Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The World in 2017: the New Year's Horoscope

(20 December 2016) As 2016 winds down to a merciful close, it's time to reflect on the year that was and ponder what may lie ahead for the New Year.  2016 will likely go down in history as a year of popular revolt against the status quo and the rise of 21st-century nationalism.  It may also be remembered as a year that globalization died.  The Pax Americana that began with the Bretton Woods economic agreement in 1944 may well have run its course now with the election of the nationalist Donald Trump to the presidency.  Trump has vowed to tear up free trade agreements and renegotiate US treaty obligations in an effort to reduce its superpower footprint.  The isolationist and protectionist Trump has promised to "Make America Great Again" by raising tariffs on imports, and preferentially buying and hiring American in an effort to jump start the stagnant Main St. economy and narrow the wealth gap between the haves and have nots.

A major thrust of this popular right-wing revolt has been the re-assertion of power by nativist populations in the UK and the US against outsiders, both in terms of immigrants and international regulatory bodies.  In June, the UK voted to leave the European Union, driven in large part by a desire to regain control of its sovereignty in terms of law and immigration.  Immigration was also front and center in the US election as Trump used the resentment and fear of immigrants from Mexico and the Muslim world as part of his rallying cry for change.  In both instances, it was stunning rebuke to the political and financial establishments.

Reviewing 2016

To some extent, I had forecast these developments in last year's New Year's horoscope analysis. Each year, I like to look at the planetary alignments for midnight on January 1st (I use Washington, DC but the chart doesn't change much for other cities) as a way of glimpsing into the future for the year to come.  It's a somewhat unconventional approach since the New Year has no astronomical significance.  However, I have found the midnight chart does often contain insights, possibly due to the huge subjective importance we collectively place on that moment in the calendar.

In last year's chart (see above), I noticed a tense square aspect between Mercury and Mars and wondered if the economy would be negatively impacted.  That really hasn't been the case although the evidence could be argued either way.  But I also suggested that the Mars affliction to Mercury along with the aspect of Rahu (aka, the North Lunar Node) could signal a rise in cyber disputes and hacking involving national governments.  That is a plausible hit given the possible Russian involvement in the US election.  Russia may well have acted to help Trump get elected through its hacking efforts against the Clinton campaign and more generally in its attempts to destabilize the democratic process through planting fake news stories.   Here is what I wrote on 1 January 2016:

Communications are also targeted by this Mars-Mercury affliction and the presence of Saturn in the 3rd house of communication is also unhelpful.  Worse still, Rahu makes a close aspect to Mercury.  This could manifest in the form of major cyber disputes and hacking, even involving national governments.  Rahu's influence may also be indicative of undercover criminal activity, especially involving high tech.

In last year's analysis, I also thought the Moon-Rahu conjunction in the 1st house would likely highlight notions of change.  This has very much been the case in the US and UK at least (and to a lesser extent in Italy) as the globalization status quo has been pushed aside in favour of a more nationalist future.  I also thought that "political dissatisfaction from the process of globalization" would be on the rise.  Finally, I noted that since Mars was also in alignment with the Moon and Rahu, the larger question of immigrants and outsiders would become more prominent in 2016.  This was largely true as the UK Brexit vote hinged on limiting uncontrolled EU immigrants and Trump campaigned to build a wall to stop illegal Mexicans and to ban Muslims from entering the US.  Again from 1 January 2016:

The presence of the Moon and  Rahu in the 1st house in Virgo is a good indication that it will be a year that focuses on change.  Of course, accelerating technological and social change has become a fact of life over the past 20 years since the introduction of the internet and other computer-based technologies.  But this pairing focuses on the disruptive psychological effects of these changes to a point where there could be a growing sense of frustration or alienation with our current direction.   Rapid economic changes have also undermined social stability for many people so we are more likely to see more social and political dissatisfaction from the uncertainty generated from the process of globalization.  Migrants and "outsiders" will likely stay in the forefront of events as Moon-Rahu aspects bring our attention to people who are different in some way from the majority, including ethnicity, race, or religion.  With Mars (conflict) partially in this planetary equation, I would expect the issue to continue to be a source of disagreement in places like Europe and the US. 

2017: A year of change, innovation, and persistence

As is often the case, this year's January 1st horoscope contains both good and bad alignments.  However, the bad alignments look quite difficult and suggest some challenges ahead.  The first thing that catches my eye is that Mercury is retrograde and is under the close aspect of Rahu (North Lunar Node).  Taken literally, this symbolizes change (Rahu) in thinking (Mercury).   The impetus towards social change that began in 2016 is therefore likely to continue in 2017, albeit in a different form. 

Whereas the Rahu-Moon represented a change and disruption in mood, the Rahu-Mercury aspect could signify a change in thinking and rationality.  Rahu is all about erasing boundaries -- between tradition and innovation but also between logic and irrationality.  It's very much a two-edged sword in that respect.  Mercury represents thinking and rational thought so the Rahu influence here may undermine conventional logic.  And just when we thought that much of the world was already crazy!  Well, maybe we will see what a "post-truth" society looks like in practice this year. 

The Rahu-Mercury aspect also echoes last year's affliction of Mercury and suggests that cyber security will again be front and center in 2017.  Rahu typically has a distorting effect on the planets its aspects and since Mercury symbolizes communication, trade, and transport there is a heightened risk of hacking, computer/power outages, and disruption of normal everyday activities.  These disruptions are likely to be significant and hence more newsworthy. 

But more generally, it could symbolize simply new ways of communicating as they supplant old forms of media and self-expression.  In that sense, each planet also has a positive side and that is no less true with malefic Rahu.  Rahu-Mercury aspects should translate to more important technological breakthroughs as Rahu governs research and breaking the boundaries of conventional wisdom. 

Technological innovation is also boosted by the close Jupiter-Uranus aspect since Uranus has some association with new technology.  The close alignment of Saturn with these planets suggests that this technological innovation may have tangible, practical uses very quickly.  Saturn emphasizes the notion of the practical and the everyday and its connection here may mean things like driverless cars, travel to Mars or virtual reality take big steps closer to becoming commercially viable. 

A more troubling placement in the chart is the Mars-Neptune-Ketu conjunction in the 6th house.  This is a bad one.  The Mars-Neptune conjunction is exact and its also almost exactly on the equal 6th house cusp of protection, conflict and health.  Not exactly cheery stuff.  Mars (conflict, harm, aggression) is usually a negative influence and its conjunction with Neptune could be seen as suffering as a result of water/liquids (floods), sickness (epidemics) or poison (e.g. chemicals, drugs, toxins). 

It doesn't take much imagination to dream up some scary scenarios with this planetary combination.   The presence of Ketu (South Node) here only makes it worse unfortunately.  Ketu suggests sudden developments that have out-of-control impacts.  The good news is that Saturn is not aligned with these planets so perhaps the actual damage and hardship may be fairly limited.  But the alignment is sufficiently prominent that it could be the big story of 2017.

The economy may struggle to keep its head above water.  There are no strong influences here although there are some negatives that will likely cast the deciding vote.  The Rahu influence on Mercury is somewhat negative since Mercury is partially associated with commerce and trade. So that is a mild negative.  But Venus represents value and money and it is in fairly good shape in the 6th house.  It's in a wide conjunction with Ketu (South Lunar Node) which is also somewhat negative, but it's not really close. 

Basically, I don't foresee the global economy going over a cliff or anything in 2017 but even maintaining its current low growth levels will be difficult.   The Moon (= the people, mass sentiment) is fairly strong in Capricorn in the 5th house but it does receive an unhelpful aspect from Saturn.   The aspect is seven degrees off but it could still be enough to depress the collective mood somewhat.  Fortunately, Jupiter also casts its benefic aspect on to the Moon with the same orb so this could offset the influence of Saturn. 

Overall, it's a picture of people persisting in the face of hardship and adapting to changing circumstances.  Capricorn is a very pragmatic sign and the Moon's placement here may mean that people focus on their day-to-day lives as best they can.  There is a quiet, heroic, "everyman" quality to this Moon placement that gives me faith that we will come through 2017 alright.   I think there is good reason to believe that we will find new ways to adapt and thrive while keeping our dignity and ideals intact. 

Whatever the future may bring, I want to wish all of my readers a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. 

Final Thoughts on the December 19 Electoral College vote

The Electoral College made Trump's election as president official yesterday.  Despite numerous protests and petitions, the Electoral College voted as expected and guaranteed Trump's election to the White House.  While I thought we might have seen more in the way of unexpected twists and turns in this vote, the final outcome was not that surprising.  The Mercury retrograde station yesterday lined up against the Sun in the USA chart in an intriguing way that hinted as unforeseen events.  Whatever else may have occurred yesterday in that vein, it was not manifest in the EC vote.  Not every aspect plays out the way you think it might.  While it was disappointing that nothing much happened, it was always a less than probable outcome. 

As I noted shortly after the election, I thought the most likely outcome was that Trump would be inaugurated. However, I thought that the path to inauguration would be fraught with many obstacles and setbacks for him.  While there has been predictable outrage and opposition from Democrats, so far we haven't seen any significant obstacles yet, except for the questions about Russia.  I do think that this Russian election interference has the potential to fulfill that prediction of a major pre-inauguration setback even if it won't deny him the presidency.  It may still damage him politically and it could undermine his legitimacy in the long run.  In that respect, January always looked worse for Trump than November and December.  So the turbulent transition period is still very much a going concern here. 

There is still a good chance that there will be a bipartisan committee on Russian interference in the election although it is unclear just when this will convene. Trump is opposed to it but one would think he will have to yield to it eventually.  Presumably, he would be more inclined to accept a committee only after he's been sworn-in.  At the moment, Trump is avoiding the media as he has canceled a scheduled press conference last week which now may happen in early January.   In some ways, Trump is on the defensive here as he tries to find a way to keep the debate focused on his cabinet appointees and new policy proposals.

I will update my thoughts on Trump next week before his troublesome Saturn-to-Moon conjunction takes hold in early January.  I hope to also discuss the timing of potential high and low points in the incoming Trump administration and whether or not he can finish out his first term.  There is some opinion on the left that Trump will actually be impeached or will have to resign at some point.  I will address that question in the coming weeks before the inauguration on January 20th.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have been mixed over the past few days.   US and European stocks have enjoyed modest gains this week but trended lower last week following the Fed's rate hike on Wednesday.  Indian shares have been more bearish, however, as the rising Dollar has hurt FII inflows.   In last week's market forecast, I had been fairly bearish as I thought the Full Moon would damage sentiment.  This was proven partially true although its effects were minimal.  However,  yesterday's Mercury retrograde had no effect in the US although Indian equities extended their losing streak.

This week could see more uncertainty into midweek but the late week leans slightly bullish as Venus aligns with Jupiter and the Moon on Thursday.  The approach of the Uranus direct station on December 29th may be the planetary catalyst necessary to produce a change in the trend.  US and European stocks are especially vulnerable in that respect as they have been rallying since the election. 

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, December 13, 2016

Trump's Russia problem: Did Putin interfere with the US election?

 (13 December 2016) The Trump transition hit a major speed bump over the weekend as the CIA indicated there is now a strong case that Russia interfered in the US election.  The CIA stated that not only is there evidence of Russian hacking of the DNC and RNC but that the interference was intended to help Donald Trump get elected.  Although long-suspected by the Clinton campaign, the CIA Russia release has prompted calls for a bipartisan investigation on Capitol Hill. 

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has rejected the CIA's assertion and has said there is no need for an investigation.  Some on the GOP side have even suggested the whole story has been concocted by sore loser Democrats.  But Trump is now at odds with many in his own party as the GOP Senate leadership has called for a formal investigation in the days and weeks to come.  This, in turn, has led some left-leaning Democrats to call for a delay in the Electoral College vote on December 19th.  Some Electors have also requested access to the CIA security briefing before they cast their vote on the 19th. 

So things are finally getting interesting ahead of the vote.  The swing state recounts were either blocked by state governments in Pennsylvania or Michigan or came to nothing as in Wisconsin which did not alter the original result.  But the possibility that the Russians actively helped to get Trump elected now raises the stakes significantly.  Suddenly, it is more plausible that we could some big surprises come December 19th as 1) Mercury turns retrograde while in an 2) intense conjunction with Pluto and 3) directly opposite the USA's Sun at 22 Gemini.  Just before the election, I had noted the unique intensity of this configuration and the possibility that it could coincide with some unusual events around the Electoral College vote that would not follow standard expectations. 

We're still a long way from seeing Trump fail to win the crucial 270 votes, but at least now we can see how we might get there.  This Russian interference investigation is a real thing and it could well shape the rest the this transition period up until the Inauguration on January 20th.  This is the kind of thing I had envisaged in my previous posts on how Trump could run into problems in late December and in January.  As the investigation goes forward, Trump could be on the defensive.

So what happens on December 19th?  Short answer: I don't know. I think there is a reasonable chance that he doesn't get to the required 270 votes that day for various reasons.  Either the EC vote itself is postponed or there are enough faithless electors who vote for someone else or who abstain.  I still can't quite bring myself to say that this is a probable outcome but it seems more likely than betting markets are reflecting.  Hillary Clinton is now seen as having a 33-1 chance of winning the presidency at this point on Predictit.org.  I think they are higher than that, although likely not worth risking too much money on. 

Alternatively, there could be a record number of faithless electors which serves to irritate The Donald no end as his thin skin will have a hard time accepting why Republican Electors might not cast their votes for him.  But in that soft EC scenario, he could still go over 270 and therefore technically win the presidency.  But as I have noted previously, the planets look worse than that, as if there will be something more disruptive around the vote.  Time will tell. 

Trump's other problem is the impact of this investigation on his incoming administration.  His horoscope looks very stressed in January so even if he happens to get 270+ votes, he will likely face serious obstacles either from the first Congressional meeting on January 6th or in the days that follow.  Saturn will be conjunct his Ketu-Moon conjunction.  This is a difficult transit that indicate emotional difficulties,  distortions and burdens. 

This transit could coincide with bad news for Trump from the investigation.  No matter how much the GOP wants Trump to become president, I would think that solid CIA evidence of Russian interference would create big problems for him.  And obviously, if there was evidence of any communication between the Trump campaign and the Russians before the election, this would become disqualifying for Trump, and perhaps even indictable.  Treason can be an ugly word that is tossed around callously, but many liberal Democrats could find themselves pushing hard in that direction. 

But can astrology provide any insight into a possible connection between Putin and Trump?  Not definitively.  Astrology just doesn't work that way.  But if we think inferentially, then there are some clues that suggest at least there is a mutual self-interest at work, if not an outright alliance.  If we can see the planetary alignments working at the same time in the same direction for both Trump and Putin, then that would suggest that there fortunes are connected.  Of course, this would simply reinforce the widely held notion that Putin wanted Trump to beat Hillary Clinton.  Putin strongly dislikes Clinton, while Trump's foreign policy would be hands off and allow Putin more freedom to resume Russian control over Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East.

Importantly, Putin's chart is moderately afflicted on December 19th but perhaps less than Trump's is.  Mercury-Pluto is square the Sun-Saturn in Putin's chart.  That's tense and unhelpful to be sure.  But perhaps this suggests that whatever setback befalls Trump will less injurious to Putin.  Well, it's Trump that is trying to become president and not Putin so that's less surprising. 

Mars (6 Aquarius) is squaring the Moon (9 Taurus) but it's still three degrees out from exact.  I would think that if the Putin birth time is correct (a big if, I will admit), then Putin is more likely to experience stress and problems around Christmas, say around the 23-26th. Mars (conflict, frustration, anger) is in close square the Moon (emotions), while disruptive Rahu is in an exact aspect with the Ascendant (self).  

Near Christmas Trump's chart looks like it could be confronting some significant uncertainty as Saturn is moving into close conjunction with Ketu while Jupiter aspects Rahu.  Ketu and Rahu are the Moon's Nodes, of course, and are prominent during eclipses.  Given the negative symbolism of eclipses, aspects involving Ketu and Rahu are also seen to have increased risk of unexpected developments which put us on the defensive.  While this looks difficult for Trump, his Mars transit looks less intense. 

So there is some overlap there between the two charts, but I would not say it's compelling evidence of simultaneous affliction over the next two weeks.  So that's a maybe.

But what is more intriguing is what happens in January and beyond.  On January 6th, Congress will meet to accept the votes of the Electoral College.  If Trump does not have 270 votes, then GOP-controlled Congress is empowered to decide the presidency.  The planets on January 6th look mixed.  Mercury ends it retrograde cycle on January 8th as it returns to direct motion.  This is just two days after Congress meets so Mercury will be moving very slowly still and therefore much more energized that usual.  The problem for Trump is that Mercury (5 Sagittarius) will form a close alignment with his Mars (3 Leo).  This is the theoretically less damaging 120-degree trine aspect but it still warrants some attention. Mercury-Mars aspects mark times of intense communication -- not always bad -- and may also indicate an increase in frustration regardless of outcome.  

But at the same time, the Sun (ego, leadership) will conjoin Pluto (power, dominance) at 22-23 Sagittarius in direct opposition to the USA's Sun once again.  And that conjunction will form a near exact 135 degree aspect with Trump's Ascendant.  Not surprisingly, power is first and foremost at this time as this is the scheduled time when Trump could accede to the presidency.  I don't see enough obvious affliction in the chart to suggest he will be denied the presidency on January 6th.  I may be missing something so it's possible, but Mars isn't sufficiently negative for Trump here on this crucial day.  Of course, if the Congressional ratification of the EC vote is postponed due to the investigation, then the matter becomes moot.  But I would think that it is most likely that Trump will be awarded the presidency on January 6th, although with considerable opposition within Congress itself. 

Putin's chart that day also places the Mercury direct station in close proximity to his Mars and this time it is the more potent conjunction.  Moreover, the Sun-Pluto conjunction lines quite close to a square with his natal Saturn (24 Virgo).  That suggests blockage, obstacles, and basically not getting what you want.  Mars is also prominent here in a bad way as it aspects the Sun by 8th house aspect.  This indicates conflict and competition but given the other aspects it seems stressful.  On the plus side, Venus-Ketu are conjunct and align nicely with Putin's Ascendant.  Overall, there is more affliction here than in Trump's chart so Putin may come under increased scrutiny around the time of the Congressional meeting.  It may be that the Congressional opposition to Trump makes explicit and damaging mention of Russian meddling even if Trump wins the vote anyway.  So early January looks bad, but I think not really bad enough to deny Trump the presidency. 

However, an even more interesting pattern sets up for early April when Saturn stations retrograde.  On April 6th, Saturn stations at 3 Sagittarius and will then begin its four-month backward journey through the sky.  What's important to note is that this will align exactly with Trump's Mars at 3 Leo.  This is not a full-strength Saturn aspect, but I think it is an alignment with teeth.  Saturn-Mars aspects coincide with times of intense effort and stress and if other influences are negative, it can represent a big setback.   And there are other negative influences.  A lot of them.  Saturn itself will retrograde back over his Moon-Ketu conjunction -- not good at all for progress and success as it is more likely to indicate oppressive situations.  Transiting Rahu will be bearing down on his Ascendant at 6 Leo.  The exact conjunction occurs in April at the same time Saturn aligns with his Mars and then turns retrograde.  And then incredibly enough, Uranus (instability, change) is due to exactly square his Saturn (discipline, order) in April. 

More amazingly, Uranus will enter the sign of sidereal Aries on the day before Saturn turns retrograde -- April 6th.  It's definitely worth circling your calendar since Uranus sign changes have a track record of correlating with shocks and surprises.  The Brexit vote occurred when Uranus previously entered Aries on June 24th.  After its retrograde cycle for most of 2016, it again enters the sign of Ram in early April where it will remain for the next seven years. 

Since Putin's Mars is exactly aligned with Trump's Mars, that Saturn station will hit both of them at the same time.  Saturn will exactly conjoin Putin's Mars in early April and indicates a time of intense stress and conflict.  As I noted in last week's post on the Electoral College, one peculiar feature of Hillary Clinton's chart was a minor progressed Jupiter station in -- you guessed it -- early April.  Jupiter brings rewards and gains while Saturn typically presides over losses.  Is it possible that Hillary will enjoy some schadenfreude at this time at Donald's expense?  Yes, it's very possible but exactly what is hard to say. 

I'm thinking of a few possible scenarios here. One is that even if Trump is sworn-in on January 20th, the investigation may be ongoing in his first months as president.  That seems more likely than not.  But the investigation may reveal some embarrassing evidence for Trump that seriously undermines his legitimacy.  The Left has already essentially gone on notice to deny Trump's legitimacy, but I wonder if there will be more evidence and scandal during February and March.  Worst case, Trump could be forced to resign.  A lesser scenario would be that his errors of moral judgment are brought to light (e.g. his tax returns are finally made public) and his standing is diminished by a broader segment of the American public.  Hillary would certainly welcome that development, even if it meant President Pence in the worst case. An apologetic Trump seeking public forgiveness could be a kind of symbolic vindication for Hillary Clinton after their bruising campaign. 

The other scenario is more far-fetched.  That is that Hillary Clinton is awarded the presidency in April or thereabouts after a Congressional investigation.  This seems a way beyond the pale (even for me!) but it does reflect one conceivable reading of the relative strengths of the horoscopes involved.  Clinton's chart gets better in early 2017 while Trump's chart gets worse, much worse.  I will admit I am very biased in this matter so it is hard to be objective. 

So we will have some interesting times ahead.  One thing that's safe to predict is that this latest Trump reality show will remain the top-rated show on television for months to come.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks extended their recent rally last week as the ECB provided the latest fix of easy money for investors as Mario Draghi announced an extension of his QE asset purchase program.  The Dow rose by 3% on the week to 19,756 and it's up again early this week.  20,000 can't be far off now.  Indian stocks also enjoyed gains, although the Sensex added a more modest 2%.  The Sensex has also been positive this week and ended Tuesday's session at 26,697.  In last week's market forecast, I thought we might have seen more downside around the late week Sun-Saturn conjunction but this was not the case. 

This week features rising downside risk.  I'm not certain how bearish stocks will be, but Tuesday's Full Moon looks difficult.  Some kind of pullback is more likely around the Full Moon, if not exactly on Tuesday. The Fed makes its latest announcement on interest rates on Wednesday so that is another source of uncertainty for the market.  Janet Yellen will make her first public statements on the possible impact of Trump's policy plans.  And then Monday's Electoral College vote looms as Mercury turns retrograde while conjunct bearish Pluto.

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.

Monday, December 5, 2016

US Electoral College to vote as Mercury turns retrograde

(5 December 2016) From the perspective of an outsider, one of the curiosities of American democracy is the Electoral College.   Originating in the Constitution of 1787, the Electoral College was a compromise designed to provide a buffer against direct democracy.  While some of the framers backed full and direct democracy, others were fearful of demagogues and mob rule and hence argued that political elites should have the final say in presidential elections.  The Electoral College was created to appease both sides of this debate as trusted, elite electors were chosen on the basis of the result of each state's popular vote. 

In most elections, this has been a mere formality as the popular vote and the Electoral College vote have only differed on five occasions, including three times in the 19th century before the advent of universal suffrage.  More recently, the Electoral College has come under increased scrutiny as Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 but lost the electoral college and the presidency to George W. Bush.  In last month's election, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than two million votes but has lost the Electoral College to Donald Trump.  This discrepancy between the popular vote and the Electoral College has made the unexpected Trump election win even more difficult to accept for Clinton supporters. 

And this is one more reason perhaps why the US now faces the prospects of recounts in key swing states that went narrowly for Trump.  Launched by Green Party leader Jill Stein, the recounts for Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania seek to discover if the voting process may have been tampered with through the hacking of electronic voting machines.  While most observers do not expect any recount or audit of the tally to reverse the election's outcome, some computer experts have endorsed the recount initiative as a way to prove the integrity of the electoral system.

Previously, I suggested there is good reason to think we could be in for some surprises when the Electoral College finally votes on December 19th.  I was uncertain just what would transpire but the planetary alignments pointed to some kind of unusual scenario.  Mercury (rationality, communication, technology) turns retrograde early in the morning on the 19th while just one degree away from Pluto, the planet that symbolizes the application of power. 

Mercury retrograde is associated with surprises or unexpected events, especially those that result from malfunction or suspension of the status quo.  The fact that Mercury is turning retrograde just a few hours before the Electoral College casts its votes for president is a red flag that things may not unfold as normal.  The proximity of Pluto is an appropriate reflection of the day's political importance, in addition to elevated possibility that power will somehow be distorted or broken in some way by Mercury.

But the additional problem is that this Mercury Rx-Pluto conjunction is directly opposite the Sun in the US horoscope.  This opposition is exact to within one degree using the Vedic sidereal zodiac.  The Western tropical zodiac does not correct for the procession of the equinoxes so this opposition appears less urgent as it is almost three degrees away.  The Sun represents leaders and government and the Mercury Rx-Pluto opposition would appear to be inimical to the smooth transfer of power.

In previous posts, I wondered whether "faithless electors" would somehow change their Electoral College vote to deny Donald Trump from reaching the 270 needed to become president.  While there is a small movement afoot spearheaded by two Democrat electors to achieve this, it seems very unlikely to go anywhere.  There has been no new damaging revelations about Trump in the weeks following the election so the case for GOP electors to suddenly change their vote to some other more moderate Republican is quite weak.  

At the same time, it is possible that we will see only a handful of faithless electors act in a symbolic protest but not enough to deny Trump getting to 270.  I could wrong about this but the planets seem to be pointing to something more tangible that a purely symbolic protest.

But perhaps the recounts offer a more plausible scenario for surprises on Dec 19th.  If large irregularities are found, then it could lead to a call for a larger recount process across more states.  This could delay the voting of the Electoral College in affected states thus preventing Trump from reaching 270 on December 19th.  I still can't bring myself to think that somehow Hillary Clinton will win the presidency come January 20th, but the possibility of a deeper political deadlock and dispute is quite real, even if Trump carries the day in the end.  Remember that Donald Trump's horoscope is quite afflicted on Dec 19th so he will likely be unhappy with the result of the vote.  Again, it may only be a symbolic protest vote against him or it could be something bigger.  Of course, Trump's famously thin skin could reflect a lot of anger and frustration even if only a symbolic handful of electors voted against him.

The Electoral College: September 6, 1787

What I find especially intriguing is that the horoscope for the Electoral College itself is activated in a negative way.  The Electoral College was created on September 6, 1787 as part of the Constitutional Convention.   Even just looking at simple transits, we can see why the Electoral College is coming in for more criticism.  Saturn is closely square the Sun (23 Scorpio) while Rahu conjoins Venus and aspects natal Rahu (North Lunar Node) and Ketu (South Lunar Node) aspects the Mars-Ketu-Moon conjunction.   But these afflictions may reflect the increasingly untenable situation of the Electoral College itself in light of the large discrepancy between the popular vote and final outcome in last month's election.   More people than ever before are discussing the possibility of eliminating the EC altogether, even if it will be very difficult to accomplish politically. 

But the short term transits on Dec 19th also point to more specific problems.  Mars will oppose Mercury (error, frustration) and the Sun will oppose Mars (intense energy, disputes).  Again, this could merely reflect the fact that Trump gets 270+ in the vote and thus crystallizes the view in many people that the EC has outlived its usefulness.  However, I think it also is an appropriate astrological signature of an event which creates disorder and breaks with the status quo.  Trump's horoscope does look fairly troubled in January so it is possible this could be the result of a period of uncertainty resulting from a delayed or protracted Electoral College vote. 

If there is a delay or unexpected result on December 19th, I will post a follow-up on possible resolution scenarios for January and beyond.   As I noted last month, Hillary Clinton's chart is strongly activated on Inauguration Day which it really shouldn't be if she is only attending as a guest.  While she could be the special guest of honor at a mass woman's protest planned for Washington at that time, it still looks odd to me.  And to make things more intriguing, both Bill and Hillary Clinton have minor progressed Jupiter direct stations just three weeks apart in late March and early April.  The progressed Jupiter direct station is a classic indication of a gain or reward, usually involving status or career.  When I originally noticed these stations while doing her chart analysis back in 2015, I just assumed they were slightly-off timed hits (but still pretty close) that reflected her election win.  Then after her defeat, I surmised the Jupiter stations would pertain to something else entirely such as major new career-related appointments.  We shall see.  As usual in modern astrology, the questions outnumber the answers. 

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks traded mostly lower last week ahead as traders took profits from the recent Trump rally.  While the Dow was largely unchanged, broader indexes like the S&P 500 were modestly lower on the week.  Indian stocks also ended last week lower ahead of key political votes in the Eurozone over the weekend.  Stocks have bounced here on Monday despite the defeat of the Italian reforms and the resignation of PM Renzi.  While Renzi's defeat is a net negative factor, the market is now fully expecting the ECB to announce an increase its QE program when it meets on Thursday in order to placate nervous investors.  Last week's market forecast suggested the higher probability of declines, especially in the late week on the multi-planet alignment of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

This week again contains some downside risk, especially in the US.  The Sun-Saturn conjunction is exact after the close on Friday but I would expect some late week selling in any event.  We could see more gains in the first half of the week although the short term aspects do not look particularly convincing on that score. 

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.