Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How long will the Trump rally last?

(25 April 2017) Most global markets were strongly higher this week after the win by pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French election.  The narrow defeat of anti-EU right wing populist Marine Le Pen allowed investors to breath a sigh of relief as the status quo carried the day.  Many stock markets are now at or near new all-time highs.  Much of this bull market can be explained by the deliberate attempt by the Fed to increase asset prices (read: stocks) through its zero interest rate policy and later its experimental QE program after the 2008 financial crisis.  But the most recent upward leg in the markets have been as a result of the election of Donald Trump and his pro-business agenda.  Since the November 8th election, US stocks have risen almost 15%, with similar gains posted in Europe and some emerging markets such as India. But how long can this Trump rally last?

There is no single chart that can answer this question simply or unequivocally.  One difficulty lies in translating planetary positions with market moves of a specific size.  Even if we can isolate a future bearish planetary alignment, for example, it is unclear if it will produce sufficient downside that would negate the rally (i.e. -15%).   A bearish alignment involving  Saturn or Mars may only coincide with a minor 5% pullback rather than a full-blown 10-20% correction.   Therefore, even when we get some garden variety bearish planetary patterns, the Trump rally is likely strong enough to withstand some downside without seriously underlying its upward momentum. 

With today's rise, the Dow is again approaching its all-time high set March 1st just above 21,000.  Are we looking at an historic rally that could last for months or even years in the way that, say, President Reagan presided over the beginning of the longest and most powerful bull market in history from 1982 to 2000?   That seems unlikely for several reasons, not the least of which is astrological.  Let's look at the horoscope for the birth of the Trump rally and see how things could play out in the weeks and months ahead.

While other interpretations are possible, I would time the birth horoscope of the Trump rally for the open of trading in New York on November 9th.  This is the morning after his shocking victory over Hillary Clinton and after stock futures had reversed higher after suffering severe overnight losses.  US indexes opened sharply higher at the 9:30 open and did not look back.  The US market kept moving higher until March but have traded sideways since then. 

We can see how this Trump rally horoscope may be playing out.  One of the most bullish things about this horoscope is the placement of Jupiter - the planet of optimism - on the MC, or the unequal 10th house cusp.  The MC is one of two power points in the chart along with the Ascendant to it can act as a conduit for whatever energies are resonating on that point.  It is also placed in the whole sign 11th house which symbolizes gains. 

Stocks rose as Jupiter moved forward towards its station at 29 Virgo on February 9th.  Two things to note here.  29 Virgo is almost exactly on the equal 11th house cusp (27 Virgo) so that is an obvious indication for gains as long as Jupiter is near that point.  But the other thing to note is that stocks continued to rise after Jupiter began to retrograde away from its station.  Why?  One reason is that Jupiter was still very close to that point by the all-time high in stocks on March 1st, at 28 Virgo.  It was still therefore conjunct with this very bullish point in the chart.  Also, it was closely aligned with Mars and Uranus at 28 Pisces just a couple days before on February 27-28.  Close alignments of planets can often indicate highs or lows depending on the nature of the planets involved. 

A skeptic might raise the question why didn't the market stumble when Saturn had transited over this Ascendant at 27 Scorpio in late December and early January.  Saturn is a bearish foil for Jupiter and when it is prominent there can be a rise in pessimism and caution.  It's a good question.  We should note that the market was a bit listless for much of December and into January during the approach of Saturn to this Ascendant.  The Dow was essentially flat from mid-December to early February.  True, this is not quite what we might have expected from nasty, old Saturn but it is important to remember that the horoscope needs to be seen holistically with many factors included in the analysis.  Jupiter was still very strong in late December and January as it was exactly conjunct its 11th house cusp at 27 Virgo and thereby aligned exactly with Uranus at 27 Pisces.  The Jupiter-Uranus pairing are almost invariably bullish and the presence of this aspect likely offset most of the negativity present in Saturn's crossing of the Ascendant. 

So what lies ahead?  As we head into May, we can see that Jupiter is retrograding back towards its natal position and the MC at 18-19 Virgo.  As it happens, Jupiter will station at 19 Virgo in early June. That's bullish no matter how you slice it.  However, Saturn will be backing up towards the Ascendant and could introduce some negativity into the mix.  This could suggest a replay of December's sideways market perhaps, especially since Mars will also aspect the Ascendant in late May.  This could heighten the negative effect of Saturn's proximity to the Ascendant.

But the bigger concern is the effect of the Lunar Nodes, Rahu and Ketu.  Rahu (North Node) closely aligns with transiting Saturn as we move further into June and beyond.  Rahu will aspect natal Venus exactly in June and then gradually aspect the Ascendant by October. These successive Nodal influences distinguishes the chart from its interplay of Jupiter-Saturn that may have produce a flat trend in December.   As I see it, this Saturn-Rahu alignment through the summer should bring about some significant declines in stocks.  It is a bearish pairing in any event and the fact that it aligns with the Ascendant of the Trump rally horoscope is even more reason to expect some significant problems in the market. 

The other difference between this summer and the December-January period is that Saturn is due to station direct exactly on the Ascendant at 27 Scorpio in August.  Previously, it was moving forward at its normal velocity and hence it had less power to do damage.  The conjunction around the Saturn station lasts much longer and will likely reflect rising pessimism and declines in the market.

We should see some temporary downside as early as next week (May 1-5) when Mars (15 Taurus) squares the Ketu-Moon-Neptune conjunction.  However, this does not seem unequivocally negative since Venus will be in aspect with bullish Jupiter and Mercury will return to direct motion while conjunct Uranus and hence align closely with both Mercury and Venus in the Trump rally chart. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have generally moved higher over the past five sessions.  I thought we might have seen more downside late last week and into this week.  I did think this week's Mercury-Uranus conjunction was likely going to translate into gains at some point this week.  It seems the upside has come earlier than I expected.  This is one of the difficulties in interpreting alignments around planetary stations when the alignments are close for several days.  Mercury is due to station direct on May 3rd next week and therefore it has entered an unusually long-lasting conjunction with Uranus and 120 degree angle with Saturn. 

This week could easily see more upside on this Mercury-Uranus conjunction.  However, the late week Moon-Mars conjunction looks bearish and could produce some nervous selling.  Next week could see some further upside in the early going.  But as I have noted, the Mercury station on Wednesday the 3rd could indicate a shift in the mood. 

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, April 18, 2017

North Korea's Kim Jong-Un under pressure from US

(18 April 2017) What to do about North Korea?  US President Trump is now confronted with the same thorny question that has confounded most of his predecessors.  The hermit kingdom of North Korea has long operated outside the norms of international politics and has frequently resorted to threats of war in order to secure any strategic or economic advantage.  Under the uncertain leadership of Kim Jong-Un, North Korea continues to pursue its nuclear weapons program aimed at providing the ultimate bargaining chip with any hostile foreign powers.  By most accounts, the isolated totalitarian regime only survives through the largesse of its only patron, China, through generous trade and aid agreements.

Recent missile tests have provoked a more assertive reaction from the Trump administration.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and now Vice-President Mike Pence have both argued for a tougher stance again the North Korean regime which may well be approaching a critical moment in its push for nuclear weapons.  For the US, the time for diplomatic talks and negotiations may be coming to an end as military options have now been put back on the table.  This tougher stance and the possibility of a unilateral US strike against weapons installations has, in turn, angered Kim Jong-Un, as tensions have increased to a dangerous and unpredictable level. 

Trump and North Korea

As we know, President Trump's planets are very afflicted in the current period.  Transiting Saturn is still closely aligned with his Mars while Rahu (North Lunar Node) is fast approaching his Ascendant.  It is clearly a difficult and stressful time for him.  He has been fairly quiet recently as ongoing foreign policy troubles in North Korea and Syria may be proving to be way over his head.  He is now allowing surrogates such as Tillerson and Pence to do the heavy lifting, perhaps out of fear of making a bad situation worse from his half-baked tweets and shallow understanding of the complexities of global geopolitics.  

Not surprisingly, Trump's horoscope looks more difficult when it is relocated to North Korea.   When we relocate Trump's chart to Pyongyang, his assertive and powerful Mars on the Ascendant is suddenly sitting on the Descendant on the 7th house cusp.  This is a reversal of his own bullying Mars-nature so that he himself may be more likely to be bullied by others, such as by President Kim Jong-Un. Interestingly, Trump's chart is exactly reversed in North Korea: in his birthplace in New York, 6 Leo rises while in Pyongyang, 6 Aquarius rises.  The chart is a mirror-image.   Could the ego-driven billionaire president from Queens abruptly have the tables turned on him on the other side of the world by an equally megalomaniacal authoritarian?

Kim Jong-Un

Kim Jong-Un has been the unrivaled leader of North Korea since the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il in 2011. President Kim has ruthlessly eliminated all opposition to his rule through an internal policy of censorship, intimidation and murder.  It is unclear how stable his government is given his own unpredictability and its single-minded pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Western media have depicted him as a reckless and dangerous dictator who is capable of anything. 

His horoscope suggests these depictions may not be far from the truth.  While his date of birth is not known with certainty, new information suggests that Kim Jong-Un was born on 8 January 1984.  From a BBC report several years ago, his mother said he was the "Morning Star King", hinting that Venus, often known as the morning and evening star, was visible in the sky before the sun rose on the day he was born.  As astrologer Paul Saunders has noted, this not only confirms the likelihood of the 8 January 1984 birth date but also that he probably has sidereal Scorpio or Sagittarius rising. (Thanks to Barry Rosen for pointing out this out to me.)

Venus was above the horizon between 5 a.m. and about 8 a.m. in Pyongyang just before sunrise.  I tend to think he is likely early Sagittarius rising, if only because that would give him a very powerful stellium of Jupiter-Neptune-Mercury near the Ascendant.  We don't know much about his life so it is difficult to pinpoint his Ascendant against life events.  But we do know his father died on 17 December 2011 and this eventually led to a passing of the mantle of supreme power to him.  This occurred when Saturn (authority, responsibility) was conjunct his MC-Mars conjunction and Jupiter (6 Aries) was stationing direct in an exact 120 degree aspect with his Ascendant-Jupiter-Neptune-Mercury conjunction at 3-8 Sagittarius. 

For the moment, I would consider 7 a.m. to be a plausible time of birth.  This would give him about 8 Sagittarius rising.   The ruler of the 1st house (Jupiter) would be very strong in the 1st house conjunct the ruler of the 10th house of status (Mercury).  Neptune adds further to this yoga for name and fame through its tight conjunction with Mercury and Jupiter.  The Sun is also there in Sagittarius in the 1st house to give a further boost to his social profile, tendency towards egotism and elevated status.

Kim Jong-Un's reputation for unpredictability is clearly warranted through the condition of his Moon.  The Moon is associated with emotions and the inner self.  When it is aligned with difficult planets, it can create a tendency towards emotional problems.  Kim Jong-Un's Moon is closely square Uranus, the planet of rebellion and independence.  When these two planets align in a more favourable aspect such as conjunction or trine, the individual is often creative and independent but not really unstable or troubled at all .  However, the square and opposition alignment can produce a more unstable person who is restless and changeable in a disruptive and damaging way.  

His Mars-Pluto conjunction in Libra in the 11th house is typical of someone who can gain advantage quickly through forceful actions.  Mars in the 11th suggests gains through conflict and violence which is more or less how North Korea operates since it is a totalitarian dictatorship.  Pluto's placement with Mars intensifies Kim's reliance on power and coercion to achieve his ends.  I would not say this placement explains his violent or cruel means but it does contribute to a bottom line, instrumental approach to interpersonal relationships.  A diplomat he is not. 

Pressure from US

Kim's current difficulties are highlighted by the conjunction of transiting Saturn (3 Sagittarius) to his natal Jupiter.  Saturn retrograde station two weeks ago activated his Jupiter and may provide one explanation why the Trump administration is taking a tougher stand against him now.  Saturn's conjunction with his Jupiter is an apt alignment that suggests a 'blocking of progress' or a 'restriction to achievement' or more fundamentally 'a denial of optimism.'   Sunday's failed missile launch may also be seen through this prism of Saturn's negative influence on Kim's Jupiter and 1st house more generally.  Transiting Mars was also exactly casting its 8th house (210 degree) aspect to Jupiter at the time of the failed launch.  Overall, it is often hard to move forward when Saturn is transiting the 1st house close to the Ascendant.

But how could this latest confrontation unfold in the weeks ahead?  Saturn is backing off its conjunction with Jupiter so that could indicate better outcomes for North Korea and perhaps a lessening a tension on Kim Jong-Un personally.  But Jupiter is also under the 120 degree aspect of transiting Rahu for several more weeks.  That can be troublesome as Rahu introduces a disruptive energy into one's life.  Moreover, Ketu (South Lunar Node) closely aspects Mars during this time.  Clearly, the next two months will be characterized by high levels of conflict and an elevated potential for military violence.  And the fact that Uranus is opposite Kim's Mars for the next several months means that military action is much more likely. Uranus (4 Aries) is due to station retrograde exactly opposite his Mars (4 Libra) in August.  The Uranus-Mars combination is often found in situations of sudden and destructive conflict.

As I see it, Kim's chart is more vulnerable to setbacks over the next several weeks at least.  It is possible we could see more troubles appear this week for him as Mars aligns with Rahu but I suspect they will not be decisive.  A more important alignment may occur with the entry of Mars into sidereal Gemini on May 27th as it will create a close opposition to Saturn and this could again activate Kim's Jupiter.  It could mark the beginning of a very negative three-week window for him and his country where a major setback is more likely. 

An attack by the US is one possible scenario that could fulfill this planetary promise.  However, I should also note that North Korea's problems could also take a less dramatic form.  It is also conceivable that the late May and early June period could see China pivot away from its traditional support for the Kim regime.  A removal of aid or the imposition of sanctions by China on Pyongyang would also be a huge strategic setback for Kim Jong-Un.  Overall, 2017 looks bad for North Korea.  I will try to post updates on this ongoing situation with reference to other relevant charts including the horoscopes of China, South Korea and the US. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have moved slightly lower over past two weeks as geopolitical concerns in North Korea and Syria have weighed on sentiment.  The Dow is trading near 20,500 today while India's Sensex has also lost ground this week and is now at 29,300.  The modestly bearish mood is broadly in keeping with my expectations as the Venus-Saturn square remains in effect this week. Square 90-degree angles involving the planet Saturn are often bearish and this one is no exception.  This one is somewhat unusual in that both planets were moving very slowly as they were near their respective stations and hence the square aspect is within range for much longer than normal.  More generally, I had expected the Venus retrograde period (Mar 4 - Apr 15) to be generally negative and it was in the US as stocks experienced modest declines.  Emerging markets such as India's fared somewhat better, however, and posted small gains over that period. 

The proximity of the Venus-Saturn square suggests that markets are unlikely to move much higher this week.  The late week in particular looks more problematic as Mars (6 Taurus) aligns with Mercury (5 Aries) and Rahu (7 Leo).   I would be particularly concerned about Friday the 21st as the Moon conjoins Ketu.  This is a possible astro-signature for unwelcome geopolitical developments.   This alignment also seems to activate President Trump's chart (Asc = 6 Leo) so markets may be put on edge here.  More downside therefore looks likely this week and probably into early next week.  Mars will remain in fairly close alignment with Rahu on Monday.  However, I would think there could be some improvement in sentiment as Mercury approaches its conjunction with Uranus later in the week.  There is still some question about when the upside from this pairing will occur since Mercury will still be retrograde next week.   We may well have to wait for Mercury's direct station on May 3rd to gain more clarity.

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, April 5, 2017

China's Xi meets Trump as Saturn turns retrograde

(5 April 2017) The leaders of the two most economically powerful countries on the planet are due to meet tomorrow.  US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will meet Thursday and Friday in Mar-a-Lago, Florida to discuss a range of issues from global trade to North Korea.  There is some trepidation that the meeting could be rather tense given Trump's often blunt and hostile comments about China and its economic practices.  Trump's unpredictability means anything is possible, although it seems more likely that everyone will be all smiles in front of the cameras.  What insights does astrology offer on this meeting?

While we don't know President Xi's birth time, we do know he was born 15 June 1953.    As it happens, Xi's birthday is just one day after Trump's so both men will have a close conjunction of their Suns, although Xi's is in the first degree of Gemini and Trump's is in the last degree of Taurus.   Right there, we may note a small difference in approach. Trump is the sensualist and assertive bull (Taurus) while Xi may be more the intellectual data-collector typical of many Geminis.   Xi is much more the thinker of the two due to his very strong Mercury in its own sign of Gemini in a close conjunction with Uranus.  The wider conjunction with Mars and the Sun also boosts his rational thinking capacity (Mercury).  Xi can think quickly on his feet and may be quite open to innovative solutions where they are deemed necessary.

The synastry between the charts hints at some intriguing dynamics between the two men.  The fact that they are meeting the same day that Saturn turns retrograde is interesting enough.  Saturn symbolizes responsibility and order and its retrograde periods are often times when established practices are reviewed and come under criticism.  This is perhaps unsurprising since Trump is intent on changing the dyanmic of "Chimerica" whereby the US buys what China makes without any tariff barriers while China agrees to purchase US debt.  But the times, they are likely changing.  Saturn's heaviness will also be in focus as the burden of both of their nations will weigh heavily on them as they discuss ways to improve their respective economies.


The square alignment between their respective Saturns could mean that agreement and compromise may be particularly difficult.  Xi's Saturn (27 Virgo) also squares Trump's Venus in early Cancer so that may mean an hardness and distance to the interaction as if Xi's formal and resolute approach may block any attempt by Trump to create more friendly ties (Venus). 

We can also see that Trump's Rahu (29 Taurus) very closely aspects Xi's Saturn-Neptune conjunction.   Trump's penchant for off the cuff comments and breaking with tradition (Rahu) are likely to not be well received by Xi's stronger sense of propriety and responsibility.   It is possible this disruptive Rahu effect could put Xi on the defensive and somehow benefit Trump in any discussions.   With transiting Mercury turning retrograde at 10 Sagittarius just after the meeting, Xi could be somewhat confused or disoriented by the meeting and its immediate aftermath.  Mercury (communication) will station in an exact square alignment with his Rahu/Ketu.   Another unhelpful element is that transiting Ketu (8 Aquarius) is in close aspect with Xi's Mars (7 Gemini).  This can increase annoyance and could produce significant disputes and conflict.

The transits for the meeting would seem to favour Trump actually since the Sun (24 Pisces) will oppose his Jupiter (24 Virgo) on Friday and thereby set up a larger positive alignment with transiting Jupiter (24 Virgo) which is exactly conjunct its natal placement.   But there is a lot going on in Washington, and the Sun-Jupiter opposition is perhaps just as likely to represent the Senate confirmation of Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. 

Longer term, I wonder if China's Xi Jinping will ultimately get the better of Trump due to the exact placement of Mars (7 Gemini) on Trump's 11th house cusp represents gains and wishes fulfilled.   There is no single way to interpret this placement but one possibility is that China will aggressively (Mars) take profits (11th house) from Trump and the USA.  Alternatively, China may win gains through military action (Mars) with Trump.  However, without Xi's birth time it is hard to be anything more than speculative on these sorts of questions.

Trump is still under tremendous stress and strain from the exact Saturn (3 Sagittarius) retrograde station on Thursday with his natal Mars (3 Leo).  Saturn stations play out over several days and even sometimes weeks due to its slow velocity.  But the bottom line here is I still think that Trump is likely to have a bit of a win here on the Sun-Jupiter, if only to break the heaviness of the Saturn influence which will likely remain in the air for much of April.   The 8th house aspect of Mars to Trump's Moon-Ketu conjunction will be exact over the weekend and into early next week.  That will likely bring more difficult situations and frustration for him. 

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks have generally slipped a bit lower since my previous post last Tuesday.  The Dow reversed lower today after the release of the latest Fed minutes showed its greater willingness to raise interest rates by selling the bonds on its balance sheet first acquired during the QE stimulus program.   The great unwinding has begun.   As expected stocks were mostly lower late last week and rebounded somewhat on Monday and Tuesday this week.  The Dow finished today around 20, 600.  Indian stocks have been stronger, however, as the Sensex finally regained its all-time high of 30,000 today on optimism over the GST bills and renewed global enthusiasm for emerging markets.

While some further gains are possible late this week on the Sun-Jupiter opposition, I would think the downside risk is rising here as Saturn turns retrograde tomorrow and Uranus has now just re-entered the sign of Aries.  These two placements are likely to correspond with more uncertainty and a rise in caution.  Early next week also looks difficult as Mercury turns retrograde while in aspect with the Lunar Nodes and Venus will form a close square aspect with Saturn. 

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.