Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trump's troubles as seen through the PEOTUS chart

(15 March 2017) One of the most fascinating aspects of astrology is how horoscopes belonging to different people, institutions or events can confirm the same reality.  All other things being equal, these different sources of confirming evidence can boost our predictive accuracy about the future.  Like all other human sciences, astrology is not perfect and astrologers make their fair share of mistakes.   But when considering the future prospects of one President Donald J. Trump, it's helpful to be able to go beyond his personal chart and refer to other relevant horoscopes.

This week I wanted to look at the horoscope for the moment when Trump was declared the winner in the November 8th election.   This is the chart of the President-elect of the United States (PEOTUS).  Due to the closeness of the race, Trump was actually declared the winner first by Associated Press at 2.31 a.m. in the early morning of the 9th.  But the first major television network that declared him the President-elect was Fox at 2.40 a.m.  The other networks quickly followed suit a few minutes later.  As a median time, I will use the Fox call at 2.40 a.m. as my working chart for the moment when America and world realized that Donald Trump was the new president.   The total Ascendant range between the different media calls is about three degrees (4 Virgo - 7 Virgo)

We can see how this chart works by seeing the transit hits of significant events in his administration.  Trump's controversial and defeated travel ban against Muslims occurred on January 27 just as transiting Mars (5 Pisces) conjoined the Descendant (7th house cusp) and thereby opposed the Ascendant exactly.  Mars to the Ascendant is a perfect astrological indication for the conflict and disputes which Trump faced as a result of this disastrous and reviled policy roll-out.

One of Trump's high points thus far was his speech to Congress on February 28 when he appeared more moderate and presidential.  Not surprisingly, we can see that the horoscope enjoyed a few nice hits that day.   Venus and Moon (18 Pisces) were exactly opposite Jupiter at 18 Virgo.  Venus and the Moon are related to social approval and happiness while Jupiter symbolizes justice and “right action”.  More broadly, Jupiter represents positive events in keeping with Trump’s well-received speech.  The Sun’s conjunction with Ketu (South Lunar Node) may be interpreted as reflecting the unexpected or surprising quality to the speech after Trump had been roundly criticized for his chaotic approach to governing.  Transiting Mercury was also conjunct the Moon symbolizing communication with the people, perhaps with an added emotional dimension.

Other events are also visible such as the Jeff Sessions' recusal from the Russian investigation on March 3 when Mars (1 Aries) exactly cast its 8th house/210 degree aspect to natal Mercury (0 Scorpio).  The following day Trump issued his infamous wiretap accusation against Obama.  This occurred when the transiting Sun (20 Aquarius) was exactly square the natal Saturn (21 Scorpio). 
These hits are a nice confirmation that this chart does work and can be useful for predicting future trends in the Trump administration.  But the best confirmation in that regard is that nasty Saturn is sitting on the natal Venus (2 Sagittarius).  The first two months of the Trump presidency has been rocky to say the least.  He’s unpopular outside of his base of core supporters and there is a sense that the other shoe may drop at any time whether it’s Russia-related or tax-related or something else.  Saturn-Venus conjunctions reflect a loss of happiness through constraint and restriction. 

The special problem here with this PEOTUS chart is that Saturn is slowing down now ahead of its retrograde station on April 6th.   This means that Saturn has been conjunct Venus for most of his presidency and will continue to be conjunct after the station for several more weeks into the month of May.  While Saturn has its useful side towards getting things done which is arguably true with Trump, a station is usually just too much Saturn for any planet to handle constructively.   It is one big reason why the Trump presidency rife with problems and scandals and why it is so unpopular.  Thus, this Saturn-Venus hit confirms the difficult Inauguration horoscope, as well as the current Saturn affliction in the USA chart and also the ongoing Saturn problem in Trump's personal chart.  All the charts show that the incoming administration would have a difficult time of it out of the gate.

Looking Ahead

The next few weeks are unlikely to bring an improvement in Trump's fortunes.  In fact, they will likely get worse.  There are few things that bear watching in this PEOTUS chart.  

March 16-17 (later this week).  Trump could run into more legal troubles as the Sun squares Saturn and both will align closely with the angles and Venus in the chart.  The Sun-Saturn pairing suggests problems with authority and when you're President, authority is usually legal in nature, either the courts, the FBI or some other agency.  It's also possible that Congress may find new objections to the proposed health care bill. 

March 22-23.  A sharp conflict or military action is more likely as Mars aligns with natal Rahu.  This may not be bad news for him politically, however.

April 1.    A policy success is quite possible as the Sun opposes Jupiter while Venus aligns with the Ascendant/Descendant. 

April 13.  Venus stations in alignment with Saturn and highlights the natal Venus affliction.  This could be bad economic news or just more headaches for Trump. 

April 19-20.  Transiting Mars, Sun and Venus all align with the natal Mars (6 Capricorn) in the PEOTUS chart. And given the powerful placement of the natal Mars, all those planets align with the Ascendant.  This is a potentially serious development that could further undermine the Trump presidency.

Late April and May:  Transiting Rahu will conjoin the equal 12th house cusp.  Depending on whether one uses the True or Mean Node, this hit could take place over a span of several weeks.   This is a time when scandals and secrets are more likely to come to light and be very damaging.  If the Congressional Russia investigation is going to find anything on Trump, I would think it will come out at this time.   Even if they find something, I don't think it's likely that Trump will be blamed.

Nov 4 2018.   Trump and the GOP are very likely to lose big in the midterms.  The multiple afflictions in this chart could even mean they lose both Houses of Congress.  Saturn is exactly aspecting the Moon by its full-strength 3rd house aspect while Ketu is conjunct Mars.  Jupiter is helpful here on the 3rd house cusp but the balance of the chart suggests a significant loss.  And if the Democrats can win both Houses, the impeachment of Trump becomes more likely.   But it's a long time between now and November 2018.  I'll post updates on this fascinating PEOTUS chart as events warrant.

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks have generally moved slightly lower since last week's market forecast.   The Dow slipped under 21,000 last week and remains there this week.  This mildly negative outcome was not surprising as I thought the Mars-Node alignment this week could put stocks under pressure.  Indian stocks have fared somewhat better after strong state election results in Uttar Pradesh bolstered the Modi government and its reform agenda.  As a result, the Sensex is trading back above 29,000.

All eyes are on Janet Yellen today as the Fed releases its latest policy statement on the economy.  The Fed is widely expected to raise rates although its forward guidance may be more important for the market.  The planets tilt bearish for the rest of the week so I would think the market may not like with the Fed says.  Thursday's Mars-Mercury alignment looks bearish and Friday's Sun-Saturn square also looks problematic.  Early next week also seems to give the edge to the bears as Venus aligns with Mars on Monday.  Could this finally be the start of the long-awaited correction?  We shall see.

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, February 28, 2017

Stocks at record highs before Trump's speech and Venus retrograde

(28 February 2017) The US stock market continues to make new all-time highs with each passing day as the Trump rally moves into its fourth month.  The promise of a business-friendly administration featuring lower taxes, less regulation and massive infrastructure spending has fueled the rally which has also boosted stock prices across most global markets.  But how much longer can it last?

In practical terms, investors will soon demand to see tangible evidence of Trump's promises in the form of detailed plans and actual legislation.  Perhaps Trump's speech to Congress tonight have go some ways to that end.  But the plan will still need to come to fruition in terms of real growth and rising corporate earnings.  For now, stocks are trading only on the future prospect of higher economic growth.

One possible detour for markets will be the upcoming Venus retrograde period.  Venus turns retrograde once every 19 months or so, as it traces a backward path through approximately 16 degrees of the sky.  The Venus retrograde period lasts on average 41 days.  Venus is due to turn retrograde this Saturday, March 4th at 19 degrees of Pisces.  Its retrograde cycle will end on April 16th at 2 degrees of Pisces at which point Venus will again begin to move forward. 

Venus is a benefic planet with a number of positive associations including love, women, art, luxury, leisure among many others.  In the financial world, it is associated with general notions of value and money.  When it turns retrograde, there may be changes to current perceptions of money.  The retrograde period implies a sense of review, retrenchment or perhaps even having second thoughts.  Venus retrograde periods therefore should be seen as periods of possible re-assessment of notions of value, including stock prices. By themselves, Venus retrograde periods may be seen as a negative influence on the stock market.  That said, there may be other factors at work that can sometimes produce gains during Venus retrograde periods.  As with most planetary placements in financial astrology, one single factor alone cannot determine overall price outcomes. 

We can see how the previous two Venus retrograde periods were correlated with declines.  The Dow fell 8% during the 2015 Venus retrograde cycle from July 25 to September 5.  The previous Venus retrograde cycle occurred from December 22, 2013 to February 1, 2014.  The Dow fell 4% during that 41-day period when Venus was moving backwards in the sky.  Not wanting to succumb to the recency effect, let's look at preceding Venus retrograde cycles to see if the pattern holds up.

The next chart reveals that the Venus Rx effect is not a perfect correlation.  Not by a long shot.  The Dow was more or less flat in the preceding period from May 15, 2012 to June 27, 2012.  And before that, stocks actually rose 1% during the Venus retrograde period in Oct-Nov 2010.  But it is the 2009 Venus retrograde cycle that presents the most compelling anomaly.  Stocks actually soared 22% during that Venus Rx period as the Dow bounced off the bottom in early March in what was the low point for the stock market after the 2008 Meltdown. 

How can we make sense of this anomaly?  First, I would suggest that Venus retrograde periods may still have a special significance in terms of fulfilling their symbolic association as a time to review and re-assess notions of value.  Stocks were "oversold" in March 2009 as many investors were panicking and liquidating their assets.  The Venus retrograde period then arrived in early March and coincided with a 'sober second thought' that perhaps stocks were really a better value than they had previously seemed.  As a result, stocks reversed sharply higher. 

The March 2009 Venus Rx period also occurred in a close alignment with Saturn.  Once Venus turned retrograde, it began to move away from its alignment with bearish Saturn and hence, some of that ongoing negative sentiment began to lessen.  In other words, the Venus retrograde period still needs to be understood with respect to other planetary placements.  By itself, it may only be modestly and conditionally bearish. But if it occurs when other planetary alignments are improving, it can actually coincide with gains.

So what does this all mean for the stock market and the next Venus retrograde cycle in March?  While we can try to make the case that Venus retrograde periods are somewhat bearish in themselves, it may matter more what alignments Venus is forming with respect to other planets during the time that it is retrograde.  There are no close alignments when Venus turns retrograde on March 4th, so that could mean we may not see an immediate decline. 

But by the end of its Rx period in mid-April, Venus will form a close square aspect with Saturn.  That's not good.  In my view, this suggests that any collective re-assessment of value and price brought on by the Venus Rx period is more likely to take stocks lower, especially as Venus approaches its square aspect with Saturn in April.  This may allow for more gains in the short run closer to the time of the March 4th Venus retrograde station.   I would still think that the 40-day retrograde cycle as a whole would see most stock markets struggle.   And with markets "overbought" as they are after the huge Trump rally, this revamped Venus influence may be the necessary ingredient to bring the rally to an end.  We shall see. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have maintained their upward momentum over the past week as investors await new directions from President Trump's speech to Congress tonight.  The Dow closed at its 11th straight all-time high on Monday at 20,837.  India's Sensex also pushed higher last week although it has dipped somewhat in the early going this week on profit-taking closing Tuesday at 28,743.  This mostly positive outcome was not unexpected given the ongoing Jupiter-Uranus alignment that has dominated the month of February. 

But we are more likely to see an increase in volatility as Jupiter separates from Uranus starting next week.  Some large moves become somewhat more likely this week in the wake of Sunday's solar eclipse (= interruption) and the Mars conjunction with Uranus.  I would be surprised if this translated into a large decline this week although some assumptions could be subject to change.  The entry of Mars into Aries on Wednesday and Thursday looks a bit unstable and could coincide with some negativity.  Given the impending separation of the Jupiter-Uranus alignment and the approach of the Venus retrograde period there is more reason to expect the Trump rally to end sooner rather than later.

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, February 21, 2017

The US economy in 2017: the Sun-Jupiter forecast

(21 February 2017) Despite all the chaos and controversy of the first month of the Trump presidency, the larger US economic picture is still basically positive.  US stock markets are trading at record highs as many investors are anticipating the benefits of the administration's business-friendly agenda of tax cuts, deregulation, and infrastructure.   For now, the US economy continues to chug along at the same modest growth rates that marked the Obama administration but with signs that consumer spending may be on the rise. 

But the outlook still contains some uncertainty.  Trump's border tax plan is problematic as it would increase the cost of imported goods and could thereby stoke inflation.  Moreover, the plan is politically dubious and lacks clear support in Congress as members are wary of a possible trade war with its trading partners.   Many economists wonder if Trump is more likely to enjoy the initial benefits of his populist "America First" policies for a year or two but then will have to face the negative consequences of his anti-globalization protectionist bias.

This uncertainty makes economic forecasting all the more valuable.   Economists themselves do not have a good track record in forecasting, as the old joke tells us: "economists have correctly predicted nine out of the last five recessions."  And neither do most astrologers for that matter.  It's a complex area of human affairs that resists simple explanations no matter what paradigm one uses.

Previously, I discussed some of the possible impacts of Trumponomics making reference to the current Rahu dasha period in the USA chart and some of the major alignments this year.  Both the two-year Saturn transit of sidereal Sagittarius and the extended Saturn-Rahu (North Lunar Node) aspect have the potential to depress sentiment and interfere with a growing economy in 2017 and beyond.  I thought a recession was likely at some point in the first term without specifying exactly when.

The Sun-Jupiter conjunction cycle

This week I wanted to look at the economic outlook using another technique, namely the annual Sun-Jupiter conjunction.  This is not a well-established method of interpretation.  In fact, I do not recall seeing it elsewhere although the concept of it is obvious enough that it likely has been used somewhere.  So it's more of a deductive experiment of mine that I believe has some decent evidence to support it.  The premise is simple.  The Sun moves into conjunction with Jupiter about once a year and has a 13-month, (i.e. 398-day) cycle.  Jupiter is the planet of optimism, while the Sun plays its role as a neutral sort of time-keeper.  Therefore, the Sun-Jupiter conjunction may provide information on the nature and quality of collective human optimism each year. 

The resulting chart of each Sun-Jupiter conjunction can be judged according to standard astrological principles in terms of associated planets and aspects.  If Sun-Jupiter is strengthened by the proximity of benefic planets like the Moon, Mercury, and Venus, then it is more likely that there will be greater amount of optimism.  Since the economy and the stock market is driven by emotions and sentiment and Keynes famous "animal spirits", a greater amount of collective optimism should translate into more economic growth.  When the Sun-Jupiter conjunction is aspected by malefics or otherwise poorly-placed, however, then optimism may be harder to come by and the economy is more prone to recession. 

In future, I hope to compile a more thorough record of previous Sun-Jupiter conjunctions along with their correlations with the economy.  For now, let's keep it brief by looking at a few recent Sun-Jupiter conjunctions that illustrate how this technique works.  It makes comparative sense to pick a sequence of years where there was high growth which then faded into a recession.   The Great Recession of 2007-2009 is the most recent case so we should examine the years leading up to the recession when growth was still robust. 

For the first Sun-Jupiter conjunction, I've chosen that of 22 October 2005 when the Sun conjoined Jupiter at 5 degrees of sidereal Libra.  The economy grew at more than 3% real GDP and the stock market was also rising during this 13-month period so we should expect a fairly good chart.  And we have one.   The conjunction itself is rising in the 1st house (with the Ascendant) in Libra which is a plus.  It also is unafflicted by malefics either by Vedic or Western aspecting rules.  So that's also a positive point.   And the Moon forms a nice 120 degree alignment with the conjunction so that adds to the overall optimism reflected in this chart.  We can go further down the astrological rabbit hole if we want by noting the positive condition of the 11th house of gains as its sign ruler, the Sun (Leo), it with Jupiter in the 1st house.   One sour note would be the very close opposition aspect between Mercury and Mars, however, I consider aspects involving other planets in the chart to be secondary in importance to the condition of the Sun-Jupiter conjunction itself.

The next Sun-Jupiter conjunction occurred on 21 November 2006 at 5 degrees of Scorpio.  The subsequent 13-month period also coincided with a period of fairly robust growth of almost 3% with attendant gains in the stock market.  Growth was slowing a bit over the previous years but still fairly strong.  The stock market peaked in October 2007 just a couple of months before the end of this Sun-Jupiter cycle.   The chart looks good as benefics Moon and Venus both conjoin the Sun and Jupiter in Scorpio.   Saturn squares Sun-Jupiter but this is the weaker forward square (90 degree) aspect of Saturn.  It's a blemish to be sure, but in my view not enough to negate the positive effects of the Moon and Venus in the 1st house. 

But the difference between those two charts and the next one is quite stark.  The Sun next conjoined Jupiter on 23 December 2007.  This was the Sun-Jupiter cycle that contained much of the meltdown as it was in effect until January 2009.   Real GDP growth actually declined by 0.3% in 2008 while the stock market lost almost half its value.   The recession hit will full force during this cycle.  The chart is obviously terrible as the Sun-Jupiter conjunction is with Mercury and Pluto but all four are closely opposed by Mars.  Mars is a bad planet, along with Saturn, and to variable extents, Rahu and Ketu.  Additionally, Ketu aspected the Sun-Jupiter conjunction very closely and should be seen as one reason why the recession was much worse than a typical recession. 

Now let's move forward to the present.  What does the current Sun-Jupiter conjunction portend?  The current Sun-Jupiter cycle began on 26 September 2016 and will run until 26 October 2017.    The Sun conjoins Jupiter at 9 Virgo and is unafflicted by malefics.  That's positive.  The position of Venus also at 9 degrees of Libra in the 2nd house should be seen as supportive.  More difficult is the square aspect involving Mars and Sun-Jupiter although this is a less than full strength backward square aspect.  Also Saturn's square aspect to Lagnesh dispositor Mercury and Rahu in the 12th is a negative.  But overall, the chart doesn't look too bad.  It's not great but neither it is overly troubled.  From this chart at least, I would think the US economy continues to muddle through with modest growth.  

The next Sun-Jupiter cycle begins on 26 October 2017 as the conjunction occurs at 9 Libra.  Again, Sun and Jupiter are unafflicted so that is a positive factor.  The placement of dispositor Venus debilitated in Virgo in the 12th house is not good, and neither is the placement of Mars at 8 Virgo exactly on the equal 12th house cusp and in alignment with Sun-Jupiter.  The fact that Saturn has just re-entered Sagittarius on that very day is a potentially worrisome sign as well.  The chart looks weaker than the previous chart so we can make a case for a slowing US economy starting in late-2017 until late-2018.  I would not say a recession is highly probable on this chart since the Sun-Jupiter conjunction itself still looks good.  Nonetheless, there seems to be some risk of slowing growth.  

A recession looks much more likely in 2019 and 2020 given the major afflictions in those Sun-Jupiter conjunction charts.   Barring any new Trump-related developments this week, I will look into those and other relevant economic charts in more detail next week. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have remained fairly buoyant last week and into early this week.  We did see some modest declines towards the end of last week but as expected they did little to change the basically optimistic outlook of the market.  The early week gains this week were also in keeping with the bullish influence of the Sun-Ketu conjunction.   Stocks are being supported in part by the very close Jupiter-Uranus opposition aspect.  This aspect has added strength due to the unusually slow velocity of Jupiter as it moves through its retrograde cycle.   A slow Jupiter is a more bullish Jupiter. 

This week is likely to produce more of the same.  We could see a pullback on Wednesday or Thursday on the Mercury-Saturn aspect but like last week, it does not seem sufficiently negative to offset the up trend.  The following week may prove to be a very different story, however, as Mars aligns with Jupiter and Uranus on the 26-27th, just a day after the solar eclipse.  Volatility may rise on these patterns.

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, February 14, 2017

Trump's trial by Saturn: Flynn resigns from WH post

(14 February 2017) The Trump presidency is still less than a month old and there are growing signs of chaos and conflict within the administration.  Yesterday, national security advisor Michael Flynn  resigned amid suspicion that he was vulnerable to Russian blackmail after discussing the lifting sanctions before he had been sworn-in and lying about it to VP Mike Pence.  And President Trump's travel ban remains in limbo awaiting further judicial clarification.  Meanwhile, a chaotic picture of insider leaks, backbiting and factional conflict within the White House is emerging. 

While much of the his ad hoc shock-and-awe governing style may be welcomed by supporters, there is a sense that all is not quite right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Polls shows Donald Trump is less popular than he was on Election Day while 40% of the country want to see him impeached already.   Some of this is due to growing pains, perhaps not unexpectedly given that Trump and his inner circle have no experience in government and are trying to implement historic changes in DC.   Creating chaos may not even a bad thing for Trump, Bannon et al., as it keeps the establishment off balance and guessing as to their next move.  With so many storylines injected into the news cycle every day, Trump can evade closer scrutiny, especially since the media has been given reduced access to the administration.

But my understanding of these chaotic early weeks for President Trump is informed more by some difficult astrological alignments.  It's impossible to say if things are unfolding as Trump would like them but the planets are suggesting that life in the Oval Office is proving more difficult than a reality TV show.   Judging from his impulsive Mars-dominated personal style, he may not be thinking too far ahead.   I suspect his improvisational approach to problem-solving is leading him into more than a few blind alleys due to the twin afflictions of Saturn and Rahu, the North Lunar Node.

I've already discussed the upcoming Saturn retrograde station in early April which aligns exactly with his natal Mars.   This is not a full-strength aspect so there is some possible room for him to maneuver to avoid its full impact.  But Saturn-Mars alignments are usually not very good and this one is likely to give Trump some additional headaches as his initiatives and goals will be blocked or will fail to achieve their desired ends. 

The other problem for Trump is that transiting Rahu (9 Leo) is moving closer to his Ascendant at 6 Leo.  This is usually not the kind of transit a new president would want as it is associated with chaotic change and disruption.  The President will likely feel the disruptive and sudden effects of this transit when it is triggered by fast-moving planets that align with the Ascendant.  This occurs this week as the Sun opposes Rahu and conjoins Ketu.  The Sun represents authority and ego so we should expect Trump's air of authority to take a hit in the coming days.   The resignation of Michael Flynn yesterday already coincided with the Sun opposite Mars within just two degrees  As the Sun now moves on to oppose the Ascendant through Friday, we can expect Trump to stay on the defensive.  As I previously noted, Jupiter is a less reliable source of successful results for Trump now that it is retrograde (since Feb 6) and moving away from its aspect with his Sun. 

But Trump's problems are likely to worsen on the weekend and into next week as Mars opposes his Jupiter and in so doing also aspects the USA Sun and Saturn.  This is a very difficult alignment for government.  Disputes and conflict are likely to be ratcheted up significantly during those days (Feb 18-23).    Remember that Jupiter is President Trump's current dasha lord so those Mars aspects to Jupiter are more likely to cause problems for him.   This could take the form of a new scandal that focuses on legal and ethical questions (Jupiter). 

The Trump administration may become even more besieged and embattled in March as Mars aligns with Rahu, the North Lunar Node.  This will highlight the approaching Saturn-Mars alignment in Trump's personal horoscope and it will also activate both the Ascendant and natal Rahu in the USA national chart.  Rahu is dasha lord in the USA chart so any afflictions to Rahu are more likely to coincide with significant events.  In this case, scandal and secrets are more likely to be in focus since the USA's Rahu is placed in the 8th house. 

So while we can see that Trump's approval ratings are likely to continue to fall for the next several weeks, it is unclear what the long term effects may be.   Trump's chart shows several times of turbulence and distress over the next four years.  The September-November 2018 period looks especially difficult as transiting Rahu is conjunct the 12th house cusp and Jupiter sits on the malefic 4th house cusp symbolizing "the end of the matter".   Transiting Mars is also opposite his Mars.  While one could construct a case that Trump will resign during this alignment, a most logical and likely reading of those influences would be a GOP loss of control of the Senate and/or the House due to public dissatisfaction with his administration.   That's not really a stunning prediction in any event as many administrations suffer defeats in the midterm elections.  But Trump's chart looks especially negative so the losses may be more damaging -- quite possibly the loss of both Houses of Congress.

And I still think that 2019 will be the time of the most intense difficulty for Trump.  He could be fighting for his political life at that time as Rahu transits through his 12th house and conjoins both Venus and Saturn.   It is certain to be a very tough time for him.  And this happens just as both Saturn and Rahu are in aspect with the USA's Sun.   The Sun represents government and specifically the President, so that double affliction spells very bad news for Trump in 2019. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks generally held their own last week.  The up trend has continued so far early this week as the Dow is still trading above 20,000.  India's Sensex is almost as strong and remains well above 28,000 at the end of Tuesday's trading.  This mostly positive outcome is not unexpected as I noted in last week's forecast that the ongoing influence of the Jupiter-Uranus alignment would act as a support for stocks and some commodities as well.  Gold and oil are also trading near multi-month highs after the recent pullback in the US Dollar. 

This week could see some declines starting as early as Wednesday on the Mercury-Mars alignment.  While some downside looks quite likely here, the declines do not look big enough to change the basically positive outlook in February.  Buying may well resume early next week as the Sun conjoins Ketu, the South Lunar Node, and Mercury aligns with Jupiter.

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.

Monday, February 6, 2017

US checks and balances stifle Trump; courts block travel ban

(6 February 2017) After giving up the freewheeling celebrity lifestyle of a billionaire businessman, Donald Trump is facing a more constrained range of action in his new job as president.   His controversial travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim nations has been put on hold by a Washington state judge who declared Trump's executive order did not adhere to the principles of the Constitution.

However deep his authoritarianian impulses may run (thanks to his angular Mars), Trump must now learn to work within the US political system with its elaborate system of checks and balances.  The US Constitution was written specifically to prevent a dictatorship as power is divided between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.  The Trump administration has appealed the stay of the judge but it is unclear when the case will finally be settled.  Many observers now think it could go up to the Supreme Court within weeks, if not days, in order to produce clarity on the matter.

Aside from the very predictable uphill (read: Saturnian) battles Trump is facing here, it is worthwhile to examine Trump's potential relationship with the courts from an astrological perspective. Can the courts keep the racist extremes of his "America First" agenda in check over the course of his four-year term?  More specifically, will Trump's executive order eventually be upheld by the split Supreme Court or will the ninth pro-Trump judge have to be appointed first?  I'm not sure astrology can answer all of these questions but some insights are still possible.

Using the horoscope of the US Supreme Court (i.e. "SCOTUS") dated September 24, 1789, we can see that there is a significant potential for conflict and disputes with Trump.  The overlay of the two charts shows that Trump's Sun (29 Taurus) and Moon (28 Scorpio) are closely squared by the SCOTUS Saturn (28 Aquarius).  Since Saturn represents tradition and accepted norms and precedents, this tense aspect with Saturn strongly hints that Trump's wishes and actions are more likely to be thwarted by the judiciary.  The courts will therefore more likely act as a brake on his executive excesses.  As a rule, we would expect more supportive court rulings for Trump only if there were several aspects involving benefics like Jupiter, Venus and Mercury to his natal planets. 

But this isn't the case.  In fact, there are a few close aspects involving malefics that indicate to me that Trump will more often have an adversarial relationship with the courts throughout his administration.  This is perhaps to be expected given Trump's desire to break with the status quo and change the system, but the planets do paint a picture of opposition and conflict.  The SCOTUS Mars (3 Cancer) is conjunct Trump's Venus-Saturn conjunction in the 12th house of loss and secrets.  This may be interpreted a few different ways but I would say: 1) it suggests the courts will act in opposition to Trump's goals and 2) there could be many landmark and historic interactions with the courts over the next four or eight years.   In other words, this Muslim travel ban is only the beginning of what should be a tense relationship with the judiciary.

We can also see that the SCOTUS Mercury-Neptune conjunction (0 Libra) is tightly square Trump's Saturn (0 Cancer).  The Mercury-Neptune conjunction may symbolize the abstract ideals of justice in the US system and they will likely be inimical to Trump's plans (Saturn).   Yes, the Mercury-Neptune does align more positively with Trump's Sun-Rahu conjunction but I don't see this as helping Trump's legal outcomes too much since Rahu is an unreliable source of benefits.  It may mean that Trump will try to disrupt and fundamentally change (Rahu) the court system, but the weight of the other aspects suggest it will be an unsuccessful struggle for him. 

It's not all bad news for Trump, however, as the court's Jupiter is close to his Mars and Ascendant.  This should give him some benefits and victories along the way.  He may well eventually get his appointee Neil Gorsuch installed on the bench, for example.  And the SCOTUS Venus (12 Libra) is also nicely placed in Trump's chart in the 3rd house which could give Trump some useful advantages when discussing or communicating legal affairs with the American people.  The 3rd house rules communication. 

As for the travel ban, we could see a period of uncertainty last well into March and April.  I have previously noted how the Saturn retrograde station at 3 Sagittarius in early April will impact President Trump's chart given the exact 120 degree alignment.   Saturn-Mars alignments suggest stress, intense efforts, and usually more than a little frustration.  Interestingly, this Saturn station will also be prominent in the SCOTUS chart as it forms a 210 degree ("quincunx") angle with the natal Mars at 3 Cancer.   The station occurs on April 6th so it is tempting to think that this judicial process may remain unsettled until at least that date.  Since Trump's chart looks difficult, I tend to think the travel ban will be struck down.  From the SCOTUS chart, it is harder to get a clearly confirmatory picture, however.  The April Saturn station may also refer to troubles arising from the Gorsuch hearings. 

Previous landmark cases often occur when important planets in the SCOTUS chart come under heavy affliction.  This was very much the case, for example,  in Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion on January 22, 1973.  Saturn and Mars both aligned with the Moon (intense emotions) in this chart and transiting Pluto was exactly conjunct the Sun (power brought to bear on a situation).  Uranus was also conjunct the Mercury-Neptune conjunction indicating major and sudden changes.  The planetary afflictions reflect the intensity of feelings and political interests in the case which was controversial at the time and quite divisive.  It still is a sore point for many conservatives who are seeking to overturn it, possibly after the Trump administration appoints more pro-life judges to the court in the years to come. 

And we have some similar afflictions now in the SCOTUS chart.  Besides the near-exact Saturn-Mars alignment in March and April, we will see a close opposition aspect of Uranus to the Mercury-Neptune conjunction.  Uranus is a planet of independence and change so we could see the Supreme Court acting in an unexpected way.  A sense of rebelliousness and surprise is even more likely since it is the opposition aspect rather than the conjunction.  Depending on how the case evolves, this could be interpreted either way.  However, the independent quality in this transit makes me wonder if the court will manage to avoid following the administration's lead in this case and rule against the travel ban.  If on the other hand, the travel ban is resolved more quickly in February, then those tense April alignments would more likely refer to the Gorsuch hearings.  The stressful nature of the alignments suggest that confirmation is unlikely, or perhaps only after an unusually long delay. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks remain quite strong after the Fed issued a fairly dovish statement last week and Friday's US jobs report beat expectations.  While we did see some early week declines on the Moon-Mars conjunction, stocks rallied after that as Mercury aligned with Jupiter.  US stocks were down only fractionally.  As I suggested in last week's market forecast, Indian stocks rose following last Wednesday's budget release. Gold also rallied as the Dollar weakened on a reduced likelihood of aggressive Fed rate hikes this year.

This week is a mixed bag.  Jupiter's retrograde station on Monday has had a hand at boosting some stocks and commodities thus far.  However, I would think some midweek declines are more likely.  The late week looks bullish again as the Sun is aspected by Jupiter.  Taking a somewhat longer view, I would expect some positive outcomes for stocks in February as Jupiter approaches its alignment with Uranus later this month.   This Jupiter-Uranus alignment should have a protective effect on stocks and further gains are quite possible.

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.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump's Muslim travel ban creates chaos and outrage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Market Forecast

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

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

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Market Forecast

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

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

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.