Tuesday, April 18, 2017

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

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

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

Trump and North Korea

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

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

Kim Jong-Un

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pressure from US

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

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

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

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

Weekly Market Forecast

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

China's Xi meets Trump as Saturn turns retrograde

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Weekly Market Forecast

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Uranus re-enters Aries: beware the black swan

(28 March 2017) It's that time again.  Once every seven years, the planet Uranus changes its sidereal sign.   In keeping with its symbolism of rapid change and rebellion, the Uranus sign changes or ingresses often mark instances of instability and sudden black swan-type developments in world affairs.  To that end, Uranus is due to leave Pisces and re-enter the sign of Aries next week on April 5th according to the Krishnamurthi aynamasha.  The ingress happens two days later according to the more widely-used Lahiri ayamamsha. 

The last time Uranus changed signs was last year on June 23, 2016.  The next day the UK shocked the world by voting for Brexit, thereby launching the beginning of a populist rebellion in the Western world.  The similarly shocking election victory of Donald Trump in the US soon followed as the anti-elite, nativist rebellion evolved into a wider movement.  The rise of right wing populism can't be explained solely in terms of this Uranus ingress but it certainly played a role. 

The important thing to note about Uranus ingresses is that there are usually clusters of two or three ingresses over a one-year period due to its retrograde motion.  The previous cluster of Uranus sign changes occurred in 2009-2010 when it entered Pisces.  Since Uranus moves forward on average of four degrees per year (8 degrees of forward motion followed by 4 degrees of backward motion), it takes about 7-8 years for it to transit through each 30 degree zodiac sign.  We are therefore in the middle of another cluster of a sign ingress.  Uranus left Pisces and first entered Aries last June and then stationed retrograde in July and moved backwards four degrees and stationed direct again in December.  It has has since been moving forward and will enter Aries again next week for a second and final time in this sequence. 

So the question is: what could happen on or near this next Uranus ingress into Aries?  It's important to note that not every ingress brings sudden events.  We already had Brexit with the first of these Aries ingresses so it is possible that this next one may be relative quiet.  In that sense, the instability and eccentric energy of Uranus may have been fully expressed already with the June ingress. 

On the other hand, the second ingress can just quite potent in its own right.  I have previously mentioned in this space the uncanny coincidence of the ingress of Uranus into Sagittarius on Oct 17, 1987, just two days before the biggest US stock market crash in history when the Dow lost over 20% of its value in one day.  This was the second of two Uranus sign ingresses in 1987.  We are now in a similar situation in so far as the second of two sign ingresses will occur next week.  This is likely not a critical similarity but it does offer some support for the notion that the second and final ingress can sometimes be the most powerful. 

 Already there are hints that the Uranian spirit of rebellion and independence is in the air.  Last week, the GOP health care bill aimed at replacing Obamacare failed to even make it to a vote in Congress as the more libertarian Freedom Caucus refused Trump's overtures and threats.  This outcome was not surprising as I saw increasing levels of affliction in the President-elect horoscope (PEOTUS) at the end of March and into early April.  More generally, the Trump presidency continues to be under pressure from all sides here not only because of the increasing Uranian energy but also because Saturn is approaching its retrograde station next week also.  Saturn and Uranus may be working together to upset Trump's aspirations here since Saturn stations retrograde on April 6th just one day after Uranus enters Aries.  That is a very powerful one-two punch. 

There is a real possibility that this Uranus ingress could directly relate to Trump since he has several planets in alignment with the Uranus ingress at 0 degrees of Aries.  His Sun is situated just 60 degrees away at 29Taurus55.  His Saturn is at 00Cancer48 and thus the Uranus ingress at 0 Aries will form a square aspect with his 12th house Saturn.  This may be deductively seen as a surprising loss or disappointment involving secrets, perhaps relating to women or money (Venus).  And, of course, I have also noted that Bill and Hillary Clinton's charts look very positive for the March-April period.  With US politics pretty much a zero-sum game, one would think that any Clinton gains imply more troubles for Trump.

I have also noted that Trump was likely to be on the defensive as long as this Saturn Rx station (3 Sagittarius) is aligned with his natal Mars (3 Leo).  The Saturn Rx station also conjoins Vladimir Putin's natal Mars (3 Sagittarius) so that hints that Trump's Russia woes may continue for another few weeks at least.  I'm reluctant to make any specific predictions here as there are many possible scenarios which could fulfill the symbolism of Uranus and Saturn. 

More Russian revelations are very possible although we could also see something unrelated such as a sudden violent attack or an unexpected geopolitical development which upsets financial markets in a "black swan" type fashion.   The near-simultaneous Saturn station ratchets up the negativity next week so markets may be quite tense in the days around these two heavy duty planetary patterns.  Anything is possible, although with Brexit already out of the way, I would also not be surprised if we simply got more minor developments which further undermined the Trump presidency.  So while we may do well to expect the unexpected, we should not bet the farm on it. Black swans are inherently unpredictable events and yet these planetary patterns suggest they are more likely in the coming days. 

Weekly Market Forecast

US stocks have trended lower since my last post on March 15.  As expected, the Fed raised interest rates and stocks have further weakened since their all-time highs.  The inability of the GOP to pass their health care bill has raised doubts about the Trump administration's legislative competence and that has brought new skepticism about its business-friendly plan to cut taxes.   The Dow has lost 500 points since its high although it put in a strong day today rising 150 points.  India's Sensex has similarly come off its early March high although it is arguably consolidating below technical resistance before pushing higher.  The Sensex is fast approaching its previous high of 30,000 although sentiment has been weaker in recent days. 

This week may well be the calm before the storm.  Tuesday's gains coincided with a bullish alignment of the Moon, Uranus and Jupiter.  However, a more problematic alignment of Mercury and Saturn could take hold on Wednesday and could induce some selling.  Thursday's Moon-Mars conjunction also looks bearish.  The week could well be negative overall although Friday is harder to call.  The early week next week leans a bit bullish so a snapback rally is possible.  But again, the Uranus ingress on the 5th and the Saturn station on the 6th could signal a major shift in the markets.  There is an elevated risk of a "black swan" type-event on this double Uranus-Saturn influence.

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, 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.