Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Trump tax bill: will it save the GOP in November?

(27 December 2017) With the first year of his presidency almost done, President Donald Trump finally scored a much-needed legislative win with the passage of his tax overhaul bill.   As Trump signed the bill into law last Friday, the GOP have turned their sights to next November's midterm elections.  Trump is betting on the tax cut to win back voters who have thus far been alienated from his tumultuous and divisive presidency.  

There is a lot riding on next year's midterms.  With Trump's approval ratings still below 40%, the Democrats are favored to win the House of Representatives and to have a decent chance of winning back the Senate.  If the GOP loses control of both Houses of Congress, the Trump agenda would effectively be neutralized until 2020.   Also, a Democrat-controlled Congress would very likely move toward impeachment of President Trump. 

So will Trump's tax cut achieve its desired ends and help the GOP hold onto Congress next year?  One perspective on this question is to examine the horoscope for the time that Trump signed it into law.  Using this "birth chart" for the tax bill, we can then see how the planets are aligned with this chart in November.  A favorable alignment of planets in November would suggest that the tax bill would boost GOP fortunes while negative alignments may project the more negative aspects of the bill and correspond with an electoral defeat.

Prelude: The Reagan Tax Cuts

Before we look at the charts, let's take a look at the most appropriate historical precedent for Trump's tax bill, namely, the famous Reagan tax bill from 1981.  This bill cut taxes and was widely credited for boosting economic activity in the 1980s.   However, it is not a clear-cut historical judgment since it is also increased the deficit and likely widened economic inequality.   President Reagan signed the bill on August 13, 1981.  Interestingly, the Republicans did poorly in the subsequent midterm elections in November 1982.   The economy was still struggling through a recession so the tax cut bill was not well received by voters.

As we can see in the chart, this largely negative evaluation is evident in the transits on Election Day 1982.   On the plus side, transiting Jupiter (25 Libra) is just past its trine aspect with Mars (24 Gemini) which ordinarily is associated with positive action.   The Republicans did at least keep their Senate majority that year even if that was never really in question. 

But the most outstanding configuration is the Saturn-Pluto conjunction at 3 Libra which is exactly square to the Moon at 3 Capricorn.  This is an extremely difficult pattern which would more likely bring out the negative side of the natal horoscope of the 1981 tax bill.  This is especially true since the Moon represents the people or population as a whole.   The American people were not happy with the Reagan administration at this time as the GOP lost 25 House seats. 

But by the next presidential election in 1984, the economy had improved.   As a result, the Republicans boosted their standing in the House although the Democrats retained control and Reagan was re-elected in a landslide against Walter Mondale.    The GOP kept control of the Senate.  

And true to the logic of astrology, the horoscope of the 1981 tax cut was in much better shape in the fall of 1984.  Saturn (25 Libra) is in a more benign position here in the 2nd house and was not making any full strength aspects to any planet.  It is making a partial strength trine aspect with Mars but the trine is generally more positive than the square.  Jupiter is not prominent here although it is helping the 4th house of sentiment and satisfaction. 

Most noteworthy is that Rahu (North Lunar Node) creates a symmetrical grand trine with Venus (0 Virgo) and the Moon (3 Capricorn).  Also Rahu can be an unpredictable planet, it can be positive when it is associated with benefics, as is the case here with the Moon and Venus.   The Sun (21 Libra) forms a nice trine aspect to the 10th house cusp (22 Gemini) while Venus conjoins Neptune (28 Scorpio) and trines the Sun (27 Cancer). 

It's a much better chart for the 1984 election and should be seen as one reason at least why Reagan's economic agenda carried the day. 

The Trump tax bill and the 2018 midterms

The midterms will be held on November 6, 2018.  The resulting transit overlay chart suggests difficulty for Trump and the GOP.  To be sure, it is not all bad.  The conjunction of the Sun (20 Libra) to Jupiter (21 Libra) is quite positive.  And the Mercury-Jupiter conjunction in Scorpio in the 10th house is good for public profile.  But Jupiter isn't doing all that much actually especially when we consider the negatives.  The nodes, Rahu and Ketu are close to their respective 6th and 12th houses cusps.  This can be disruptive of intended goals and may not correspond with desired circumstances for the GOP.  Also we should note the near exact degreewise alignment of the nodes at 5 degrees with the Sun-Saturn conjunction at 6 degrees of Sagittarius in the natal chart.  While this is not a conventional Vedic aspect, it looks more negative than positive.  Uranus at 5 Aries is also not helpful.

And the other big problem here is that transiting Saturn (11 Sagittarius) will be almost exactly conjunct the equal 11th house cusp.  Certainly, Saturn rules the chart as a whole (since Aquarius is rising) so it's not all bad in its transits.  But the contact between Saturn and the 11th house of gains seems problematic.   Some astrologers may offer a more positive interpretation of this transit but I would not, especially given the weight of the other alignments in the chart. 

The bottom line to me is that the Trump tax bill is not likely to help the GOP much in the midterm elections.   Most current polls have them losing control of at least one chamber.   This tax bill chart suggests that those polls are more likely to be proven correct.   Whether they lose both the House and Senate is impossible to say from this chart alone.  

Weekly Market Forecast

Stock markets have held steady into this week after rallying in the lead-in to the passage of the Trump tax overhaul.   The Dow is still trading above 24,500 while India's Sensex is trading just below 34,000.  As expected, we did get some minor selling late last week.  Also Bitcoin rebounded more or less as predicted in last week's market forecast after the culmination of the last Mars transit to the Bitcoin horoscope on Dec 23rd.

Mercury has returned to direct motion now and will align with Jupiter and Rahu for the rest of this week.  One would think that should boost sentiment during this final week of 2017.   I would therefore be surprised if we got any big declines here and more upside is still possible.  As we head into January, we may see a rise in caution on Jan 1 and 2 given the Mars-Rahu square.  The proximity of Jupiter to Mars could offset some of the destabilizing effects of this pairing but risk is nonetheless elevated.  I am still keenly focused on the multi-planet alignment on January 8-9 for clues for future market direction.

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.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mars sideswipes Bitcoin as price falls 20%

(20 December 2017) The Bitcoin mania continues after the cryptocurrency traded near $20,000 over the weekend.  Bitcoin's profile was further heightened on Sunday as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) began to offer BTC Futures following the lead of the CBOE which initiated futures trading last week.  While there is some variation in prices depending on the exchange, BTC hit about 19,700 on Sunday, 17 December before pulling back.  The past few days has seen Bitcoin trade below $16,000 although currently trading near $17,000. 

This 15-20% pullback closely coincides with a prediction I made about the price of Bitcoin last week.  I had suggested that a series of transits involving the planet Mars to key planets in the BTC first trade chart could bring about some declines.  I had had some doubts about the usefulness of the first trade chart (12 January 2009), but the current pullback seems to line up well with the planetary influences. 

I had thought that the Mars-Moon square (i.e. when Mars was 90 degrees from the natal Moon) on 19th December could coincide with some nervousness in the bitcoin market.  That is just two days after the 17 December top as prices have fallen on the 18th, 19th and the 20th.  Mars was just one degree from its exact square aspect during the start of this decline.  A fairly close correlation.

Mars is also now squaring Mercury in the chart and that also explains why prices remain under pressure today (Wednesday).  I would think Mars will continue to be a negative factor until 23rd December when it squares the Lunar Node (Rahu).  Due to the clustering of planets in Capricorn, however, I'm less certain that the transit effects will closely coincide with exact aspects.  When planets are grouped together as in this chart (Moon, Mercury, Lunar Node, Jupiter, Neptune), the effects of stressful transits can sometimes be diffused.  Nonetheless, this suggests that BTC is less likely to rebound strongly to new highs over the next few days.

I would think prices are more likely to rise after Christmas.  However, as I noted in my previous Bitcoin post, the Uranus direct station on 2nd January could be significant.  Uranus represents technology in general and its station at 0 degrees of sidereal Aries forms a close alignment to the Ascendant in the first trade chart.  Of course, I'm not at all sure that this chart (and the Ascendant) is reliable but it is definitely something to watch out for.  The Uranus station hints at weakness, or at least a reduction in volatility in both directions.  Without the strong Uranian influence in recent weeks, Bitcoin may be more likely to move in a narrower trading range on any given day.  More than a bullish or bearish indication perhaps, the 2nd January Uranus station may signal a lessening of the wild swings in price for the next few weeks. 

As before, I think more upside is very possible in the first months of 2018.  I would think higher highs are more likely than not, although forecasting prices is purely speculative. How high Bitcoin could go is therefore impossible for me to say.  But I do think that April-May looks more troublesome as Saturn turns retrograde and the Lunar Nodes form a semi-return with the natal chart.  But that also depends on how workable this first trade chart is.  So far, it seems to reflect changing sentiment at least partially, October notwithstanding.  But I would need to see more evidence before feeling comfortable with it.

Weekly Market Forecast

The stock market remains as buoyant as ever as investors welcome the news of the passage of the Trump tax bill.  The business-friendly tax overhaul has the Dow again trading at record highs while India's Sensex matched its recent all-time high a bit below 34,000.  This ongoing rally is not surprising as the late December planetary alignments look fairly positive.  As I noted in last week's market forecast, we got some mild selling in the second half of the week following the Fed meeting but stocks have rebounded strongly this week as Venus enters Sagittarius today and Mercury stations direct in alignment with bullish Jupiter. 

The rest of this week looks less positive as the Moon is squared by Mars and the Sun conjoins Saturn.  But with Jupiter aligning with the Lunar Nodes and Pluto next week, one would expect the Santa Claus rally to prevail once again this year.

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 12, 2017

Bitcoin goes mainstream as futures trading begins

(12 December 2017) The incredible story of Bitcoin began a new chapter on Sunday as futures of the cryptocurrency began trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange at 6.00 pm EST.   Suddenly, the hitherto cultish Bitcoin has burst onto the mainstream as a testament to its relevance in our wired world.  2017 may well be remembered, among other things, as the year of Bitcoin as the computer-based open source currency has risen from $1000 in January to over $18,000.  Bitcoin has attracted huge interest from both novice and institutional investors alike as a possible alternative to government-based fiat currencies. 

While many analysts think it is in a bubble, no one is quite sure when that bubble may burst.  And even if it is a bubble, there is a growing consensus that Bitcoin and its blockchain technology is here to stay.   With the start of futures trading, it seems there are two schools of thought about the future direction of Bitcoin's price.  The optimistic bulls see this mainstreaming of the cyptocurrency as an opportunity for demand to rise as a wider range of people and institutions try to get a piece of the action.  A more cautious, bearish view is that the introduction of futures trading will give larger investors the means to short, or bet against, Bitcoin and this could tank the price in the coming weeks and months.

In my post from September, I thought that the parabolic rally in Bitcoin would likely continue but only after a pullback in October.  Using the first trade horoscope from January 12, 2009, I had expected the Saturn-Lunar Node aspect in early October to correspond with some declines in the price but this did not materialize.   This missed prediction was perhaps due to a miscalculation on my part, and also may have reflected a data error in the horoscope itself.  As I noted, it is unclear which date, time and place we should use as the "birth" of Bitcoin.  For this reason, I was fairly guarded in my prediction as it depended on some speculative assumptions such as the location of Temple City, California where Bitcoin co-founder Hal Finney lived.

Given this missed prediction, I have some doubts about this January 12th chart and yet the timing of Sunday's first futures trade would seem to offer some additional evidence for it.  The first Bitcoin futures traded just as Mercury was in a near-exact trine/120 degree aspect with Uranus, the planet of technology.  And these two planets were in turn, in a near-exact 120/240 degree alignment with the Ascendant at 29 Cancer.  The Asc-Mercury-Uranus alignment speaks to important communications and innovations pertaining to Bitcoin.  It is also part of the reason why the Futures rose by 20% in the first trading session.

The approaching Uranus direct station at 0 Aries is one reason for the current rally.  Uranus will station direct at 0 Aries on January 2nd and thus form a very powerful alignment with the Ascendant in this proposed Bitcoin chart.  I suspect the frenzied rally in recent weeks is partially due to the approach of this very close 120 degree alignment with the Ascendant.   But then the question is: what happens after the station when Uranus begins to separate from its alignment with Ascendant.  Conventional astrological thinking would suggest that euphoria and price would tend to diminish after this date, albeit only gradually. 

Bitcoin Outlook

I am still generally bullish for Bitcoin for the next few months.  Some downside looks more likely during the approach of Christmas as transiting Mars aligns with the Moon, Mercury and and the Lunar Nodes in the Bitcoin first trade chart.  Let's see if this Mars transit after Dec 19th has more effect than the Saturn aspect in October did. 

Another possible shift in sentiment may occur after Uranus turns direct on Jan 2nd.  Since Uranus may have been a bullish influence recently, it's separation from its aspect with Ascendant could see less euphoria in the Bitcoin market. 

I can see that the Saturn retrograde station in April could bring about some significant declines.  Whether Bitcoin is still in a parabolic rally at that time is harder to say.  But it does seem more probable that it will undergo some correction at that time. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stock remain fairly buoyant over the past week as last week's US jobs report was strong although wage growth was quite modest.  As per last week's market forecast, we did see some downside last week on the Mercury-Saturn conjunction but stocks bounced later in the week as Venus aligned with Neptune.

This week again could bring some downside, probably as a result of tomorrow's Fed meeting.  The Sun conjoins Mercury retrograde and that is often a problematic influence.  Mars conjoins the Moon on Wednesday also so that would hint that the bears may have the advantage in the short run.  While the markets may cheer the very likely Moore win in Alabama because it will protect the working GOP majority in the Senate, I wonder if Janet Yellen may say something that upsets the prevailing optimism.  It's something to watch out for.

Even if we get a down week next week, the approaching alignment of Jupiter with Pluto and the Lunar Nodes over the second half of December would suggest that declines may not last and that further rises are very possible.

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 4, 2017

Flynn pleads guilty as Mercury turns retrograde on Trump

(4 December 2017) The Russia investigation dominated the news cycle again last week as former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts shortly after the election.  Robert Mueller's investigation has taken a significant step forward as it reaches Trump's inner circle for the first time.  Stock markets sold off sharply, although only briefly, on the news of Flynn's plea on Friday.  The odds that Trump would still be president on 2018/12/31 fell from 72% to 66%.  Investors are only now beginning to consider the possibility of a worst-case scenario in Washington where Trump is forced out. 

Obviously, this kind of uncertainty is bad for financial markets.  To be sure, Mueller is long way from implicating President Trump himself and the chances of finding the proverbial smoking gun remain fairly remote.  And yet the more the investigation reveals this kind of deception on the part of Trump's associates, the more it could gradually undermine the presidency.  Ironically, this political setback for Trump arrived in the same week that his bold tax overhaul bill passed its Senate vote.  This is one reason why stocks recovered on Thursday afternoon as the bill now seems certain to be signed into law in the coming weeks, perhaps before Christmas. 

The Flynn guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with Mueller are not unexpected given the current planetary alignments.  In a post about the Mueller investigation from October 12th, I thought that the early December period would bring bad news for Trump due to the close placement of Mercury and Saturn in some key charts.  On December 3rd -- just two days after the Flynn plea -- Mercury turned retrograde while in a close conjunction with Saturn and this occurred in sensitive places in the Trump horoscope and the PEOTUS horoscope.

The Mercury-Saturn conjunction hits Donald Trump's chart on the 5th house cusp and brings in his natal Mars also.  The conjunction also occurs near the 4th house cusp of the PEOTUS chart.  Without going into arguable and speculative details about houses, any Saturn alignment to any equal house cusp increases the risk of negative outcomes.  Mercury stationing and turning retrograde in the same point in the sky merely makes the probability of difficulties that much higher.

What's next?

I think December is likely to bring more pressure and difficulties for Trump.  Saturn is slowly moving through the cuspal area of his 5th house at 6 sidereal degrees of Sagittarius.  It will be conjoined by the Sun on December 21st and then by Venus on December 25th.  While the Sun and Venus may be seen as more benign than Mercury retrograde, the presence of Saturn in these alignments may not be conducive to progress or improvements. 

Jupiter will be a positive influence throughout this time, however, so that could represent the passage of the tax bill through Congress.  However, the position of Saturn usually indicates that some kind of hardship or frustration has to manifest somewhere in Trump's life.  These days that has usually meant the Russia investigation.

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner also looks to be under a lot of pressure in the second half of December as transiting Saturn conjoins his Venus (= loss of happiness) while Mars squares his natal Mars (= conflict, frustration).  There is a lot of speculation that Kushner may be next in Mueller's sights and certainly his horoscope offers some support for this view.  While other sources of personal difficulty are possible, the Russia investigation is an obvious scenario that fits the planetary pattern during the Christmas holiday period.

After a relatively quiet spell, I think Trump could enter another tense phase with the investigations starting in late February.  Transiting Mars will conjoin his Moon-Ketu and oppose his Sun-Rahu while Saturn prepares to station retrograde at 15 Gemini -- exactly opposite his 11th house Mercury.  This is a terrible transit that is made worse by the stationary nature of Saturn.  This means that the restrictive and pessimistic nature of Saturn is within range of his Mercury for two or three months.  I should note that this will likely be a bad period for the US economy since Trump's 11th house of income and gains symbolizes the country as a whole.  But the Mercury affliction also may represent Trump's growing inability to achieve his ambition and fulfill his wishes.  Saturn will likely put him on the defensive more than ever.

The Saturn station at 15 Gemini also opposes the USA's natal Jupiter so it is worth speculating how Jupiter (law, morality) will be blocked or compromised by this negative Saturn influence.  Some kind of damaging evidence with respect to Russia may come to light here which taints the presidency more decisively.   Although it is clearly a difficult transit, I do not expect Trump to resign at this time.  Instead, I would think there could be a worsening of his position, both in terms of public approval and perhaps more so in the eyes of his own party.  Even if Mueller uncovers some damning evidence against Trump or his campaign team, it is another matter entirely what the political damage may be.  Trump seems unlikely to resign in any event, and he is very unlikely to be impeached when the GOP controls both houses of Congress.  After next year's midterms, that calculation may be different, however.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks appeared to extend their winning ways on Monday as investors initially cheered the Senate's passage of the GOP tax plan.  The Dow set another record close above 24,000 although most other indexes actually reversed lower during the day as the rally fizzled.  Maybe all that glitters is not gold.  The Indian Sensex has also resumed its winning ways is again fast approaching its previous high of 33,000.  I thought we might have seen a bit more of an across the board pullback last week on the approach of the Mercury-Saturn conjunction but US markets managed to buck the down trend as Europe, India and China declined.

With Mercury now retrograde and in the proximity of Saturn for all of this week, there is an elevated risk of declines across many markets.  The alignment with Mars at midweek also boosts the possibility that we will see some downside this week.  And with the Mercury Rx-Sun conjunction due next week, there are an unusually high number of potentially bearish short-term alignments over the next little while that offer some evidence for a pullback. 

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.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Stocks off all-time highs as House passes Trump tax bill

(16 November 2017) US stocks rebounded today on positive corporate earnings and news of the passage of the GOP tax bill in the House.  Markets had been somewhat weaker over the past two weeks on growing doubts that Trump's business-friendly tax bill could pass both houses of Congress by the end of the year.   Most global markets have also moved lower since early November after rallying higher for almost a full year following the election of Donald Trump.   But is the recent decline evidence that the Trump rally is running out of steam or is this just another brief pause before stocks eventually move to higher highs?

The natal horoscopes of key financial entities like stock exchanges and stock indexes can provide clues for future trends in stocks.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is the most well-known index in the world and its horoscope offers a plausible account for the pullback in November.  From the chart below, we can see that Saturn (2 Sagittarius) has been opposite Mercury (1 Gemini) for the past two weeks. 

Saturn-Mercury aspects are fairly reliable markers of down moves in stocks that does seem to be the case here.  But we should also note that Jupiter, the planet of optimism, is fast approaching its conjunction with the Ascendant in Libra.   The exact Ascendant is a matter of speculation in this horoscope as the birth time of the Dow is not known exactly but nonetheless, we should acknowledge that the Venus-Jupiter pairing is a bullish influence which may have prevented further downside here in November.  Today's gain actually coincides with the exact conjunction of Venus with the Ascendant, thus offering more support to the notion that the Dow was "born" quite close to 5 p.m.

But we need to keep our eyes on transiting Saturn here.   Not only is it having a depressing effect on sentiment through its aspect with Mercury, but it is also involved in an alignment with Ketu (the South Lunar Node) at 5 Leo. The presence of Jupiter in Libra would seem to be positive, but the ongoing Saturn-Ketu alignment could bring more downside. This is one reason why I would think more declines are somewhat more likely in the next few weeks.  The exact Saturn-Ketu alignment takes place in mid-December. 

Echoes of 1929?

Interestingly, the current position of Saturn is the same as it was in October 1929 at the time of the crash that began the Depression in the 1930s.  Now I'm not suggesting that a similar crash is imminent.  Saturn's cycles take about 30 years and we saw no similar crashes of declines in either 1958 or 1988 when Saturn was in the same point in the sky in early Sagittarius.  Stocks actually rose in late 1958 when Saturn was in this position. 

But it is important to note that the 1929 Saturn transit to Mercury and Ketu in the Dow chart was likely one reason why the market plunged.  Other factors were also in place and thus created the conditions for a sudden decline.  As we can see in the chart below, the conjunction of Mars and Ketu in Libra also likely played a big role in the crash since it aligned with the Ascendant and with natal Saturn.  This time around, Ketu and Rahu are in relatively benign positions as Rahu is transiting the 10th house where it does fairly well and is close to the 10th house cusp (MC). 

And yet the fact that Mercury will station retrograde in an exact alignment with Saturn and the natal Ketu at 5 Sagittarius on December 3rd should give us pause.  This does not seem like a positive alignment that will correlate with more gains in the markets.  Instead, it seems negative.  And while Jupiter in Libra will still be exerting a positive influence throughout, I would think there is a higher risk of declines than we have seen throughout the past year of the Trump rally.

This stronger Saturn influence suggests the market could experience more weakness.  That may also reflect the likelihood that the tax bill is expected to get bogged down in the Senate thus making quick passage unlikely.  Its pro-business bent may also get watered-down and this could be another source of disappointment for investors.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks may remain under pressure next week, especially in the early part of the week.  The Mars-Rahu alignment on Monday the 20th suggests sudden developments which may catch investors off guard.  It could therefore increase the chances for some downside.  The US Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday will reduce trading volumes and the market would have a more positive bias on those days.  It is conceivable the week as whole could be positive but I would be concerned about the impact the early week Mars pattern.

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.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

After Manafort: what's next for the Mueller investigation?

(8 November 2017) The Mueller investigation continues to keep Washington on edge.   Five months into the job, special counsel Robert Mueller has brought down his first indictments against members of the Trump campaign on the question of Russian involvement with the 2016 election.  Last week, former campaign chair Paul Manafort and top aide Rick Gates were both indicted of several charges including tax evasion, money laundering and  conspiracy against the United States.  Notably absent was any explicit mention of possible collusion with Russia during the election, however.

In a previous post, I thought the alignment of planets in late November and early December suggested that might be a more critical time for the investigation.   I wondered if Mueller's first indictments might have actually be more likely come down at that time.  On that question, I was off the mark.  But I would still think that there is much more to come from Bob Muller and that the early December Mercury-Saturn conjunction could still coincide with an even more significant development in the investigation.  Let's see how the Manafort indictment manifested in the key charts to get a better sense of how this drama could play out.

Mueller was appointed special counsel to conduct the Russia investigation on 17 May 2017.  The appointment became public knowledge at 3.00 p.m. although he was no doubt actually appointed some time before this.  Nonetheless, let's use the 3 p.m horoscope to see if we can track developments as they unfold.   In my previous discussion, I did not yet know the exact time of the appointment hence it is worthwhile to take a closer look at it. 

The chart is very strong and is an apt reflection of Mueller's task.  The first degree of Virgo rises suggesting its analytical nature and 1st lord Mercury is in the 8th house (scandals, obstacles, research into the unknown) with Uranus (unconventional and independent things).   It's hard to think of a better astro-signature for Mueller's special investigation into the possibility that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the election. 

The Sun is particularly strong in the 9th house of law and justice and reflects Mueller's integrity and largely unassailable character.  It seems likely that this investigation will also be held to his usual high ethical standards.  However, the presence of Rahu (North Lunar Node) in the 12th house near the equal cusp raises the possibility of secret interference in the investigation from hidden sources, including those beyond US borders. 

The investigation is likely to be considered successful in terms of achieving its goals since the 11th lord of ambition and gains, the Moon, is very tightly aspected by benefic Jupiter.  The strong Moon placement also hints at the public popularity that the investigation could enjoy.  For its part, Jupiter is placed in the 1st house and should also be seen as a reflection of the judicial nature of the investigation as well as indicative of its high ethical quality. 

Saturn in the 4th house may represent the investigation's methodical and relentless work .  The 4th house is linked to emotions and Saturn's presence there essentially blocks or downplays outward signs of emotion.  Again, this is more or less what one would expect from a respected legal inquiry.  The even-keeled Mueller is the polar opposite of the unpredictable and emotional Trump.  And yet we should also note that the trine aspect from Rahu to Saturn can produce an obsessively methodical approach with regard to process.  There is a single-minded and narrow quality here in this Saturn that can cause problems down the road.  No doubt Trump's allies have been warning about this possibility already as the investigation could veer off into unforeseen areas that lie beyond the purview of its original mandate. But I would think the Rahu-Saturn combination should give us real caution about the possibility that the investigation could become a self-perpetuating fishing expedition or tone-deaf to common sense criticism.  

Beyond the Manafort Indictment

The Manafort indictments took place on 30th October just a few days after Saturn had re-entered Sagittarius.  It was therefore sitting exactly on the equal 4th house cusp and was square to the Ascendant.  That is a very powerful situation for Saturn and symbolizes discipline, obligation and onerous labours.   Transiting Jupiter (10 Libra) was just past its opposition to Mercury and suggests the correct/successful application of efforts.  The positive influence upon Mercury is doubly important here because it is both the Lagnesh (ruler of the 1st house) and it is the minor dasha lord until early January 2018.  The Moon is the major dasha lord for the duration of the investigation.  The indictments were generally well-received as the public finally got some evidence behind all the partisan rumours and politicking.

The next couple of weeks look more contentious for the investigation.  The problem is that the natal Mars (24 Taurus) receives the trine aspect of Ketu (South Lunar Node).  Ketu tends to exaggerate or distort the energy of the planet it comes in contact with.  Here Mars in the 9th may simply be conflict, perhaps pertaining to legal principles (9th house).  It's proximity to the 10th house cusp, however, may mean that this Mars affliction relates to Mueller's stature and profile.  There are any number of scenarios possible here.  Perhaps Mueller's credibility is more explicitly undermined by the White House.  Or the investigation encounters significant resistance in terms of its process or legal legitimacy. 

One specific time window to watch may be November 18-20 when transiting Mars (24 Virgo) aligns with both transiting Ketu and natal Mars.   It is worth noting that Mars will be exactly conjunct Donald Trump's Jupiter (law, ethics) indicating conflict and frustration.   Transiting Mercury (24 Scorpio) will be opposite the natal investigation Mars on the 18th so that is another reason to expect some tense developments at this time. 

Could Mueller be dismissed?  The chances of something along those lines are certainly higher given these transits but the chart does not look sufficiently afflicted to reflect the end of his tenure as special counsel.  But that is just my subjective judgment.  I could be wrong.  I don't know what lesser scenarios could be possible along those lines. Could something like a time or budgetary limit be imposed by the White House?  Or could Trump issue a public threat or ultimatum to dismiss Mueller?  It's definitely possible.  I do think that Mueller will be confronted by a difficult situation in mid- to late-November that makes his task much harder to perform.  I see that Barack Obama's chart gets hit with the same Mars-Ketu alignment to his Ascendant and equal 9th house cusp at that time.  It's usually not reflective of a pleasant situation. 

Then we return again to the early December Mercury-Saturn conjunction which seems likely to put Trump back on his heels.  But the investigation chart is also very stressed at this time and may be indicative of more contentious charges that are laid.  That was the expectation in the previous post and that could still prove to be the case. 

I would also note that starting in January, the Mueller investigation horoscope enters the Moon-Ketu dasha period.  Ketu is placed in the 6th house of adversaries and so I would think that the investigation encounters more headwinds in terms of public criticism and political obstacles.   Also transiting Ketu is due to conjoin the natal Moon from February to April so that could be a time when progress is blocked and Mueller comes under harassment and increased scrutiny.  The Moon-Ketu period lasts until August 2018 so the investigation may only resume its forward progress -- whatever that may look like -- after that date.  The subsequent Moon-Venus period from Aug 2018 to Apr 2020 looks more positive for the investigation chart and hints at longer term success in fulfilling its mandate. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have stayed buoyant for the most part over the past week as improving global growth is underwriting the market.  Last week's strong US jobs report also boosted sentiment.  Furthermore, President Trump made the safe choice and appointed the dovish Jerome "Jay" Powell to be the next Fed Chair after Janet Yellen.   Powell is widely seen as continuing Yellen's commitment to ultra-low interest rates which are bullish for stocks.  US stocks are still near record highs as the Dow closed Wednesday at 23,563.  Indian stocks pulled back a bit in the early part of the week but the Sensex is still sitting at a lofty 33,218.  This ongoing rally is more or less in keeping with my expectations for early November given the strong position of Jupiter in Libra. The Sun and Venus are also in Libra at this time and are buttressing sentiment.

The Venus-Jupiter conjunction takes place next Monday, 13th November and introduces the possibility of more volatility into the market. Once the conjunction is completed on the 13th, there may be less optimism available for investors.  Next week therefore generally looks more bearish than this week as the odds of a pullback are increasing as we get further into November.  And as we approach the upcoming Mercury-Saturn conjunction and Mercury retrograde station in early December, there is a stronger astrological argument for a larger pullback in stock markets.

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.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Can stocks rise indefinitely? The astrology of the bull market

(27 October 2017) As most global markets continue to set new all-time highs, some financial analysts are trying to make the case that stocks are not overvalued and are not in bubble territory. Even if stocks suffer from a pullback or correction they argue, there are many reasons why stocks are still a good buy and should continue to rise for the forseeable future. The Federal Reserve and other central banks have essentially now included stock prices in their mandates since their loose monetary policies explicitly intend to increase the value of assets like stocks in order to increase economic activity. As long as central banks can navigate between creating excessive inflation (from interest rates being too low) and boosting sagging demand (from rates too high), the argument goes, stocks are unlikely to suffer a serious bear market as they did most recently in 2008 and in 2000.

My own predictive record has been inconsistent recently. In previous weekly updates, I had expected the US stock market to have moved lower by October. The period from August to October featured a number of apparently bearish alignments which I thought would outweigh other bullish patterns in the charts. Alas, this has not been the case as September saw a rebound from the initial August pullback and October has seen even higher highs. How can we explain this relentless bull market?

Off the top, it is important to note that there are many factors to consider before making any kind of prediction, even a probabilistic one. One of the difficulties in financial astrology -- and all astrology for that matter --- is that every planetary alignment we encounter is literally unique and has never happened before in human history. This means that today's planetary patterns are unique and this is one reason that makes prediction more difficult. What has happened before is that the individual planets have previously been in a particular point in their cycle (e.g. Jupiter transits its current position in the 9th degree of sidereal Libra every 12-13 years).

Astrologers therefore rely on a purely deductive logic that uses one or two-factor sign placements and planetary angles in order to forecast future trends. This simplified deductive approach therefore sidesteps the more difficult problem of deriving net influences from a unique holistic matrix of all the planets. Like all human sciences, astrology is imperfect and does the best it can with the tools at hand.

So how can we explain this huge bull market that has been in place since 2009 which has seen US and other stock markets more than triple their value? Briefly stated, there must be long term factors that will outweigh shorter term passing influences like transits. While Vedic astrology often makes good use of dasha periods to identify longer term trends, they are quite sensitive to birth time inaccuracy. Since there is still some debate about the correct birth time of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) -- I use 10.10 a.m. but other astrologers use 8.52 a.m. and 7.52 a.m. -- a more robust technique that is less sensitive to birth time error may be the Western technique of secondary progressions. A secondary progression is a method of event timing where a single day is symbolically equivalent to a full year of clock time.

So for example, the 10th day after birth can be seen to contain some symbolic resonance in the 10th year of life. In the chart of the New York Stock Exchange, the current secondary progressed chart placements are the transit placements of the planets 225 days after its launch on 17 May 1792. Since the NYSE is in its 225th year, the logic of progressions is that the present day trends can be seen in microcosm through the position of planets on 28 December 1792, which was 225 days after its inception.

A look at this secondary progressed chart and we can see why the stock market should be in the middle of a powerful up trend in recent years. The 90 degree alignment of progressed Jupiter (2 Scorpio ) with Uranus (2 Leo) is very bullish and it is also activating the square aspect of Mercury (2 Taurus) and Pluto (2 Aquarius) in the natal chart . Jupiter is the fastest moving planet in this progressed alignment but it only moves about 12 arc minutes per year. (N.B. There are 60 arc minutes in a degree.) That means this alignment has been gradually forming over several years and only now is it near exact at 2 degrees of the respective signs. Five years ago it was situated at about 1 degree of Scorpio. This was a very positive influence which formed in the background at least five years ago and has been growing in influence as it approaches its exact alignment.

There are a couple of things to note here.  First, bull markets need a series of positive alignments and a relatively smaller number of negative alignments in order to keep stocks rising in value.  Once positive alignments become exact, stocks begin lose positive energy and become more vulnerable to declines as they separate.  This may not happen immediately but it is frequently observed from previous instances.  Jupiter is already separating from Pluto and Uranus but it has yet to form an exact 180 angle with Mercury.  That happens late in 2018.   It is difficult to say which aspect is more crucial for the bull market in this regard -- the Jupiter-Uranus progressed square or the Jupiter-Mercury opposition.  It means there is a significant amount of uncertainty in any prediction we may make.

But the fact that this alignment is close to exact does offer confirmation that the bull market is at or fairly close to its end.  It could extend for another year or so, although other factors would be necessary to provide compelling evidence one way of the other.  Of course bull markets will tend to end not only after positive alignments have run their course but also when negative alignments become close to exact. 

Birth time issues notwithstanding, there are no clearly negative alignments in play at the moment in this chart.  In fact, we can see another positive alignment taking shape in late 2018 when Mercury, Venus and natal Uranus align near 24 degrees of their respective signs.  Since progressed Venus and Mercury Rx both move fairly quickly, this may be a relatively short-lived boost to the markets.  Whether it corresponds with more record highs is therefore difficult to say. 

But it does suggest that some kind of up trend is likely to take place sometime in 2018 and perhaps into early 2019 around this alignment.   And therefore it is possible the bull market that began in 2009 could conceivably last into 2018 and perhaps even 2019.  Other negative transit alignments not found in the secondary progressions are likely to coincide with declines over the rest of 2017 and the first half of 2018 but it is unclear if they will be large enough to officially end the bull market.  By definition, a bull market ends and a bear market begins after a decline of 20% or greater.

A more clearly bearish alignment looks active in 2019 when progressed Mars and the Sun align with retrograde progressed Mercury.   This alignment becomes exact in 2020-2021 and it likely to correspond with a significant decline.  This kind of multi-planet alignment has a better chance of ending the bull market then the lesser negative alignments in 2018.  But it is still just a probabilistic prediction.  It is only one chart -- the NYSE -- and it is using just one technique -- the secondary progressions.  A more comprehensive prediction would require taking into account other levels of analysis including dashas, transits and other progressed charts.  But the takeaway here is that this chart provides evidence for the view that this bull market is likely getting very close to its end, be that this year or next year.  This chart argues against the more optimistic analysts that see stocks in some kind of semi-permanent bull market. 

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks have been a bit choppy this week as investors nervously await Donald Trump's appointment of the new Chair of the Federal Reserve.    The Dow finished Thursday's session at 23,400.  Indian stocks have extended their advance in October as the Sensex has moved above 33,000.  I thought we might have seen a bit more downside this week on the sign change of Saturn as it entered sidereal Sagittarius.  So far, there is little evidence that this passing transit influence has had any effect on dampening sentiment.

Jupiter still looks fairly strong over the next week or two as it moves further into Libra.  Its conjunction with the Sun this week has been one reason for the gains and it is due to conjoin Venus on November 12th.  The approach of this conjunction could well propel stocks higher for a bit longer.  Even if we see some pullbacks next week, the entry of Venus into Libra next Thursday November 2ndshould offset whatever negativity that may be about.  The outlook may become more tense towards the end of November.

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.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Waiting for Mueller: will his investigation damage Trump?

(12 October 2017) How long can this go on for?  As the Trump presidency enters its 9th precarious month, there seems to be no end to his unpresidential behaviour, his picking of fights with everyone who disagrees with him, and his childish and petulant fact-free tweets.   Even his own Republican party is showing more signs of wavering, as Senator Corker has accused him of risking World War III with North Korea.  And so America's descent into authoritarian populism continues as Trump cultivates chaos and division in order to distract attention from his own ethical shortcomings and inability to actually do the job.

Many on the Left are hoping that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller can produce sufficient evidence against Trump to run him out of office, either through resignation or formal impeachment.  Indeed, many opponents of Trump see Mueller as the only real hope of forcing Trump from office since the GOP may not have the spine to commit political suicide over their President.  Therefore we need to ask: what are the chances that the Mueller investigation will damage the White House enough to force Trump out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

There are several ways we can go about answering this question.  Exhibit A on this matter consists in the planetary interconnections between the horoscopes of Donald Trump and Robert Mueller.  There are a number of interesting hits.  Mueller's Saturn (13 Gemini) conjoins Trump's powerful 11th house Mercury (15 Gemini).  Trump's ability to realize his goals is due in part to this very strong Mercury placement in its own sign.  The 11th house symbolizes goals, ambitions and wishes fulfilled so Mueller's Saturn is more likely to have a blocking or inhibiting effect.  It is appropriate that Mueller's Saturn is in Trump's 11th house since Saturn represents structure and tradition -- the very things that Trump is seeking to overturn in his attack on the Washington establishment.  The Mueller investigation has been hanging over Trump and his administration for months now and threatens to undermine the ability of the White House to pass its legislative program.

The other possible problem for Trump is that Mueller's Mars (23 Leo) squares his Moon-Ketu conjunction.  This is about five degrees from exact but it nonetheless suggests that Mueller can be a thorn in Trump's side.  Mars in hard aspect to another person's Moon indicates a troubled relationship marked by conflict and disagreement.  So far Trump has generally not focused his criticism on Mueller himself while the investigation goes on behind the scenes.  But it seems likely that Trump is privately fuming against the work of the investigation as it uncovers the nature of Trump's dealings with Russia along with those in his inner circle. 

But we should note a more constructive alignment.  Mueller's Venus-Jupiter conjunction conjoins Trump's Mars and Ascendant.  This is a more positive contact between their charts and could indicate that Mueller and Trump may be able to mutually benefit from their interaction in some way.  While it may not offset the other negative alignments, Mueller's Venus-Jupiter may well end up helping Trump at some point along the way.  Could Mueller end up clearing Trump personally despite indicting several of his staff?   That's one possible reading of this chart pattern.

Another interesting chart overlay is that of Mueller and the chart of the Trump Inauguration on 20 January 2017.   There are several alignments involving Mueller's natural malefic planets (Mars, Saturn, the Nodes) and some key points in the Inauguration chart.  Mueller's Gemini Saturn sits just one degree from opposing Mercury.  Among other things, Mercury can be seen as communication and speech so Mueller's Saturn may be undermining or blocking the Trump administration's ability to communicate its message.  The legitimacy of the Trump White House is an ongoing issue given the steady stream of revelations about Russian meddling in the electoral process.  Mueller's Mars is exactly opposite Venus, the planet of happiness and sociality.  I take this as the negative influence of the investigation that is eroding the presidency.  Trump may try to blame his problems on the media and "fake news", but his positive message is being opposed and delegitimized by the actions (Mars) of Mueller. 

Mueller's Sun-Pluto also squares the Moon in the Inauguration chart.  The Moon is often seen as a proxy for the nation as a whole and the national mood.  Pluto is associated with investigation and the often hidden exercise of power.  No matter what one thinks of the "deep state" in DC, this Pluto-Moon alignment may be a symbolic representation of how the nation is undergoing collective soul-searching given the very real possibility that Trump won the election with the help of the Russians.  Mueller's task is to uncover the nature of the Russian involvement and his efforts are one reason why the US is fragmented as never before.

Yet another reflection of the significance of Robert Mueller at this time is the conjunction between his Ketu and the Sun (6 Capricorn) of the Inauguration chart.  The Sun represents authority in the form of the person of the president as well as the government as a whole.  Since it is a more spiritual and abnegating influence, Ketu tends to undermine the planets it contacts, especially the Sun which seeks to assert the ego.  Mueller's Ketu is clearly undermining Trump's power (Sun) as his legitimacy may remain under a cloud of suspicion for the duration of this term.

While the Trump-Muller overlay at least had some potential upside for Trump, the Inauguration overlay looks worse.  It suggests that Mueller and his work will probably have a lasting negative effect on the Trump presidency. Of course, that doesn't mean that Mueller will force Trump out of office.  It may also result in a lesser outcome such as pushing out some of Trump's principal advisors even if Trump is left unscathed.  But even in that case, his administration would be tarnished and all his claims of "fake news" on the Russia file would be shown to be wrong.


While there are numerous astrological indications to support the view that the Mueller investigation will have a very real impact on the White House, when could we expect to see some major developments?  I believe that the upcoming Mercury retrograde station on 3 December could coincide with some major news.  In Mueller's natal chart, transiting Rahu will conjoin his Sun at 22 Cancer.  This is an indication of public prominence as well as some instability in his position.  We can also see how important it will be by looking at horoscope for the day Mueller was appointed Special Counsel on 17 May 2017.   Mercury turns retrograde at 5 Sagittarius which is just two degrees past Saturn.   This Mercury-Saturn conjunction will align closely with the Rahu (4 Leo) in the appointment chart.  The activation of this Rahu by Mercury and Saturn suggest surprising and difficult developments which will likely create a sense of disruption and political uncertainty. 

The exact transit hit of Ketu to the natal Mars around this time also supports the view of some major developments in late November and early December.  An indictment of someone in the Trump campaign is more possible given the activation of Mars (punishments).   The Mercury-Saturn conjunction will occur close to Trump's equal 5th house cusp so that could hint of problems with children and investments.  It's conceivable that could encompass son-in-law Jared Kushner who has been a subject of scrutiny in recent weeks.  Trump's shady and secretive investment history could also be in focus given this 5th house influence.  Those are two possible areas to look out for at least.  Interestingly, the PEOTUS chart is also heavily afflicted by this Mercury Rx and Saturn conjunction which occurs at the very bottom of that natal chart (9 November 2016).  So it seems quite likely it will produce some bad news for Trump.

I will make additional posts on the Mueller investigation as time goes on.  As before, I think the Saturn-Ketu conjunction in mid-2019 is a more plausible alignment that could force Trump from office.  Even then, I'm not sure it will be enough.  Or he could come back as the GOP nominee in 2020 anyway even if he resigned in 2019.  There are many different charts to consider and so far some have contradictory indications.  So I'm not in a position to make a clear prediction about what happens in 2020 although at this point, both Trump's and Pence's charts look quite good.  A second term for Trump looks very possible.  But I need to do more research on it. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Despite the ongoing drama in Washington, US stock markets remain at record levels.  The Dow is edging closer to 23,000 alongside many other indexes in the developed world.  India's Sensex has again reclaimed 32,000 and is also attempting to hit new all-time highs.  I had thought we might have seen more negative sentiment this week in the wake of the entry of Venus into Virgo on Monday the 9th and the Saturn-Rahu alignment.  But markets continue to climb higher on hopes that Trump will get his pro-business tax cut and the Fed will raise interest rates more cautiously in 2018.  A December rate hike seems to have been fully discounted already. 

Looking ahead, we can still expect some fallout from the Venus transit of Virgo, perhaps next week.  The first part of next week looks somewhat bullish, however, as Mercury conjoins Jupiter on Tuesday the 17th.  Declines may be more likely after that.

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.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

NRA on the defensive in aftermath of Las Vegas shooting

(3 October 2017) After the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas that claimed the lives of 59 people and injured another 500, the inevitable question arises once again: why is America so incapable of addressing its unique gun violence problem?    The short answer is that the Second Amendment's "right to bear arms" is an unassailable principle in US society which legitimizes gun ownership, seemingly without limits.  The high levels of gun fatalities are rationalized as "the cost of freedom".   As a non-American, I would suggest that despite its veneer of modernity, the US is very much captive to its traditions which date from more than 200 years ago.  The Constitution is regarded with a near-religious reverence which makes changes to it extremely difficult.

But this constitutional right has also been buttressed by active advocacy by gun owners.  The culture of unrestricted gun ownership has been fervently supported and lobbied for by the National Rifle Association (NRA).  Over the past 40 years, the NRA has poured considerable money and resources into the political arena to make gun control more difficult despite obvious data that show the number of gun-related deaths are spiraling higher as guns become more pervasive. 

From an astrological perspective, I have to think that the horoscope of the NRA must be both powerful and somehow closely intertwined with the chart of the USA.  How else can we explain this strange reluctance of Americans to rationally address the sourge of gun-related deaths?  Not surprising, the NRA horoscope is very strong.  The NRA was granted its charter from the state of New York on November 17, 1871 after its founding meeting the previous day. 

A few obvious things stand out from this chart, regardless of the fact of its unknown time of inception.  First, the Sun-Mercury conjunction in Scorpio was in a close trine aspect with Jupiter (and Uranus).  This suggested a confident and expansive organization which hinted at its growth through the decades.   The stable and determined Capricorn Moon is also boosted by its opposition alignment with Jupiter-Uranus. 

But one look at the exact Mars-Saturn conjunction and we can see why this organization can be so tenacious and aggressive in the pursuit of its goals.  Mars-Saturn reflects a focused and rational approach towards the fulfilling of goals.  There is little room for emotions when this pairing is strong in the chart as it is here.  Mars represents assertion and sometimes aggression, while Saturn is sober and methodical.  It is a combination of planets that is indicative of a calculating approach.  We can even take it a step further as Mars-Saturn may be the perfect planetary reflection of firearms.  Mars is the violent intention to fire a weapon, while Saturn is the rational, scientific structure of the interlocking parts of the weapon itself.

The other thing to note about the NRA chart is that this Mars-Saturn conjunction squares a debilitated (fallen) Venus in sidereal Virgo.   Venus is very damaged here and may reflect the fact that the NRA does not care about creating happiness nor does pay it much attention to its public image or the opposition to its program.  Venus rules popularity and happiness and it is quite telling that it so afflicted in this chart.  While its adherents are loyal and devoted to it, even more Americans likely oppose it.  Clearly, the NRA is not an organization intended to foster social harmony. 

The NRA and the USA: a close relationship

One intriguing side to the gun debate in the US is how powerful the gun lobby is.  It seems to be so completely intertwined with American life that change seems virtually impossible.  One reason for this can be found in the interconnectedness in the horoscopes of the US and the NRA.   The NRA's Rahu (0 Gemini) is exactly conjunct the US's Mars.  This suggests the NRA has the ability to tap into and exaggerate the aggressive component of the US national character.  The Lunar Nodes, Rahu and Ketu, are often distorting and magnifying in their effects on other planets.  That may well be the case here as the NRA brings out the irrationally violent tendency in the US society.   The Rahu-Mars connection can play on fears and anxieties which have their outlook in taking up arms against all possible enemies.

Moreover, the NRA's Mars-Saturn conjunction is almost exactly opposite the Venus-Jupiter-Sun stellium in Gemini.  And it is exactly opposite Jupiter, the planet of justice.  This may indicate that the NRA, through force of will, can block or prevent the natural inclination of the US justice system.  The opposition to Venus (harmony) and the Sun (confidence) may reflect how much of a damaging and divisive force the NRA has been on American society.  I am less clear on the planetary glue between these two charts.  The NRA's birth time is unknown so it may form a close angular hit through its Ascendant.  But we can see that the NRA Jupiter-Uranus conjunction does align nicely with the US Moon (7 Aquarius) and the Ascendant (9 Sagittarius) although by weaker angles.  Both the Moon and the Ascendant of the US are key chart points that reflect the essence of the nation. 

Criticism in the wake of Las Vegas

We can see how the NRA is coming under increased scrutiny in the wake of this tragic shooting.  The ongoing alignment of Saturn-Rahu (North Lunar Node) activates the NRA horoscope.  Transiting Saturn (28 Scorpio) is approaching its conjunction with natal Ketu (0 Sagittarius) while transiting Rahu (29 Cancer) is also aligning with Ketu's position.  Both of these are difficult influences.  Rahu and Ketu symbolize sources of uncertainty and disruption and when they are afflicted in the chart, there can be chaotic situations that feel like the ground is shifting under one's feet.  The NRA has pulled its usual promotional advertising in the wake of the shooting in the hopes that the outrage will all blow over as it usually does. 

So can this time different?  Will the US ever be able to enact meaningful gun control?  I am very reluctant to say that "this time is different" but I do think the NRA will be on the defensive for the next several months.  That's because transiting Saturn is due to enter Sagittarius and will station retrograde at 15 Sagittarius in April 2018.  This will be exactly hitting the dominant Mars-Saturn conjunction in the NRA chart.  This pattern may be indicative of some setback to the NRA.  New gun control legislation is possible, although it could represent other developments.  It could even coincide with another major shooting incident that sets the NRA further back on its heels.  However, the Saturn station is very powerful and I would think it is more likely to symbolize a legislative defeat for the NRA (i.e. a new gun control bill) or other obvious weakening of its power and influence.

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks have remained buoyant into this first week of October on hopes that Trump's tax cut plan will boost economic growth.  The Dow continues to set records and is now trading above 22,600. Emerging markets such as India have fared less well as large institutional investors have pulled some money out in anticipation of higher interest rates in the US and Europe.  With bond yields rising, there is less rationale for capital to chase riskier assets in the developing world.  Gold has also declined as a result of the Fed's desire to normalize rates. 

In my last post two weeks ago, I thought that stocks were more likely weaken in the end of September and early October as the Jupiter-Uranus opposition began to separate last week.  This hasn't happened yet, at least in the US and Europe. 

This week has actually been very positive although I do note the approaching Venus-Mars conjunction in the second half of the week.  This seems less conducive to gains and I would think the Mars influence could well be bearish.  And yet since this is one factor out of many, it is unclear if the anticipated October pullback in the US can begin this week or perhaps it will wait for the entry of Venus into Virgo after Monday, October 9th. 

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.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bitcoin retreats from record highs

(21 September 2017) The Bitcoin roller coaster took another wild turn this week as the cryptocurrency gained more than 10% and moved back to $4000 USD.   It's been a volatile year for Bitcoin which has skyrocketed from in value from less than $1000 in February to a high of $5000 on 1st September.  While it is designed to replace government-issued fiat currencies, it's current claim to fame is as a vehicle for speculation. 

Is Bitcoin a tulip-like bubble waiting to burst, the wave of the future that can only climb higher in value, or something in between?  After the Chinese government shut down its bitcoin exchange, there are more questions about its viability as other governments could also move to prevent competition from this unregulated upstart cryptocurrency.  

I've been meaning to post something on Bitcoin for the past couple of months.  However, I have run into difficulty finding a workable horoscope that seemed to accurately reflect some of the recent price moves.  In my only other post on Bitcoin back in December 2013, I used the "Genesis Block" which marked the founding of the blockchain technology on 3 January 2009.   It seemed to work fairly well at that time, although there was less price fluctuation to use as data points.  Using this inception chart, I predicted that Bitcoin might be more susceptible to declines in 2014 and 2015.  This proved to be largely correct as it declined from a high of $1000 to about $230 in late 2015.  But that could have been just a coincidence.

I'm less convinced now that 3 January blockchain chart is entirely reliable.  It may represent some element of Bitcoin such as the technology itself and perhaps part of its value, but it is not doing a good job of reflecting this year's price movements.  Recently, I am thinking that the first trade chart may be more useful.  

At 3:30 am GMT on 12 January 2009, the mysterious unknown founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, conducted a transaction with his collaborator, Hal Finney.   One problem with this chart and most others to do with Bitcoin is assigning a specific place, or "place of birth".  Nakamoto's identity is still unknown to this day and it is therefore also unknown where he first invented the blockchain technology.  At the time of the first transaction, Hal Finney was living in the Los Angeles suburb of Temple City, CA so that is my working chart for now.  At least he received the bitcoin at that location, no matter where it was sent from. 

As I see it, a workable Bitcoin horoscope needs to provide clear answers to the following questions.

1) Why has the value of Bitcoin risen by five-fold so far during 2017?

On the first question, I think the parabolic rally in 2017 is due in part to the stationary conjunction of Rahu (North Lunar Node) to the Ascendant at 29 Cancer over the past few months.  Rahu is the planet of instability and change and when it is prominent in a financial horoscope, it often describes periods of sharp price appreciation.   Rahu was probably more likely to mark a strong gain because of its very favourable placement in the natal chart in between benefics Mercury and Jupiter in the 7th house in Capricorn.  Rahu has been within five degrees of the Ascendant since May 2017 and that accounts for a largest portion of the current rally as it pushed above previous highs of $1500.

Back in February near the start of the rally, Jupiter, the planet of optimism, increase and expansion, stationed retrograde at 29 Virgo, exactly in a 60 degree alignment with the Ascendant.  It also exactly aspected the natal Neptune by 120 degree trine aspect.   In so doing, Jupiter also aligned very closely with Uranus (27 Pisces), the planet of sudden changes, and this created a symbiotic effect which resonated with the Ascendant in late Cancer.  The twin bullish influences of Jupiter and Uranus therefore began in early 2017 right around the time that the Bitcoin rally gathered steam. 

Moreover, the tertiary progression alignment of Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus and the Sun was very bullish for much of this year as they aligned with the Ascendant.  Also, Jupiter and the Sun are currently forming a mundane square where Jupiter aligns with the Ascendant (by 180 degree aspect) and the Sun aligns with the Midheaven by conjunction.  Taken together, these are powerful alignments that can last for months and can coincide with major price increases.

2) Why did Bitcoin peak on 1st September and then undergo a 40% pullback until 15 September?

This is a trickier question.  First, Saturn stationed at 27 Scorpio a few days beforehand on 25 August.  This formed a close alignment with Rahu and the Ascendant within a few degrees.  Also Saturn's dispositor, Mars, entered Leo a day later, on 26 August.  Mars in Leo casts a full-strength square aspect to Saturn in Scorpio, so that may have damaged sentiment somewhat as Mars began its transit through Leo. 

We should also note that Venus conjoined the Moon and opposed Mercury right on 1 September.  Venus is a bullish influence and so it is not surprising that it's double positive influence could have marked a temporary high point in the price. The Venus transit is very short-lived and only lasts a couple of days. 

By this time, transiting Jupiter (28 Virgo) had basically returned to its position of its retrograde station (29 Virgo) near the start of the rally in February.  Once Jupiter had moved past this point in late Virgo, it is possible that it was exerting less of a bullish influence.  This is a somewhat idiosyncratic explanation but it is nonetheless intriguing.  Jupiter's bullish influence would likely be strongest when it was in close alignment with the Ascendant.

Also tertiary progressed Mars formed a near-exact square aspect with natal Mars in September.  Mars-to-Mars aspects are usually bearish and often coincide with declines.  While it is difficult to pinpoint the precise time window for this negative influence, it seems likely it would occur sometime in the August to October period.  The Mars progression therefore might have undermined whatever positive influences may have been in play.

3) Why has Bitcoin rebounded since its 15 September low below $3000?

One reason would be that transiting Venus conjoined Rahu and the Ascendant on 15 September.  This was a bullish influence as Venus entered the 1st house for the next several weeks, other transits and progressions notwithstanding.  Also, the interim low to $3000 coincided with the Sun's conjunction to Saturn, which in turn highlighted the Saturn-to-Saturn square aspect.  Once the Sun had passed Saturn at 27 Leo on 15 September, there may have been less negativity.

The Outlook for Bitcoin

The clearest influence in the coming days appears to be the Venus-Mars conjunction which will align with natal Saturn in October.  This looks like a bearish influence generally, although other offsetting positive influences are still possible between now and then.  Nonetheless, I would think it would be difficult for the Bitcoin price to suddenly resume its upward march in the near term.  The period around the exact Mars-Saturn square on 9 October would seem to have greater downward potential.  It's even possible we could see Bitcoin retest its September lows of $3000 sometime in October.  But November should bring some gains and that could be enough to reverse any possible down trend. 

Another possible source of uncertainty is that the chart begins its Mercury-Ketu period on 24 September which is run for the next year until 22 September 2018.  While major dasha lord Mercury is a bullish influence, especially in this chart since it is stationary, Ketu is more of a wild card and contains increased downside risk.  Ketu is still quite strong in the Bitcoin horoscope since it is conjunct 1st lord Moon and aspected by benefics Mercury and Jupiter.  But we should regard the Ketu minor period as a somewhat more bearish background influence than we have seen recently during the previous Mercury-Mercury dasha period.

So let's see how this first trade chart operates here in terms of accounting for upcoming price fluctuations.  It's early days yet but so far it seems to do a fairly good job.  More declines into October would definitely increase my belief that it is a workable chart for BTC.

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks remain at or near all-time highs after the latest statement yesterday from the Federal Reserve.  Chair Janet Yellen kept interest rates unchanged but she remains committed to raising them further over the next two years.  She also announced that the Fed would begin to sell its QE assets starting next month.    The Dow is trading around 22,400 today while gold has again fallen below $1300 on the somewhat hawkish Fed stance.  The Indian Sensex is similarly bullish as it is trading at its highs of 32,300. 

The outlook for the next week is more uncertain as Jupiter aligns exactly with Uranus on 27 September. As I noted last week, this opposition aspect between two bullish planets can sometimes mark interim highs in the market.  And with Saturn approaching its bearish alignment with Rahu (North Lunar Node) in early October, it may become more difficult for stocks to keep the rally going much longer.

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.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

US stocks approach record highs as Jupiter enters Libra

(13 September 2017) US stock indexes again approached record highs this week as investors breathed a sigh of relief after Hurricane Irma proved less damaging than feared.  And with North Korea receding from the news cycle and Trump's surprising debt ceiling deal with the Democrats, markets are looking quite strong.  The Dow closed above 22,000 on Tuesday while the Sensex is again challenging its previous high as it finished above 32,000 in Wednesday trading.

This bullish outcome appeared to contradict my fairly pessimistic outlook for August and September.  I thought the effects of the late August solar eclipse, the Saturn direct station and the Saturn-Rahu alignment would likely dampen sentiment and increase the odds of declines.  However, I did note that these negative influences were more specifically focused upon the month of August and into first week of September.   While we didn't see anything too dramatic occur, stocks were somewhat weak throughout August and early September did see a modest pullback on renewed North Korean tensions. 

Once we were past last week's Mercury-Mars conjunction, there was a better chance for some upside.  In fact, I noted in the likelihood of gains this week in my weekly subscriber newsletter.  That optimism was partially due to the entry of Jupiter into sidereal Libra that occurred on Monday, 11 September.  Jupiter is a bullish planet, of course, and when it changes signs once a year according to the Indian sidereal zodiac, stocks are often positive for a day or two at least.  Indeed, the Dow rose 1.2% on Monday and then extended the gains into Tuesday.  As the chart below shows, the past five Jupiter sign changes have all coincided with positive days in the US stock market.

        Date       Jupiter enters sign   Dow performance
  30 May 2013           Gemini       +0.1%
  18 June 2014           Cancer       +0.8%
  13 July 2015           Leo       +1.0%
  11 Aug 2016           Virgo       +0.5%
  11 Sep 2017          Libra       +1.2%

At the same time, it is important to remember that this is still only one factor among many.   Stocks may also fall when Jupiter changes signs if there are other prominent negative influences.  This is in fact what happened on the previous sign change of 16 May 2012 when Jupiter entered Taurus.  At that time, Jupiter also formed a near-exact alignment with Saturn.  Saturn is a more bearish planet so it should not have been surprising that stocks fell around that Jupiter-Saturn alignment, the Jupiter sign change notwithstanding. 

The Jupiter-Uranus opposition: A reversal signal?

But the outlook for the rest of September looks uncertain.  The positive Jupiter in Libra influence is likely to fade in coming days so that could well translate into some selling late in the week.  More importantly, I would pay special attention to the Jupiter-Uranus opposition aspect that is exact on 27 September.  This aspect is fairly rare as its aspect series occurs only once every 13-14 years.  The last opposition aspect series occurred in 2003.  But due to the retrograde cycles of both Jupiter and Uranus, the precise 180 degree opposition can actually occur as many as three times over the course of the alignment year. 

This is in fact the case this year as Jupiter-Uranus opposition is due to occur three times.  It last took place on 2 March 2017 and before then, on 26 December 2016.  As with most Jupiter aspects, this is a bullish influence.  However, we should note that there is a tendency for gains to be focused during the time leading up to the aspect.   The time of the exact aspect can often be bearish.  In December 2016, stocks generally rose into the aspect on the post-election rally and then leveled off and even pulled back a bit in January.   The early March 2017 opposition aspect similarly marked the interim top for stocks almost exactly as stocks peaked on the day before the opposition aspect on 1 March. 

The takeaway here is that the upcoming third Jupiter-Uranus aspect creates a plausible scenario where stocks could remain strong and even rise further in September.  While no aspect operates as expected all the time, it is one reason why a significant reversal in the coming days is less likely to occur. 

And yet there still remains the background bearish influence of the alignment between Saturn and Rahu (North Lunar Node) which could undermine all of this bullish Jupiter sentiment.  This Saturn-Rahu alignment is less than three degrees now and will be exact on 9 October and could therefore exercise a negative effect as we get closer to that date.  As it happens, Venus enters Virgo on 9 October also so that could well prove to be a time of significant developments for financial markets.  The entry of Venus into Virgo often marks the start of a bearish period that can last 1-4 weeks.

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.