Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hillary Clinton chooses Tim Kaine as VP running mate

(26 July 2016)  The US Presidential election is about to move into a higher gear.   Following last week's raucous Republican convention that formally nominated Donald Trump, the Democratic Party takes center stage this week as Hillary Clinton is nominated as the candidate to stand for election in November.  Already, the Democratic convention has seen some controversy following the release of hacked emails that showed the DNC and the party establishment favoured Clinton over challenger Bernie Sanders.   Sanders' delegates are understandably angry but it seems unlikely to affect the overall outcome of the convention.

The nomination of Donald Trump has put many liberals in America into a state of shock and fear as their worst nightmare is now one step closer to reality.  The possibility of a Donald Trump presidency frightens many since Trump represents a radical sea change from Barack Obama on all fronts: an unpredictable and bellicose temperament, a ill-defined foreign policy, an anti-free trade stance, and much more draconian approach to immigration. 

Based on my reading of his horoscope, I thought it was unlikely that Trump would get this far.  On that, I was wrong.  But I did think that he was going to have a good campaign and that he would do better than many of his dismissive critics suggested last summer.  It didn't help matters that we lacked the birth times of most of the other GOP candidates like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.  We had Trump's birth time and Jeb Bush's birth time but that was about it.  Oh well, onward and upward. 

From an astrological perspective, the good news this week is that we have the birth time of Hillary Clinton's just-announced VP running mate, Tim Kaine.  Thanks to the efforts of astrologer Patrick Watson, we now know that Kaine was born at 7.59 a.m. in St. Paul, MN on 26 February 1958.  The horoscope is good, as one would expect from a sitting US Senator.  But will Kaine be a part of a winning ticket on November 8th or will he be destined to become an historical footnote?

Kaine is currently running the Saturn-Venus dasha period.  Both planets look broadly helpful for career success.  Saturn is placed in the 10th house of status and achievement.  To be sure, Saturn is a malefic planet by nature and its rulership of the 12th house (Aquarius) looks problematic for a Pisces Ascendant.  And yet, Saturn does quite well in the 10th house due to its symbolic affinity.  Saturn rules the natural 10th house (Capricorn) since it is a karaka planet of authority.  Saturn is not afflicted by any aspecting planet in his chart. 

Minor dasha lord Venus is also in good shape as it is a natural benefic planet and it is placed in the 11th house of gains and wishes fulfilled.  Having a strong 11th house is very useful when an individual is engaged in any kind of contest as is the case here.  Venus rules the 8th house which is less than ideal, although it is disposited by Saturn, which is nicely placed in the 10th house as we know. Although they are rarely decisive in predictions, the dashas look good.

The transits also look good this fall.  Transiting Jupiter will be in the middle of sidereal Virgo in October and hence will aspect both his Moon (11 Taurus) and his Venus (8 Capricorn).  Mars at the top of the chart should also be conducive to effective debating and competing against his GOP opponent, Mike Pence.  This will be right around the time of the debates (including his own on October 4th) and it could signal the moment in the campaign when the Democrats begin to pull away from Trump and the Republicans and assume the lead.  Currently, Clinton and Trump are virtually tied with Hillary having lost her long-held advantage.  Trump has astutely taken control of the political agenda while Clinton has struggled to avoid scandal and internal controversy.  But October looks very good for Kaine and hence it should be good for Clinton also. 

There are many other factors one could point to here but I'll just mention one.  At the time of the election, Kaine's tertiary progressed Jupiter (at 10 Sagittarius) will station retrograde just one degree from his equal 10th house cusp and one degree from his unequal 10th house cusp (MC).  The retrograde station is less desirable here than the direct station but it is so close to an obvious power point in the chart that it should translate into a win for Clinton and Kaine.

The takeaway here is that Kaine's timed chart offers more evidence for a Clinton win in November.   This is important since Hillary's birth time is a matter of some uncertainty with at least two different times in widespread circulation.  Birth time uncertainty notwithstanding,  I have generally thought for some time that Hillary's chart looked good for November and that she would win.  After seeing Tim Kaine's chart, I still think that now. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks haven't moved much over the past week.  In the US, the Dow is still near its recent high of 18,500 while the Indian BSE-Sensex closed Tuesday just under 28,000.  This is more or less in keeping with expectations with my market forecast as I thought we could see some declines late last week but that this week could begin more positively.  This has largely been the case, especially in Asian and European markets. 

The rest of this week looks more difficult as Mercury squares Mars on Thursday and Friday.  This is a tense alignment that could bring a rise in caution.  Interestingly, it will follow the latest Fed meeting announcement on Wednesday.  Perhaps Janet Yellen will say something that surprises investors.  Early next week also looks less amenable to gains as Mercury begins to tighten its square alignment with Saturn.  Next Tuesday's New Moon could be significant in this respect as it aligns closely with Saturn. 

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 is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Our violent world: Mars and the sting of Scorpio

(19 July 2016) The news has been full of terrible events lately.   The Islamist terror attack in Nice, France saw 84 people mowed down by a truck during celebrations on Bastille Day, 14th July.  The attempted coup in Turkey just a day later resulted in the violent deaths of 300 people and the arrest of several thousand.  The unprecedented twin shootings of 7 US policeman in Dallas (7th July) and Baton Rouge (17th July) as revenge for a series of recent videotaped killings of black men apprehended by police.  And now word today (19th July) of another ISIS attack, this time in Germany by an Afghan teenager wielding an axe on a train.  This follows the recent mass shooting of the gay nightclub in Orlando in mid-June by another Islamist terrorist.

While it is always possible to highlight this or that violent incident in the news at any given time, this cluster of high profile violence is unusual.  It is rare to see such a clustering of politically significant incidents which have impacted the public imagination to this extent.  One possible explanation for this string of incidents is the recent entry of Mars into sidereal Scorpio.  Mars entered Scorpio on 11th July after completing its retrograde cycle in late June.  Due to its recent direct station in the very last degree of Libra on 29th June, it has been moving forward very slowly.  As a rule, slower moving planets are more powerful and are more likely to manifest their intrinsic symbolism. Mars has been in the proximity of this first and most powerful degree of Scorpio for most of June and so far all of July.

As everybody knows, Mars symbolizes violence, conflict and war.  Whenever Mars changes signs, its receives a boost in its energy and it is more likely to coincide with events that have a Mars-like character.  In this case, Mars entered the sign of Scorpio.  Of all the signs of the zodiac, it is fair to say that few signs have as chequered a reputation as Scorpio.  Scorpio is an intense and often unpredictable energy that often runs on instinct and adrenaline. It presumes that human action derives from the "will to power" and the need to control the external world as a means to protect the self.  There is often an overflow of passionate energy with Mars in Scorpio that can instill great courage and selflessness but it can also be subverted by arrogance, impatience and excess when under stress.  Please note to all readers who are Scorpios (15 Nov-15 Dec), this is NOT the same thing as having a Sun in Scorpio as you do.  The Mars in Scorpio placement manifests these negative traits more readily, especially when under planetary stress as it is now.  

Previously, I have written about the potential fallout of the Mars station and entry into Scorpio given the close alignment with Uranus at the end of June.  This was one reason for the Brexit vote shock.  Stressful events are more likely now given that Mars has conjoined Saturn, the Great Malefic, in Scorpio.  Saturn (16 Scorpio) is retrograde and slowly backing into its direct station in mid-August at 15 Scorpio.  Since Saturn is an often negative influence, its conjunction with Mars is more likely to produce tragic results such as those we have witnessed in recent days. 

Whether or not individuals or nations are likely to suffer the consequences of this Mars-Saturn conjunction in Scorpio depends on their horoscopes.  Let's take a look at how the entry of Mars into Scorpio may have impacted the 1792 horoscope of France at the time of the truck attack in Nice.  The chart of the 1st Republic of France has Mars at 4 degrees Scorpio in a tight conjunction with the MC (unequal 10th house cusp).  At the time of the attack, transiting Mars was at 0 Scorpio with the Moon just a few arc minutes behind at 29 Libra.  Both the Moon and Mars were therefore in a close conjunction with the natal Mars in Scorpio. 

But countries typically don't suffer mass terror attacks from a single Mars transit, even one that occurs just after a station and in Scorpio.  The other problem with this chart is that transiting Saturn (16 Scorpio) is approaching a close conjunction with the natal Moon (13 Scorpio).  The Moon represents the population as a whole as well as the national mood.  The current Saturn conjunction to the Moon is therefore very injurious to the nation, both in terms of events and in terms of national feeling. This double Scorpio affliction of the Moon-Mars conjunction in the 1792 chart is I think fairly well explained by the double Scorpio transit of the first-class malefics Mars and Saturn. 

Not only did all this negative energy manifest in this terrible atrocity, but it has raised questions about the competence of the government and its overall approach to Islamic terrorism.  More French people want a tougher approach it seems, or at least a different approach that takes their security more seriously. 

The bad news for France and President Hollande is that Mars is not due to conjoin Saturn until the 23rd of August.  The conjunction will occur at 15 Scorpio and therefore will be just two degrees past the natal Moon.  And even before that, Mars will conjoin its natal position (4 Scorpio) next week so we may see more tension, conflict, and the possibility of more violence. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Despite rising geopolitical uncertainty, stock markets moved higher last week in the expectation of more central bank money printing.  US stocks made new all-time highs as the Dow traded above 18,500.  Indian stocks also rose as the BSE-Sensex touched 28,000.  Stocks have pulled back a bit so far this week on normal profit taking.  While the gains were unsurprising, in last week's market forecast I thought that stocks might have lost some ground later in the week.  As it happened, only Friday was slightly lower in the US. 

I think we are likely to see more upside on Wednesday as the Moon aligns with Mercury and Venus.  Thursday and Friday look somewhat more problematic as Mars squares the Moon.  Early next week should bring more gains as Mercury aligns with Jupiter.

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 is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Is Jupiter pushing stocks higher? Lessons in financial astrology

(12 July 2016) Global stock markets have extended their post-Brexit rally into the start of another week.  While there remains considerably uncertainty about the UK economic situation, investors are seeing the glass half-full here after the sudden victory of moderate and pro-EU Theresa May for the leadership of the British Conservative Party.   The re-election of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe over the weekend was also seen in positive terms as it likely means even more government and central bank stimulus will be forthcoming for its perennially moribund economy.

The current rally has even managed to hit a new all-time high for the blue chip S&P 500 on Monday with the Dow now just a few points away.  Other US smaller cap indexes still have some ways to go before they make new highs, however.  European and Asian stocks are no less bullish here as Japan's Nikkei has added 7%  in the first two trading days this week while India's Sensex finished the Tuesday session at 27,808, an 11-month high.

In last week's market forecast, I had thought we might have started to see some of the negative effects of the entry of Mars into sidereal Scorpio early this week, but so far optimism is still the prevailing mood. It is worth remembering that the problematic Mars transit of Scorpio will last for the next nine weeks (into mid-September) so we should not be too surprised by this week's early gains.   Mars is moving fairly slowly still as it recently completed its retrograde cycle at the end of the June.

On the basic lessons of financial astrology is that rising stock prices are linked in some way to the position and condition of the planet Jupiter.  Jupiter is a bullish investor's best friend as gains are more likely when it forms close geometric angles with other bullish planets.  When it aligns with bearish planets like Mars, Saturn and Rahu, however, Jupiter's inclination for optimism becomes less reliable and can often be negated.  While I emphasized the destabilizing role of Uranus and Mars in the Brexit vote and subsequent sell-off, Jupiter did conjoin Rahu (North Lunar Node) in June (exact on 20th June) and that may have been an additional indicator for some of the downside we saw both before and just after the UK referendum. 

Now that Jupiter (24 Leo) is moving away from its conjunction with Rahu, stocks appear to be recovering quite strongly.  Jupiter (22 Leo) aligned with Pluto (22 Sagittarius) in the last week of June (exact 26th June).  just as most stock markets bottomed out after the Brexit vote.  Jupiter is now approaching a non-aspect alignment with Uranus in early August (exact 12th August) so that could provide an additional boost for sentiment around that time.  It's ultimate impact on the market is less clear, however, since it is not a proper aspect (0, 120, 240 degrees).  As a rule, non-aspect alignments tend to be weaker in their effects. 

Of course, forecasting market trends requires an analysis of many factors. Occasionally, a single factor will be strong enough to outweigh all others.  This appeared to be the case with entry of Uranus into sidereal Aries on 23rd June. Usually, however, assessing the collective sentiment that moves markets requires consideration of all of the planets and their aspects.  Well, easier said than done.

But even when considering the condition of a single planet like Jupiter, aspects are still only part of the story.  We also need to consider its sign placement and its dispositor.  Jupiter is in sidereal Leo now which is ruled by the Sun.  The Sun is therefore Jupiter's dispositor.  Therefore, the situation of the Sun may provide useful information for assessing the condition of Jupiter. 

I have also found that the relative placement of the planets around Jupiter can contain important information about the public mood and market sentiment.  One of the oldest of astrology across all cultures is the symbolism of the planets.  In both the East and the West, Jupiter represents expansion, gains, optimism and wisdom.  No wonder it is considered a bullish planet.  Since Jupiter is said to rule over the notion of gains, it is naturally associated with the 11th house of gains and income. 

A "house" is just astrological jargon for a region or area in the sky relative to a fixed frame of reference.   When the 11th house is strong in an individual's chart, then that person will tend to make money and fulfill their desires and wishes.  When the 11th house of a stock exchange or index chart is strong because of a positive transit, etc, then stocks are more likely to rise.  But we can extend the logic one step further: when the 11th house from Jupiter is strong, then stocks may also be less likely to fall and more likely to rise.  What defines "strong" or "weak" is a matter of interpretation (as always, facts must be understood theoretically!) and yet there are some basic notions that can be used with a reasonable degree of objectivity.

The current arrangement of planets around Jupiter seems to be positive since the Sun is placed in Gemini in the 11th house from Jupiter.  (N.B. I am using whole sign houses as per Indian Vedic custom).   The Sun is an important planet in any event, but perhaps doubly so here since it is Jupiter's sign dispositor of Leo. Until a couple of days ago, Venus and Mercury were also in Gemini in the 11th house from Jupiter, so that could have been an additional positive influence on sentiment in late June and early July.  It is possible that the entry of Mercury into Gemini (it's Gemini sign ruler) on 27th June could have been a key bullish factor in the the start of the post-Brexit rebound.  Mercury represents the ruler of the 11th house from Jupiter and it became stronger in its own sign.  Interestingly, stocks began to rebound on the 28th -- just a day or two after Mercury entered Gemini. 

Of course, hindsight is 20-20.  While I thought we could get some upside after the initial Brexit sell-off, I certainly did not expect the rally to be this strong.  Weighing the relative importance of different factors is always a matter of interpretation and that is where error resides.  Nonetheless, the changing influences on Jupiter offers a intriguing explanation for moves in recent days.

Now that Mercury and Venus have moved into Cancer, there may be less of that positive 11th house energy available for Jupiter to tap into.  The Sun is still in the 11th house/Gemini but it is due to leave early on Friday, 16th July.  This would place all of the fast-moving inner planets in Cancer, in the 12th house from Jupiter.  The 12th house symbolizes loss, among other things.  This does not necessarily mean that this placement will be decisive in determining the market trend, but it should be seen as a reduction of positive energy available for Jupiter.  Let's see how it plays out.

Weekly Market Forecast

Besides the last days of the Sun's bullish transit of Gemini this week, we are still awaiting any effects from the Mars entry into Scorpio.  It may take the conjunction of the Moon with Mars on Thursday and Friday to act as a trigger for that more destabilizing Scorpionic energy.  Stocks are more likely to be positive until the second half of the week.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Market recovers post-Brexit but for how long?

(5 July 2016) Financial markets recovered their footing last week in the wake of the Brexit vote in the UK last month.  The strong rebound was the result of the promise of more central bank intervention from both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank.  In addition, some investors took solace in the possibility that the UK may not ultimately leave the EU given a long and complex negotiation process that may take several years and yet another referendum or vote in Parliament.

US stocks jumped 3% on the week with the Dow closing at 17,949 which was just a bit below its June 23rd close.  Similar gains were also seen in Europe with the London FTSE 100 regaining all of its post-Brexit decline and then some.  Indian stocks also registered strong gains of more than 3% as the Sensex closed Friday at 27,144.  Most stocks have been moving lower so far this week as markets have become concerned about the solvency of Italian banks.  The British Pound is also headed lower again this week as the ongoing political uncertainty in the UK weighs on sentiment.

In last week's market forecast, I thought we might have got more downside after Monday's decline, perhaps for another day or two.  As it happened, however, Monday was the post-Brexit low for most global markets as the rebound began in earnest on Tuesday.  As expected, the second half of the week was positive as the Venus-Jupiter-Pluto Rahu alignment kicked in.   Venus and Jupiter are bullish planets and when they are aligned with other planets, stocks tend to rise.

But is this strong post-Brexit recovery the 'all clear' signal so that stocks can resume their upward climb in this seemingly unstoppable 7-year bull market?  Well, one thing we have learned in recent years is that central banks are capable of keeping stocks afloat no matter how bad the real economy may be.  If QE bond-buying doesn't work, they will try negative interest rates.  And if negative rates aren't producing the desired result, then they will find something else, including perhaps "helicopter money".  Hubristic central banks can never admit admit defeat and are committed to printing money and monetary debasement by any means necessary. 

From an astrological perspective, I believe the re-entry of Mars into sidereal Scorpio next week could coincide with more declines in stocks in the coming weeks.  Due to its retrograde cycle occurring in Scorpio, Mars has spent an unusually long time in the sign of Scorpio.  Near the end of its retrograde cycle, Mars actually left Scorpio and back-doored its way into Libra for a few weeks starting on 18th June.  Mars then stationed in the last degree of Libra (29 degrees) on 29-30th June, and is now moving forward again.  On 11th July, it will again enter Scorpio where it will remain until 17th September. 

In my view, when Mars transits Scorpio, stocks tend to come under increased stress and decline.  While Mars is said to become stronger through its traditional "rulership" of Scorpio, its transit through this sign often creates too much intensity which can manifest as a collective unease and anxiety.  Back in February, I posted some financial astrology research on previous transits of Mars through Scorpio for the years 1999 to 2014 which showed a fairly clear negative price correlation with this transit. 

But what happened during this first phase of the Mars transit of Scorpio in 2016?  Stocks actually rose as the Dow climbed from 16,600 to 17,700 -- a gain of 6%.  So does this put a dagger into the Mars-in-Scorpio-is-bearish thesis?  Not exactly.  In my previous research, there was still a fairly wide variation in outcomes from previous transits of Mars through Scorpio although it leaned negative overall.  I noted that no simple one or two-factor model could ever be 100% correct.  It was merely a probabilistic outcome that seemed to hold over the previous twenty years.  So far in 2016, it seems the outcome is at the far bullish end of that spectrum of outcomes.

But again the question remains why would stocks have risen during this time of supposedly increased tension of Mars in Scorpio?  One possible explanation would be to look at the role of other variables.  One-factor models (Mars through Scorpio) will only be probabilistic at best and even then only marginally so over many data points.  But what if we included other variables?  What if we looked at the condition of the modern ruler of Scorpio, which is Pluto?  In Vedic astrology (and in traditional Western astrology) Mars rules Scorpio and is said to exhibit its natural qualities most freely.  But modern Western astrology posits that Scorpio is also ruled by Pluto, whereas Mars only rules Aries.  Therefore, in order to assess the effects of the current Mars transit of Scorpio, we could look at the condition of Pluto. 

As we can see from the chart below, Pluto has been under the beneficial aspect of Jupiter for the past several months due to its retrograde cycle in Leo. Jupiter symbolizes expansion and optimism, and its ongoing aspect with Pluto since the beginning of 2016 may well have created a positive feedback loop for Mars and hence for markets as a whole.  To assess the effects of Mars, we can look at its ruler, Pluto. This is standard practice in astrological interpretation.   If the condition of the ruler Pluto is positive, then that positive energy could flow to Mars.  When I wrote the initial research post, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible in order to see if there was a measurable effect of this single factor (Mars in Scorpio).  I did not even consider expanding the equation beyond it.  In retrospect, I should have at least included some mention of it as an addendum.

When Mars first entered Scorpio on 20th February, Jupiter (26 Leo) closely aspected Pluto (22 Sagittarius).  Rahu (North Lunar Node) was conjunct Jupiter also, although I would take Rahu as acting mostly as an amplifier for Jupiter's benefic influence here.  Arguably, the Jupiter-Rahu conjunction has been one key factor in the rise in gold prices in the first half of 2016.   Generally speaking, the closer the aspect to exact, the stronger the positive Jupiter influence.  Most importantly, Jupiter was retrograde so the aspect was tightening right through to almost May when Jupiter stationed at 20 Leo.  This ongoing Jupiter influence on Pluto is one plausible reason why stocks rose while Mars was in Scorpio from February to June. 

So what is happening to Pluto now that Mars is about to re-enter Scorpio next Monday on 11th July?  Jupiter (24 Leo) is still closely aspecting Pluto (22 Sagittarius) so it is conceivable that there could be more gains in store for the stock market during the time of this transit.   And yet Jupiter is now moving forward and therefore separating from its aspect with Pluto. 

I would think that would indicate a weakening of Jupiter's bullish influence on Pluto and hence upon Mars also.  Jupiter will eventually leave the sign of Leo on 11th August so its aspect on Pluto will be well and truly over by then.  It is quite possible that without this Jupiter influence on Pluto, the negativity of the Mars transit of Scorpio could increase.  There is an argument that this bullish influence on Pluto/Mars could diminish as we move from July to August and then into September. This would allow the more bearish side of Mars in Scorpio to manifest, all other things being equal.

So next week's re-entry of Mars into Scorpio could well coincide with different market outcomes then its previous transit of Scorpio.  It's still only a probabilistic prediction since only now we have two variables in play instead of one.  As we know, astrology does not readily lend itself to these kinds of simplified analysis since there are literally dozens of variables are typically involved in forecasting.  And yet experience tells us that there are times when a very few number of factors will outweigh all the others.  Let's see what this second transit of Mars through Scorpio has in store for the rest of the summer.

Weekly Market Forecast

While this week has begun on a bearish note, I would think some upside is likely on Wednesday or Thursday given the Sun-Mercury conjunction and the Venus-Uranus alignment.  Friday is more open-ended, however, as the Moon is aspected by bearish Saturn.  There would therefore appear to be added downside risk on Friday, especially in European and US trading when the aspect is closest. 

And then early next week, we get that re-entry of Mars into Scorpio.   Mars is often bearish in its effect whenever it changes signs.  The fact that it is entering Scorpio may put even more pressure on bullish investors.

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 is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.