Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump's Muslim travel ban creates chaos and outrage

(30 January 2017) So it turns out that Donald Trump should be taken both seriously and literally.  As America's experiment with authoritarian populism entered just its second week, President Trump has sparked outrage and confusion with an executive order banning refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Trump campaigned on getting tough on terrorism and radical Islamists and he is following through on that promise regardless of consequences.  The new order was quickly stayed by Federal judges on constitutional grounds so it remains to be seen how this partial Muslim travel ban will play out. 

Certainly, it has added to chorus of anger and protest that has followed Trump since the election.  Emotions have become so inflamed that opponents of Trump now speak about organized resistance to his whole administration rather than merely single issue protests.  It is shaping up to be a long and loud four years as Trump tries to completely remake the US in the face of popular and institutional opposition.  Depending on one's point of view, this is either the thin edge of the fascist wedge or merely a necessary period of disruption as the post-war outward-looking Pax Americana is dismantled in favour of an inward "America First" stance. 

The protest, anger and conflict fit neatly with the ongoing Saturn aspect to Mars in the natal USA horoscope.  As I noted previously, the Saturn influence on Mars began in December and will continue for most of 2017.  Saturn's retrograde period from April to August will therefore serve to extend this difficult aspect for an unusually long time.  In other words, it means that the Trump administration will continue its controversial policies for the foreseeable future and they will fan the flames of protest for the rest of the year.  Well, I guess we didn't need astrology to know that.  And yet the ongoing affliction of Mars does symbolize the animosity towards Trump in stark terms. It also increases the likelihood of conflict overseas involving the US.   I will try to offer more specifics on that latter question in the near future.

Additionally, we can see that transiting Rahu (9 Leo) exactly aspects the Ascendant of the USA chart.  Rahu (North Lunar Node) is said to be associated with foreigners and marginalized populations so it is quite appropriate that this aspect should be active at this time.  The 9th house symbolizes long distance travel and foreign places so that also dovetails with the particulars of this executive order which targets Muslims. 

Mars (5 Pisces) is just now beginning to square all of the USA planets in Gemini so that speaks to a period of intensifying discord and anger in the country.  This more intense Mars transit period could extend into the first week of March when Mars squares the USA's Mercury at 3 Cancer. 

As I noted previously, Donald Trump's first weeks as president were quite likely to be marked by stress and difficulty due to the placement of Saturn.  Saturn is approaching its retrograde station in early April at 3 Sagittarius.  At that point, it will form an exact 120 degree angle with Trump's natal Mars at 3 Leo.   I would expect Trump's problems to continue to undermine his presidency into that date and probably beyond.  And again, the Saturn retrograde station will hit Vladimir Putin's chart exactly in the form of a conjunction with Mars so there is some increased possibility that their fates may be intertwined in some way at this time.

More immediately, Trump may come under severe stress during an upcoming transit window of Mars.  Starting near February 18th, Mars will closely oppose his Jupiter.  Since Jupiter is linked to prudence and "right action",  the Mars influence can indicate a tendency to make errors or to be seen to be making errors of moral judgment.  The logical corollary there would be some kind of potential scandal, as if Trump hasn't got enough of those already.  Mars-Jupiter aspects can also be related to money and expenditure issues so one possible manifestation of the transit may be that Trump has to face up to conflict of interest questions regarding his business holdings. The Mars-Jupiter opposition is probably doubly important here since Trump is running his Jupiter-Jupiter dasha period.  This intense transit period will likely continue as Mars enters Aries and thereby opposes his Saturn and Venus near March 5th.  Therefore, we should see the Feb 18 - Mar 5 window as one where Trump is especially vulnerable to significant setbacks in his agenda and the credibility of his presidency.

And we should not forget that Jupiter is due to turn retrograde on February 6th.  As dasha lord, Jupiter's backwards motion from February to June could be another signal that Trump may be less successful in implementing his agenda.  I do not subscribe to the belief that retrograde planets are inherently negative, but I think you can make the case that they do open up an additional vulnerability for planets when they come under transit affliction.  That is the case here with the Mars transit in the second half of February.  Remember, too, that once Jupiter begins to move backwards, it will separate from its exact 120 degree aspect with Trump's Sun (authority, leadership, confidence).  I would think that Trump's legitimacy as president will come under increased scrutiny after February 6th as the boost previously provided by Jupiter will diminish. 

The bottom line here is that President Trump is entering a very difficult period that will likely last into April at least.  I think he will survive it, but he will likely be further damaged politically by some of these transits.   As Saturn aligns with Rahu (North Node) in late May and June, we could see a new flare-up of conflict and protest as the USA's Mars will be activated once again.  This pattern also looks quite potent and opens the door to violence and military action.  More details on that front when I have a better idea about it.

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks have been holding up well recently.  The Dow pushed above 20,000 last week on optimism that the new administration would cut taxes and boost spending.  I would have thought that we might have seen more selling pressure last week given the entry of Saturn into sidereal Sagittarius, however.  Stocks are moving lower today in the wake of the controversial Trump Muslim travel ban so that may speak to the growing Saturn influence.   Indian stocks rose sharply last week in the run-up to this Wednesday's Budget. 

This week looks more bearish for stocks.  On Tuesday, the Moon conjoins Mars and Venus so we could see another down day, especially in US and European markets.  The midweek Mercury-Jupiter alignment may be more bullish, however.  Indian shares look somewhat more positive this week and I would think a positive reaction to the Budget is likely on Wednesday and even Thursday given the Mercury influence.  The late week is more of a question mark, however, especially on Friday's Mercury-Saturn alignment.

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, January 17, 2017

The Trump Inauguration Horoscope: more like Reagan... or Nixon?

(17 January 2017) The day is finally upon us.  On Friday, Donald Trump will be sworn-in as the 45th President of the United States.  The outspoken businessman and reality TV star will takeover as commander-in-chief and begin to undo not only the legacy of Barack Obama but much of the post-war global consensus.  It is a potential sea change in world affairs that cannot be underestimated in its historic magnitude. 

But how successful will Trump be in realizing his nationalist vision by reshaping the economic and political landscape?  There is no shortage of anxiety surrounding Trump who is threatening to end free trade and globalization and usher in a new period of protectionism.  Economists fear that Trump's policies may boost economic activity in the US in the short term, but may prove more damaging in the longer term as inefficiencies take hold and global trade declines. 

There are different ways to analyze this question.  The easiest is to look at the horoscope of the swearing-in at noon, January 20th in Washington, DC.   The inauguration chart doesn't supersede other charts such as the USA national chart or Trump's individual chart, but it can provide a quick snapshot of Trump's term in office in the White House.

Donald Trump will be inaugurated at a time when the planets are very unsettled.  Specifically, Saturn will be in a gandanta state on Friday. A condition of gandanta occurs when a planet is near the junction of a water and fire sign and is said to represent an unresolved karmic knot.  Saturn is in the last degree of watery Scorpio and is due to enter fiery Sagittarius just a few days later on January 25th according to the Krishnamurti ayanamsha.  This makes Saturn's energy more unstable and therefore may indicate suffering from disruptions in the upcoming administration.  A gandanta Saturn is less reliable to deliver its symbolic portfolio of stability, traditions, and order.

Of course, Trump seeks disruption of the status quo in his efforts to remake the US into a more isolationist nation in a multi-polar world.  In that sense, the gandanta designation may actually be appropriate for the goals of the Trump administration in its efforts to bring about thoroughgoing change.  ("I love gandanta.  We are going to have tremendous gandanta, folks!")  It should be noted, however, that gandanta planets have a malefic reputation as the changes they bring usually involve difficulty and hardship. 

We should also note that Mars, the planet of conflict and violence, is also prominent in the first degree of Pisces on Friday.  This newly-minted Piscean Mars is also unstable since it is in the first degree of its sign.  Having both malefics, Saturn and Mars, is less-than-stable conditions therefore casts a shadow over the inauguration horoscope.  Both planets will therefore be more powerful and more likely to do ill.  Symbolically, this Mars may mean an increase in conflict and disputes while the Saturn indicates the assertion of limits and a loss of freedom and as well as an increase in suffering. 

What is particularly unusual is that Mars and Saturn are in a near-exact square alignment with each other. This likely intensifies the problems that could be wrought by the new Trump administration.  To be sure, Mars and Saturn do not aspect each other according to standard Vedic rules so their mutual influence may be diminished to some extent.  However, I would argue that alignments this close are still meaningful since they still entail exact aspects, albeit in less than full strength. 

And if we look more closely we can see that both Mars and Saturn align with the Moon in this chart.  Saturn is 45 degrees away from the Moon while Mars is 135 degrees away.  Both are considered significant albeit lesser aspects in Western astrology as both are divisors of the 360 degree circle.  The Moon represents the population as a whole and the emotional state of the nation.  Having the Moon aligned with Mars (conflict, anger, violence) and Saturn (limits, loss, suffering) is a terrible indication for the next four years.  Now one possible saving grace is that these are minor aspects and not proper Vedic aspects.  This could mean that popular sentiment in the US may not be that negative with these twin influences.  But no matter how minor they may be in a technical sense, these alignments are not what you want to see in an inauguration chart as they accentuate the negative rather than that positive.  At best, they represent huge obstacles that are unlikely to be easily overcome. 

By why of comparison, let's look at the 1981 inauguration chart of Ronald Reagan.  This is a much better chart and reflects the relative success of his first term.  In some ways, Trump is trying to model himself after Reagan as he is also trying to break with the past and bring a new kind of thinking into government.  Reagan de-regulated the economy and cut taxes and helped to jump start the boom of the 1980s.  The long term negative economic effects of the Reagan era notwithstanding, his first term was deemed successful and he was easily re-elected in 1984. 

We can see why.  Mars is exalted in Capricorn atop the chart in the 10th house conjunct Mercury, Ketu and the Sun.  This is a good placement.   Ketu (South Lunar Node) denotes change and that is very much the case with Reagan who ended the stagflation of the 1970s.  Both malefics are associated with benefics as Mars is with Mercury and Saturn is with Jupiter.  This neutralizes their negative effects and makes their impact more constructive.  Moreover, benefic Jupiter aspects all of the 10th house planets in Capricorn.  This confers a sense of "right action" and abundance upon all of those planets and their significations.  It's generally a good chart. 

At the other end of the spectrum is the 1973 inauguration chart of Richard Nixon.   Nixon won re-election to a second term in 1972 but was forced to resign in August 1974 as a result of the Watergate scandal.  At the time of his resignation, impeachment proceedings were already underway.  The most striking feature of the Nixon inauguration chart is the near exact opposition of Mars and Saturn.  The two most malefic planets were tightly aligned and therefore resonated more intensely with each other.  Moreover, both planets were situated on the 8th and 2nd house cusps, respectively, and were therefore more powerful to do harm.  It is a very afflicted chart that befits a failed administration and a resignation of a disgraced president. 

Mars is the key planet in this respect since all inauguration horoscopes (since 1933) have an Aries Ascendant in the 1st house.  Since Aries is ruled by Mars, the condition of Mars becomes a shorthand for the fate of the incoming administration.  The 1st house represents the presidency as a symbolic whole, so any afflictions involving Mars raises the likelihood of problems and setbacks.  Mars in the 1973 Nixon chart was about as afflicted as one could imagine, but Trump's inauguration Mars may not be quite so bad.  The Trump inauguration chart falls somewhere in between the Nixon and the Reagan chart.  Although it is a matter of interpretation and not cut and dried, I would say the Trump chart is much closer to Nixon than to Reagan.  Mars still has considerable problems attached to it in the Trump inauguration chart so that suggests his presidency is likely to be troubled. 

Some observers on the left have also openly discussed the possibility that Trump himself may not survive politically to the end of his term.  His inauguration chart certainly offers some support to this view as Mars and Saturn are aligned and in difficult positions.  However, I would note that the afflictions don't quite acquire Nixonian-levels that one might expect for impeachment or resignation.  The Trump inauguration chart is bad enough that resignation is worth considering, but it does not seem to be a high probability to me.

There are many serious planetary afflictions that hit Trump's inauguration chart over the next four years.  A couple look serious enough that they could well mark times when his hold on power is tenuous or even lost.  Given the series of Saturn afflictions in the USA chart over the next few years, it could well become a presidency in a state of permanent crisis, either in terms of legitimacy or through a bad economy or both.  The affliction of Mercury by Rahu in the Trump swearing-in chart is an unhelpful for promoting economic growth.

One very clear time of governmental crisis will be the summer of 2019 when malefics Saturn and Rahu both align with the Sun (=government) in the USA chart.   This Saturn-Rahu alignment will occur near the 9th house cusp in the Inauguration chart so it is more likely to coincide with a major event.  There are no hits to key planets in the chart, however, so it is possible it may not be strong enough to remove Trump from power.  

Also we should note that Trump enters his Jupiter-Saturn dasha period in November 2018 so that could weaken his ability to fend off attacks.  Currently, his Jupiter-Jupiter period may be strong enough to allow him to continue to wield power with his usual ad hoc, shambolic aplomb.  But Trump's Saturn is another matter altogether.  Although it is strengthened by its conjunction with Venus, his Saturn is in the 12th house of loss and it is considered somewhat weak by virtue of being in the first degree of Cancer.  It should therefore be seen as a background negative in his chart.  We may also speculate if he may become more vulnerable to losses through females (Venus) during this 2018-2021 period.

Other alignments also look difficult including April 2017, October 2017, and September 2018.  But I haven't correlated the specifics yet across all the relevant charts but I hope to revisit the timing of these rolling crises in the weeks and months ahead.  Hopefully, we won't all have Trump fatigue by then, if we don't have it already.  And his administration hasn't even started yet!

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have moved sideways through last week and into this week as traders await the Trump inauguration.  US stocks dipped slightly late last week as the Dow has yet to climb above the 20,000 mark.  Indian stocks were generally higher last week as the US Dollar retreated and inflation data moderated.  This outcome was in keeping with expectations in last week's market forecast as I thought we would see some upside for much of last week on the Sun-Jupiter-Saturn alignment on Wednesday and Thursday.  However, I thought the late week might be more troublesome.  As expected, this week has also been lower as Mars aspects Jupiter and then aligns with Saturn.

I would expect volatility to continue for most of this week.  Mars enters Pisces on Thursday and aligns with Saturn at the end of the week.  I don't have a specific forecast for Inauguration Day although the general influences here look bearish.  That said, we cannot rule out a brief rise as bullish Venus aligns with Pluto that day.  The entry of Saturn into Sagittarius on January 25th is another reason why caution and pessimism may predominate in the days ahead.

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, January 10, 2017

Trump poised to assume presidency amid controversy and opposition

(10 January 2017) There are just ten days before Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.  According to recent polls, Trump will enjoy the lowest popularity of any incoming president in US history.  The Trump transition from the November election to the January 20th inauguration has been as controversial as his campaign.  Despite Trump's initial dismissal of Russia's interference in the campaign, last week's US intelligence revelations confirmed that Russian hacking had been ordered by President Vladimir Putin and had been intended to favour Trump and discredit Hillary Clinton. Putin's logic was simple: undermine Clinton whose stated foreign policy sought to oppose Russian expansion and boost Trump who has been far more conciliatory towards Russia's strongman.  Mission accomplished: Moscow will now have a friend in the White House. 

I have previously written that Trump's problems would likely worsen in January and this difficult phase could well extend through the rest of the winter.  Trump survived December with little damage despite all the symbolic gnashing of teeth surrounding the Electoral College and the record number of faithless electors.  But the Russian hacking has been a significant embarrassment that has forced Trump to agree with the GOP Senate leaders and admit that it was real.  No matter what kind of gentleman's agreement he may have already struck with Putin, Trump knows that he needs Congress on his side or his legislative program will not succeed.  This means he may now have to actually punish Russia for its illicit actions in the US election.

Astrologically, Trump's January problem lies in the transit of Saturn in late Scorpio which conjoins with his Moon-Ketu (South Lunar Node).  Trump's Moon is already debilitated in sidereal Scorpio and its conjunction with Ketu is one key reason why Trump is so emotionally volatile and often times unpredictable and unhinged.  Trump's famously petty Twitter rants are the direct result of this volatile and emotional Moon (insecurity) combined with his highly active Mars (anger) on the Ascendant. 

Saturn transits are often difficult for most people but they do more damage when the planet they are conjoining or aspecting is vulnerable and weak.  That is very much the case with Trump as his Moon is likely one of his weakest planets and therefore more susceptible to setbacks, disappointments, and distortions.  While Trump has come under a lot of criticism, I thought things might actually be worse for him than they presently are.  For the moment, Trump is managing to stay above the fray (literally) by avoiding the media while holed up in his 5th Avenue redoubt in New York City.  He is due to finally hold his first press conference tomorrow on January 11th.

This Saturn transit will begin to wane in influence over the next week or two as Saturn prepares to enter Sagittarius on Jan 25th.  He is likely to come under further scrutiny over the coming days as the transiting Sun opposes Saturn (stress and conflict from authorities) and then the Mars square to the Moon and Rahu (North Lunar Node).  The Mars transits may mean even more angry emotional outbursts from the thin-skinned President-elect as he flails against all who deign to criticize him. 

We can see that Trump's difficulties are also reflected in GOP Speaker Paul Ryan's chart.  In addition to dealing with the fallout of Trump's ad hoc approach to governing, Ryan has come under fire for promising to repeal Obamacare without having a clear replacement plan in hand.  Ryan is currently at the tail end of the Saturn-Venus dasha period which, on balance, looks generally positive.  However, his 6th Saturn (opposition, conflict, and health(!)) is currently under the aspect of transiting Rahu.  Since the aspect will be very close for most of the rest of January, Ryan and the GOP will likely have a difficult time achieving their goals. 

The end of this week could be marked with some unusual and disruptive event as transiting Venus (and minor dasha lord) alongside Neptune is conjunct his natal Rahu in Aquarius while Mars conjoins his unequal 4th house cusp on the IC/MC.  I would not expect anything too earth-shaking, although there could be something along the lines of a Trump cabinet appointee who fails to gain approval with these aspects.  Other setbacks are also possible with these alignments.

The day of the Inauguration may be marked by strife and conflict.  If Trump was hoping for the nation coming together behind him when he takes the oath, he will likely be disappointed.  Saturn (obstacles, tradition) opposes his Sun while Mars (conflict) forms a very close square aspect to the same Sun (self, ego).   I hope to take a closer look at the Inauguration horoscope next week in order to discern what kind of presidency we may expect.  Suffice to say, there are intense, close alignments involving Mars and Saturn which suggest the next four years will be marked by conflict and controversy.  Well, no surprise there.  Trump may well be in permanent campaign mode for most of his term.

Like Trump, Ryan's chart suggest he may enter a quiet and more productive period in late January and February as Jupiter (29 Virgo) stations retrograde near his Moon (0 Libra), but March and April look difficult again.  Saturn station in square aspect his Pluto in the 11th house -- denial of success through applications of power.  The mid-March period looks quite troublesome for Ryan and the GOP as Mars aligns with Rahu and both will therefore activate Ryan's 6th house Saturn.  When afflicted, transits to Saturn in the 6th can indicate disputes, sometimes with legal consequences.  Opposition to the GOP agenda and Trump is therefore likely to intensify at this time.  Late-April also looks extremely difficult as Mars squares Rahu and aligns closely with Ryan's Ascendant (7 Scorpio), as well as Donald Trump's Ascendant (6 Leo).  This could further undermine the legitimacy of Trump and thereby make his agenda harder to implement. 

While it may be a mere astrological coincidence, this March-April is also the time that I had previously suggested a significant gain or reward for Hillary and Bill Clinton.  It seems as if whatever events transpire during this time will damage the GOP and benefit the Democrats in some significant way.  Trump's tax returns finally leaked to reveal debts owed to Russian oligarchs?  GOP defections in the Senate that give the Democrats control?  It could be something fairly major along those lines.  I hope to propose some more specific scenarios as the new dynamics emerge in the first weeks of the Trump administration. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Financial markets have generally moved sideways over the holiday period.  US stocks have remained strong although the Dow cannot seem to move above the 20,000 level. Investors may be taking a wait-and-see approach on Trump's ability to deliver the goods.  Indian stocks appear to have bounced off their lows and have mounted a rebound here in early 2017.  

The recent market strength is due in part to the alignment of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus around 27-28 degrees of their respective signs.  We could see further upside this week as the Sun will align with the aforementioned three planets. Once the Sun begins to separate on Wednesday (or possibly Thursday), however, there could be some new vulnerability in the market.  Next week is shaping up to be more volatile as Mars aspects Jupiter on Monday and Tuesday and then aligns with Saturn at the time of the Inauguration on Friday.

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.