Monday, March 14, 2016

Germans reject Merkel's refugee policy in state elections

(14 March 2016) German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her CDU party suffered major losses in Sunday's state elections as voters weighed in on the refugee crisis. German voters moved away from Merkel's open-door policy and awarded large gains to the right-wing anti-immigrant AfD party (Alternative for Germany) in three states.  This electoral shift will force the mainstream CDU and SPD parties to seek new and less stable alliances with smaller parties.  Recent polls show that up to 80% of German people now oppose Merkel's policy and most want to stop the influx of refugees from the Middle East.  Merkel has vowed to continue her more liberal approach despite his most strnging rebuke at the ballot box.

We can see how Merkel's horoscope is currently under heavy affliction by Saturn, the planet of loss, frustration and disappointment.  Transiting Saturn sits at 22 degrees of sidereal Scorpio just ahead of its retrograde station on 25th March.  Ms. Merkel's Ascendant is just a couple of degrees away at 20 Scorpio.  The unusually slow velocity of Saturn ahead of its station makes this Saturn transit even more burdensome than would otherwise by the case.  Saturn-to-Ascendant transits are classic indicators of defeats and setbacks of all kinds.  Fortunately, they only happen once every 29 years. 

The other problem with this Saturn transit is that it exactly aspects her Moon (22 Capricorn) by full-strength 3rd house (sextile) aspect. Saturn-to-Moon transits typically coincide with times of disappointment and sadness, especially in this case where the aspect is near-exact and Saturn stations retrograde on the same degree.  So this is a double dose of Saturn to the two most sensitive points in the chart, the Ascendant and the Moon.  It's very hard to win elections under these kinds of planetary influences.

Saturn transits are not always so difficult, however.  Sometimes these Saturn transits can coincide with events that suggest a constructive fulfillment of responsibility and even major life achievement. And this may well be the case in Merkel's own mind as she stubbornly sticks with this policy despite all the opposition.  To determine if such Saturn transits are going to bring about negative life outcomes we need to look at: 1) the role of Saturn in her natal chart and 2) other current transit hits to her natal chart.  Saturn occupies the 12th house of loss in her natal chart so all that negative energy of Saturn is brought forth to the Ascendant at this time.  If Merkel had been born with Saturn in the 10th or 11th house, it is possible this Saturn transit to her Ascendant might not have been so bad. 

Other chart factors did not look good on election day.  Transiting Mercury (20 Aquarius) was under the destabilizing influence of an aspect from Ketu (21 Gemini) while the transiting Sun (29 Aquarius) was under close square aspect from Mars (3 Sagittarius).  We might have thought Merkel could have got more of a boost from the transiting Jupiter (23 Leo) in the 10th house but even there, Jupiter was arguably weakened and its aims distorted by the close aspect from natal Rahu (21 Sagittarius).  Jupiter in the 10th house can bring prominence and status but in this case, for all the wrong reasons thanks to its Rahu-influenced weakness in addition to the Saturn transits. 

A growing number of voices are calling for Merkel's resignation as she is increasingly seen as politically toxic to her CDU party.  I do not have a strong opinion on whether she will resign before the next election in October 2017.  I do see that the transits for this fall do not look good, however.  At that time, transiting Saturn will come back to its current position at 21-22 Scorpio (after completing its retrograde cycle) and will therefore simultaneously afflict the Ascendant and Moon all over again.  Even worse, this time transiting Rahu will sit on the equal 10th house cusp suggesting 'interruptions to status'. 

And just to top it all off, transiting Rahu will be in aspect with natal Rahu with just a few degrees from June to November.  Whether she actually resigns is hard to say but certainly this period looks even worse for her. No doubt much of the pressure will come from the Brexit which I expect to occur after the June referendum.  With the very survival of the EU at stake after the departure of the UK, it seems unlikely that Merkel would leave in such as crisis-laden environment. 

Interestingly, we can see how these transits are also hitting the Germany 1871 horoscope.  The chart has an Ascendant of 19 Taurus so the Saturn station hits the 7th house cusp within three degrees and thereby afflicts the Ascendant (the nation as a whole).  All the potential benefits of transiting Jupiter (23 Leo) are weakened and distorted by virtue of the influence of natal Ketu (18 Sagittarius).  As Rahu/Ketu move closer to the equal house cusps of the 10th (19 Aquarius) and 4th (19 Leo) houses in the summer, Germany's problems will likely worsen.  Saturn will still be afflicting the Ascendant and aspecting the natal Venus (happiness, income) by sextile/3rd house aspect.  The conjunction of Rahu to the 10th house could make governing much more difficult.  Merkel and Germany are therefore both going to be hit hard by these combined Saturn and Rahu/Ketu influences for most of 2016. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks drifted higher last week after the European Central Bank moved further into the never-never land of negative interest rates in its latest attempt to conjure some growth out of that limp and stagnant economy.  In New York, the Dow gained more than 1% to 17,312.  Indian stocks rose modestly as the BSE-Sensex finished the week at 24,717.  In last week's market forecast, I thought we might have seen a little more downside, especially in the wake of the solar eclipse, but buyers generally had the last word. 

This week has started off mixed as Asians and European markets were generally positive while the US are now trading modestly in the red at the time of writing.  Gold and oil are also down in Monday trading. The Mars-Venus square is the most likely culprit for this selling although it seems that the Jupiter-Pluto aspect may be offering some planetary support to the market here.  Mercury is in opposition aspect with Jupiter on Tuesday so that might give stocks another small boost.  Fed Chair Janet Yellen are due to make their latest policy announcement on Wednesday afternoon.  Mercury conjoins Ketu (South Lunar Node) at that time, so we could see some surprises arise that day which create uncertainty as Mercury's rationality is undermined and redirected by the intuition of Ketu. 

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter includes discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Eclipses: times of change and uncertainty

(7 March 2016) Since time immemorial, eclipses have been regarded with dread and fear.  The inexplicable period of daytime darkness brought by the solar eclipse was seen by pre-scientific societies as an evil omen and the harbinger of all manner of disaster and privation.  Similarly, lunar eclipses were also looked upon with suspicion as the comforting glow of the luminous Moon suddenly turned dark and changed to an evil red colour.  While we now live in an enlightened age of computers marked by exponentially expanding scientific knowledge, eclipses remain singular and wondrous celestial phenomena. Even beyond their aesthetic allure, eclipses retain a undeniable mystique.  They link us with our primitive past and recall a time when the heavens were a source of earthly inspiration.  As another solar eclipse is due on Wednesday (with totality in Indonesia), it is a good time to remind ourselves of the astrological legacy of eclipses.

In astrology, eclipses are still hugely important.  Just as the light from the Sun temporarily disappears from view, eclipses are seen as interruptions of the status quo. Instability and change are often stressful and therefore eclipses may be more likely to bring about shifts in our routine, for better or worse.  While traditional eclipse symbolism focuses on the negative impact of change and forced adaptation to new circumstances, evidence suggests that some eclipses bring about positive change. 

For example, the last solar eclipse before the 2008 US election occurred on August 1st just three days before President Obama's birthday.    In other words, the solar eclipse occurred at 15 degrees of sidereal Cancer, just four degrees short of the position of his natal Sun at 19 Cancer.  The Sun symbolizes leadership and status and hence Obama's status was soon to undergo a significant change after the eclipse at the time of the November election.   We can even see how the election of first black President occurred after a solar eclipse that closely conjoined Rahu (15 Cancer) in the USA horoscope (not shown).  Vedic astrology teaches us that Rahu (North Lunar Node) represents outsiders, especially those who differ from the mainstream in terms of their religion, ethnicity or race.  Barack Obama was therefore the embodiment of this Rahu influence with respect to the USA. 

In a more ominous vein, the last lunar eclipse before the assassination of John F. Kennedy closely conjoined the Sun in the USA horoscope.  The July 6 lunar eclipse occurred at 20 Gemini, just two degrees from the Sun (22 Gemini) in the USA chart.  The eclipsing of a nation's Sun may be interpreted most generally as "sudden changes to leaders" without necessarily pointing to death.  Other factors no doubt had a hand in shaping the larger planetary picture of that terrible event.  In JFK's own horoscope, the last solar eclipse before his death occurred on July 20th at 4 Cancer -- exactly conjunct his 10th house Saturn, the planet of loss and suffering.

It may be worth noting that the last lunar eclipse before this year's US election occurs on September 16th at 0 Pisces which is exactly conjunct Hillary Clinton's Moon if we use the 8 a.m. birth time for her (Her birth time is contested).   This would seem to point to a sharp increase her public profile in the period following the eclipse at election time.  It seems broadly supportive of an election win.  However, this eclipse is not aligned with the Venus (= women) in the USA horoscope as we might expect so that is perhaps one small piece of evidence that argues against her becoming president. 

The ups and downs of the stock market also provide a fertile laboratory to test the effects of eclipses on collective human sentiment.  Following our basic assertion, we can suggest that eclipses are neither inherently positive or negative for stocks.  Rather, it may make more sense to think of them as indicators of a trend change.  While I have not conducted an extensive research of eclipse effects, my basic view suggests that the two-week eclipse period seems to correlate with trend changes more than chance would predict. 

It is important to think of eclipses occurring in pairs (solar and lunar) which are separated by about 14 days. The period is best taken as a time block although trend changes may cluster around one eclipse or the other.  But eclipses seem to predict trend changes only about 50% of the time.  Alas, there are many eclipses that don't have any apparent effect on stocks at all. 

This two-year chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) shows how eclipses appear to correlate with the market. The previous eclipse period in September 2015 fit quite nicely with the bottoming process of the market after the big decline in August. After the lunar eclipse on September 28th, markets began to rebounded strongly.  The significant interim low occurred just one day after the second eclipse of the pair.  In this case, the eclipse period reflected a sense of uncertainty and instability and only after the eclipses were over did the market begin to rise as investors regained their confidence.

However, the precious eclipse period in March-April 2015 didn't correlate with anything much in US markets.  Stocks moved mostly sideways,. although they were very close to their high.  On the other hand, some global markets did indeed peak around this eclipse period.  Germany's DAX made its all-time high on April 10th just six days after the lunar eclipse while India's Sensex peaked on March 4th some two weeks before the solar eclipse.  In this case, the eclipse period occurred after a rally and therefore may have signaled a trend change from a rising market to a falling one. 

The October 2014 eclipse period also correlated quite closely with the bottom in most stock markets.  The low for most markets occurred on October 15th which was right in the middle of the eclipse period of October 8-23.  While neither eclipse was closely predictive of the low and subsequent reversal higher, the period as a whole nonetheless fit well with the trend change.  This low and subsequent trend change occurred across most global stock markets in mid-October 2014. 

The preceding eclipse period of April 2014 was only weakly correlated, however.  We did see a minor low on the same day as the lunar eclipse (April 15th) after which stocks moved higher.   Stocks had been falling into that lunar eclipse and then abruptly reversed direction.   This did not mark a significant development in the market, however, as stocks generally moved higher in subsequent weeks.

The takeaway here is that eclipses are worth paying attention to, even if they they issue some false signals.  No single factor is 100% correct, of course, but hopefully if we take enough of them together, we can form a more complete picture of market direction.  

Given the recent up trend in stocks, one would think that the downside risk is higher now that the eclipse period is upon us. The solar eclipse occurs on March 9th (GMT) while the lunar eclipse takes place on the 23rd.  Both are possible pivot points for stocks although the period as a whole is perhaps better seen as a time when markets are more likely to experience uncertainty which could jeopardize the rebound.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks moved higher last week on US economic data and expectation of more central bank easing in Europe and Asia.  The Dow climbed 2% on the week to 17,006 while India's Sensex soared 6% to 24,646.  Indian investors reacted favourably to the latest budget measures which hinted at RBI interest rate cuts.   While the midweek gains were not surprising, the absence of any late week selling on the Mars-Mercury aspect was unexpected given that fairly reliable bearish influence. 

This week's eclipse could be unsettling, especially after Tuesday's Sun-Jupiter opposition.  The late week Sun-Ketu conjunction may be even more problematic, however.   This could be a negative influence on stocks and most commodities such as oil and gold.  Bullish Jupiter is now moving out of alignment with Uranus but it's still fairly close to its alignment with Pluto. So that may indicate a diminishing positive influence this week and throughout the month of March.  And once Jupiter moves past Pluto next week, it will have to endure the full force of bearish Saturn alone.