Monday, April 11, 2016

Mars upsets Trump as Cruz gains ground

(11 April 2016) After looking like an unstoppable political force for months, the candidacy of GOP front-runner Donald Trump is looking more vulnerable these days   Not only was Trump soundly defeated by Ted Cruz in the recent Wisconsin primary, but the Cruz camp has been doing a much better job of collecting delegate support than Trump.   Primary results notwithstanding, delegate selection is critical in the event of a contested convention.  Most delegates only have to vote for the state winner on the first convention ballot, so on any subsequent ballots they are free to vote for whoever they want.  

Trump still enjoys a big lead in delegates over Ted Cruz but more commentators are now suggesting that it will be more difficult for him to reach the magic number of 1237 needed for a first ballot win at the convention in Cleveland on July 21st.   Some scenarios even have him attaining the 1237 mark by the convention, but still losing the nomination because some delegates may change their mind.  Needless to say, it promises to be a very eventful and chaotic convention.

Trump is now facing an uphill battle as the leadership of the Republican Party is now openly seeking ways to defeat him.  It has even come to the point where all the GOP candidates Trump, Cruz, and Kasich are questioning whether they will endorse the party's nominee after the convention.  This raises the likelihood of a fractured GOP and the possibility of an independent third party run by whoever loses the convention. 

The refusal of the candidates to come together around a single candidate has meant that the odds of an open convention are now greater than 50% on political betting markets.  The GOP itself seems on the verge of self-destruction as pro-Trump and anti-Trump camps appear to be moving beyond the point of compromise. This loss of momentum has been reflected in the political betting markets such as Predictit, Predictwise and Pivit.   The site showed the probability of a Trump nomination topping out just days before March 1st Super Tuesday at 84%.  As this chart tracking a Trump nomination shows, it has been falling ever since and has taken its greatest hit in the past two weeks.   Trump is still favoured to beat Cruz but now the margin is only 10%.

I am not surprised by Trump's recent difficulties.  In February, I had predicted that Trump would begin to experience some setbacks in March and that his momentum would likely stall.  I wrote that he would likely experience a significant setback "sometime between mid-March and mid-April".  This has more or less come to pass.  I thought that this setback could manifest as both electoral defeats and formal obstacles to the nomination.   The losses in March and early April have made the path to 1237 very difficult mathematically and now both remaining candidates are unlikely to support him if he actually wins. 

These troubles coincide with the close aspect of transiting Mars (14 Scorpio) to Trump's 11th house Mercury (15 Gemini).  With Mars slowing down ahead of its retrograde station on the 17th, Mars has been in close range of his Mercury for two weeks or more.  The 8th house aspect (=210 degrees) can be especially nasty in Vedic astrology and since Mars is due to station next week on that same degree, Trump will likely continue to feel under pressure from all sides.  Once Mars turns retrograde, however, things could get better for Trump as it begins to move away from his Mercury.  This should coincide with improved electoral outcomes for Trump as he is widely expected to carry the Eastern states like New York and Pennsylvania which vote on the 19th and 26th, respectively.

The horoscope of the Ted Cruz campaign suggests he is more likely to win the convention.  The convention will likely (!) be decided on July 21.  The Cruz campaign chart looks very good around that time.  Uranus (0 Aries) will be just days away from stationing retrograde exactly on the "MC" (=10th house cusp) and Mars of this chart.  Uranus aspects to the 10th house cusp are classic indicator for sudden or shocking events pertaining to career and status.  The fact that Mars is also there considerably ratchets up the power of this conjunction.  Jupiter (26 Leo) will aspecting the Moon (25 Aries) within one degree and both Sun and Venus will be a few degrees from the natal Jupiter.  

By contrast, the Trump campaign chart will have Mars casting its onerous 8th house aspect to the triple conjunction of Moon, Sun, and Mars.   That looks like way too much Mars energy and frustration to me, even if it is a little past exact.  Actually, Mars stations at 29 Libra on June 29th so that could create a lot of chaos and bad feelings for Trump in the weeks leading up to the convention.  For all the energy, initiative and assertiveness of Mars which can sometimes be harnessed productively, this 8th house aspect just looks like Trump loses on the convention floor in a very intense and emotional fight. 

I don't have a strong opinion of whether Trump will launch an independent campaign after he loses.  One would think he will given his continuing level of popularity and his alienation from the GOP.   But Ted Cruz looks much more likely to be the GOP nominee coming out of the convention in Cleveland.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks generally retreated last week as confusion over the direction of US interest rates prompted some investors to take money off the table.  US stocks lost more than 1% as the Dow closed at 17,576.  Indian shares fell by 2% to 24,673 as the market was disappointed by the modest 25 basis point rate cut by the RBI.   This modestly negative outcome was not too surprising as I had taken a fairly neutral stance in last week's market forecast.  As expected, Tuesday's Sun-Saturn alignment correlated with some declines.  The rest of the week was more mixed.

Yhis week Monday has been mostly positive although US markets reversed lower by the close.  This week looks rather mixed again.  Tuesday's Mars-Venus alignment hints at some negativity but the Mercury-Jupiter aspect will strengthen on Wednesday and Thursday and could produce at least some upside.  While Friday's Mercury-Saturn alignment seems somewhat bearish, it may not be enough to produce a down week overall.   Mars turns retrograde on Sunday the 17th so that is a wild card factor of sorts.   Like Saturn turning retrograde in late March, this Mars retrograde station could correlate with some markets reversing their dominant trend. 

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.