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.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

North Korean missile over Japan raises tensions

(30 August 2017) Tensions on the Korean peninsula escalated again this week after North Korea fired a missile over Northern Japan.   The unprecedented missile launch over Japanese territory briefly shook financial markets and again brought Pyongyang's nuclear threat into focus.   Unless China can be more effective in reining in Kim Jong-un, US military action is looking more likely.  And with tough-talking Donald Trump looking for something to boost his failing presidency, the probability of some kind of conflict is higher than in recent memory. 

As I noted several weeks ago, the August 21st solar eclipse strongly hinted at some kind violent or military event in late August or more likely, in early September.  The horoscopes of some of key players appeared to be very active during the first week of September, especially around the time of the Mercury-Mars conjunction. 

The USA chart showed the natal Mars (0 Gemini) aspected by Saturn, Ketu (South Lunar Node) and Jupiter all at the same time.  Mars is the planet of war and conflict, of course, and these aspects indicate a much higher probability that the energy of Mars will be released in some obvious way in the days ahead.  The eclipse at 4 Leo is opposite the USA Moon (7 Aquarius) and it could be triggered around the time of the Mercury-Mars conjunction on Sep 4-5, and indeed for several days afterwards as the Moon-Mars opposition aspect becomes exact. 

Donald Trump's horoscope is no less activated as the solar eclipse was just one degree from his Mars and near his Ascendant.  The Mercury-Mars conjunction will therefore be a possible trigger for a lot of Mars-type energy.  This means that some kind of Mars-type event is more likely involving his actions and the USA.  It is possible that some of this difficult Mars energy may be manifesting in the destructive impact of hurricane Harvey in Texas since Mars is often prominent in situations involving suffering.  But I would think there would be some situations that more clearly reflect the more specific symbolism of Mars that involves violence, anger and conflict.

Trump's PEOTUS chart is also afflicted by the eclipse and this Mars transit.   The 9 November 2016 PEOTUS chart should be seen as an additional source of information about the direction of the Trump presidency.  The eclipse and the Mercury-Mars conjunction exactly hit the 12th house cusp. The fact that the Mercury-Mars conjunction at 4 Leo also aligns exactly with retrograde Uranus (4 Aries) gives an added potency to all of the above-mentioned charts.  Since Uranus is a slower-moving planet that is associated with instability and sudden changes, there is a greater likelihood of major developments around the time when it is aligned with faster moving planets such as Mars and Mercury. 

The Horoscope of the Korean Armistice (27 July 1953)

An interesting angle on this brewing conflict can be found in the horoscope that marks the ending of hostilities of the Korean War.  The armistice was signed at 10 a.m. on 27 July 1953 in Panmunjom.  The resulting chart should reflect the ups and downs of the 64-year old agreement as positive transits of Venus and Jupiter should coincide with dialogue and family reunification and negative transits involving Mars and Saturn should reflect rising tensions and military skirmishes.  

Immediately, we can see a potential problem since the the armistice was signed with 3 degrees of sidereal Virgo rising.  This is almost the same degree as the President-elect PEOTUS chart (5 Virgo) and therefore will get hit by next week's Mercury-Mars conjunction in a similar way.  The placement of Uranus at 4 Aries is therefore no less problematic as it coincides with the 8th house cusp of obstacles and setbacks.

Even more worrying is that the chart has Mars at 5 Cancer and thus the eclipse and the Mercury-Mars-Uranus alignment will activate not only the 12th and 8th house cusps but also this natal Mars.  It's not a full strength aspect but it is an alignment nonetheless. 

As an added burden, the near-stationary Saturn is exactly opposite Venus and moving towards a square aspect to the Ascendant in the coming weeks.  Saturn-to-Venus transits often indicate periods of unhappiness which in the context of this chart is likely to bring more problems in the troubled relationship between North and South Korea.

Another sign that the typical cycle of provocation, denunciation and negotiation may be changing for good is that the armistice chart will begin a new dasha period on 24 September.  After running a more or less positive Saturn dasha for the past 17 years, the chart switches to Mercury in September.  Since Saturn is somewhat strong in the chart given the close aspect from Jupiter, that may be one reason why the ceasefire has endured as long as it has, albeit without much trust or goodwill. 

However, the condition of Mercury in this chart is dire: hemmed in between malefics Mars and Ketu in the 11th house.  Dispositor Moon is conjunct disruptive Rahu and opposite Mars, Mercury and the Sun.  Not good.  Mercury's pivotal role is underlined by the fact that is the ruler of the chart since it rules the Ascendant Virgo.  The Mercury dasha will therefore likely invoke the volatile and violent energies of the planets that conjoin Mercury -- Mars and Ketu.  It is hard to see the ceasefire holding for the whole 19-year duration of the Mercury dasha period.

Outlook for North Korea

As I have suggested before, I think some kind of military action by either side in early September is a likely outcome.  I suspect the US could take some limited retaliatory measure at that time.  While the charts are pointing in the same direction, they are not clearly indicating the start of some major war.  The charts don't look bad enough for that in my opinion. 

Late November looks like it could be another time of rising tension and perhaps open conflict.  Dasha lord Mercury will conjoin with Saturn at the bottom of the armistice chart just before Mercury turns retrograde.  This will likely mark the beginning of a new period of military tensions which will last into early 2018.  This November-February window actually looks more volatile than the current period.  For this reason, I think that whatever happens in early September will not even begin to resolve the stalemate with Kim Jong-un. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have remained fairly mixed over the past week.  US stocks have edged higher as economic growth looks relatively strong after today's upward revision of Q2 GDP.  The Dow is trading at 21,880 so far at midday on Wednesday.  Indian stocks have also not moved much since last Wednesday as the Sensex finished today at 31,646.  I thought we might have seen more downside, although Tuesday's dip on the North Korean missile launch did reflect some nervousness in the markets as Mars conjoined Rahu.  However, the general financial outlook has been sufficiently positive to offset other concerns.

The rest of this week lacks clear short term aspects.  I would not be surprised to see moves in either direction.  Next week looks more vulnerable to declines as Mercury stations direct while conjunct Mars. The larger issue is that Saturn is gradually moving into close alignment with Rahu, the North Lunar Node.  This is a pairing of two slow-moving negative influences.  Saturn is again moving forward and will make its exact alignment with Rahu in early October.  This influence suggests that significant gains are unlikely until then and we are more likely to see the market pullback further.

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, August 24, 2017

Dysfunction in DC: the Trump-McConnell feud

(24 August 2017) With Congress set to return after the summer recess, US president Donald Trump is looking increasingly weakened and isolated.  As he tries to shake off the Charlottesville controversy, Trump is now insisting that he will shutdown the US government if Congress does not approve funding for his border wall with Mexico.  The shutdown threat comes as Congress enters into its annual negotiations to raise the debt ceiling which is required under US law.  If Congress cannot strike a deal by the September 29th deadline, the government will default on its debt.

Negotiations will be made more complicated because of an ongoing feud between Trump and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.   There is no love lost between these two men and recent reports are they haven't spoken for weeks.  McConnell has even gone so far as to speak publicly about whether Trump's presidency can survive.  Trump's problem is that he needs McConnell onside to have any chance of passing his administration's agenda.  And yet it seems less the case that McConnell needs Trump, however, as the GOP risks losing seats in the 2018 midterms due to Trump's low popularity. 

While we don't know McConnell's time of birth, his horoscope cast for noon shows how he can act as a thorn in the side of Trump.  McConnell was born with a close conjunction of Mars and Saturn in late sidereal Aries.  This may give him tenacity and a strong, resolute character to persevere against hardship or opposition.  As it happens, this conjunction sits very close to Trump's 10th house cusp or Midheaven ("MC") at 1 degree of Taurus.  The 10th house is at the top of the chart and represents career, status, and achievements. 

Mars and Saturn are both considered to be naturally malefic planets.   When these planets align with key points in another person's chart, it often speaks to tensions and difficulty in the relationship.  McConnell's Saturn can therefore be said to be blocking or restricting Trump's ability to achieve his goals.  In other words, Trump's achievements (10th house) have to come to terms with McConnell's restrictions (Saturn).   The Mars influence provides additional energy in the interpersonal dynamic, although the nearby presence of Saturn suggests there is often a negative tone. 

McConnell's Mars also casts its most malefic 8th house (210 degree) aspect to Trump's Moon-Ketu conjunction within just two degrees.  This kind of Moon-Mars connection between two charts can introduce a level of animosity and conflict that is always there, at least in the background.   A Moon-Mars conjunction between charts can indicate more constructive applications of energy but the 8th house aspect is less positive. 

We can see that the feud is at a very intense level now as Mars approaches its conjunction with Rahu (North Node) this weekend.  Mars and Rahu come under the exact square aspect of McConnell's Mars and indicates intense frustration and conflict.  Trump's chart is no less afflicted as we have seen as Mars prepares to enter Leo on Aug 27 and then conjoin his natal Mars on Sep 1.   We should expect more rancor between them with the very real possibility of the rift growing wider in the coming days.  And with the US horoscope also looking very afflicted by the Mars-Rahu conjunction, it seems likely that the dysfunction and division in Washington could escalate to a new level. 

The Debt Ceiling

It also looks very likely that the upcoming debt ceiling talks will go down to the wire and could even go past the deadline.  A look at McConnell's chart shows why.  In late September, Mars conjoins his natal Rahu at 20 Leo while both Saturn and Rahu remain in alignment with his natal Mars-Saturn.   The focus of this transit is around Sep 25th and offers some evidence for the probability of major tensions in the debt ceiling bill.  Interestingly, House Leader Paul Ryan's chart is similarly afflicted by Mars since it conjoins his Ketu (18 Leo) and squares his relocated Ascendant (19 Scorpio).   This transit could represent a setback or failure in negotiations.

It is even possible the negotiations could become deadlocked and Congress may miss the Sep 29th deadline.   The Mars-Saturn square on October 8 lines up closely with Trump's Moon and with McConnell's Mars-Saturn conjunction.   While this alignment may not be related to the debt ceiling, it does seem to be related to the ongoing battle between Trump and McConnell. 

These difficult transits in the charts of the principal players in DC suggest that the debt ceiling talks will not go smoothly.   If that is the case, financial markets may become nervous and stocks could fall.  It is something to watch as we head into September

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have enjoyed a modest rebound so far this week on rumours that progress has been made on tax reform in Congress.   The Dow finished Wednesday at 21,812.  Indian stocks have also bounced this week after last week's decline.  The BSE-Sensex opens Thursday's session at 31,568.  In last week's market forecast, I thought that we might see some upside in the first half of the week around the eclipse and that has taken place. 

The rest of this week has a somewhat increased risk of downside.   Thursday looks a little more negative than Friday as the Moon conjoins bullish Jupiter at the end of the week.   Early next week looks more problematic as Mars enters Leo and conjoins the North Lunar Node (Rahu).

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, August 16, 2017

Make America White Again: Trump defends white supremacists

(16 August 2017) The shameless presidency of Donald Trump appeared to hit a new low this week in the wake of ugly racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.  A rally of alt-right white supremacists degenerated into a riot following clashes with anti-racist protesters which saw three people killed and many more injured.  Trump was widely criticized for his initial Saturday statement in which he did not clearly blame the neo-Nazis as the instigators of the violence.  Bowing to pressure, he was forced to issue another more pointed condemnation on Monday although to many it sounded scripted and hollow.  But then yesterday's rambling and angry press conference saw Trump incredibly revert back to his original view which held that "both sides" were equally culpable.

Trump has come under widespread criticism from many quarters including many from within his own party, and now seven CEOs have chosen to quit the President's Manufacturing Council rather than risk being associated with the White House.  As the Trump presidency becomes more toxic one may well ask what will happen next.  Will Trump become so besieged and isolated that he has to resign or can he get a much-needed political "win" to arrest the current downward spiral of his chaotic, failing administration?

I think things are going to get worse for Trump before they get better.  As I have noted previously, Trump's horoscope is massively afflicted for the next few weeks.  Even from very early in his term, we could look ahead and see that the Saturn station on August 25th at 27 Scorpio was going to be trouble for him.  This pattern was one big reason why I thought Trump's first year in office would be so bad.  Saturn will station atop his Moon and Ketu conjunction in his 4th house for several weeks on either side of the station date. 

Trump has been put on the defensive over Charlottesville because the transiting Sun is in near exact alignment with his natal Ketu.  The Sun represents the ego and self while Ketu (the South Lunar Node) is the symbolic opposite of those qualities as it often coincides with unexpected situations that oppose our wishes.  Ketu usually denies the ego when it is in transit and the weakening of Trump's Sun this week is a direct consequence of this Ketu contact. 

Normally, this faster-moving Sun-to-Ketu transit -- lasting just a day or two -- wouldn't be too difficult.   But its effects are more pointed since Trump's chart is in terrible shape from the slower-moving transits of Saturn and the Nodes, Rahu and Ketu.  And we haven't even mentioned the eclipse yet that hits Trump's Mars-Ascendant conjunction next Monday!  There's a lot of energy running through his chart in the next few weeks.  Certainly, this period will prove even more eventful and intense than anything we've seen so far this summer.

It is interesting to see how this current setback for Trump can be seen in both the Inauguration and PEOTUS charts.  At the time of Saturday's rally and subsequent riot, Mars was at 20 degrees of Cancer -- exactly squaring the Ascendant and conjunct the equal 4th house cusp in the Inauguration chart (20 Jan 2017 12.00 pm).  Mars is the planet of violence and war and it aligns exactly with the Ascendant of the chart, which represents the antagonism and conflict.

The PEOTUS chart also sees Mars figuring prominently as Mars (20 Cancer) casts its square aspect to the Sun (23 Libra).  As the symbol of leaders, the Sun represents the president and it is afflicted by disputatious Mars.  Additionally, we can see that Trump's problems with communication and messaging are highlighted by retrograde Mercury (17 Leo) in close conjunction with Rahu (16 Leo).  Rahu tends to distort or disrupt whatever planet it is associated with so its connection with Mercury, the planet of speech and communication, is quite appropriate.  Due to Mercury's low retrograde velocity, it will remain in conjunction with Rahu for most of this week.  This will be bad news for Trump who may wish to rise above the fray and appear presidential.  The Mercury-Rahu influence suggest that communications will remain subject to misunderstanding and distortion. 

The other thing to remember about the PEOTUS chart is that it is running Rahu-Saturn dasha period.  Dasha lord Rahu is placed in the 12th house indicating a presidency that is isolated and marked by deception and delusion.   Intriguingly, Rahu is also the planet that symbolizes foreigners so it is no surprise perhaps that the Russia investigation hangs over the Trump White House.    The shadow from this investigation about foreign influence over the Trump administration will likely linger for the rest of his term.  Rahu in the 12th isn't always so bad, but in this Rahu is doubly afflicted by the full strength aspects of Mars (from the 5th) and Saturn (from the 3rd).  Therefore, the worst side of Rahu's qualities are therefore more likely to be reflected in this presidency.  

Trump's upcoming planets

Next week also looks difficult and could well be worse. Transiting Mars (27 Cancer) aligns with his Ketu (27 Scorpio) for most of the week and could cause him to become even more angry and frustrated.  It also increases the likelihood of Trump having to deal with another violent situation.  Mars is also very strong in the Inauguration chart late next week as it will exactly align with the Mars-Saturn square in that chart.  It could reflect a very tense and dangerous situation.  Similarly, Mars squares Mercury in the PEOTUS chart late next week. 

Mars is also active in the Inauguration chart as it casts its full strength and perhaps most malefic aspect to natal Mars.  Again, the theme is violence and conflict.  At the same time, the Sun will conjoin retrograde Mercury on Aug 25-26 and will also conjoin the natal Rahu (9 Leo) in this chart.  I think this suggests deception, intrigue and possible scandal.  New Russia revelations are possible under this configuration.  Rahu's prominence could also mean that troubles involving foreigners (e.g. North Korea) are also more likely to occur at that time. 

The picture gets worse the following week at Mars and Mercury align on the solar eclipse point at 4 Leo.  As it happens, this is just one degree from Trump's Mars and again creates a configuration where conflict and violence is more likely.  In the PEOTUS chart the Mercury-Mars conjunction sits on the 12th house cusp symbolizing loss, secrets, and incoherence. The time window of the closest alignment is September 2-5 although the first week as a whole looks volatile.   I don't know what will happen at this time but it looks like it could represent a kind of "peaking of energy" for the US and Trump. 

As I have written previously, I don't think a resignation is the most likely outcome at this time.  The key charts are certainly afflicted but not really enough to persuade me that Trump will go.  The Pence chart (birth time unknown) isn't strong enough to reflect a gain for him that would occur if Trump resigned.  Also key Democrat charts such as Obama or the Clintons should be strong if Trump was on the way out.  Obama's chart definitely has some bright spots but if Trump was really resigning in September, then I would think he would be very happy indeed and it would show up more clearly.  After all, his soft approach to the Russian hacking of the 2016 election campaign was arguably one reason why Trump ended up winning.

Obama is running his Saturn-Mercury dasha period so transits to those planets might be more telling of key events in his life.  Tr. Venus does make a nice conjunction to his Mercury on Aug 26-27 so that could indicate some good news.  Whether it is related to the Trump dumpster fire is hard to say.   Saturn is stationing near his 11th house cusp in late August and will remain there for a couple weeks afterwards.  Since Saturn is ruler of the 1st house, there is a greater likelihood of significant gains and wishes that are fulfilled.  However, the Mercury Rx-Mars conjunction in early September at 4 Leo hits his Rahu almost exactly..  That doesn't seem very good and if anything looks like a time of confusion and (tense) sudden change. Whether it turns out to be good vibes, it is unlikely to last very long.  Ketu hits Obama's Ascendant in Oct-Nov just as Saturn squares up his Mars. 

Perhaps the strength in Obama's chart reflects some serious political or legal damage to Trump here in late summer which may not be enough to force him to resign.  I would be more comfortable predicting that sort of less dramatic scenario than a full-on resignation. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks remain fairly buoyant this week as US retail data came in above expectations.  After suffering a decline last Thursday, stocks have generally rebounded as the Dow is now back above 22,000.  Indian shares have fared worse, however, as the Sensex took a substantial hit last week.  This week has only seen a modest bounce as it is still below 31,500.  In last week's market forecast, I was expecting a mixed picture although I thought we might have seen more downside early this week.

Further gains are possible today (Wednesday) and even tomorrow (Thursday) as Venus aligns with Jupiter and Pluto. but Friday looks less positive as the Sun conjoins Rahu (North Lunar Node) while Venus forms a minor alignment with Saturn.  Of course, next week begins with the total eclipse of the Sun across the US.  Eclipse days are not always bad for stocks so some early week upside is possible.   However, I would think caution will be on the rise during the course of the week as Mars approaches its conjunction with Rahu. 

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, August 9, 2017

August eclipses and the markets: echoes of the 1998 Russia crisis?

(9 August 2017)  They say history doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes.  At its core, astrology is the study of repeating planetary cycles.  Since the motion of each planet adheres to a predictable pattern, so too may symbolic correspondences of planets manifest in events of a similar nature according to a predetermined time frame.  Predictions are therefore rooted in the presumption that the clockwork-like repeatability of each planetary cycle can form the basis of the understanding of future trends.

Eclipses also follow their own cycle.  Every 18 or 19 years, the lunar and solar eclipse pair returns to the same place in the sky.  Monday's lunar eclipse occurred at 21 degrees of sidereal Capricorn and the much-anticipated total solar eclipse will take place across the continental US at 4 degrees of Leo.  As it happens, this is exactly where the eclipses occurred 19 years ago. almost to the day, in August 1998.  A lunar eclipse happened on August 8th at 21 Capricorn and a solar eclipse followed on the 22nd at 4 Leo -- just one day after this year's eclipse pair. 

One very important event took place in August 1998 during this eclipse period.  Russia suffered a major financial crisis in which its currency lost 75% of its value within just a few weeks.  The ruble crisis marked the beginning of the end of Boris Yeltsin's government and set the stage for the rise of his successor, Vladimir Putin in 1999.  While the Russian ruble crisis was devastating for the Russian economy, it also sent shock waves around the world.  US stocks lost 12% of their value over just one week at the end of August. 

Could this happen again this year?  I think it could, although we should note that eclipses are only one part of a larger pattern of planetary configurations.  If these placements are connected in some significant way according to the rules of astrology, then noteworthy events are more likely to occur.  For a major event to take place, we usually need to see: 1) a close alignment of slow moving planets which are activating the natal chart in an obvious way for good or ill; 2) an eclipse should take place either near a sensitive point or key planet or in aspect to it in the natal chart; and 3) the eclipse point (either lunar or solar) should then be transited by another planet at some point after the eclipse has taken place.  The presence of other simultaneous aspects may intensify the post-eclipse effects, say if the chart is strongly marked by malefic or benefic alignments. 

The 1998 Russian Financial Crisis

In the 1998 Russian financial crisis, the Russia chart was under strong affliction by transiting Saturn (9 Aries) which was closely aspecting both Venus and natal Saturn.   Even more telling was that Saturn stationed retrograde on August 15th, just two days before the crisis began in earnest.  This greatly amplified the negative effects of Saturn as its restrictive energy was transferred to the Venus-Saturn square in the natal chart.  We can also see the transits were made more potent in August 1998 since Rahu was in close trine (5th house) aspect with Saturn and thus transiting Ketu (7 Aquarius) was in alignment with Venus (9 Libra).   Venus carried an added importance since it was dasha lord as the chart was running its Venus-Mercury period.  Both planets are clearly afflicted natally: Venus by Saturn's square and retrograde Mercury is combust the Sun.  Venus rules the 11th house (Taurus) of income and is a natural planetary significator of the economy.

The lunar eclipse on August 8th fell one degree from the 7th house cusp (20 Capricorn) and may be interpreted as destabilizing the entire chart since it is opposite the most sensitive point, the Ascendant. The crisis reached its maximum on August 26th when the Russian government suspended all trading in the ruble.  The ruble was no longer convertible to other currencies, thus preventing what would have been an even worse situation.  It was on August 26th that the crisis hit other financial markets as US stocks began their sharp decline.  And the transits bear out this difficulty as Mars (9 Cancer) was exactly square Venus and opposite natal Saturn.  It is true that the eclipse points were not subject to clearly negative transits during this time.  However, it is worth noting that retrograde Mercury has just stationed direct on the Ascendant and opposite the lunar eclipse point at 22 Cancer two days before trading in the ruble was suspended.  

To be clear, I am not predicting a similar crisis for Russia at this time.  That's because while the eclipses fall in the same places, the level of affliction to the Russia national chart is not as severe.  As in 1998, Saturn is stationing again, although this time is going direct at 27 Scorpio.  But the placement of Saturn does aspect any other planet very closely.  It does form a trine aspect with the Midheaven (MC) but that could indicate problems with government and leadership (Putin) rather than the economy.  I think Russia is more likely to become prominent in the news around the time that Mars conjoins Rahu at 0 Leo and approaches the solar eclipse point at 4 Leo.  Coincidentally, this occurs in the last week of August right around the same time of the month that the 1998 crisis reached its peak.  

Interestingly, the point at which Mars conjoins Rahu at 0 Leo also falls just one degree from the Ascendant (1 Leo) of the Putin swearing-in horoscope from May 7, 2012.  Mars-Rahu conjunctions often symbolize sudden and unpredictable actions, up to and including military action.  Russian politics could therefore move into the forefront during this period.  I wonder if the Trump-Russia investigation will become more uncomfortable for Putin.  It's possible since Trump's chart is also under heavy pressure during that time.  But that is just one possible scenario.  As I have noted previously, the activation of Mars in the USA chart still looks more like military action.  The way things are going that may well mean something involving North Korea.  I hope to post something more specific on North Korea in the coming days.

The eclipse risk to global stock markets

But the other takeaway here is that stock markets are vulnerable to declines given these similarities to 1998.  Again, the eclipses themselves are only part of the story.  The meat of it is the approaching Saturn-Rahu alignment which occurs around the time of a Saturn direct station. This is a difficult alignment that raises the risk of declines over the next month or two.  And this is the same alignment that occurred during August 1998 -- Saturn was aligned with Rahu (North Lunar Node) at a time when Saturn had stationed. 

We can see how these different factors played out in the horoscope of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (5.00 p.m., May 26, 1896). The eclipses in 1998 looked like they hit key points.  The initial lunar eclipse at 21 Capricorn was exactly square Saturn (21 Libra) and thus may have highlighted this bearish planet.  The solar eclipse two weeks later at 4 Leo was just one degree from Ketu (South Node).  Like Saturn, Ketu is considered a natural malefic which has a stronger correlation with declines.   The biggest decline occurred on August 31st when the Dow lost 6% in one day.

We can see the pattern of affliction fairly clearly: the usually troublesome inverse nodal conjunction as transiting Rahu conjoined Ketu.  The Saturn station at 9 Aries made for a fairly wide trine with natal Ketu (5 Leo) but still close enough to suggest problems.  Transiting Mars (13 Cancer) was conjunct Jupiter and aspected the Ascendant.  It also formed a larger alignment with the Moon-Jupiter-Mars grand trine pattern in the natal chart.  Mars is a malefic planet by nature and its opposition with Uranus (15 Capricorn) at the bottom of the chart could have added another layer of difficulty given the alignment with the Ascendant at 17 Libra.  This picture of affliction was also grounded by the ongoing conjunction of Pluto (11 Scorpio) to the Moon (13 Scorpio).

This time around the 21 Capricorn/4 Leo pairing of eclipse points will again activate malefics, Saturn and Ketu, as in 1998.  Transiting Saturn does not align with the natal nodes but rather only the transiting nodes.  This looks less problematic.  Saturn does align closely with the Midheaven but that seems like a weaker, second order affliction.  The nodes are again in an inverse conjunction, although Rahu is a full five degrees past exact.  But the worse part of it may be the closer aspect from Ketu to natal Mercury -- just two degrees.  Mercury is the ruler of the 12th house of loss in this chart so the Ketu aspect is more likely to be coincide with market weakness. 

The decline in 1998 occurred in the last week of August and that could well happen again.   That said, the strong eclipse-based pattern extends into the first week of September.  The Mars-Rahu conjunction looks quite negative and is more likely to coincide with some declines on Aug 28-31.  However, Mercury ends its retrograde cycle while in conjunction with Mars at 4 Leo around September 3-5 near Labor Day.  And that is exactly atop the solar eclipse point!  And that is likely to bring more bad news for the Dow since that is close to the natal Ketu at 5 Leo.  September as a whole looks like it could produce a more complex market as the current period of calm is unlikely to continue into the early fall.

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks remain near record highs this week despite growing nervousness over the North Korean situation.  Asian and European markets sold-off today as both sides ratcheted up the war-mongering rhetoric.  US stocks are slightly negative at midday Wednesday with the Dow still trading above 22,000.  Indian stocks have trended lower so far this week as the Sensex closed Wednesday at 31,797.   This mixed outcome is not surprising as I thought last week would likely be bullish but this week looked more difficult.  That has proven to be the case in most markets, although not quite yet in the US. 

The rest of this week is similarly a mixed picture.  Some midweek upside seems possible given the Sun's alignment with Jupiter and Pluto today and tomorrow.  However, Friday and particularly early next week look more difficult as Mars conjoins the lunar eclipse point at 21 Capricorn and also aligns with Venus. 

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, August 1, 2017

The Eclipsing of Trump? What to expect from the August 21st solar eclipse

(1 August 2017) Off the top, I want to apologize to my non-American readers who may be getting tired of these constant posts about Donald Trump and the current state of US politics.  And readers hoping for more explicitly financial content may be feeling similarly indifferent to my interpretation of the never-ending melodrama that is taking place in Washington, DC.  And yet, I find there is no more important story going on in the world right now as it has major ramifications far beyond the borders of the US. 

The United States seems to be descending into a state of political chaos as the Trump administration continues to struggle.  The once-great superpower and beacon of democracy now seems intent on its re-invention as dysfunctional authoritarian state as the Trump presidency is in danger of coming off the rails.  Trumpists knew that "Making America Great Again" wasn't going to be easy given the entrenched interests on the other side but his sagging approval ratings even among conservatives now suggest his hold on the office may be in jeopardy.

Where does it all end?  Each day brings news of a fresh White House dismissal (turn the Mooch loose!) or revelation of transgressions or misdeeds with respect to the ongoing Russia investigation.  Trump's legislative ineptitude has only made him more politically vulnerable as Congress becomes more skeptical of his leadership.   John McCain's "no" vote on health care may only have been the thin edge of the GOP wedge to come.  Unless something changes very soon, Trump could lose broader GOP support in the Senate and that could begin a chain reaction that gets impeachment proceedings underway.  "President Pence" no longer seems so far-fetched.  The Trump White House hopes that yesterday's appointment of the new Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, can turn things around.

Even worse, Trump's precarious position opens up the possibility of a gratuitous use of military power, if for no other reason than to distract and change the conversation.  Bill Clinton famously succumbed to this "Wag the Dog" distraction technique during the Monica Lewinsky impeachment hearings.   At least he had the good sense to pick the strategically less important target of Sudan where the risk of retaliation was minimal.  But what if Trump decides he needs to "fix" a more volatile situation like North Korea, which has nuclear weapons?  No wonder so many people are in a state of worried disbelief about the direction of the US government. 

Many astrologers are quite pessimistic about Trump's situation, myself included.  In astrological terms, the central problem is highlighted by the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21st.   We are staring down the barrel of a portentous solar eclipse at 4 degrees of Leo that occurs very close to Trump's Ascendant (6 Leo by sidereal reckoning, although the eclipse has similar importance for both Western tropical and Vedic sidereal astrologers).   The eclipse also has the unusual quality of being wholly visible only in the continental US.  The last time this happened was June 1918.  This may therefore be seen to be a uniquely American eclipse not only in terms of viewing, but also potentially in its real-life consequences.

Eclipses are traditionally seen as harbingers of doom as astrologers seek to correlate negative events with all solar and lunar eclipses.  But a little confirmation bias can go a long way when the weight of centuries of tradition is invoked.   Instead, we should acknowledge that the evidence of event correlation is actually inconclusive as most eclipses do not clearly correlate with any major events.  Of course, we can always point to this or that eclipse as seemingly foretelling of some unfortunate event (e.g. the Turkish earthquake in 1999 that occurred six days after a total solar eclipse over Turkey), but it is not a reliable correlation.  Many eclipses come and go without any clear ties to a significant incident.   But perhaps if we attach some other co-factors and conditions, there may be a better way of understanding how eclipses could work.

One key co-factor is that the eclipse needs to hit some major points in the relevant national horoscope or its equivalents.  What makes this eclipse potentially more important, therefore, is how it interplays with the key horoscopes of President Trump, the USA itself, and the November 9th PEOTUS chart.  As I have noted previously, Trump's chart is hugely afflicted in August and September.  Saturn stations direct at 27 Scorpio on August 25th in a close conjunction with his Moon-Ketu conjunction.  By itself, that is a very nasty alignment which may correspond with a sense of disappointment, isolation and loss.  Plus, transiting Ketu (South Lunar Node) will form an exact trine aspect to his Sun (29 Taurus) in late August.  Ketu-to-Sun aspects often mark periods where the ego is put on the defensive or interrupted by changing or sudden circumstances.  Trump's Sun is more pivotal in this respect because it rules Leo, which is his 1st house/chart ruler.  In Vedic terms, since the Sun is Trump's lagnesh, any aspects, for good or ill, take on a heightened importance. The Ketu influence on his Sun combined with the Saturn influence on his Moon seems like an inescapable one-two punch.  Both lights of the chart are therefore aligned with malefics around the same time. 

At the time of the eclipse, Mars (26 Scorpio) is close at hand also as it is situated just behind Rahu (29 Cancer) and aligns tightly with Trump's Ketu.  Mars injects a lot more energy into the overall eclipse alignment and makes it more negative in its possible effects.  The fact that Mars and Rahu are so close to Trump's Mars-Ascendant duo is another reason why Trump is likely to experience a sharp increase in stress at this time.  Clearly, this is not a run-of-the-mill eclipse.  The close involvement of Mars and Saturn makes it more dangerous and therefore I would argue more likely to correlate with a difficult event.  The fact that the chart of the US President is also closely activated by the eclipse would seem to give more support to this view.

The US horoscope hints that the eclipse effects may have a national resonance.  One reason is that the solar eclipse point at 4 Leo will form a close opposition aspect to the Moon of the USA at 7 Aquarius.  The Moon represents the people as a whole, as well as the national psyche and mood.  The eclipse point comes fairly close to the the Moon opposition so there is a stronger case to be made for major repercussions from this eclipse.  Of course, the larger problem for this chart is the multiple afflictions to Mars (0 Gemini).  The Saturn station opposite Mars hints at intense conflictive energy with a dangerous or violent manifestation.  And the Lunar Nodes are in the picture once again as Ketu (0 Aquarius) forms its trine/5th house aspect to Mars almost exactly.  The presence of these two aspects involving malefic planets to Mars, the planet of war, is just not good no matter how you slice it. 

It is possible to make a case that the ever-belligerent Donald Trump is symbolized by Mars and that these afflictions to the USA's Mars indicate intense pressure on Trump, perhaps even resignation.  And yet I would think that a resignation or removal scenario would require more chart afflictions to the Sun and the 10th house which are the typical significators of the head of government.  So I would say resignation is conceivable but I don't think it provides the best fit for the chart patterns. 

The horoscope for President-Elect of the United States (PEOTUS) also has some telling hits at the time of the eclipse.  The eclipse point at 4 Leo sits almost exactly on the equal 12th house cusp of this chart.  The 12th house represents losses and sorrows so that would suggest a negative situation for either the country or Trump, or perhaps for both.  But the added affliction here is that the eclipse point is aspected by 8th house aspect from natal Mars at 6 Capricorn.  This is a more volatile influence that speaks to sudden events having a martial character.  And with Uranus sitting at 4 Aries near the 8th house cusp, the chart appears to have too much dangerous energy for a constructive or positive outcome.

In addition, Mars is square the Sun in late August so that may translate into conflict involving leaders.  Well, that is not really news since Trump is constantly involved in conflict of one type or another.  However, transiting Mercury (14 Leo) is conjunct the natal Rahu (15 Leo) at the time of the eclipse on the 21st.  Usually, this only refers to situations of confusion or miscommunication in the worst case.  But here, Mercury is lagnesh since it rules Virgo, the sign in the first house.  With the chart ruler Mercury subjected to Rahuvian disruption there is an added sense of uncertainty.  It is even possible that we could see some kind of eclipse hysteria emerge at that time as the self-fulfilling prophecy of all this eclipse talk in the media takes center stage. 

Eclipse events: the time lag

But when discussing eclipses, it is important to remember that any linked events are unlikely to occur on the day of the eclipse.  There can be a time lag.   One simple timing technique focuses on the transits of malefic planets to the eclipse point.  The aforementioned 1999 Turkish earthquake occurred when transiting Mars aligned with the eclipse point by square within a degree or two.  The 1906 San Francisco earthquake that killed 3000 people occurred more than two months after an eclipse period.  But it is worth noting that the earthquake happened  just as transiting Ketu conjoined the lunar eclipse point at 27 Capricorn and Mars had just passed a backwards square aspect to that same point by three degrees.  It isn't quite clockwork but it definitely qualifies as interesting

That previous total solar eclipse in the US in 1918 may have foretold the Spanish flu epidemic that killed over 500,000 people in the US.  While the flu outbreak occurred in the spring, it first appeared to be a typical flu outbreak with low levels of mortality.  However, a much more deadly second wave hit in late summer and early fall.  This deadly second flu wave coincided with the transit of Ketu over the June eclipse point at 24 degrees of Taurus. 

Fortunately, the August solar eclipse occurs with Rahu having already passed the Sun-Moon conjunction.  That means that Rahu (the North Lunar Node) cannot act as a trigger for any untoward events.  Rahu and Ketu are arguably more problematic as planetary influences since they move quite slowly.  However, Mars will be moving across the solar eclipse point in early September about two weeks after the eclipse.  We should therefore pay closer attention to that time window for any possible eclipse effects.  September 2-4 sees an exact conjunction of Mars to the eclipse point and with a conjunction of stationing Mercury thrown in for good measure.  Even then, I would allow for a few days margin of error to see if anything is going to happen. 

But as I noted above, eclipses do not always have to have a clear connection with events.  In a sense, the various Trump-related charts I've outlined above don't even need an eclipse to foretell increasing problems in the coming weeks.  The other afflictions would be sufficient reason to predict deepening stress and troubles for the White House.  The eclipse may only act as an additional trigger or catalyst for whatever may be coming.  Overall, I think some kind of exercise of military power fits better with the alignments here, although nailing down the precise type of event is very speculative.  Hopefully, I will be able to better narrow down the possibilities next week.

Weekly Market Forecast

Despite the turmoil in Washington, US stocks continue to touch all-time highs as corporate earnings remain strong.  The Dow is on the verge of passing 22,000 as the Trump rally is about to enter its ninth month.   India's Sensex has also pushed to new highs at 32,500 on a positive monsoon outlook and more signs of recovery from the EU.  

The current rally appears to correlate with this week's Jupiter-Pluto alignment. While I thought we might have seen a bit more downside in late July on the Sun-Mars conjunction, the presence of this bullish Jupiter influence in early August hinted at more upside.  We could see more record highs this week and perhaps even into next week or the week after.  However, Monday's lunar eclipse (August 7th) looks quite volatile given the proximity of Mars.  I would think that stocks are more likely to decline, at least in the first half of next week. 

And just to reiterate, the rest of August and September look much more problematic for financial markets.  The combined effects of the eclipses, the Saturn station and the Ketu-Saturn alignment look like formidable celestial obstacles for the stock market.

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.