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.