Monday, October 17, 2016

Mars-Pluto promises fireworks at third US presidential debate

(17 October 2016) The US presidential race is approaching a fever pitch now with just three weeks left to go.  Without risk of understatement, it has been the most bizarre contest in living memory, no doubt because of the presence of one Donald J. Trump.  Both candidates have been subject to character attacks in an attempt to undermine their credibility.   The Russian-hacked emails via Wikileaks have tried to make Hillary Clinton look corrupt and untrustworthy while the media has been full of a conspicuously steady stream of women who have accused of Trump of sexual misconduct and sexual assault.  October surprises, indeed!  One wonders how much nastier this already ugly race could get before November 8th.  Hillary Clinton is holding a lead in most polls by 5-8 points while political betting markets now put her chances of winning at 85% or better.

We're now in the home stretch as the third and final presidential debate takes place on Wednesday evening in Las Vegas.  Final debates are not usually decisive but anything is possible in this race given the unpredictable nature of Donald Trump.  Thus far, the race is going more or less as expected.  I previously predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the first debate and would go on to open up a lead in early October.  This has basically come to pass.  I still think she will win but I don't know by how much. 

Parenthetically, the margin of victory could actually be very important going forward in terms of the governability of the USA for the next four years.  As Trump spouts his sour grapes "rigged election" claims in the event he loses, he is fostering greater frustration with the US political system as a whole.  If Trump ends up losing by less than 5 points, for example, there will be a greater temptation amongst his aggrieved followers that the election was stolen or that the system itself is irredeemable.  This would increase the likelihood of political violence and make it harder for legislation to be passed in the next Congress.  If the margin of victory is larger, especially if its over 10%, then Trump's supporters would have a lesser sense of injustice.  This could allow for more co-operation between the various branches of government in the next administration.  It may not prevent him from starting a new far-right television network, however. 

The third debate has the potential to be even more intense and combative than the previous debates.  The reason is that the debate will take place just as Mars approaches its conjunction with Pluto.  Mars (21 Sagittarius) symbolizes (in descending moral order) action, conflict, aggression and violence while Pluto (21 Sagittarius) is seen to represent power, manipulation and coercion.  The pairing of these two planets is often difficult in the best of circumstances.  In the case of Wednesday's debate, there is a added risk of genuine conflict as the Mars-Pluto conjunction takes place just one degree from an opposition to the Sun (22 Gemini) of the USA horoscope. 

The Sun is associated with leaders, authority and government so the Mars-Pluto pairing could create an atmosphere that is very much at odds with authority.  Perhaps this could mean that Trump goes even further in his scorched-earth approach to expound on how the political system is rigged against him.  Or his attacks on Hillary Clinton could really move below the belt in a way not yet seen.  The Mars-Pluto aspect to the Sun will not be exact for a couple of days after the debate so we should also allow for the possibility that the full manifestation of this tense energy may not occur in the debate itself.  Nonetheless, it will likely make the debate more combative. 

Hillary Clinton will likely come under intense attack in this debate since the Mars-Pluto will be in close quincunx (8th house) aspect to her natal Mars and Pluto (20 Cancer).  There is an interesting mirroring of this natal planetary alignments since she was born with Mars conjunct Pluto, albeit in a different zodiac sign.  Normally, I would say that this 8th house Mars aspect to Mars is a negative influence and suggests she will not do well in the debate.  Mars-to-Mars aspects tend to be negative in this way, as if there is too much Mars energy to successfully channel into a constructive outcome. 

However, Hillary's birth time is unknown so there is only so much we can glean from her chart.  That's why I have generally preferred to use husband Bill's chart as a proxy for Hillary's fortunes.  We can see that Bill Clinton's chart is still looking quite good this week.  Not only is Jupiter (14 Virgo) still close to his Mars-Neptune conjunction near the Ascendant, but transiting Mercury (28 Virgo) is just two degrees off his Jupiter (0 Libra).  This suggests a positive outcome for Hillary either on the night of the third debate, or in the day or two following.  Therefore, even if Hillary puts in a mediocre debate performance, the Mercury-Jupiter conjunction suggests she won't be damaged too much by it. 

The likelihood of some real fireworks here is also seen in Trump's chart.  The Mars-Pluto conjunction will be in a near-exact 135 degree aspect with the Ascendant.  This will likely make Trump very aggressive and perhaps out of control at the time of the debate.  Moreover, the Mercury transit that was helping Bill and Hillary is past Trump's Jupiter and falls under the aspect of his natal Rahu (27 Taurus).  Rahu often has a distorting effect on the planet it aligns with. Since Mercury is associated with speech and information, Trump may make some of his wildest accusations yet. 

It seems unlikely that they will have their desired effects, however, since there are no obvious positive alignments in the chart.  The egomaniacal Trump is behind in the race and facing an embarrassing defeat so he has nothing to lose in this debate.  He may well move from scorched-earth to full-on nuclear at this point.  I would not be surprised at anything he does here.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have generally moved lower in recent days as the odds of a Fed rate hike have risen.  For a stock market that is addicted to cheap money, the prospect of higher interest rates are unwelcome and good reason to sell.  The Dow finished Friday at 18,138 and is down slightly at midday on Monday.  Indian stocks have also declined modestly as the Sensex finished Monday at 27,673. This bearish outcome was in keeping with last week's market forecast as I thought the Mercury-Mars square would likely coincide with some more downside.

This week should see more declines.   The Mars-Pluto conjunction is exact on Wednesday and could cast a shadow over the week at various points.  The outlook is further weakened because the Sun entered sidereal Libra on Monday.  By itself, this is not a bad placement although the Sun is said to be debilitated in this sign.  The problem this time is that the Sun's dispositor, Venus is approaching its conjunction with Saturn.  This conjunction will not be exact until the end of October it will likely have a depressing effect on sentiment.  Friday's Moon-Mars-Pluto alignment may warrant special caution as a damaged Moon is likely to coincide with jittery 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.