart.  This suggests very serious developments which will cause suffering and hardship for the Greek people.  But the complicating issue here for making a prediction is that this kind of dire Saturnian suffering will take place in both scenarios. 

If Germany's latest hard line offer with its unprecedented invasive conditions carries the day, Greece will lose a lot of control over its economy and it will continue to be mired in recession.  So I would acknowledge the possibility that this hard line bailout may actually satisfy the symbolism of the current planetary alignments.  But I think it's important to note that this double affliction by Saturn opens to the door to the very real possibility that Greece could finally find itself left outside the Eurozone looking in.

We can also see the current sense of unease and fractiousness in the chart of the European Union, dated for the Maastricht Treaty on 1 November 1993.  There is transiting Saturn (4 Scorpio) sitting just a few degrees from the Mars-Pluto conjunction (1 Scorpio).  Saturn also opposes the Moon with that same three degree orb.  Saturn is retrograde and backing into its station on 1st August so this very heavy pressure on the EU is likely to continue until that date at least.  Saturn symbolizes setbacks, burdens, hard work and in many cases, loss and disappointment.  Given that there are three planets involved in this Saturn transit, the extent of this Greece crisis cannot be overestimated.  This is a very nasty transit indeed. 

The instability of the present historical moment is also reflected in the close nodal transit to its natal position.  Transiting Rahu (10 Virgo) is aspecting Ketu (9 Taurus) and vice versa.  These nodal transits are usually times of difficulty where the status quo is upset.  While not necessarily predictive of one outcome over another, it is a further measure of how serious the current crisis is and how it threatens to be a game changer for the European Union.

Uranus (26 Pisces) is exactly opposite Venus and square the Uranus-Neptune conjunction for the next few weeks as Uranus is also due to station on 26th July. Uranus is the planet of independence and rebellion and its more disruptive side is usually in evidence when it forms hard aspects as is the case here.  Venus represents happiness and economic well-being so this extended dose of the Uranian desire for freedom is pretty much just what one would expect to see when an organization or union is coming apart.  We can see that the transiting Sun (25 Gemini) today aligned exactly with Uranus and the Venus-Uranus/Pluto square in the natal chart.   The egos (Sun) of Merkel, Hollande, et al were on display as the leaders of the EU failed to come to any agreement despite the deadline.

While Uranus may not have the final say about whether Greece stays or goes, this is a strong indication that the desire to resist solidarity and breakaway from the status quo will be very strong over the next couple of weeks. Again, this alignment argues for Greece leaving the Eurozone if a decision is made in July.  But the corollary to that is that if Greece can manage to hang on until August, then the outlook may improve for the bailout and staying in the Eurozone currency union as the Uranus and Saturn energies begin to recede. 

So what is going to happen?  The key time window to watch in this respect may be the Mars transit to 25 Gemini on 22-24 July.  At this time, Mars will align exactly with Venus, Neptune and Uranus.  Mars is usually a destabilizing energy so if Greece was going to really leave, then these dates look somewhat more likely for that outcome.  And that means that if they aren't out by then, the odds begin to rise that they will stay in and accept the bailout offer.

Weekly Financial Update

US Stocks ended flat on the week after recovering on optimism that a bailout could be found for Greece.  The rebound in the Chinese markets also helped to boost stocks later in the week after some early selling.  The Dow actually ended slightly higher at 17,760.  Indian stocks fared worse, however, as the Sensex lost 400 points on the week and closed at 27,661.

In last week's stock market forecast, I suggested that worst case scenarios were unlikely despite the surprising No vote in the Greferendum and thought that any declines might be modest.  This was more or less the case, and European markets ended higher on hopes that a deal would get done. 

This week looks more difficult, however.  On the plus side, Jupiter enters sidereal Leo on Monday.  That is normally associated with some upside.  But gains may turn out to be very brief if they happen at all as Venus is exactly squared by Saturn for much of the week, although most closely in the first half.  Then a very tense alignment of Mercury, Mars and Pluto dominates the midweek period.  This alignment is associated with coercive exercises of power and the obsessive application of logic and rules.  Looks like Ms. Merkel will be busy.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Greece says No

(5 July 2015)  With the strong No vote in today's EU bailout referendum, the Greek people have taken a giant leap of faith into the unknown.  Following the lead of their popular left wing PM Alexis Tsipras, Greeks have issued a stunning rebuke to the status quo in Europe as they rejected austerity imposed from without in favour of self-determination.  But what will happen next is anyone's guess, as the EU must now prepare a response to the referendum result at an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

Will the EU cave in once again to preserve the integrity of Eurozone to avoid financial chaos and make actually a better offer to Tsipras?  Or will Merkel and Hollande take a tougher stand and carry through with their threat to let Greece default and thereby hasten the departure of Greece from the Eurozone?  It seems unlikely that there will be any quick resolution to the crisis, even if one or the other of these or any other paths is taken.  There are just too many variables here and too many ways things could go wrong. 

I was unsure what the outcome of the referendum would be but I did think the stars generally favoured uncertainty and pessimism in July rather than resolution and optimism.  In previous posts on the swearing-in chart of the Syriza government and Finance Minister Varoufakis, I thought the June-July period would likely be very difficult indeed.  This prediction has largely come to pass regardless of what kind of developments we may see from here on in.  I still think that the crisis has not passed and the government and the Greek people are likely to remain under major stress for weeks to come.  To me, this suggests that an EU deal is unlikely to be struck.  Perhaps that means that Germany and France will in fact take a harder line with Greece now that the people have rejected the bailout offer.

If we look at the chart of the date of the proclamation of the Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1822, we can see how agitated and pivotal the current period is.  Just looking at the transits today, there is Jupiter in a close trine aspect (less than one degree) with Saturn and Jupiter.   Jupiter transits to Saturn often coincide with constructive progress as traditions (Saturn) are subject to renewal (Jupiter).  Jupiter to Jupiter transits can be times of expressions of wisdom and philosophy, as we evidenced from this exercise in popular democracy, that most Greek invention.  But Jupiter is quickly moving past this helpful transit in the coming days so the celebratory is unlikely to last.

At the same, Mars is very strong in its opposition aspect to Uranus and Neptune.  This is a more difficult energy that reflects all of the social and political turmoil that Greece is currently undergoing.  Fortunately, this aspect is exact today, so that offers some hope that things will calm down in the coming days. 

Disruptive Uranus is also prominent through its transiting square aspect with Mercury.  Mercury is associated with business and commerce and the square aspect is usually difficult. This pairing with rebellious and independent Uranus is indicative of the Greek people's proud refusal to submit to more EU austerity.  Given its upcoming station at 26 Pisces in late July, this aspect will hang around for a while yet and could undermine the ability of the government to get things back to normal.

But another aspect is more worrying.  Saturn (4 Scorpio) is due to station on 1st August very close to its current position and this will form an exact square aspect with Ketu (South Lunar Node) at 4 Leo.  This is usually problematic for social stability since Ketu symbolizes unexpected events and fragmentation when it comes under transit pressure.  Given the very low velocity of Saturn over the next month or two, this aspect to Ketu suggests the current chaotic atmosphere in Greece is likely to continue, albeit perhaps not quite with same level of anxiety as we saw in the run-up to the referendum. 

More troubling is that Saturn will be casting its full strength 3rd house (60 degree) aspect to the Sun (1 Capricorn).  This only out by a few degrees so it looks quite potent.  The Sun represents vitality in general as well as the government and state apparatus.  This is bad news for Tsipras and his Syriza government as it means they are likely to remain under pressure for another couple of months.  This stressful period could be the result of simply the current disastrous state of the Greek economy which saps the country's vitality (Sun).  But I suspect the stress will also manifest as growing criticism of the government as the current crisis drags on.

The bottom line here is that there is unlikely to be any quick fixes for Greece.  It also suggests that a new negotiated agreement with the EU is unlikely.   It is possible we could see some kind of deal made in the coming days, but the transits suggest that something will go wrong.  Either the Greek Parliament will not approve it, or there will be some backsliding by the Europeans.  Either way, I think Greece is unlikely to come out of this easily or quickly. 

Weekly Financial Update

Stocks generally fell last week as investors began to weigh the possible impact of the Greek default and the potential for its exit from the Eurozone.  US markets were down by about 1% with the Dow finishing at 17,730.  Indian stocks fared better, however, as the Sensex rose on positive earnings data and closing up 1% to 28,092.  I thought markets would have been somewhat more positive last week given the key Venus-Jupiter conjunction on Tuesday the 30th.   Stocks did recover somewhat around this midweek pattern but the week as a whole was negative in most markets.   I had previously noted in this space (and in more detail in my newsletter) the potential financial importance of this late-June alignment of Venus, Jupiter and Uranus and how it could well correspond with major economic developments and turning points.  This could well prove to be the case here as Greece is again threatening to derail this Fed-fueled bull market.

This week is likely to see more volatility.  Monday's session is very likely to be negative in any event as stock futures are sharply lower around the world after the No vote in Greece.  Monday will be marked by a tense Sun-Pluto opposition in any event.  But I'm not convinced we will see any worse case scenarios this week, however.  While the Jupiter influence is waning and hence there is less optimism available, the short term aspects are more mixed into mid-week.   The late week Venus-Saturn square aspect is definitely cause for concern but it is unclear if it will manifest this week or next.  That said, the week could well be bearish but perhaps not as bearish as some people may fear.  And I would not be surprised to see some markets actually posted a gain.