Wednesday, June 28, 2017

GOP postpones Senate healthcare vote

(28 June 2017) The Trump agenda suffered a major setback yesterday after GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell was forced to postpone the vote on the controversial Better Care Reconciliation Act.  The GOP had drafted its bill to repeal Obamacare in secret and allowed less than a week for public scrutiny, a move with later backfired after a damning report from the CBO on Monday compelled several Senators to remove their support. While McConnell intends on bringing it to a vote by mid-July, it is unclear if the differences between the moderate and conservative wings of the party can bridged by that time. 

The failure to get the much-hoped for "big win" for Trump's legislative agenda has again put this administration back on its heels. There are large fissures in the GOP which not even the famously deal-making Trump can easily fix.  The larger problem for Trump and the GOP is that without passage of the health care bill, the more important tax reform bill likely cannot move forward either. 

Last week, I suggested that Trump's fortunes were improving in the month of June as evidenced by the special Congressional election wins and the absence of any personally damaging revelations in the Comey testimony and the Russia investigation.  I also thought that his luck could carry over into this week and help the Senate GOP pass the health care bill.  Well, I guess even Jupiter's beneficence has its limits.  Jupiter is still a positive planetary influence for Trump because 1) he is running the Jupiter-Jupiter dasha period and 2) transiting Jupiter is in conjunction with his natal Jupiter and aspects his Sun.  He is still subject to some very afflicting transits by malefic Rahu (North Lunar Node) to his Mars and then of course the Saturn conjunction to his Moon-Ketu (South Lunar Node) combination. These are both very stressful patterns that strongly suggest he will be under significant pressure for several more months. 

But the ongoing double Jupiter influence may be one reason why he is surviving in the White House to the extent that he is, albeit with an approval rating below 40%.  The Jupiter influence may be why the Russia investigation is less likely to find an impeachable smoking gun this year, and therefore why he can avoid resigning.  When Jupiter shines down on you, it acts as a kind of protective shield against those kinds of worst-case scenarios. 

Trump did earn a win on Monday, however, as the Supreme Court partially allowed his travel ban to go into effect thus restricting immigration and travelfrom majority Muslim countries. Trump didn't hesitate to claim victory and, indeed, it was a major shift for travel ban which had experienced nothing but judicial resistance in the lower courts.  So the week hasn't been a complete write-off for President Trump.

One reason why I thought the GOP health care bill had a decent chance of passing was that the Obamacare horoscope looked to be under pressure at this time.  The Mercury-Mars conjunction lines up very closely with Ketu (South Lunar Node) in the chart for the moment when President Obama signed the ACHA into law.  I thought the Mars and Ketu components in this alignment would reflect a very stressful situation with respect to Obamacare and its survival.  I therefore assumed that it might have equated with the successful Senate bill passage.  This was a misinterpretation on my part, however, as it may have only highlighted a near-death experience for Obamacare.  Stressful yes, but not fatal.

There are more difficult transits in the Obamacare chart this summer so we cannot rule out a successful Senate vote.  The interpretative challenge for astrologers is to try to distinguish between various events that may impact the viability of Obamacare.  Obviously, if the Senate bill is passed then that would show up in the Obamacare chart as a negative influence.  But so would news of another insurance company pulling out which would hasten its underfunded "death spiral". 

The last week of July and first week of August could also reflect a stressful period for Obamacare.  The Sun-Mars conjunction aligns with the natal Mars on July 24th and then Mercury opposes Neptune on the natal MC/IC on August 9th.  Although this may not look overly terrible, but it is not positive.  Whether or not it is sufficiently negative to coincide with something as significant as a GOP Senate health bill passage is harder to say. 

Even if the Senate does eventually pass the GOP health bill this summer, there would still be several important steps before Obamacare was formally repealed.  It's a very complex legislative labyrinth that I don't pretend to fully understand.  As I wrote back in March, the Obamacare horoscope looks more afflicted in 2018, especially in the late summer and fall.  This is the time when Saturn will station retrograde in Sagittarius directly opposite the Ascendant and Moon.  This seems like a more likely astrological alignment we would expect for a major or even final defeat for Obamacare.  Formal repeal could well happen then, just before the critical mid-term elections in November 2018.

Weekly Market Forecast

Financial markets have been fairly mixed over the past week as investors are weighing the possible fallout of a delayed or failed Trump agenda.  US stocks have pushed higher in Wednesday's session as the Dow is again trading near its all-time high.  European and Indian stock markets have been somewhat weaker, however, on concerns about a possible withdrawal of central bank liquidity from both from the Fed and the ECB. 

In last week's market forecast, I thought that stocks would be more prone to declines.  This hasn't quite panned out as expected as the Mars-Jupiter square aspect may be seen as a bearish influence.

The rest of this week could actually be somewhat positive as Venus enters sidereal Taurus.  It may even be enough for a positive weekly close.  Next week also has some bright spots as the Sun aligns with Jupiter and Neptune in the middle of the week.

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, June 21, 2017

GOP wins Georgia special election: charting Trump's ups and downs

(21 June 2017) Donald Trump scored another "win" yesterday as the Republicans narrowly won the hotly contested special election in the Georgia 6th Congressional District.  The election was widely seen as a referendum on the Trump administration as Democrats were hoping for an upset in the traditionally GOP district.  The victory will help boost the GOP's legislative agenda including the controversial healthcare bill that is currently in the Senate.  A Senate vote on the bill is expected before the recess at the end of June although it is unclear if the GOP bill can pass given its secretive and controversial nature.

Trump's improving fortunes likely began with the Comey hearings where the former FBI chief did not provide clear evidence of a smoking gun with regard to Trump's alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 election campaign.  While the investigation is far from over, the absence of any shocking revelations at that time was seen as a plus for Trump as it took a lot of the pressure off.

In a May 10th post, I offered that June could bring some improvement for Trump as Jupiter stationed direct on June 9th.  I suggested that since he was running the Jupiter major and minor Vimshottari dasha periods, the return of Jupiter to its normal direct motion could bring some benefits to him.  The Comey testimony took place the previous day on June 8th.  And we can see how this favorable special election result also fits with a more positive transit picture. 

The Sun (self, ego) and Mercury (communication, work) were conjunct at 5 Gemini on Tuesday which is almost exactly on the equal cusp of Trump's 11th house signifying gains and wishes fulfilled.  It's very unusual to have things go against you when those two planets sitting on the 11th cusp.  Transiting Mars (16 Gemini) was just one degree past Trump's very strong 11th house Mercury (15 Gemini) and this should also be seen as generally favorable placement.  Mars is often negative by square or opposition aspect, but its conjunction here in the 11th house is more a symbol of energy and action, or an action that brings good results.

Amazingly, this Sun-Mercury conjunction is also in a very positive place for Trump in the chart of President-Elect of the United States (PEOTUS).  The conjunction at 5 Gemini sits at the very top of the chart on the 10th house cusp reflecting an achievement and increase in status.  And if we want to dig deeper, we can see that the Moon-Venus conjunction was in a very close 135 degree alignment (8th harmonic) with the Ascendant.  Although it is now moving forward slowly, transiting Jupiter (19 Virgo) is still closely conjunct its natal position at 18 Virgo.  It's definitely not a bad set up of planets.

So how long can Trump ride this little wave of momentum?  I think these more positive planets should extend into early or perhaps mid-July.  That means that the chances look good for the Senate to pass the GOP health care bill if it happens next week before the July 4th recess.  Trump's natal chart looks quite good towards the end of next week (June 28-30) as Venus conjoins his unequal 10th house cusp (=success) while the Mercury-Mars conjunction at 22-24 Gemini aligns with his Jupiter by square aspect.  The transiting Sun will conjoin his 11th house Mercury (=gains) around the same time. 

The PEOTUS chart also places the Mercury-Mars conjunction in a powerful position aligning with the Sun (23 Libra), Saturn (21 Scorpio) and Pluto (21 Sagittarius).  This isn't necessarily an alignment for a shining success as Saturn and Pluto imply coercion and the blunt application of power but it still seems like it fits better with the vote being forced through one way or another.  The Venus (0 Taurus ) opposition to Mercury (0 Scorpio) seems somewhat indicative of a desirable outcome for Trump.

Trump's string of good luck may end in July, especially once Mars enters sidereal Cancer on July 11th.  Mars is debilitated in Cancer and it will enter his 12th house of losses and isolation.  It will also conjoin both his Saturn and Venus in mid-July.  This looks like a time of fresh conflict and disputes, possibly involving women in some way.  The period from late July to late August looks very difficult for him and the White House.  I should also note that it may also reflect problems for the US as a whole. 

Since the Sun-Mars conjunction will conjoin Rahu (North Node) in the USA chart in early August, it is possible that we could see some kind of secret (8th house) violent action involving foreigners (Rahu).  Alternatively, news may emerge of some kind of scandal along those lines (e.g. Russia) which could damage Trump.  As I have pointed out previously, the impending Saturn station on August 25th will sit right on Trump's Moon-Ketu conjunction.  It is a very heavy and burdensome combination that indicates intense pressure and stress and a high level of emotional instability.

To add to this picture of intensity and stress, the solar eclipse of August 21st occurs right atop Trump's Ascendant and Mars.  And Mars will conjoin Rahu in late Cancer just a few degrees behind the eclipse degree.  Conflict and possibly violence may be the prevailing themes at that time.  Since the USA chart is also impacted by the Mars-Rahu conjunction, it seems more likely that Trump's troubles may be less likely to be ethical or political and perhaps more military in nature.   We shall see. 

I don't think there is much chance of Trump resigning or getting impeached before the 2018 midterms.  The GOP are still supporting him and that probably won't change.  But Trump's horoscope looks terrible in the fall of 2018 so it should mean that the GOP loses control of at least one house of Congress.  His charts are so bad that it could coincide with something worse than just losing the midterm elections.   That broadly fits with the dasha periods also since he is running Jupiter-Jupiter until November 2018.  After that time, he will run Jupiter-Saturn until 2021.   This is more likely to be difficult for him since his Saturn is placed in the 12th house, the house of loss and sorrows.  If impeachment is going to happen, it still seems more likely to take place in 2019.

Weekly Market Forecast

World stock markets remained firm over the past week after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in a widely anticipated move.  While US stocks fell modestly after the Fed hike, the Dow bounced back strongly on Monday and is still trading near its all-time high above 21,000.  Indian stocks also stayed buoyant despite the Fed hike as the Sensex is still above 31,000.  In last week's market forecast, I thought stocks would be weaker on the Sun-Saturn opposition after the Fed statement and this was largely the case although the declines were small.

I thought we might have seen more downside so far this week as Mars approaches its square aspect with Jupiter so it remains to be seen if I will be proven wrong on that score.  Falling crude oil prices have introduced some uncertainty into the market after Monday's rise but stocks are fairly flat so far in Wednesday's session in the US.  The Mars influence here still seems to be the most noteworthy.  For that reason, I think the path of least resistance may still be down for the stock market over the next several sessions.

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, June 14, 2017

UK politics in chaos as May loses majority in early election

(14 June 2017) UK politics has been thrown into a state of chaos after last week's unexpectedly close election has resulted in a hung parliament.  Conservative PM Theresa May had called an early election in order to strengthen her hand ahead of Brexit talks due to begin this month.  But the gamble backfired with May's government losing its comfortable majority so now it has to form a coalition with the far right Northern Ireland DUP in order to cling to power.  Even if May manages to secure a functioning agreement (likely but not a certainty, especially given the pro-Labour planets on June 19-20), her status as leader is now in jeopardy as other Tories are now positioning themselves for a new leadership contest.  She has been described as a 'dead woman walking' as both her leadership and her government may not last another election.

How did it all go so wrong for her?  One reason lies in the respective planetary alignments for both her and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The stars aligned against Ms. May and shone brightly on opposition leader Mr. Corbyn who was seen as a surprise winner of sorts.  As is often the case when we suffer failures or setbacks, Saturn was front and center in Theresa May's chart (1 October 1956, no time).  Saturn (0 Sagittarius) is casting its full strength square aspect to her Mercury and Sun in Virgo. 

Yes, the aspect is quite wide but I would suggest that it was intensified by the simultaneous square aspect of Mars (9 Gemini) to the Sun and Mercury.  Mercury was probably more pivotal in this respect since it is the dispositor of the Sun as rule of the sign of Virgo.  As it happens, the midpoint (4 Virgo) of the transiting Mars and Saturn was almost exactly conjunct Mercury at 5 Virgo.  Overall, it's a very difficult double-barreled transit by malefic planets.

But by contrast Jeremy Corbyn (26 May 1949, no time) saw the light of benefic Jupiter shining on him.  Jupiter (19 Virgo) was near its direct station at the time of the election and was in a close trine aspect to his Venus (22 Taurus) which would also play a disproportionately important role here because it is the dispositor of both his Mercury and the Sun in Taurus.   One of the most fundamental rules of astrology is that a Jupiter station is a time of increased good fortune when it forms a close alignment with a key planet or planets in the natal chart.  In Corbyn's case, his good luck was likely enhanced by the transit conjunctions of the Sun to his Venus-Mercury conjunction as well as Mercury's conjunction to his natal Sun.

Most observers do not expect the new Theresa May government to last very long.  Some are even suggesting the coalition with DUP may collapse this year and trigger another election.  I'm uncertain we could see another election in 2017 but certainly Theresa May's chart looks very difficult through to 2018 due to the ongoing transit of Saturn in Sagittarius.  I would think there may be an increase in her political problems in early 2018 when Saturn approaches its retrograde station at 15 Sagittarius in April.  This will exactly square her Sun and could coincide not only with her being unseated as leader but quite possibly also as an election defeat at the hands of Labour. 

Interestingly, the horoscope of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party also suggests that early 2018 could be a time when Ms. May's problems will multiply.  Corbyn won the leadership of the Labour Party at 11.46 a.m. on 12 September 2015.   As we can see, it's an excellent horoscope in its own right with a powerful 11th house of gains tenanted by Sun, Moon and Jupiter in Leo.  Regardless of timing specifics, we should expect his leadership to be successful by any measure and he would be more likely to win an election eventually on the strength of this chart. 

Last week's election saw stationary Jupiter (19 Virgo) conjunct natal Mercury (20 Virgo) which is a very nice placement indeed and fits well with his party's surprising gains.  But now that Jupiter is moving forward again, it will enter the 1st house of Libra in this chart later on this year and will provide further energy to his leadership chances in the coming months.   Jupiter is due to station direct again in July 2018 at 19 Libra which will be in an exact conjunction with this natal Ascendant.  That looks like a very good alignment that should boost the fortunes of Corbyn and Labour even further. The bottom line here is that I think the chances are good that Corbyn will be elected the next Prime Minister of the UK sometime between March and July 2018.

This instability and eventual change in government is likely to make the road to Brexit even more unpredictable.  In fact, Brexit may not even happen if Labour gets into power and it finds more sympathetic negotiating partners in Germany and France. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have been slightly bullish since my last post two weeks ago.  While I thought we would likely see some further gains up to the Jupiter direct station on June 9th, stocks have generally been positive this week as well.  As usual, the stock market is defying gravity but now it is happening somewhat paradoxically at the same time that the bond market is also rallying. The falling yields in the bond market is telegraphing a slower US economy (lower inflation, etc) but this seems difficult to square with the resilient optimism in equities.  One of these markets is likely wrong.  But which one? 

I would make a case that the equity market is "wrong", at least for now, as the planetary alignments are still looking bearish.  While I thought we would have seen more in the way of downside in late May on the Mars-Saturn opposition, we are again confronted with a potentially important alignment of malefic planets.  The Sun opposes Saturn today and Thursday just in time for the latest Fed policy statement.  The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates but the market will wait to hear what its plan is to unwind its massive balance sheet.  Also, Mars will gradually tighten its aspect to Jupiter this week and next week so that is another potential source of pessimism and caution.  As I have indicated previously, the main event is still the approaching Saturn-Lunar Node alignment which will be within range for several months this summer.   It is not an alignment to be taken lightly. 

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, June 1, 2017

Trump pulls US out of Paris Agreement on climate change

(1 June 2017)  Well, climate change just got Trumped.  President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the US from Paris Agreement today fulfilling a key campaign promise.  The US joins a tiny group along with two other nations (Syria and Nicaragua) out of 190 which has rejected the climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to reduce global warming.  Trump intends to renegotiate the deal on more favourable terms to the US.  Early reaction from other signatory countries suggests this may be wishful thinking. 

There are several interesting astrological angles worth exploring here.  The most important is the horoscope of the Paris Agreement itself which was passed by unanimous vote at the COP 21 conference on 12 December 2015 at 7.26 p.m CET.   With the future of the agreement now in doubt after the withdrawal of the world's greatest contributor of greenhouse gases, we should expect to see malefic planets like Saturn and Mars more prominently placed.  And that is exactly the case. 

The horoscope for the Paris Agreement currently has Saturn sitting on the cusp of the equal 6th house of conflict.  Saturn (1 Sagittarius) is in an almost exact alignment with the Ascendant (0 Cancer) and reflects intense stress as a consequence of the US abandoning its global leadership on this issue.  Saturn symbolizes setbacks, delays, and disappointments and its exact conjunction with the 6th house of disputes is very fitting this latest development.  Saturn is also squaring the Jupiter-Rahu conjunction suggesting an obstacle to the wisdom and reputation (Jupiter) of the accord. 

The Lunar Nodes are also within range of their respective house cusps as Rahu (4 Leo) conjoins the 2nd house (= distortion or interruption of voice) and Ketu (4 Aquarius) conjoins the 8th house (=sudden scandals or setbacks).  Mars (4 Gemini) is the triggering planet as it aligns almost exactly with the MC/IC or unequal 10th and 4th house cusps.  While these cusps are not widely used in traditional Vedic astrology, they nonetheless are sensitive points that often correspond with significant events when under close aspect.  Mars typically brings shocks and disputes as President Trump has called into the question the future of the entire deal.  Without US participation, some commentators wonder if the accord can now survive and if so, if it will be effective.

The planets this summer indicate that the Paris Agreement will be under intense pressure now more than ever.  Transiting Saturn is due to station at 27 Scorpio in late August.  This will be very close to the natal Sun (26 Scorpio) in the horoscope.  So we should expect more doubts about the viability of the agreement over the next few months.  Even if China, India and the EU countries pledge to uphold its terms in the coming days, the Saturn transit to the Sun may mean that the legitimacy of the agreement will in flux.  We may see another setback for the accord such as another major nation opting out in the summer.  Alternatively, we could a movement towards the possibility of some renegotiation which would be in line with Trump's thinking.  A change in the original agreement could manifest as a serious affliction to the horoscope since it would entail an injury or amendment to its current form. 

The Nodes will also intensify its problems as they will conjoin the cusps of the 2nd and 8th house.  Nodal influences are often indicators of uncertainty and sudden or difficult changes that require major adjustment. The nodal affliction to this horoscope will continue through to November when Rahu will exactly aspect the Sun.  This could well signify an additional setback for the deal in its current form. 

An additional underlying problem is that Pluto forms a t-square with the Mars-Uranus opposition for the rest of 2017.  No doubt, the US withdrawal is already a manifestation of this troublesome energy.  But since Pluto moves very slowly, we should interpret this Pluto influence as representing powerful and possibly hidden forces that are working to undermine the agreement.  Things do not look much better in early 2018 as Saturn is due to station retrograde while in close conjunction with the Moon-Mercury conjunction in Gemini.  Since the Moon rules the chart as a whole (i.e. the Cancer Ascendant), it is quite possible that the deal will suffer further setbacks.  I would not be surprised if it goes on life support in early 2018. 

But the outlook should improve by the spring and summer of 2018 as Jupiter transits through Libra and will conjoin the natal Venus.  It is very possible that the accord will have new life at that time, possibly as a result of Trump's declining fortunes.  I have previously predicted a serious setback for Trump in the fall of 2018.  Given the time frame, it seems likely that the GOP will lose control of Congress in the midterm elections.  Without GOP control of Congress, the complex legal process for quitting the agreement may be delayed or even stopped altogether.  Early 2019 also looks very good for the Paris Agreement as Jupiter will station retrograde in close conjunction with the natal Sun.  This could well represent a Democrat-controlled Congress decisively blocking Trump's withdrawal plan or maybe even impeaching him.  I'm not prepared to go out on the impeachment limb just yet but the planets are sufficiently bad for Trump that it is definitely in the conversation.  More on that question soon.

Weekly Market Forecast

Meanwhile, the stock market has resumed its upward march this week.  US markets rallied on a positive jobs number today as the Dow closed at 21,144.  India's Sensex has been slowly climbing since last week as the benchmark index finished Thursday at 31,137.  I thought we might have seen more negative sentiment around the Mars-Saturn opposition earlier in the week.  This proved to be something of a misfire, however, as US stocks only fell fractionally on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Friday's Venus-Uranus conjunction looks bullish enough, especially given the larger alignment with Saturn and Rahu (North Lunar Node).  Next week also offers some upside potential as Venus will align with Mercury and Mars in the first half of the week.  Alignments containing the planet Mars may be less reliably positive than ones involving only benefic planets like Mercury and Venus.  Nonetheless, there is some reason to expect more gains next week, at least in the early going.  Things may get murky by the end of the week as Jupiter stations direct on Friday the 9th.  This could alter some of the growth assumptions in financial markets and produce a reassessment of asset values.  It may also encourage reallocation of assets into different asset classes  e.g. moving out of stocks and into bonds, etc.

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.