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Stocks rebound as Venus leaves Virgo

(21 October 2014)  Financial markets appear to have calmed down now after suffering from a serious case of the jitters over the past couple of weeks.    After ISIS, the possibility of recession in Germany and then the Ebola scare in the US, investors had become wary of future prospects and had assumed a more defensive position.  But now it seems to be a case of 'no news is good news' as sentiment is more stable this week and stocks have rebounded across the globe. 

The Dow finished down 1% last week and even briefly traded below 16,000 before recovering on Friday and ending the week at 16,380.  The rebound has continued into Monday.  India's Sensex also dropped 1% last week as the Sensex closed at 26,108 and came back strongly in Monday's trade.  This outcome was largely in keeping with our expectations as I thought last week's Mars-Saturn alignment would likely correlate with significant declines.  This was definitely the case as the midweek low was the lowest level for US stocks since April. 

The other factor in the decline and subsequent rebound in financial markets is that the transit of Venus through sidereal Virgo is now over.  Read more...


US Midterm Elections: Obama's bad timing

(13 October 2014)  The bad news keeps on coming for US President Barack Obama.  Not only has Ebola arrived on American shores in the face of his previous reassurances to the contrary, but now a medical worker in Dallas who treated the late Thomas Duncan has contracted it despite following all the appropriate safety protocols. Questions are now being raised about Obama's ability to lead the country amid this worsening crisis in addition to the CDC's competence in trying to keep Ebola under control.  If that weren't enough, reports are emerging about the ineffectiveness of the US air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  ISIS continues to advance on its targets and has now surrounded Baghdad.  If Baghdad falls to advancing ISIS forces, Obama may have no choice but to put US troops on the ground in order to protect its strategic interests in the region. 

The timing of these setbacks could not be worse for the President as the US prepares to go to the polls for the midterm elections on November 4th.  In a previous post, I suggested that the ongoing stationary transit of Rahu (North Lunar Node) on Obama's 9th house cusp was a plausible astrological explanation for his current troubles.  With the 9th house symbolizing foreign places and Rahu representing disruption, especially involving foreign-born people, it was not hard to put two and two together and recognize that Obama's problems very much originate beyond US soil.  Read more...


Ebola arrives in US

(5 October 2014)  The deadly Ebola epidemic entered a new phase last week as the first case was recorded in United States.   On September 30th, the CDC confirmed that Thomas Duncan had contracted Ebola in his native Liberia and had become ill after arriving on a visit to his family in Dallas, Texas.  While Duncan is undergoing treatment, the CDC is scrambling to find all his contacts between September 24 and 28 when he was symptomatic but not yet quarantined in hospital.  This is the first recorded case outside of West Africa since the latest outbreak began in March in Guinea.   This Ebola outbreak is not yet under control and has killed more than 3000 people to date.

In a previous post in August, I offered an admittedly preliminary and somewhat speculative analysis of the current outbreak.  The problem was that the beginning or "birth" of Ebola is ultimately unknowable: we cannot know exactly when it first jumped from animals to human.  In the absence of any reliable data, I suggested a possible chart for the first case of Ebola in terms of an individual seeking medical attention.  Based on this chart, I thought that the outbreak might begin to ebb by now.  Obviously, this hasn't happened as the number of cases continues to grow exponentially.    Read more...


Obama's war on ISIS and the perils of Rahu

(28 September 2014)  One of the ironies of American history is that the presidents who are seemingly the least inclined towards the use of military power end up being some of its main practitioners.  Woodrow Wilson (WW1), FDR (WW2), LBJ (Vietnam) are famous for campaigning against war but ended up in the thick of it despite their more humanitarian or isolationist impulses. Now it seems Barack Obama is the latest president to undergo this reluctant conversion to military force as he has committed US troops and air power into Iraq and Syria to fight the rising threat of ISIS.  In 2008, Obama campaigned on getting the US out of Iraq after a long and painful war and finally achieved this goal in 2011 to much popular fanfare and national relief. 

However, things haven't gone well since then as the Iraqi government has been narrowly dominated by Shiites and have therefore alienated much of the Sunni population in the north.  This has opened the door to radical groups like ISIS to move into Iraq from its base from the already war-ravaged Syria.  The lack of a US military presence on the ground has made a bad situation worse since there was no co-ordination or oversight to the fledging Iraqi army.   Read more...


Alibaba IPO sets record

(21 September 2014)  China-based e-commerce giant Alibaba went public on Friday as its $22 Billion IPO was the biggest in history.  Started in 1999, Alibaba is now among the biggest companies in the world and is poised to erode the market dominance of US-based companies like Ebay and Amazon.  While the financial structure of the company and its shares have come under some criticism, the future looks bright for this rising Asian star in global e-commerce. 

After some delays matching the huge volume of buy and sell orders, the first trade of Alibaba (symbol:BABA) took place at 11.54 a.m. The resulting first trade chart is now the horoscope of Alibaba's shares.  First trade charts represent a kind of "birth" of the publicly traded version of the company and provide useful clues to the ups and downs of the share price going forward.  Founding and incorporation dates also reflect the overall fortunes of the company, and therefore can add additional information about the direction of share prices.   Read more...


Scottish referendum pushes UK to the brink

(14 September 2014)  The people of Scotland are on the verge of making history this week.  On Thursday, they will vote on whether they will become an independent country or remain part of the United Kingdom. Under the leadership of First Minister Alex Salmond, the "Yes" side has enjoyed considerable gains in the popularity in the past weeks. Recent polls now show about a 50-50 split for Scottish independence.  The gains for the independence side has brought about a vigorous response by pro-Union "No" supporters including intensive campaigning by the leaders of all four UK political parties.  The vote will likely be very close but which side will win?

Based on my understanding of the key astrological influences at the time of the referendum, I think the chances are high that Scotland will vote to remain in the UK.  There are a few angles one could take in answering this question, but let's focus on the chart of pro-independence leader Alex Salmond.  Born 31 December 1954 at 4.30 p.m., Salmond's chart is quite strong as one would expect.  His 10th house Moon in Pisces hints at his ability to lead (10th house) people towards an idealistic vision (Pisces).  His talents in this kind of undertaking receives a huge boost from the very close trine aspect of the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in his second house.  Read more...


Draghi cuts rates as Europe slips back into recession

(7 September 2014)  One wonders when all this talk about an economy that is "moving in the right direction" will finally end and the economy will truly get back to "normal".   But six years after the Great Recession of 2008, most Western economies are still struggling and remain below their pre-meltdown levels by most measures. 

This never-ending recovery has seen the official US unemployment fall to 6% but many discouraged workers have simply dropped out of the labor force and are therefore not counted.  Wages have been stagnant while much of the Fed's zero-interest rate and QE policy seems to have helped Wall St. and the wealthy more than the average person.  The Fed's version of trickle down economics has purposely driven up the stock market to record highs.  Unfortunately, someone should inform Janet Yellen that the majority of Americans don't actually own stocks so this only makes the rich richer.  The situation in Europe is arguably worse as several countries have now actually slipped back into recession as official unemployment is stuck at a stubbornly high 12%.

Enter ECB President Mario Draghi.  Last week, the head of the European Central Bank followed the Fed's playbook and cut EU interest rates to near zero (0.05% to be precise) and announced a QE-style debt buyback program of his own.   Read more...


Russia invades eastern Ukraine

(31 August 2014) Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine last week prompting calls for tougher sanctions against the Putin government.  Putin denies that any invasion took place but evidence is mounting that the Russian adventure in Ukraine has entered a new phase.  Some observers are suggesting that Putin wants a land connection to Crimea, which Russia already took control of several months ago.  Thus far, US and EU sanctions have had little effect in deterring Russia and the eastern Ukrainian rebels.   Putin continues to bank on the unwillingness of the West to stop him militarily.  Meanwhile, newly-elected Ukrainian President Poroshenko is calling for NATO membership and armed intervention by the West. 

In a previous post in July, I suggested that Putin was likely to do something unpredictable and likely unsuccessful in August and September.  I noted that transiting Rahu (North Node) conjoined his Saturn at 24 Virgo.  I also thought that last week's Mars-Saturn conjunction at 23 Libra could also signify important developments in this crisis since it would align with Putin's Saturn.  Read more...


Hillary Clinton's difficult summer

(18 August 2014)  It's been a tough summer for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.   The former first lady and Secretary of State published a political memoir that met with tepid reviews and poor book sales.   Many commentators saw it as thinly-veiled political ploy designed to boost her profile before her formal declaration for the race to the Democratic nominee for President for the 2016 election.  Her subsequent book tour did little to improve the the book's reception as Ms. Clinton tried in vain to deflect criticism.  Then in a magazine interview two weeks ago, she was openly critical of Obama and distanced herself from him over his handling of the Middle East and Syria in particular.  She was forced to awkwardly walk back her comments in order to appear less confrontational towards the Obama White House.  These missteps have seen her popularity fall 10% in the past two months although she remains the overwhelming favorite to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. 

We can see that Hillary Clinton has been suffering from a bout of "Saturnitis" for much of the summer.  The Saturn station in late July was just one degree off her natal Venus.  Saturn-Venus transits are often times when life feels like it is contracting rather than expanding.  Read more...


Robin Williams 1951-2014: the burdens of creativity

(13 August 2014)  Millions of people around the world are mourning the passing of beloved American actor and comedian Robin Williams who died by his own hand on Monday.  Williams had endured a life-long struggle with depression and substance abuse which belied his high energy and cheerful public persona.  He was 63.  Williams was known for his lightning quick wit and improvisational ability in his comic roles as well as his depictions of a tender and often wounded soul in his dramatic performances.  He also had a singular talent for creating -- often on the spot -- numerous voices, characters, and hilarious dialogue for his many animated children's films.  As a measure of his popularity, his many films are said to have grossed $5 Billion.

While astrology can only begin to capture his unique genius, Williams does have a remarkable horoscope that befits one of the most popular actors of all-time.  Venus is usually a dominant planet in the charts of entertainers as it reflects an aesthetic sensibility that is pleasing to others.  His Venus was conjunct Ketu in the 11th house (gains!) in a close opposition to the Moon, which was tightly conjunct Rahu.  The Venus-Moon aspect is a marker for an ability to please others through aesthetic creativity such as acting.  The fact that Venus rules Libra, the rising sign, suggested how artistic pursuits would be the guiding force of his whole life.   Read more...


Ebola outbreak declared global health emergency

(10 August 2014)  Last week the WHO declared the current Ebola outbreak a world health emergency as the virus has yet to be contained and the number of deaths approaches 1000.  The latest outbreak began in February and has since affected four West African countries leading to the closing of borders, many village-level quarantines and widespread fear.   Health officials on the ground say the virus is out of control as the number of cases continues to increase exponentially.  The current outbreak is by far the worst since Ebola first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and Congo. 

There are a few possible astrological observations here.  First, it may not be coincidental that the outbreak reached this emergency status while Saturn and Uranus both stationed in a very close alignment in late July.  As I have noted previously, this simultaneous station of Saturn (22 Libra) and Uranus (22 Pisces) was bound to mark some significant troubles in the world.  We have seen an upsurge in conflict and military violence in the past several weeks (Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq) alongside the worst outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.  It is clearly a very worrisome time.  Saturn is the most malefic planet, of course, and at its worst it symbolizes loss, death, illness and suffering.  Uranus is a more unpredictable planet which is often prominent in situations marked by sudden and unexpected developments.  Together, these two distant planets are very apt markers for a somewhat mysterious and deadly disease that has a fatality rate of over 50%.   Read more...


Palestine under Saturn and Mars: the war in Gaza continues

(3 August 2014)  The fighting in Gaza resumed this weekend after the failure of Friday's cease-fire.  It lasted only ninety minutes.  There are hints that this round of bloodshed may be ending as Israel claims it destroyed most of the Hamas' network tunnels.  Israel may also have an interest in ending its attacks as it has been widely criticized for hitting several civilian targets, most recently a U.N. school which was being used as a shelter.  In last week's post, I wondered if we might get some kind of cease-fire around 2 August and the Mercury-Jupiter conjunction.  As it happened, the cease-fire came the day before.  I also thought it may not hold, and that proved to be correct.  Perhaps peace has a better chance near 16 August when Venus conjoins Jupiter.  We shall see. 

This war presents a problem for astrologers since the Palestinians do not have a proper national horoscope.  They are not yet a full-fledged nation.  All we have is several lesser charts which may or may not be significant for describing developments in Palestine, whether on the West Bank or Gaza.  The best one I have found thus far is the chart of the declaration of Palestinian independence in 1988.  Read more...


Mars-Rahu Part 2: Israel under pressure for Gaza attack

(27 July 2014)  Israel came under increased international criticism for its military action this week as the Palestinian death toll in Gaza topped 1000.  The incursion into Gaza, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, began ten days ago as the Israeli army attempts to stop Hamas rocket attacks and destroy its network of tunnels which have been used to launch attacks on civilians.  The current eruption of violence in Palestine is the worst since the Israel's 2008 Gaza invasion and is another reminder of the intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

From an astrological perspective, the current action by Israel was very much a reflection of the major influences in its horoscope. The independent nation of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948 at 4.00 p.m.  One of the first things that one notices in the natal chart is that the Ascendant sits at 0 degrees of Libra.  Actually, 00 Libra 00 (i.e. 0 degrees and 0 minutes), according to the Krishnamurti ayanamsha.  This is exactly conjunct the star Spica which is used as the reference point for the entire sidereal zodiac.  Spica is quite auspicious by nature and the fact that Spica was rising on the horizon exactly at the moment that Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion brought the formal independence ceremony to order at 4 o'clock must be seen as similarly auspicious.  Read more...


Global violence erupts on Mars-Rahu; Putin blamed for MH17 shootdown

(20 July 2014)  The world this week seems to be caught in a violent and unstable mood.  Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down a Malaysian airliner killing all 298 people aboard while Israel's invasion of the Gaza strip has produced hundreds of fatalities.  The brief astrological explanation for these unfortunate events is that Mars, the planet of violence, conjoined Rahu (North Lunar Node), the planet of distortion and disruption.  The Mars-Rahu conjunction happens about once every two years and is often a time of sudden and violent events.   Let's take a closer look.

The ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine took a dangerous and tragic turn this week with the shooting down of an airliner bound by pro-Russian rebels.  In a cruel twist of fate, the crash of  MH17 marks the second time Malaysia's national airline has been beset by tragedy after the loss of MH370 four months ago.  While the shoot-down of the passenger plane was unintended, the rebels and their sponsor Vladimir Putin have come under intense criticism from the global community.  Russia likely supplied the rebels with the missile that shot down the plane and now may be actively assisting the rebels in obstructing the crash investigation.   Read more...


Indian budget disappointment: Jaitley takes cautious approach

(13 July 2014)  India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivered a much-anticipated budget last week as the incoming NDA government made its first significant mark on the post-election political landscape.  The budget was met with considerable criticism from many quarters, however, as Jaitley left in place the current tax regime as well as the thorny issue of subsidy rationalization, preferring to defer it to some future date.  Most measures taken were seen as too cautious by most in the business community as many wondered if the ambitious 4.1% deficit target was realistic given the fairly lethargic economy.   Indian stocks declined on the budget news as investors reflected on commitment of the government for serious economic reforms.  Clearly, FM Jaitley and PM Modi are trying to steer a middle path that appeals both to business and the wider population.

This early stumble for the newly minted NDA administration is seen through the current affliction to the horoscope of the swearing-in of PM Narendra Modi.  The swearing-in chart is the "birth" of the government and many subsequent developments on the political scene may be seen through this chart.  The budget disappointment is likely a reflection of the near-conjunction of Rahu and Mars.  Read more...


The astrology of sports: Lionel Messi and the World Cup

(6 July 2014)  What does it take to be a great athlete?  A tenacious work ethic, fiery ambition, natural talent and a supportive family and community environment all play their part, but it doesn't hurt to have a great horoscope as well.  Argentine forward Lionel Messi is widely considered to be the world's best football player.  Whether as member of the FC Barcelona club or as captain of Argentina's national team, Messi tops all the relevant scoring and analytic rankings as the world's best player.   As the World Cup enters its semi-final round, it is worthwhile to take a look at the Messi's horoscope to see what it may reveal about his talent and fame as well as providing hints about the fate of Argentina in their upcoming games.

Messi was born June 24, 1987 at 5.55 a.m. in Rosario, Argentina.  There is some uncertainty about his time of birth as there is a second 8.20 p.m. time out there also.  I would tend to favour the 5.55 time as the chart seems to fit his life better. That said, we should keep an asterisk handy just in case.   One of the great things about this chart is the powerful 1st house.   The sign of Taurus (the Bull) rises with its ruler Venus and the exalted Moon also in the 1st house just below the horizon.  The 1st house represents vitality and self-projection and whenever it is this strong it describes a person who has a lot of positive karma who is successful and gets noticed for his efforts.  Read more...


100 years since the assassination that started World War I

(29 June 2014)  One hundred years ago yesterday, a young Serb nationalist named Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.   Just one month later, after accusations and recriminations produced nothing more than a series of failed diplomatic initiatives and broken treaties, the world would be plunged into a war that did away with the old regimes of Europe and usher in the 20th century. If nothing else, the assassination at 10.50 a.m. on 28 June 1914 is a reminder of the interconnectedness of human existence and of the power of unforeseen consequences from the action of a single individual. 

Of course, Gavrilo Princip had no intention of starting World War I. His terrorist act was intended to help free his native Bosnia and Serbia from the domination of a foreign power in Austria-Hungary.  And yet the shooting of the heir to the Hapsburg throne was the catalyst that would ultimately result in the deaths of tens of millions of people, end the monarchies in Austria, Germany, Italy and Russia and thereby produce the world's first socialist revolution.  The assassination would also start the war that would effectively end of the predominance of Great Britain as the world's power as well as the ascension of the United States to that position.

One would think that an act of such enormous historical importance must have a fairly unusual astrological signature.  I think it does.  Let's begin by looking at the moment of assassination itself.  The chart is dominated by malefics.   Read more...


Predicting success: when George Soros broke the Bank of England

(22 June 2014)  Is life all just random blind luck?  Or are there times when our efforts are more likely to bear fruit?  One of the great insights of astrology is that major life events usually occur at a time of a clearly marked planetary pattern in our horoscope.  Situations of loss and disappointment may be often correlated with times when Saturn is dominant.  Times of achievement and reward typically take place when Jupiter is highlighted in some way.  I see these patterns playing out over and over again.  Not every situation is perfectly predictable, of course, but we can often isolate time periods of months and years when things are clearly on the upswing or downswing depending on the planets involved.  Moreover, we can also say that it is the key events in life -- the ones that are the most important in shaping our life direction -- that usually stand out the most in terms of planetary alignments. 

The chart of billionaire investor George Soros provides a classic example in this respect.  Soros is a legendary hedge fund manager who is one of the richest and most influential people in the world.  He was born August 12, 1930 in Budapest, Hungary.  Unfortunately, his birth time is unknown so this makes a close analysis of his chart more difficult.  However, it is still possible to make sense of the chart in terms of major events.  For Soros, one of his life-defining events came on September 16, 1992 when his massive bet against the British Pound  paid off in spades.  Read more...


Iraq in chaos as insurgents advance towards Baghdad

(15 June 2014)  The Iraqi government teetered on the verge of collapse last week as jihadist insurgents continued their advance on Baghdad.  The radical Islamist group ISIS has recently taken over large swaths of territory in the Sunni-dominated north and now threaten to topple the Shiite Maliki government.  Iraq's sectarian divisions now threaten to redraw the existing boundaries as the country may be better off dividing along religious lines.  And as Iraq moves towards total disintegration, the US is most concerned with the fact ISIS it a terrorist group with Al-Qaeda connections.  If they take over all of Iraq or even just establish a separate Sunni state in the north of Iraq, it would provide a potential terrorist training area not unlike what Afghanistan was before 2001.

The most pressing questions now are: 1) what are the chances that Iraq be taken over by ISIS or will be broken up into separate states with new boundaries?; and 2)  more immediately, how long is the current round of fighting likely to last?   Analysts have suggested that President Obama is in a difficult position here as he would be very reluctant to provide much military cover to the Maliki government.   Read more...



Ukraine's new President sworn-in

(8 June 2014)  Ukraine's new president was sworn-in last week as fighting raged in Eastern Ukraine with pro-Russian rebels.  Petro Poroshenko vowed to reclaim Crimea for Ukraine after he took the oath at 10.20 a.m. on June 7th in Kiev.  Oaths of office provide another window on the reality of political events as they mark the "birth" of a leader's administration.  While not all events can be inferred from the resulting swearing-in chart, some major developments usually coincide with significant planetary alignments to this horoscope.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Poroshenko swearing-in chart looks troubled.  The proud sign of Leo rises and its ruler, the Sun, is in the 10th house of status and command in the stubborn sign of Taurus.  All of these factors suggest a more assertive and dominant leadership style by Poroshenko as he confronts Russian military power on his eastern frontier.  To be sure, his bold claim to take back Crimea is in keeping with a more assertive stance.  This is clearly not the chart of a government bent on compromise.  It also suggests the Poroshenko will cut a fairly dynamic figure as he takes control of the conflicted nation.   Read more...


Gold falls to $1250 on deflation fears

(1 June 2014)  As the old saying goes, all that glitters is not gold.  Perhaps including gold itself. The safe haven precious metal of choice decline sharply last week as it broke through an important technical support level.   Deflationary fears compelled more investors to hit the sell button, as gold finished the week at $1250.  As a traditional hedge against inflation and currency debasement from central bank money printing, gold is now the commodity that nobody wants.  The Federal Reserve is tapering its controversial QE program and thus reducing the amount of its own money printing.  Strike one for gold.  Inflation is not much of a threat in most developed economies as Europe remains mired in recession with sub-1% inflation and the US revised its Q1 GDP figures down to -1% with only 1.5% inflation.  Strike two for gold.  Last week, Japan released new data that showed sharply lower retail sales which would similarly reduce growth prospects for the current year.  That could well add up to strike three for gold. 

Since the meltdown in 2008, governments have tried to stimulate their sagging economies through various Keynesian spending measures (e.g. TARP) and central bank interventions which has the net effect of printing money.  These government efforts were the main reason why gold more than doubled in price from $800 in 2008 to over $1900 in September 2011.  Read more...


Narendra Modi sworn-in as India's 15th PM

(28 May 2014) In a much-anticipated celebration, BJP leader Narendra Modi was sworn-in as the 15th Prime Minister of India on Monday.  Modi was swept to power in a landslide as Indians rejected Congress and the Gandhi dynasty in favour of free-market reforms, bureaucratic transparency and deregulation.  Modi now faces the daunting challenge to having to live up to expectations and fulfill the hopes and aspirations of his countrymen. How successful will he be? 

Astrology offers a window on the Modi's incoming BJP administration through the swearing-in horoscope.  The moment that Narendra Modi took the oath marked the symbolic beginning or "birth" to his tenure as PM.  The resulting chart therefore provides clues to not only the nature of his government, but also insights of specific times of triumph and setback.  I would caution, however, that the oath horoscope cannot simply be read as one would read a natal horoscope of person.  In my experience, we have to be more general in our analysis of the oath-taking chart by focusing more on planets and aspects rather  and less on house placements or house rulerships.  By way of comparison, it is useful to look at some documented swearing-in charts of US presidents just to see how these charts work. 

On paper, Ronald Reagan may have the most in common with Modi's promise to move towards free market solutions and away from more a more activist, government-run economy.  Reagan's business-friendly administration represented a sharp break with the previous government of Jimmy Carter.   Read more...


Coup in Thailand: Endgame for Thaksin?

(25 May 2014)  Democracy in Thailand took a step backward last week as the military launched its 12th successful coup since 1932, the year that marked the end of the absolute monarchy in what was then Siam.  The coup attempted to restore order in Bangkok following a period of protests and violent unrest against the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister (and proxy) of the exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.   The coup is the latest move in an ongoing struggle between the populist Thaksin and his mostly rural and working class supporters and the royalist elites and their middle class supporters centered around the capital Bangkok.  Since first becoming PM in 2001, Thaksin and his surrogates have won the largest majorities in the history of Thai democracy but have been widely criticized for corruption, human rights violations and censorship of the media.  Under the leadership of General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, the military junta is generally regarded as favoring the monarchy and traditional elites and is hostile to Thaksin's new-style authoritarian populism.  The military's promise to reform the constitution before new elections may be seen as a warning against the Thaksin regime.

In a previous article from early February, I had suggested that a coup was more likely to occur in June and July around the Saturn-Uranus alignment which activated a key planet in the 1932 chart of Thailand.  This prediction was somewhat off the mark in terms of timing (the coup happened on May 22 -- just two days after Mars stationed direct), although we can see from the chart just how close that Saturn-Uranus alignment is to Mercury (21 Gemini).  Read more...



Narendra Modi scores historic victory in Indian election

(18 May 2014)  Narendra Modi scored a landslide victory in India's Lok Sabha election last week as the incumbent Congress Party suffered a devastating defeat.  The win for the pro-business BJP  promises to bring sweeping change to India which has seen its economic progress slowed by endemic corruption, bureaucratic red tape, poor infrastructure, and stubbornly high inflation. But how successful will Mr Modi be in undertaking these massive challenges?

A reliable way to gain insight into the future tenure of a sitting government is to view the horoscope of its swearing-in ceremony.  At this time, however, it is still not yet known when Narendra Modi will be sworn-in as Prime Minister, although current indications suggest it will be May 21st.  I will update my site once the date and time of his swearing-in becomes known.  Alternatively, the other tool we have is Modi's natal chart.  While his birth time remains in dispute, it is still possible to glean some indications of future trends using just his day and year of birth. 

The first year of his administration looks quite mixed with no shortage of obstacles and setbacks.   Read more...


Understanding China's stock market boom and bust

(11 May 2014)  Readers of this site will know that one of my main areas of astrological interest is the stock market.  While I find economics and investments inherently interesting, stock prices provide a continuous flow of data against which astrological ideas can be measured and evaluated.  The stock market is therefore incredibly useful for an evidence-based astrology where changing planetary alignments can be correlated against the ups and downs in the financial markets.  This is not to say any such correlations are easy or obvious since the potential number of independent variables in terms of planetary positions is almost prohibitively high.   The challenge for financial astrology is to exclude mixed conditions where no clear outcome is suggested and focus instead on the smaller number of high probability planetary scenarios where clearer outcomes are more apparent.

An an illustration of high probability alignments, we can look at the ups and downs of China's stock market.  Since unleashing the free market in 1978 under Deng Xiaoping, China's booming economy has been a key ingredient in global economic growth.  Its economic expansion reached its apex in 2007 just before the financial meltdown.  At that time, the Chinese stock market reached a high of 6000 on the Shanghai Composite Index in October.  Optimism had reached its maximum as domestic and foreign investors had bid up prices on stocks 500% in just the previous two years.  But the meltdown changed all that as stocks crashed through most of 2008.  Read more...


The MERS virus arrives in US: what is the threat?

(4 May 2014)  The US recorded its first case of MERS this week as an Indiana man returning from a visit to Saudi Arabia came down with the mysterious virus and was hospitalized.  He is said to be recovering and out of danger.  MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) is a new and deadly virus that has sickened more than 400 people, of whom a quarter have died since 2012.  MERS has similar features to the SARS virus that caused a worldwide travel alert in 2003.  While the MERS virus seems to be inefficiently transmitted and thus has remained fairly contained within Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, its high mortality rate is cause for concern.  But just how much of a threat is MERS?

In a previous article on SARS, I noted how global epidemics may be more likely to occur when the planet Neptune is prominent in some way, either by transit or within the national horoscopes of affected countries.  Although it is not always a malefic influence in our lives, Neptune is the planet most closely associated with disease and weakness.  Read more...


Ukraine tensions rise as Putin weighs options

(26 April 2014)  The Ukraine Crisis remained front and center last week as Russian troops massed on its eastern border while NATO beefed up its military presence in nearby Poland.  Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be ignoring diplomatic efforts and Western economic sanctions aimed at defusing the situation as the world is entering a new and dangerous Cold War 2.0.  Putin seems unwilling to accept the new pro-Western government in Kiev and is giving aid to pro-Russian factions in Eastern Ukraine.  If Russia sends its army into Ukraine, it would mark a new phase in the crisis which will send shock waves throughout the world. 

As I have written previously, the current Mars retrograde cycle is one possible culprit for this geopolitical impatience and brinksmanship.  Mars turned retrograde back on March 1st and will culminate its backwards journey through the sky on May 20th.  Mars retrograde may be less about the implications of the backward direction of the red, warrior planet than its velocity.  When a planet is retrograde, it is moving more slowly than normal.  As a rule, slower moving planets have more energy and become more prominent in their effects.  It is not too surprising that this slow moving Mars is correlating to a greater sense of conflict and an inability to compromise.  Read more...


US stocks drop ahead of Lunar Eclipse and Grand Cross

(13 April 2014)  Stocks were mostly lower last week as weak data out of China and Japan suggested the global economy may be slowing.  The technology sector led US stocks lower as the the Dow lost more than 2% closing near the 16,000 level.  The Indian market fared better on optimism on the growing likelihood of a Modi election win.  The Sensex touched a new all-time weekly closing high at 22,628.  This largely bearish outcome was somewhat surprising as I thought we might have seen more strength later in the week on the Mercury-Venus aspect.  Monday was negative across the board as the Sun-Mars aspect fulfilled its bearish promise and then we began to see Mercury and Venus take hold after that.  But the late week sell-off appeared to foreshadow the coming of a more difficult Mars influence (see below).

I had also thought that stocks would likely remain fairly firm here in the first half of April as the Jupiter-Uranus-Pluto aspect becomes exact on April 20th.  This is a fairly reliable bullish influence and is the main planetary reason for the rally in Q1 2014 and the current lofty levels of most stock markets worldwide.  Read more...


India goes to the polls

(6 April 2014)  Voting in the world's biggest democracy begins tomorrow as India goes to the polls to elect a new government.  The BJP-led NDA alliance is well ahead in recent polls so it is seems likely that Narendra Modi will be the next Prime Minister after the final results are announced on May 16th.  There is still some doubt if the NDA will have the required 272 seats for a majority in the Lok Sabha or if other parties will have to be coaxed into joining any BJP government.

As I noted in this space last week, the astrological influences are broadly favourable to a Modi and BJP victory.  Of course, without clearly established birth times for either Modi or Congress candidate Rahul Gandhi it is more difficult to make a categorical prediction of the outcome.  Various birth times have been suggested for both candidates, but thus far none has emerged as definitive or accurate.  For this reason, we need to use whatever auxiliary means to provide supporting evidence for forecasting the outcome. 

The chart of India may be useful in this respect.  Read more...


Narendra Modi to be next Indian PM?

(30 March 2014)  If recent media polls are any indication, it looks like the BJP's Narendra Modi will be the next Prime Minister of India.  Modi has enjoyed a large double digit lead over Congress rival Rahul Gandhi for several months and with voting to begin on 7 April, it seems quite likely that the BJP will oust the Congress Party in the Lok Sahba elections.  The elections take place over a five-week period with the announcement of the final results due on 16 May.  The Indian stock market rallied strongly on the expectation of a BJP win as investors anticipate more pro-business policies from a Modi-led government.

While we do not know Modi's time of birth, we can cast his Chandra Lagna chart from his date of birth, 17 September 1950.  When the Ascendant is unknown, the Moon can be used as a substitute Ascendant to approximate the 1st house in a chart.  The Moon is in Scorpio with Mars suggesting a capable and assertive character who can act decisively.  He was born was a very strong stellium of planets in close conjunction in sidereal Virgo: Saturn, Sun, Mercury and Ketu (south lunar node).  Read more...


Yellen's comments boost US Dollar

(24 March 2014) Fed Chair Janet Yellen threw the US Dollar a life preserver last week.  Yellen's off the cuff remark that the Fed could raise interest rates just six months after ending its QE program later this year caught markets by surprise as it was sooner than many expected.  Stocks and gold sold off and the Dollar took flight on anticipation the higher rates may be on the way as soon as early 2015.  Despite the threat of higher rates, the Fed is maintaining its zero interest rate policy for the foreseeable future and will likely only raise rates if there is more weak economic data to justify such a move.  As long as official core inflation remains below 2% and growth is sluggish, the Fed has promised to keep the cost of borrowing money as low as it can. 

But the question is whether Yellen's comment was a rookie mistake or a sign of an evolution of interest rate policy as the Fed seeks other means to support the US economy.  More pointedly, is the Dollar going to extend its rally against other world currencies as more investors anticipate higher US interest rates?   Read more...


Gold outlook: Is the rally for real?

(16 March 2014)  Gold prices moved higher last week as Russia tightened its hold on Crimea and threatened a full-scale invasion of the rest of Ukraine.  Gold is a traditional safe haven investment that often does well in times of geopolitical uncertainty, as the current crisis in Ukraine shows.  Gold finished the week at $1382, well above its recent low of $1180 set at the end of December.   But can gold extend its rally and recapture its previous levels of $1900 or is this just a short-lived technical bounce?  With the Fed going ahead with its taper of QE, gold seems less attractive as currency debasement and inflation fears are receding. A major war on European soil would no doubt revive gold's fortunes, but that seems unlikely as most analysts do not expect NATO or the US going to war over Ukraine, a traditional Russian satellite within its sphere of influence.

There are any number of astrological techniques that are useful in forecasting the price of gold.  The one I would like to highlight today is tertiary progressions. 
Tertiaries are a Western astrological technique that assume a symbolic equivalence between time frames of planetary motion.  Tertiary progressions (TP) assume that one day's worth of motion of the planets will contain a symbolic significance for one lunar month.  This is a condensed ratio of time that is 1:27, in which 27 is the approximate number of days in a lunar month.   Read more...


The mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

(9 March 2014)  Almost two days after it disappeared from radar screens, there is still no sign of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.  Originating out of Kuala Lumpur and bound for Beijing, MH370 apparently vanished from tracking radar less than two hours into its flight.  It is believed to have gone down somewhere in the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam.  There was no distress call from the pilots and thus far there is also no sign of wreckage in the sea.  There were 279 people on board.  There is a possibility of terrorism as several passengers were travelling with stolen passports but that remains speculative at this point.  The vanishing plane is a mysterious and disturbing event that has so far not yielded any answers.

A horoscope cast for the time of take-off provides an intriguing picture.  MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur at 00.41 a.m. on March 8th.  The resulting chart of the flight shows nearly exactly angular Moon and Neptune.  The Moon (13 Taurus) is exactly on the 7th house cusp while Neptune (11 Aquarius) sits precisely on the unequal 4th house cusp (or IC).   This combination is about as appropriate as one can imagine since Neptune symbolizes mystery, confusion and above all, water.  Read more...


Putin calls Obama's bluff in Crimea

(2 March 2014)  Vladimir Putin apparently called Barack Obama's bluff this week as Russia prepared to invade the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine.  Despite Obama's repeated warnings not to invade, Putin nonetheless received Parliamentary approval to send the Russian army into this predominantly ethnic Russian region in Eastern Ukraine. Putin has taken advantage of the instability in Ukraine which was just in the process of forming a new government after ousting President Yanukovych. With the US and the West seemingly reluctant to engage Russia militarily, Putin is taking a calculated risk that Obama and his allies will not be able to intervene.  And even if the West did decide to help Ukraine to defend its borders, any military aid may be too little and too late to stop the nearby Russian tanks.

We can see some clear sources of trouble in President Obama's horoscope that reflect his latest foreign policy problem.  Most crucial is that Mars, the planet of conflict and violence, had just stationed retrograde at 3 degrees of Libra on Saturday, the day after the covert invasion of advanced forces.  Mars is almost exactly aspecting Obama's Saturn at 2 Capricorn by square aspect.   Read more...


Ukraine protests ousts President on planetary stations

(23 February 2014)  Ukraine's ongoing violent protests against its authoritarian pro-Russian government came to an abrupt end this week as a defiant President Yanukovych escaped the chaos by helicopter.   A new unity government was sworn-in the next day.  After months of street battles and violence had destroyed Independence Square of Kiev, the end came more suddenly that most of the protesters could have hoped.  The victory of this so-called Ukrainian Revolution will likely once again orient the former Soviet Republic towards Europe and the EU.  Although freely elected, the previous government had become increasingly intolerant of criticism and free speech in recent years and had moved away from Europe and into closer alliance with Russia.  It is an open question if Ukraine's political system is pliable enough to handle the deeply-rooted divisions in the country as half want closer ties to Europe and half want to be closer to Russia. 

As an astrologer, I am naturally curious about how the current planets might have related to the natal chart of the Ukraine.  Certainly, there is an unusual amount of energy in the sky these days as we approach a rare quadruple station of Mercury, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter all within one week of each other.  A station occurs when planets change their apparent direction from our vantage point on Earth.  Read more...


Markets applaud Yellen's inaugural testimony as Fed Chair

(16 February 2014)  Incoming Fed Chair Janet Yellen made her first appearance before Congress this week as legislators quizzed her on the Federal Reserve's monterary policies.   Yellen's remarks were well received as US financial markets generally rose throughout the week.  Yellen emphasized the continuity of the Fed's policy of near-zero interest rates and the promise to extend the tapering of QE as long as the economic data warranted it.  US stocks climbed through the week on her testimony which seemed to calm worries over a possible slowdown.  Gold investors were especially enthused over her desire to increase inflation to 2.5% through further measures.  Gold gained 3% on the week closing near $1320.  Indian stocks slipped a bit, although they remained within their recent trading range.

In other words, Yellen is telling markets exactly what they want to hear.  If things turn sour again for the economy, the Fed will be there to open the taps and flood the market with lots more free money.  Whether this will actually improve employment and the economy as a whole is another question, but it will certainly boost stocks and make the Wall St bankers happy.  Read more...


Sochi Winter Olympics open under Mercury and Neptune

(9 February 2014)  The Sochi Winter Olympics got underway this week amidst extremely tight security, criticism about the incomplete state of some facilities, as well as ongoing human rights criticism about Russia's anti-gay law.  The Games are an opportunity for Vladimir Putin's Russia to show the world that 'Russia is back' after spending many years in a post-Soviet malaise.  Aside from the athletic competitions themselves, questions arise about what these Games will bring.  Observers are wondering if security will be tight enough to protect athletes and spectators from the terror threat from Russia's Chechen minority.  More broadly, we can ask if Russia will be successful in hosting the games or whether any snafus or missteps could undermine the spirit of goodwill that the Olympics typically engender.  It is also reasonable to ask if any anti-gay law protests will disrupt any events thus causing Putin and Russia embarrassment on a global stage.

The horoscope of the opening of the games is a good place to start to address these questions.  Putin declared the games open at 9.28 p.m. local time (-3:00).  The resulting chart provides a glimpse into the nature of the event as well as a possible template against which transits can be analyzed for future developments.  Read more...


Political crisis in Thailand: Saturn-Mars preclude resolution

(2 February 2014)  Thailand's controversial election was held today amidst an atmosphere of violence, distrust, and confusion.  Voting in many districts was postponed due to protesters blocking the arrival of ballots and officials.  There was no election at all in nine southern provinces where all candidates had been prevented from registering in January.  The election seems to be little more than a public relations exercise for the besieged government of Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of the indicted exiled former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. The main opposition Democrat party boycotted the election as they consider the government illegitimate due to numerous corruption charges and chronic economic mismanagement.  With the election unlikely to settle anything, there seemed to be little hope that deep class and regional divisions in this normally peaceful Southeast Asian country would be resolved any time soon.

The astrological perspective on the crisis in Thailand suggests that the political stalemate will likely continue.  The Thailand chart that marks the beginning of the current Chakri royal dynasty -- a moment in time chosen by Thai astrologers in 1782 --  shows a very heavily afflicted Ascendant by the transit of Saturn.  Saturn (28 Libra) is slowing down ahead of its retrograde station at 29 Libra on March 2nd.  Saturn is usually a bad planet, especially when it opposes a sensitive point in the chart like the Ascendant.   Read more...


Global stocks fall sharply on Argentine devaluation

(26 January 2014)  US and European stocks plunged Friday on worries of a possible emerging markets meltdown following the surprise devaluation of the beleaguered Argentine Peso.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average had its worst week in months losing more than 3% and closing below 16,000.  Indian stocks fared better as encouraging domestic data continued to fuel optimism.  Although the Sensex did get caught up in Friday's global downdraft, it closed modestly higher for the week at 21,133. 

The extent of Friday's decline was somewhat surprising, although I did expect negativity to manifest in the second half of the week given the Mercury-Mars aspect.  The first half was more positive as I thought the effects of the approaching Venus direct station opposite bullish Jupiter would likely put a floor under stocks.  The somewhat different outcomes in Asia vs. US/Europe is partially attributable to the specific natal charts in question.  The chart of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) was not clearly under pressure by the bad aspects this week.  However, the NYSE chart was much more afflicted due to the aspect between transiting Mars and the natal Moon.  In addition, transiting Ketu (South Lunar Node) is closing in on its conjunction with natal Saturn.   Read more...


Gas prices continue to tumble: how low can they go?

(19 January 2014)  Gasoline prices are continuing to fall in most places as the market adjusts to a glut of oil on the market.   Although crude oil bounced a little higher last week closing at $94 for West Texas Intermediate, the price trend has been mostly down ever since the Syrian Crisis met with a negotiated conclusion in the fall.  This is one critical factor in the reduction of the usual Middle East geopolitical price premium.  Actually, there is a world surplus of oil now as the US has continuously increased its domestic production through the introduction of shale oil.  More recently, the emerging prospect of a nuclear treaty with Iran means that the US will likely lift the embargo on Iranian oil thus increasing the world's supply by up to five million barrels a day with the stroke of a pen.

Some analysts suggest that the price of crude could continue to fall to $80 or below in the near term as long as there are no sudden changes in the supply-demand balance.  But just how realistic is this forecast of $80 crude oil?  Based on my reading of the Crude Oil Futures horoscope, I would say that $80 is very possible over the next 1-2 months.   Read more...


Edward Snowden receives support from NYT

(12 January 2014)  Things may be looking up for the former NSA employee Edward Snowden. The ex-intelligence analyst received support from The New York Times as its editorial of January 1 called for clemency in his case in light of his contribution to the preservation of individual privacy in the internet age.  This week the EU Parliament asked Snowden to testify via video in its investigation into US surveillance practices.  Snowden has been a polarizing figure since he revealed the extent to which the NSA was spying on its own citizens without proper legal oversight or controls. 

Although he considers himself a whistle-blower of illegal government actions, Snowden has been a fugitive from the US justice system since his daring flight from his home in Hawaii back in May 2013.  The Obama administration and many officials on both sides of the political spectrum consider him a traitor for having leaked state secrets.  However, he has become something of a folk hero amongst both right leaning libertarians and left leaning progressives for unmasking the full extent to which citizens are subjected to illegal cyber-surveillance.  Over the course of the past months, each new revelation of unwarranted NSA intrusion into the private lives of citizens has gradually shifted public opinion towards the need for greater privacy and stricter oversight of the US security apparatus.  This, in turn, has boosted Snowden's reputation as a legitimate whistle-blower.  Read more...


Is China's bubble about to burst?

(5 January 2014)  The financial focus shifted to China last week as the release of weak economic data renewed worries that the world's economic engine might be entering rougher waters.  In addition to indications of slowing growth, there is growing concern about China's banking sector which is apparently knee-deep in bad loans and seemingly bottomless government stimulus. Like its Western counterparts, China responded to the 2008 financial meltdown by pumping billions into the economy in an effort to boost demand.  While there has been an impressive rebound in growth, there are more fears that the resulting recovery is just another bubble that is not sustainable and not based in real economic activity.  Real estate values are still near record levels, but many of the newly constructed condos and malls remain empty.  This is what happens when money costs almost nothing to borrow and government will always be there to cover any losses.  Maybe someone in the People's Bank of China should learn about the US Savings and Loan debacle in the 1980s.

The condition of the horoscope of China offers some hints about the current state of the economy.  When reading national charts, economic well-being usually occurs when 1) there is an absence of afflictions from slow moving malefics (Saturn, Rahu/Ketu, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) to key planets like Moon (mood), Sun (vitality) and Venus (wealth, happiness); and 2) when the 1st, 2nd and 11th houses and their lords are well aspected by benefics like Jupiter.   Read more...



New Year's Horoscope 2014

(29 December 2013)  As we turn the page on another year, it's time to check the New Year's horoscope to get a glimpse of what may be in store for 2014.  While there are many methods for forecasting the year ahead, I like to examine the position of the planets when the clock strikes midnight on the 1st of January.  Unlike the Pisces New Moon chart in March or the Sun's ingress into tropical Capricorn in December, there is no astronomical significance to this moment in time.  However, observation from past New Year's charts suggest that there may be some suggestive correspondences between the planetary map for midnight 1 January and the events and mood of the collective human consciousness during the year ahead.  In that sense, its significance may be related to the manifestation of the collective consciousness of humanity when the calendar turns.

Some previous New Year's charts have left an unambiguous footprint on the year in question.  The 1989 chart highlighted a very hopeful Mercury-Jupiter aspect the year the Berlin Wall crumbled and Soviet-style communism ended.  Saturn (traditions, structure) was also tightly aspected by Ketu (South Node), the planet that erases boundaries.   Read more...


The Venus retrograde cycle: what does it mean for you?

(22 December 2013)  Venus turned retrograde yesterday at 5 degrees of sidereal Capricorn and now begins its 40-day journey backwards through the sky.  Venus goes retrograde about once every 18 months and marks a time when the significations of the planet may enjoy a special resonance in our lives. Venus is usually associated with love, women, art, beauty, money and pleasurable activities such as hobbies, recreation and socializing. 

Venus (Sanskrit: Shukra) is believed to be somewhat more powerful during its retrograde cycle because it is moving more slowly than usual.  As a general rule, slower moving planets are stronger in their effects.  A slow moving retrograde Venus therefore often coincides with a time when its areas of life become more important to us or enjoy a special poignancy.  Friendships may become more meaningful through a sharing of feelings or ideas; a relationship may become better understood as its inner dynamic is revealed; artistic pursuits assume a greater significance in life such as through seeing a brilliant art history documentary or listening to a well known piece of music with fresh ears. The retrograde process implies a certain sense of reviewing or re-assessing some of these Venusian elements in our life.   Read more...

 

Fed considers QE taper again as Venus turns retrograde

(15 December 2013)  To taper or not to taper?  That is the question - again!  With another Fed meeting slated for this week, the never-ending debate about whether the Fed will reduce its QE program is front and center once again.  With the employment data is showing more strength lately, will Bernanke and Co. finally begin to reduce their bond purchases which has been one of the main drivers of the current market rally?  Or is the Fed still concerned about a possible negative market reaction which would push interest rates higher as happened in May and June when Bernanke first floated the prospect of a taper? 

Opinion seems split on whether the Fed will have the courage to finally start to wind down its stimulus program.  Recent weakness in the markets reflects the fact that some investors are reducing their holdings in anticipation of a taper.  A QE taper will reduce the liquidity and will likely cause stocks to fall.  How much stocks may decline is unknowable, although it may depend on the wording in Wednesday's 2 p.m. statement.  A more hawkish tone would suggest that the days of easy money are numbered and that the Fed is increasingly wary of the risks of an asset bubble.  Such a tone could hit stocks hard.  More dovish talk, however, and a steady-as-she-goes message would likely push stocks higher, or at least allow them to maintain their current lofty levels.   Read more...


Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

(8 December 2013)  The former South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela passed away Thursday at the age of 95.  Although he spent much of his adult life in prison, Mandela  emerged as the symbol of righteous defiance against South Africa's institutionalized racist regime.  After his release in 1990, Mandela became one of the world's most respected statesman, eventually winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and the presidency of his country in 1994. 

Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in Umtata, South Africa.  His time of birth is unknown.  Some astrologers have attempted to rectify it but there remains a lot of uncertainty about Mandela's chart. For this reason, we must content ourselves with the approximate Chandra Lagna chart (Moon-based Ascendant) to see what sort of general clues can be gleaned about life.  To be sure, we likely won't be able to discern the precise celestial inspiration of the man's singular contribution to human freedom and justice.  And yet, even the Chandra Lagna chart provides hints about the basic direction of his path.

Mandela was probably born with the Moon in late Libra.   Read more...



Is Bitcoin the new gold for the internet age?

(3 December 2013)  The virtual currency Bitcoin (symbol: BTC) is riding high on a lot buzz right now.  And with good reason.  On November 29th, the value of one Bitcoin ($1242) briefly exceeded the value of an ounce of gold which traded at $1240 on that day.  It was a potential watershed moment in the sudden explosive rise of Bitcoin which was launched back in January 2009.  At that time, one Bitcoin had a value of less than a tenth of a cent. 

The explanation for the growing popularity of the currency is related to several factors -- the growth of online commerce, the recognition of the need for an alternative to government-issued fiat currencies which are prone to debasement over time, and a desire by some users for anonymous online transactions which no other currency or payment method currently satisfies.  But is Bitcoin just a newly-minted Ponzi scheme that is doomed to collapse or does Bitcoin represent a viable alternative to gold as a store of value?

From an astrological perspective, Bitcoin presents some intriguing challenges of interpretation.  Read more...


Gold tumbles to $1240 on renewed Fed taper talk

(24 November 2013)  Gold is coming off another bad week as the traditional safe haven investment lost more than 3% closing near $1240.  Gold declined because of some bearish comments contained in the minutes of the previous meeting of the Federal Reserve.  The minutes suggested that the Fed is moving closer to reducing its QE stimulus program as the US economy gradually recovers.   As a rule, gold prices tend to rise when inflation worries are high and tend to fall during times when inflation is not an issue.  The possible end to the Fed's money printing would reduce inflation expectations, strengthen the Dollar and thereby depress the price of gold.

As I have noted on several previous occasions this year, the current planetary alignment is not favourable for gold.  If we use the horoscope of the first London gold price back in 1919, we can see some major afflictions.   Read more...


50 years since Dallas: JFK assassination anniversary rekindles America's fascination

(16 November 2013)  America's enduring fascination with President John F. Kennedy returns to the fore this week as the nation observes the 50th anniversary of his assassination.  Kennedy's death in Dallas on November 22, 1963 left an indelible mark on the country as the hope and youthful optimism of his administration soon disintegrated into social turbulence, distrust of government and widespread alienation.  While the 1960s would eventually bring about progressive and necessary changes to the US, many Americans feel that JFK's death was a turning point after which things would never be the same.  Americans may therefore look back nostalgically at the Kennedy era as a happier time before things started go wrong for the country in Vietnam, the inner city ghettos, and the various failed social experiments of the 1960s.  Not surprisingly, recent polls still show JFK as the most popular president of the 20th century.

The astrological perspective suggests the JFK mystique may well have a planetary basis.  JFK's horoscope is well known so there is no need for any detailed examination here.  Suffice to say his commanding and inspiration presence is seen through the close conjunction of Saturn and Neptune close to the 10th house cusp (career, status).   Read more...


Yellen in Senate hearing; Venus and Pluto lay celestial groundwork

(17 November 2013)  Fed Chair nominee Janet Yellen appeared in confirmation hearings before the Senate banking committee last week.   Yellen performed well in the hearings and is widely expected to be confirmed as the next Chair of the Federal Reserve and replace Ben Bernanke, whose term ends on January 31.  Yellen's horoscope (August 13, 1946, time unknown) suggests she is generally a cautious and intelligent person.  Mercury (intellect) is closely conjunct Saturn (order, discipline) in the sign of Cancer.  This gives her an ability to think deeply and carefully about problems. 

Interestingly, her stellium of planets in Virgo (Venus, Mars, Neptune, Jupiter) are similar disposed by Mercury (which rules Virgo) and hence the Saturn influence is reinforced again.  While we don't know her Ascendant, we can see that her Moon in Aquarius further enhances this Saturn influence since  Aquarius is ruled by Saturn.  The importance of Saturn in her chart is bumped up another notch since the Moon and Saturn exchange signs -- Saturn is in the Moon's sign of Cancer while the Moon is in Saturn's sign.   Read more...



Twitter launches IPO under auspicious stars; stock jumps 73%

(9 November 2013)  The big news in the financial world this week was the launch of the Twitter IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.  Twitter (TWTR) became a publicly traded company on Thursday, November 7 at 10.49 a.m. when the first trade was completed at a price of $45.10.  This represented a stunning 70% increase over the IPO offering price of $26.  The Twitter launch had been the most anticipated IPO since Facebook went public last May.   Unlike Facebook, however, Twitter's massive stock offering went off without a hitch.  Despite the impressive gain on the first day, the stock actually slipped 7% in Friday's trade and closed at $42. What does the future hold for Twitter, both as a stock and as a company?  Let's take a look at the first trade chart. 

Ideally, the first trade chart should show two things: 1) it should reflect the basic nature of the company in question and 2) it should provide information on the probable trajectory of the company as evidenced through the ups and downs of its stock price.   As we can see from the Twitter chart, there are some very appropriate placements given Twitter's role as a computer-based communication company.   Read more...


Neptune in focus: ACA fallout grows as Obama's integrity is questioned

(3 November 2013)  It was another difficult week for President Barack Obama as it became more evident that millions of Americans would be losing their health insurance plans under the new rules of the Affordable Care Act.  This inconvenient fact is at odds with numerous promises Obama made over the past three years when he insisted that no one would lose their existing plan. 

While political allies continue to find ways to defend Obama, there is a growing sense in the middle of the political spectrum that something is seriously amiss in the brave new world of Obamacare that goes beyond the bungled website roll-out.  The main television networks are beginning to run stories about the widespread loss of plans, as well as consumer sticker shock as prices have unexpectedly risen significantly for many people.  Worse still, more commentators are wondering aloud if Obama may have lied to the public about the implications of the ACA for political expediency.  While a more forgiving perspective would suggest that it was a "miscommunication", the political fallout has been significant as Obama's approval ratings continue to fall back towards their all-time lows in the low 40s.

Obama's recent difficulties here are a reflection of the current planetary alignments.   Read more...


Oil falls below $100 on Saturn aspect

(27 October 2013)  US stocks rose again last week on positive earnings reports and weak economic data that likely further postponed any Fed tapering into 2014.  The Dow was up more than 1% closing at 15,570.  Indian stocks eased off somewhat on profit taking as the Sensex finished at 20,683.   This more mixed picture was in keeping with expectations as I thought the separating Mercury-Jupiter aspect could coincide with diminishing optimism. 

Crude oil fell below $100 last week for the first time since June as it finally returned to its pre-Syrian crisis trading range.  Oil has declined 10% over the past month as the risk premium has slowly come off.  Interestingly, we can see how this recent pullback is reflected in the natal chart of crude oil futures.  Crude oil futures began trading in 1983 and therefore we can view the resulting horoscope as a kind of birth chart from which subsequent price movements may be deduced.   Read more...


GOP surrenders as shutdown ends; Obamacare still under fire

(20 October 2013)  The US government shutdown came to an end last week as a deal was hammered out on the day before the debt ceiling deadline.  Without much real bargaining power, the GOP essentially surrendered on almost every point under discussion.  Obamacare was left intact and no serious cuts were made in the budget.  Both sides agreed to postpone further budgetary talks until early 2014.   It was clearly a political victory for President Obama who enjoyed a much-needed win after a string of setbacks in recent months.   

Last week, I wrote that the current transit picture in Obama's chart suggested the possibility of some last-minute complications in negotiations.  Alternatively, I thought that some of the tension in the President's chart might also manifest as more fallout from the Obamacare roll-out.  It was this latter scenario that turned out to fulfill the planetary promise as the White House and Health Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has come under increased criticism for the problem-filled roll-out of the long-awaited Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Read more...


US government stalemate continues; Obamacare roll-out underwhelms

(13 October 2013)  As the US government shutdown threatens to move into its third week, one wonders when it is all going to end.  Hopes were raised at the end of last week as the House GOP  tabled on offer to Obama but that was eventually rejected.  Now the focus has shifted to the Senate as both sides attempt to reconcile the need to avert a debt ceiling default on October 17th while trying to make political gains for their respective parties.   As I have suggested in previous posts, a quick win here by President Obama and the Democrats looks unlikely given the difficulties in his horoscope.  Obama's Sun is under the heavy influence of a Saturn transit for much of the month of October, so that would seemingly argue against a full-blown GOP surrender and a big White House win in this latest political scuffle.

I say "seemingly" because there are actually any number of real world events and situations that could reflect the Sun-Saturn tension in Obama's chart.  The current criticisms about his leadership do not necessarily have to reflect the stand-off with the Republicans over the shutdown and debt ceiling.  Read more...


US government shuts down as debt ceiling deadline looms

(6 October 2013)  The shutdown showdown in Washington shows no signs of ending anytime soon.  American's ongoing budget fight entered its sixth day today as both Obama and Boehner refused to budge in their respective positions.  Boehner is demanding a one-year delay to the unpopular Obamacare program while the President is having none of it as the Affordable Care Act may well be the only lasting legacy of his presidency.   A complicating factor here is that the US debt ceiling deadline of 17 October is fast approaching.  If the two sides cannot also agree to raise the debt ceiling that allows for more government borrowing, then the US will default on its debt.  This possibility is widely seen as far more disruptive than the shutdown as global financial markets would likely react very badly to such a default. 

So what are the chances of a default?  Most commentators do not expect it is going to happen.  It is very much the 'nuclear option' that both sides will want to avoid since a default may well produce a market crash and another downgrade to the US credit rating.  It would also be a huge blow to US prestige in the world.   Read more...



The Astrology of Travel: Historic Journeys, Auspicious Stars

As Lao-tzu once said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The importance of beginnings resonates with astrologers who also reserve a special place for the moment of birth and the planetary imprint of inception. Like the first breath, the first step in a journey occurs in a unique moment in time and is inscribed with an unrepeatable karmic signature.

The moment of inception offers us a map of the stars that can be used to grasp the nature and ultimate trajectory of an action. Unlike birth, the starting point for various human endeavors like travel can be freely chosen. This opens the door to the possibility of choosing or ‘electing’ an auspicious time for initiating an action based on alignments in the sky. The resulting electional charts or muhurthas should therefore be seen as practical tools through which astrology can further the understanding of our destiny and thereby enhance the quality of our lives.

But is it really possible to choose a fortuitous moment to embark on a trip and thereby manipulate the fates in our favour? Jyotish has long asserted that this is indeed the case. Many books have been written on the subject of elections, each detailing any number of rules for undertaking a particular action under the most auspicious star alignments.   Read more...



Obamacare under threat as government shutdown looms

(29 September 2013)  It was another bad week for President Obama as House Republicans voted for a one-year delay of Obamacare as part of its spending bill.  The delay of the unpopular health care plan has put the GOP on a collision course with the White House.  Obama will veto the bill to delay its launch and this will then result in a government shutdown as funds will not be available to provide basic government services. US government shutdowns are not that uncommon, however, and usually last only a few days.  Financial markets are actually more concerned with the threat posed by the debt ceiling debate as money is due to run out by October 17th.  If the debt ceiling cannot be raised, then the US government would default on its debt.  This is far more disruptive to financial markets than a shutdown.

To some extent, the current bad mood in Washington is the result of the ongoing Saturn-Rahu conjunction.  This has been in effect for much of September and is carrying over into October as it is activated by the transits of faster moving planets such as Mercury and the Sun.   As I have discussed in previous posts, this conjunction is afflicting Obama's natal Mars (frustration, confrontation) and is likely undermining his Sun (confidence, leadership) since the Saturn-Rahu conjunction sits atop his Neptune.  Read more...



Bernanke (and Rahu) surprise markets: Is the QE party over?

(22 September 2013)  Ben Bernanke surprised markets last week as the Fed postponed its plans to taper QE bond purchases until economic conditions improved.   While US stocks moved to new all-time highs on Wednesday's announcement, many investors and analysts voiced their irritation and disapproval at this sudden about-face after the Fed had been hinting at tapering since May.  The Fed's credibility took a beating with this move as more market players spoke out against its actions and its communications.  The fact that most of the gains were lost by Friday is further evidence that the market may be growing wearing of all this Fed money printing as it does not appear to have much effect in the real economy.

We can see the potential damage of Wednesday's non-taper by referring to Bernanke's swearing-in chart when he first took over the reins of Fed Chair on February 1 2006 at 9 a.m.   I interpret this chart as representing conditions and events of Bernanke's tenure at the Fed.  Close aspects involving malefic planets like Saturn will likely coincide with times of economic stress when the Fed is forced to react to worsening conditions, both in the economy and in the financial markets.  Read more...


Putin emerges as winner in face-off with Obama and US

(15 September 2013)  Russia's President Vladimir Putin seems to be the big winner in the recent war of words over Syria's chemical weapons.  The agreement between the US and Russia to remove all of Syria's chemical weapons by next year emerged after a series of missteps by the US administration.  President Obama's lack of political support for a military strike ultimately paved the way for the agreement which allowed the beleaguered Obama to save face.  Seeing the unworkable position Obama was in, Putin seized the moment by brokering the deal with Syria's strongman Bashar al-Assad.

The disarmament deal came as a surprise as I thought the odds were quite high for a military strike.  Obama's horoscope looked heavily afflicted for September.  Saturn in Libra is undermining his Cancer Sun (leadership, confidence) and thus he was more likely to fare poorly in this affair. I had thought the current transits to Obama's 8th house Mars in the last degree of Leo would be more likely to bring about military action.  However, it turned out that Obama's Mars was not very inclined to violence.  All those minor aspects to his Mars may have simply have reflected the awkwardness of his situation and the humiliation he has suffered.  The 8th house is symbolically associated with setbacks and embarrassments.  Read more...



The Hindenburg Omen: Is the stock market going to crash?

(8 September 2013) Recently there has been a lot of talk by technical analysts about the Hindenburg Omen. Named after the doomed airship that crashed in 1937 in New Jersey, the Hindenburg Omen is a series of criteria of stock market measurements that predicts market crashes. The premise of the criteria is that stocks tend to display greater extremes in behavior before a large decline. This is reflected, for example, in a higher number of stocks hitting their 52-week highs and 52-week lows simultaneously. The track record of the omen is impressive as it has correctly predicted every major crash or decline over the past 25 years. However, it has also misfired a number of times by issuing many false positives -- occasions when the technical criteria was fulfilled but the market did not crash.

The US stock market recently satisfied the criteria of the omen in mid-August when several signals formed in quick succession. It is believed that the signal is valid for 30 trading days. Assuming that no new omens are triggered, this signal will be valid until mid- to late-September. While the market is showing signs of weakness recently, one wonders if this will turn out to be just another false positive for the Hindenburg Omen. So we can ask the question: just how close are we to a stock market crash?   Read more...


Idealism under duress: Obama delays Syrian strike

(1 September 2013)  President Obama pulled back from the brink yesterday as he decided to delay a possible missile strike on Syria in order to seek approval from the US Congress. The surprise about-face ended a week of increasing war rhetoric as the White House sought to make its case for hitting the Assad regime after its recent use of chemical weapons during the two-year old civil war with insurgents. Obama had been boxed in by his own "red line" ultimatum against the use of poison gas and was feeling isolated after UK support for a missile strike was defeated in the British Parliament.

Obama's horoscope is under considerable pressure at this time. Transiting Saturn and Rahu (i.e. North Lunar Node) are both conjunct his 10th house Neptune indicating possible obstacles to his role as leader. Any planet in the 10th house is associated with status and reputation and we should not be surprised that the double whammy of these two malefic planets Saturn and Rahu should correspond with situations where his leadership is called into question or where events do not play out smoothly.

The added dimension here is that Neptune is a planet that symbolizes idealism so the encroaching influence of Saturn (limit, loss) and Rahu (distortion, disruption) reflects the difficulty Obama has had in reconciling his preference for negotiation and peace with a need to be firm in the face of a violation of the international norms of warfare.   Read more...


India's financial crisis: Mars and Saturn wreak havoc

(25 August 2013) Raghuram Rajan must be wondering what he has gotten himself into. The incoming head of the Reserve Bank of India assumes office on 4 September just as the country grapples with a deepening financial crisis. Inflation is on the rise and threatening again to break into double digit territory while the Rupee last week hit an all-time low of 65 to the Dollar. The current account deficit shows no sign of improvement and economic growth has contracted from 8-9% in previous years to a more modest 4-5%.

The crisis was sparked by a sudden outflow of foreign money after the US Federal Reserve indicated it would begin to taper its quantitative easing policy. The end to the Fed's bond buying program has caused bond yields to spike higher as investors realized Uncle Sam (or rather Ben!) would no longer be a reliable buyer of its own debt. As investors follow yield wherever they can find it, rising interest rates in the US made India markets much less attractive. Hence, we have witnessed a rush to the exits from many emerging markets like India over the past two months.

From an astrological perspective, India's current troubles do not come as a surprise. As I noted in July, India was likely to experience difficult economic conditions during this time and indeed for much of 2014 also.   Read more...


Prince George of Cambridge born; third in line to the British throne

(25 July 2013)  Britain gained a new heir to the throne on Monday with the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge at 4.24 pm in London.  The son of the Prince William and Kate Middleton will be third in line to be crown, after his father and his grandfather, Prince Charles, son of the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth.  

As one might expect for royalty, it is a fortunate and powerful horoscope.  Prince George was born on the day of a Full Moon, a clearly auspicious indication.  As Vedic astrology teaches us, the Moon is the lynch pin to the whole chart and hence is one of the key foundations for describing the contours and trajectory of a person's life.  A Moon what is strong and associated with benefic planets usually means the individual enjoys good fortune and happiness.  Conversely, a Moon that is badly placed can translate into many ups and downs in life, increased stress, and sideways career development. 

Prince George's Moon is very prominent indeed.  The Full Moon usually confers physical attractiveness and likability so we can expect an individual to get noticed more readily than would otherwise be the case.  This is already true with Prince George as he has been born into one of the most famous and well-recognized families on Earth.                Read more...  


Stocks shaky as Mars enters sidereal Cancer

(18 August 2013) Financial markets were shaky last week as improving US economic data continued to point to a recovery and hence a quicker exit from the Fed's quantitative easing program.   Stocks in New York fell 2% closing at 15,081.   Indian markets finished 1% to the down side after investors were less than impressed by the RBI's move towards capital controls.   In keeping with last week's post, it seems as if the entry of Venus into sidereal Virgo has already weakened sentiment.  Venus is said to be debilitated in the sign of Virgo and that tends to create diminished interest in buying and owning stocks.  As expected, we did get some upside in the first half of the week as the Mercury-Jupiter aspect generated some optimism.

While I can't quite see a repeat of the 1987 crash as some are predicting, it does seem as if the stage has been set for some kind significant down move in the stock market.  The QE merry-go-round may finally be coming to an end as Ben Bernanke may have no choice but to reduce the Fed's bond-buying program as the economy improves.  Read more...


Stocks weaken as Venus (Shukra) enters Virgo

(11 August 2013)  Stocks receded last week as growing taper talk from Fed officials suggested that a reduction of QE bond buying could begin as soon as September.   In New York, the Dow lost a little more than 1% closing at 15,425.  Indian stocks fared worse, however, as major economic problems continued to mount.  The Sensex declined by 2% closing at 18,789.

US Stocks remain fairly buoyant there as the effects of various Jupiter aspects in August are likely to keep most global markets afloat a little while longer.  And yet the picture is complicated by the fact that negative sentiment is likely on the rise.   As I have mentioned previously, Saturn will soon conjoin its malefic brethren Rahu (North Lunar Node) in mid-September.   Thus the overall sentiment picture is a complex one marked by ever-shifting planetary energies, each with their own distinct influence.  If Jupiter's aspects to Pluto, Rahu and finally Uranus are serving to prop up the markets in August, the combination of Saturn and Rahu is simultaneously undermining sentiment and will likely coincide with some kind of market decline in the medium term.     Read more...


Jupiter lifts stocks as Fed stays mum on QE

(4 August 2013) Jupiter is once again proving to be a Fed Chair's best friend.  Jovial Jupiter continues to do most of the heavy lifting in the stock market these days as many global markets set new all-time highs.   US Stocks edged higher again last week as the latest pronouncement from the Federal Reserve offered no new clues about the fate of the quantitative easing stimulus program.   Despite Friday's mediocre jobs report, the Dow climbed about 1% closing at 15,658.  Indian stocks fared worse, however, as current accounts woes hit the rupee hard and hastened an outflow of foreign investment.   The Sensex lost 3% closing at 19,164.  As expected, we did see bigger price swings later in the week with the multi-planet alignment of Venus, Mars, Rahu (NN), and Uranus.  (The image is a wall painting from Pompeii, Italy and depicts the Roman god Jupiter) 

More broadly, we can see how this latest phase of the stock market rally has been correlated with the condition of Jupiter.   Jupiter, of course, is a bullish planet and when it forms close aspects with other distant, slow moving planets, markets tend to do well.   Read more...


The broken BRICS and India's uncertain future

(28 July 2013)  Are the BRICs really broken?  There has been a lot of talk recently about declining growth in emerging markets especially in four largest countries collectively known as the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China).  A recent article by Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley has suggested that the BRICs time in the spotlight may now be over after shining so brightly in the 2000s. China's double digit annual growth is now a thing of the past, and Brazil is seeing widespread social unrest against a backdrop of rising inflation and economic stagnation.  Russia is riddled with corruption and remains an undiversified oil-based economy.  Like its fellow BRIC brethren, India has seen its growth rates moderate from 9 percent down to 6 percent this year as struggles with inflation and inadequate infrastructure are formidable obstacles to sustainable economic growth. 

What does the future hold for India?  Are its recent setbacks merely very normal growing pains as an economy undergoes a process of maturation?  Or is the current phase of sluggish growth a warning signal of more significant problems to come as development is blocked by poor infrastructure and a political system that is ill-equipped to deal with long-term challenges?  Read more...


Is the game rigged? Bernanke comments push stocks to new record

(21 July 2013)  Is the game rigged? After yet another reassurance from Ben Bernanke last week that the Fed will do whatever is necessary to stimulate the economy and boost job growth, one may wonder if the stock market will ever go down again. After all, stocks have risen by more than 150% since their low in 2009 in no small part as a result of the Fed's loose money policies. Whenever markets have shown signs of falling back into the depths, Bernanke has stepped in with the latest version of quantitative easing (QE) which aims to reduce interest rates and thereby push more money into riskier assets such as stocks. Even if QE hasn't done that much to improve the US job market, it has been a bonanza on Wall Street. Bernanke's pledge last week helped to boost stocks last week as the Dow finished at another all-time record of 15,543. Indian stocks also did well as the Sensex edged higher to 20,149.

The gains were not surprising given the presence of the Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune alignment. While I thought we might have seen a little more caution creeping into the markets late in the week, the overall result mostly confirmed our understanding of the bullish effects of Jupiter when it forms geometric exact angles with other planets.        Read more...


Bernanke backtracks on taper; stocks rise to new highs

(14 July 2013)  Ben Bernanke has once again proved that the Fed is the stock market's best friend. The Fed Chair's magic words that the zero interest rate policy would remain in place indefinitely put investors in a buying mood as the worrisome taper talk faded into the background. No doubt Bernanke was still in damage control mode after his June musings about reducing bond buying created a headlong rush to the exits. While financial markets are certainly relieved that the Fed's free money will continue to flow, one wonders how long it can last. The Fed's experimental stimulus plan (QE) is now into its 4th year and has boosted stocks and other financial assets around the world in the wake of the financial meltdown of 2008.

The trouble now is that the Fed may be trapped. Markets have become addicted to the $85 Billion of treasuries it buys every month so that any hint that this money will not be forthcoming causes investors to freak out.   Read more...


Egyptian coup pushes up oil price

(7 July 2013)  The Arab Spring took a bit of a detour last week as Egypt's first democratically elected president was deposed in a military coup.  Mohamed Morsi and his pro-Islamist government lasted barely a year before the Egyptian army took matters into their own hands.  While military coups are usually seen as inimical to legitimate rule, this coup was quite popular and was welcomed by cheering crowds all over the country.  The instability in the Middle East caused a price spike in oil as crude moved above $100 for the first time since early 2012.  Although Egypt doesn't produce much oil, it does control the Suez canal which is the shortest route for Persian gulf oil bound for Europe.

Egypt's 1952 horoscope shows the outline of the current situation as both Mars (violence, military involvement) and the Sun (government, leaders) are under significant affliction by slow moving planets.  Transiting Rahu (21 Libra) is bearing down on its conjunction with Mars (18 Libra).  Rahu-Mars combinations are classic indicators for violence, especially in the mundane sphere.   Read more...
   
Stocks rebound as China averts bank crisis and Fed talk

(30 June 2013)  Stocks rebounded last week as Bernanke's foot soldiers at the Fed did their best to talk the markets back off the ledge.   US markets rose 1% on the week as the Dow closed at 14,909.  Indian markets followed suit as the Sensex posted a 3% gain finishing at 19,395.  I thought we might have seen the more cautious mood extend into midweek but stocks generally posted their low on Monday and rallied after that.  The late week Venus-Jupiter aspect may been a key driver of sentiment here as highs in the US occurred at Thursday's close and on Friday in Mumbai.

Perhaps less surprising was gold's sharp decline as it traded below $1200 on Wednesday before staging a modest recovery to $1230.  This extended decline in gold was expected ahead of the Saturn direct station on 8 July.  As I have noted previously, the current position of Saturn lines up almost exactly with the Ascendant in the 1919 gold horoscope.  This is one key reason why gold has been so widely sold in recent months.  Read more...


Stocks suffer taper tantrum after Bernanke; gold plunge deepens

(23 June 2013)  Financial markets suffered a "taper tantrum" last week as the latest comments by Fed Chair Ben Bernanke sparked a rush to exits. In his Wednesday testimony, Bernanke stated that the Fed would taper its QE3 bond-buying program this year as long as the economy continues to improve. While some reduction in bond buying was widely anticipated, the schedule Bernanke laid out was a little earlier than expected and prompted the broad-based sell-off in most asset classes including stocks, bonds, and commodities such as gold and oil. Markets are again beginning to factor in economic fundamentals as the era of easy money and central bank intervention is apparently winding down. US stocks declined more than 2% on the week with the Dow closing at 14,799. The damage to emerging markets continued to hit Indian stocks hard as the Sensex tumbled 2% closing at 18,774.

This negative reaction to Bernanke's comments were largely in keeping with our expectations as I thought that the aftermath of Wednesday's Sun-Jupiter conjunction would probably coincide with some selling.  Read more...


Emerging markets suffer on tapering worries; Bernanke speaks Wednesday

(16 June 2013)  Stocks mostly lost ground last week as stimulus tapering worries continued to spook investors.  In New York, the Dow declined by more than 1% closing at 15,070.   Indian stocks also fell as the contraction of liquidity continued to hit emerging markets hard.  The Sensex slipped by almost 2% on the week finishing at 19,177.  I thought we might have seen more strength in the early part of the week on the Mercury-Venus influence but its effects were quite limited.  The absence of much upside here on these putatively positive aspects is perhaps evidence of the approaching Saturn-Neptune aspect at the culmination of the Saturn retrograde cycle on July 8th.

Emerging markets appear to be in the cross hairs at the moment as they act as a sort of early warning system for a global financial system that is dependent on central bank monetary expansion (i.e. money printing).  Disappointment over the size and scope of the Japanese government's stimulus plan caused the Tokyo market to extend its recent sell-off.  Read more...


Obama on defensive after US surveillance revelations

(9 June 2013)  President Obama seems to have lost his midas touch recently.  This week's revelations of widespread US government spying on its own citizens was only the latest of a series of scandals and embarrassments that has put Obama on the defensive.  Things have got so bad that even the usually sympathetic liberal media outlets such as The New York Times are criticizing him for his unprincipled acquiescence to this expansion of the security state and the further erosion of civil liberties.  Obama's approval ratings are now under pressure and there is more talk that his agenda has been irretrievably comprised.  Thursday's bombshell report by The Guardian of NSA surveillance through compliant phone and internet companies gives fuel to the suspicions sowed by his right wing foes that Obama is an advocate for Orwellian Big Government.

As is often the case, Obama's current troubles are the result of the placement of several different planets at once.  First, we can see that transiting Rahu (North Lunar Node) is stationary at the top of the chart in the 10th house, just two degrees from his equal house cusp (24 Libra).   Read more...


Markets ponder early end to QE3 as stocks fall

(2 June 2013)  Stocks trended lower last week as markets pondered the possibility of an early end to the Fed's quantitative easing program.  US stocks fell by about 1% with the Dow finishing the week at 15,115.   Despite a sharp sell-off Friday, Indian markets ended the week mostly unchanged with the Sensex closing at 19,760.  This outcome was not unexpected as I thought we might see some weakness enter the market after the various Jupiter influences had culminated on Thursday.  As expected, Monday's Mercury-Jupiter aspect coincided with a strong rally.  Stocks also generally rose further through Tuesday's Venus-Jupiter aspect and the entry of Jupiter into Gemini of Thursday.  Once all that bullish Jupiter energy had manifest on Thursday, that opened the door for Friday's global decline.  It is worth noting that Friday also featured a close Mars-Mercury aspect, a commonly bearish influence. 

While US markets have pulled back somewhat in the past week, we may well ask if is this yet another bull market buying opportunity or is the market finally on the verge of a larger correction?  Read more...


Eclipses and financial markets: are stocks near a top?

(5 May 2013)  Last week I discussed the effect of eclipses in financial astrology.  With the approach of Thursday's solar eclipse, I thought I would offer some additional thoughts on how eclipses might work in  relation to the financial markets. 

I suggested that the simplest effect of eclipses was as a direct timing signal.  Since eclipses symbolize the interruption of the status quo and uncertainty, they have a tendency to correlate with noteworthy reversals of market trends.  The past 5 out of 6 eclipse periods have coincided with market lows as stocks have generally declined into either the lunar or solar eclipse and then reversed course and then rallied afterwards.  Given how strong the markets have been recently, it seems unlikely that Thursday's eclipse could correspond with a low.  But could it represent a high?  It might, but let's first look at alternate ways of thinking about eclipse effects.  Read more...


Terrorist bombing at Boston Marathon highlights difficult week for USA

(20 April 2013)  It has been a difficult week for the USA.   On Monday, the Boston Marathon was struck by a terrorist bombing that killed three people and injured more than 100.  It was the first terrorist incident on US soil since the 9/11 attacks.  Then on Tuesday, a number of anonymous letters containing the poison ricin was sent to various Washington officials including President Obama.  On Wednesday there was a massive explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas that killed up to ten people and injured hundreds.  The explosion was so large that it could be heard 70 km away.  Then on Friday, Boston police chased the bombing suspects in a night of more violence and chaos.  In an unprecedented move for a major US city, the entire Boston area was locked down as police looked for the last remaining suspect and citizens were told to remain in their homes.  The massive manhunt captured the attention of the nation as much of it was broadcast live on television.  While the total number of fatalities from these incidents is quite small, their sudden and violent nature and high public profile has had a significant impact on public consciousness. 
 
A quick look at the key horoscopes shows a clear and simple astrological explanation for these shocking and violent incidents.   The very short answer is that there was a conjunction of the Sun and Mars in the sign of Aries this week opposite the planet Saturn.   Read more...



Margaret Thatcher 1925-2013; Saturn rules the Iron Lady

(12 April 2013)  Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minster, died last weekend at the age of 87.  She was the longest serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and was the first female to achieve that post.  While the "Iron Lady" may have been a highly divisive politician known for her uncompromising views and never backing down from a fight, Thatcher nonetheless pioneered radical reforms to deregulate the moribund British economy that helped to reverse years of economic stagnation and labour unrest. 

Not surprisingly, Thatcher's horoscope is very strong and reflects may of her well-known attributes.  Right off the bat, we can see that she was born with Saturn rising in Libra thus creating a powerful Sasa yoga.  Saturn is said to be exalted in Libra and here Saturn is just one degree away from 20 degrees, which is believed to be its most exalted degree where its most positive qualities are likely to manifest.  Saturn in the 1st house confers practicality and prudence and natives are often thinking ahead for ways to further advance their goals.  This placement tends to produce strong-willed people who are naturally given to commanding others.  This placement of Saturn in Libra also confers a significant amount of career success and public recognition.  Read more...



Gold plunges $80 on Cyprus rumour; Mars enters Aries

(14 April 2013)  Gold prices plunged last week as rumours that Cyprus would be forced to sell its reserves coincided with institutional downgrades from the likes of Goldman Sachs.  Gold lost 6% on the week and closed at $1480, below the crucial technical support level of $1520.   Gold has now officially entered a bear market since it has dropped more than 20% since it all-time high of $1923 in September 2011. 

The latest decline in gold comes as no surprise to us, however, as I have been generally negative in my outlook for some time.  I have posted previously in this space (December 2012 and February 2013) that further declines were more likely in 2013 due to planetary afflictions to the key horoscopes that symbolize the gold price.  In my subscriber newsletter, I had also suggested that more declines were likely in April as Saturn was increasing in strength through its aspects with Pluto, Uranus and Neptune.  Friday's death plunge for gold below support coincided exactly with the entry of Mars into sidereal Aries, a clearly bearish influence.  Read more...



The Russian meteor: what does it all mean?

(17 February 2013)  Friday's astonishing meteor strike over central Russia has left many people wondering just what it all might mean.   Is this meteor related to the asteroid that is due to narrowly miss Earth in a few days?   Is this meteor a warning of something more serious down the road?  And perhaps more related to astrology, what meaning should we humans take from this would-be heavenly omen?   In my view, the answers to these questions are: nothing, not necessarily and probably nothing.  There is not too much insight that astrology can offer about this particular meteor.   As meteors go, it was quite small, about the size of bus.  It broke apart over the city of Chelyabinsk on Friday 15 February at 9.20 a.m. travelling at 44 times the speed of sound.  It weighed about 9000 tonnes with an energy release that was over 20 times greater than the combined force of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki atomic bombs.  Fortunately, no one was killed.

I am generally not one for omens, as I prefer to examine the correlations of previous planetary patterns that have already established a track record of empirical observation.  Single impact meteors such as this are basically one-offs that do not easily fit into a ready-made array of meaning and signification.   Read more...


Gold dives $50 on economic data; stocks hold steady

(17 February 2013)  Stocks generally held steady last week as most economic data continued to suggest that the recovery is slowly proceeding apace.  US stocks were mostly unchanged as the Dow lost only a handful of points on the week closing at 13,981.  Indian stocks were similarly flat as the Sensex was only marginally lower finishing at 19,468. I thought we might have seen more downside than we got as the array of short term aspects with Saturn suggested the possibility of declines.  At the same time, I did not lose sight of the continuing aspect between bullish Jupiter and Uranus which has lifted collective sentiment for the past month or more.   In other words, we had a result that did not violate our basic assumptions and remained within general expectations.

Gold had a more interesting week as it fell by 3% closing near $1610.  It seems that all this fresh evidence of a recovery means that there is less reason for the Fed and other central banks to print money with various quantitative easing measures.   Read more...



Apple plunges 10% after earnings; market rise with Jupiter

(27 January 2013)  Investors continued to see the glass as half-full last week as stocks climbed for their fourth straight week.   US stocks pushed to their highest level since 2007 as the Dow rose 1% to 13,896.   Indian stocks were only marginally higher, however, as the Sensex added 70 points closingat 20,103.  The week unfolded more or less as expected as the two Jupiter aspects did coincide with some upside at the beginning and end of the week.  The midweek Mars-Rahu aspect coincided with some weakness, although this manifested more clearly in Mumbai than in New York. 

One highlight last week was the release of the fourth quarter earnings from Apple.  While the tech giant reported record earnings, the sales were not quite was the market was hoping for and forward guidance was more cautious.  Apple stock plunged 10% on Thursday as a result.  Apple has lost more 30% of its value since its high of $702 on September 21 the day of the release of the long-awaited iPhone 5.   It has been in a sharp down trend ever since and now stands at $440.   Read more...

Markets cheer as Obama wins fiscal cliff deal

(6 January 2013)  US Stocks moved sharply higher last week as investors breathed a sigh of relief in the wake of the 11th-hour fiscal cliff deal.  The Dow jumped 4% on the week and closed at 13,435.  Optimism was somewhat more muted in Mumbai as the Sensex added 2% to start the year finishing the week at 19,784.   Alas, the negative implications of the Sun-Saturn aspect did not play out as expected as lawmakers in Washington did manage to come to an agreement.  While the deal was very much a minimal sort of agreement that did nothing to address the US fiscal sustainability, it was enough to satisfy markets as the worst effects of the fiscal cliff were averted for the time being.   As expected, the late week Mars-Jupiter aspect did appear to magnify the price moves as I thought it might, although these were very much in a positive direction.

It seems clear that the bullish influence of Jupiter is dominant now as it approaches its aspect with Uranus and its direct station on 30 January.   Bearish Saturn is still in close aspect with Pluto but this is a slower moving and less prominent influence.   Read more...


Massacre of schoolchildren shocks America: Rahu and Mars in focus

(16 December 2012)  America's dark obsession with guns appeared to hit a new low this week with the horrific mass shooting of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut.  The killer was Adam Lanza, 20, who murdered a total of 28 people including his mother, who actually owned the gun that was used to kill her.   Lanza was described as an intelligent but socially awkward loner with no friends.  He may also have been autistic.


Adam Lanza was born on April 22, 1992 in Kingston, New Hampshire.  While his birth time may surface in the coming days, we will have to make do with his approximate horoscope cast for the day of his birth.  The chart can then be read by using the Moon as the ascendant and 1st house (Chandra Lagna).  While this is no substitute for an actual timed chart, it is nonetheless offers an intriguing picture of some of the planetary energies that may have been active in his short and disturbed life.

Any event that involves this kind of derangement, one must begin with the condition of the Moon.  The Moon represents the emotions,  mental health and the inner self.     Read more...


Gold outlook: Saturn vs Jupiter

(8 December 2012)  Is gold still a good investment?  In this era of central bank money printing and quantitative easing, gold has experienced an unprecedented price increase as investors seek a hedge against the risk of future inflation.  Officially, inflation in most OECD countries remains low, although commodity inflation has been significant and has impacted the cost of food and fuel over the past five to ten years.  As central banks seem intent on printing money indefinitely, there remains some very good reasons to own gold as an inflation hedge.  If debt continues to grow unchecked, currencies will eventually have their value eroded as inflation takes hold.  This is where gold becomes a more attractive alternative to paper money.  But since it has already doubled in the past few years, how much higher can it go?

There is no simple or definitive answer.  However, astrology does offer some useful clues based on past correlations of planetary motion with the price of gold.   Traditionally, gold has been linked to the Sun and Venus.   Read more...



Psy's Gangnam Style breaks Youtube record

(5 December 2012)   On 23 November 2012, the song "Gangnam Style" by the South Korean singer Psy became the most watched video in Youtube history, eclipsing the old record held by Justin Bieber.  It now has more than 850 million views and seems likely to hit 1 billion soon enough.   The song has reached number 1 in 30 countries all over the world.  By contemporary measures, it may be the most popular song in human history. The fact that this global music craze originates from South Korea is reminder of how our 21-st century world is changing as cultures evolve to reflect a faster pace of life and communication.

As an astrologer, I was curious to know if there was eticsanything special about his horoscope and whether it might reflect his musical talent and incredible success.  Psy was born Park Jae-sang on December 31, 1977 in Seoul, South Korea.   We don't know his time of birth but there may still be something noteworthy in the arrangement of the planets on the day he was born.  For any success in the arts, one would expect Venus to be prominent in some way, since it rules beauty and aesthetics.  Read more...



Obama wins re-election; faces fiscal cliff negotiations with Boehner

(11 November 2012)  US President Barack Obama won re-election on Tuesday narrowly defeating Republican Mitt Romney to win a second term in the White House.  While Obama won by only 2% in the popular vote, he carried most of the key swing states and hence had a more comfortable margin of victory in the Electoral College.  Obama's win confirmed my prediction made back in June that he would defeat Romney as Obama's horoscope generally looked stronger in November. 

While I am obviously happy with this outcome, it's important to acknowledge that as predictions go, it isn't that impressive.  The election only had two candidates and hence only two outcomes.  The race was fairly close but most pollsters had given Obama the edge for most of 2012.   The odds of calling the outcome correctly was therefore a little less than forecasting the outcome of a coin toss.  Fortunately, astrologers can sometimes enhance and add value to that initial prediction by also describing the ups and downs of the race.  While pollsters can deliver some impressive results in the science of public opinion, none has the ability to predict the specific ups and downs of a campaign the way astrology can.   To this end, I offered some observations on the last two debates and the dynamics of the final weeks of the race.  For the most part, these were proven correct as Obama won the last two debates as the momentum shifted towards him in late October.    Read more...



Obama narrowly leading in polls but Mercury may have final say

(4 November 2012)  The election is just two days away and Barack Obama is poised to be re-elected President of the United States.  Polls have showed a small but significant move towards him in the past week in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy.  Obama clearly had a good week just as I suggested he would last week in this space. He appeared presidential in his handling of the Sandy disaster and received plaudits for his efforts from most corners, including from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican.

While the race is still extremely close, polls from key swing states like Ohio clearly show Obama on the verge of victory.  As political analyst Nate Silver has shown, the fact that Obama had led in 19 out of 20 recent Ohio polls is clear evidence that he will very likely win on Tuesday.  Without Ohio, it is very difficult to see how Romney can put together the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the White House.  Silver currently puts the odds of Obama winning at 83% while at Intrade.com, the online betting site, Obama's advantage stands at 66%.  Read more...


Race down to the wire; Obama's Happy Halloween?

(27 October 2012) The presidential race is coming right down to the wire now.  Polls show Mitt Romney with an average 1% lead in the national popular vote but Obama continues to enjoy a slight edge in terms of the electoral college.  As expected, Obama did come out on top in the last debate.  As I suggested in the previous week's post, the respective campaign charts showed that Obama's chart was being strongly influenced by benefics Mercury and Venus.  By contrast, Romney's campaign chart was under a difficult Mars aspect.   It was intriguing to see how well these campaign charts appeared to coincide with the debate outcomes. 

I would expect Obama to have a fairly good week this week, especially around Wednesday and Thursday.  On those days, the Moon transits sidereal Taurus where it will conjoins his natal position.  If we look at his relocated chart for Washington, DC, we can see how his Moon moves to the 1st house.  What's important to note here is how the current transit of Taurus will highlight to favourable trine (120 degree) aspects with Jupiter and Venus.  Jupiter (21 Taurus) is also in Taurus where it is exactly trining the Midheaven (10th house cusp).   Read more...


Obama wins second debate; third debate on Monday

(Posted 20 October 2012) The US presidential race remains as tight as ever with national polls showing just a 1% difference between Obama and Romney with less than three weeks to go before the vote.  As I suggested in last week's post, Obama did emerge as the slight winner in the last debate according to most polls. In keeping with the stronger influence of Mars at the time of the debate, the contest was much more spirited and argumentative than the first debate.  Romney's chart suffered from an unfortunate placement from transiting Mars and hence he was unable to harness the energy of the fiery red planet as Obama did.

The third and final debate is slated for Monday night in Boca Raton, Florida.  In my opinion, the stars again favour Obama.  At the same time, I would admit that their respective birth horoscopes are perhaps more equivocal than I would like to see.  Transiting Venus (29 Leo) is exactly conjunct his natal Mars and this is not necessarily a good combination.   Read more...


US Presidential race tightens; Mercury turns retrograde on election day

 (Posted 13 October 2012) As the polls tighten in the US presidential race, it may be a good time to speculate how that Mercury retrograde station on election day might affect the outcome on November 6.  As I've discussed previously, Mercury will turn retrograde on the day of the election. The reversal of Mercury's direction on election day suggests the possibility of confusion and uncertainty around the outcome.  The logic here is fairly straightforward.  Mercury is a planet that symbolizes communication.  When Mercury is strong and otherwise unafflicted, our thoughts and ideas can be exchanged more or less clearly and rationally.   However, when Mercury ceases its forward motion and begins to move backward in the sky, then we may become more prone to misperception and miscommunication.  This tendency towards ineffective or ambiguous communication is likely heightened around the time of the stations where Mercury changes its direction. 

With between 3 or 4 retrograde cycles per year, that works out to 6-8 such Mercury stations where this order-subverting energy is at its theoretical maximum.  Perhaps the most well-known example of this phenomenon was in 2000 when Mercury also reversed its direction on election day (it turned direct) and the US entered a strangely protracted period of political uncertainty when the winner of the election remained unknown for 5 weeks until a Supreme Court decision finally awarded the election to George Bush.  Read more...


Jobs report saves Obama after debate defeat

(Posted 6 October 2012)  Napoleon once remarked that his generals should not only be talented, but also lucky.  This fundamental lesson of the pivotal role of fortune in history was perhaps not lost on President Barack Obama this week in the wake an unexpectedly positive jobs report that came out Friday.  After a fumbling and disappointing performance in Wednesday's debate, Obama's luck turned positive once again when Friday's jobs report showed that unemployment had fallen to 7.8%, its lowest in over three years and lower than it was when he took office in January 2009.  While only 114,000 new jobs were created, it nonetheless gave Obama a much-needed diversion after his poor showing in the debate.

There are some interesting planetary placements for both Wednesday's debate performance and then Friday's surprisingly good economic news.  Wednesday's debate occurred just before the conjunction of Mercury (3 Libra) and Saturn (5 Libra).  Obama's Ketu is situated at 4 Aquarius, exactly 120 degrees away.  As we know, Ketu is a natural malefic and any transit hits to it will tend to produce negative results, especially when there are transiting malefics involved.    Read more...


Israel draws a red line: the war of words with Iran heats up

(Posted 29 September 2012) The long-simmering tension between Israel and Iran was in the spotlight again this week as the leaders of both countries addressed the United Nations.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered a stern warning that Iran was getting dangerously close to having an operational nuclear weapon.  Both Israel and US are on record saying that such a development would be unacceptable and would be sufficient grounds for launching a military strike, regardless of the consequences.

For his part, Iranian President Achmadinejad was no less forceful in his speech and defended his country's nuclear program as a peaceful one that was directed towards energy production.  Any bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities would likely destabilize the Middle East and cause a spike in oil prices and a significant decline in the stock market.  While Achmadinejad reiterated his pledge to retaliate in the face of an Israeli or US strike, it is somewhat less clear how strong any Iranian counter strike might be.  While a full-fledged war is possible, a limited exchange of air strikes on strategic targets is probably a more likely outcome.   But just how close are these two countries to some kind of military action? 

The horoscope of the Iranian Islamic Republic (Apr 1 1979 3 p.m.) definitely looks more active these days.   Read more...


The Astrology of QE3: third time the charm?

(Posted 22 September 2012)
  Is the third time the charm?  The debate continues about QE3 as investors weigh the implications of the Fed's latest round of stimulus announced on September 13.  Will it really give a boost to employment or is it destined to be swamped by the forces of global recession and simply cause more inflation? Despite the fact that its stated aim is to increase asset values like stocks, US markets were fairly tepid last week as traders took a wait and see attitude after the initial show of enthusiasm on the day of its launch.  Not exactly the rousing reception that Ben Bernanke might have hoped for as the Fed is now playing for keeps.  If QE3 does not kick start employment in the next 3-6 months, then the Fed will begin to lose credibility.  It will increasingly be seen as "out of bullets" and unable to do anything to help the economy after trying three different QE programs. Some analysts are already suggesting that the Fed is fighting a losing battle of diminishing returns and can only hope for a very limited growth effect with QE3.

In last week's market post, I offered a few ideas of why this latest round of QE was less likely to have the same big impact on markets as its predecessors did.  I wanted to expand that idea this week by going right to the astrological source, as it were: the horoscope of QE3 itself. Read more...


Romney campaigned damaged by leaked video

(Posted 18 September 2012)  The presidential campaign of Republican hopeful Mitt Romney suffered another setback yesterday. A leaked video made in secret during a GOP fund raiser depicted Romney stating that Obama supporters constituted 47% of the electorate who were dependent on government handouts and saw themselves as "victims" and incapable of self-reliance.  The video was embarrassing to Romney as it solidifies the perception that he is part of a wealthy elite who is out of touch with the daily reality of the average American.  While the Obama campaign took full advantage of the video, even some conservatives admitted it painted Romney in a bad light.  This comes on the heels of Romney's other recent misstep regarding the deaths of American diplomats in Libya where he was also called to account by both the left and the right for criticizing Obama too soon after the attack on the Benghazi consulate. 

These campaign trials and tribulations are a good opportunity to reflect on the respective campaign horoscopes.  Just as individuals, corporations and countries have horoscopes, so, too, do political campaigns.  The moment that a candidate declares he or she is running for office, a horoscope can be cast.  The resulting chart itself can reveal something about the nature of the forthcoming endeavour as well as providing some insight about the likelihood of success.  In addition, we can often see the ups and downs of the campaign.   Read more...


Bernanke launches QE3; but will it work?

(Posted 15 September 2012) After months of hints, testimony and warnings, Ben Bernanke finally pulled the trigger and announced QE3.  This latest attempt to kick start the US economy will buy $40 Billion of mortgage-backed securities every month in an effort to lower interest rates and help boost the moribund housing market.  Perhaps most importantly, Bernanke committed to this program indefinitely until there was significant employment  growth and the economy was back on its feet.  In this sense, QE3 is not a one-time thing.  It is QE Forever now as the Fed is showing signs of frustration (or perhaps desperation?) with the inability of the economy to get going.  Such quantitative easing measures are intended to lower interest rates to boost lending and help to move money into riskier assets like stocks.  According to theory, this should boost the housing market and increase economic activity and thereby boost employment.  It may also boost the stock market and thus enhance the overall 'wealth effect' of the population and stimulate more consumer spending. 

Well, that's the theory anyway.  In practice it may have not have much of an effect.  Interest rates are already near historic lows, so a few tenths of a percentage point difference is unlikely to further entice prospective home buyers. The latest estimates are that QE3 may only end up increasing GDP by half a percentage point over the next year.  Read more...


Lance Armstrong falls from grace; stripped of titles by USADA on drug allegations

(Posted 29 August 2012)  On August 23, the world's most famous cyclist and cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong, announced that he was no longing contesting the drug charges filed against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).  His decision to no longer contest the charges means he will forfeit of all awards and prizes won after 1998, including all seven of his Tour de France wins. It was a sudden and complete reversal of fortune for Armstrong.  Although he gave up the fight to clear his name, he still maintains his innocence and feels he has been the victim of a witch hunt.  However, it is also true that Armstrong was quickly running out of legal options after his own lawsuit against the USADA had been dismissed in a Texas court  Also the USADA had recently announced lifetime bans for several of Armstrong's teammates, and more former teammates were slated to testify against him.  It seemed as if it was only a matter of time before Armstrong's drug use would become public knowledge and would reveal him as a drug cheat. 

Whatever one thinks of Lance Armstrong's character and integrity, he was undoubtedly a brilliant athlete and courageous survivor of cancer.  Even if he used performance enhancing drugs, he was certainly not alone in that respect as drug use is rampant in professional cycling.   Read more...


Bernanke's Fed: born under bad stars

(Posted 25 August 2012)  The stock market is looking pretty fragile these days.  While it is chasing recent highs, stocks seem increasingly reliant on central bank easing rather than fundamentals based on actual economic growth.  Much of this summer rally has occurred on the assumption that QE3 or its European equivalent are not far off.  Last week's Fed minutes and Ben Bernanke's letter to the House Oversight Committee reiterated his commitment to more easing in order to boost the slumping US economy.  Some of Bernanke's talk should be assumed to be mere jawboning which all central bankers engage in.  But if stocks rally into the next Fed meeting on 13 September, then that puts a lot of pressure on Bernanke to actually come through with a tangible announcement for more stimulus. If he does not, then the market would likely decline sharply.  Even if the Fed does announce some action, there is a possibility that the market could sell off anyway as in "buy the rumour, sell the news".  This is perhaps more likely if the program comes up short of expectations in terms of size and scope.

We can get a deeper glimpse into the inner workings of the Fed by looking at the horoscope of the Bernanke's tenure.  He was installed as Fed Chair at 2 p.m on 31 January 2006.  This natal chart should reflect some basic qualities of his time as Fed Chair.  We should also be able to see some trends and events by examining transits against the natal chart.  The natal chart itself says a lot about the Bernanke Fed. 
Read more...



James Holmes: A look inside the Batman shooter

(Posted 21 July 2012)  The Batman shooting in Colorado has produced a reaction of horror and sadness throughout the US and around the world.  The shooting occurred at the July 20 midnight premiere of the newest Batman movie and left 12 people dead and wounded 59 others. The perpetrator has been identified as James Holmes, aged 24, a PhD student in neuroscience. This latest in a long line of gun rampages has left many feeling insecure and fearful and has raised some difficult questions.   How could anybody commit such pre-meditated savagery on a such a large scale?  And more puzzling still was how could someone who seemed so outwardly normal be capable of such an awful crime?

Holmes gave no indication of any strange or violent behavior before the shooting.  He had no criminal record and no history of mental illness. Everybody who knew him saw him a quiet and somewhat shy person but was generally friendly and seemingly quite stable.  No one knew he had been stockpiling weapons and ammunition, booby trapping his apartment with explosives, and plotting for months to carry out this heinous attack on completely innocent people in a darkened movie theater.  It is a reminder perhaps that nobody truly knows what is going on inside another person.  We can gain clues about the true nature of the people around us through interaction and by watching their behaviour, but there remains a hidden core inside that remains ultimately elusive behind the public mask.   Read more....



Obamacare upheld in surprise Supreme Court ruling

(Posted 2 July 2012)  President Barack Obama scored an important and somewhat surprising victory last Thursday as the US Supreme Court upheld his controversial health care bill.  Although most pundits were expecting Obamacare to be struck down, the court ruled the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was constitutional on the grounds that it was a tax.  At least that was the ruling by Chief Justice John Roberts who cast the deciding vote in the 5-4 decision.  It was a huge win by Obama and has boosted his re-election chances ahead of November's election.  However, there are several ironies and complexities in this decision.  It was a conservative judge, John Roberts, who cast the deciding vote in favor of Obamacare. And he did so by arguing it was a tax and therefore within the rights of the government, despite the fact that Obama had claimed that his health care plan was not a tax during his campaign for it. Many observers believe that Roberts, who has strong Republican affiliations, voted in favor of the Democratic bill in order to preserve the legitimacy of the Supreme Court as a non-partisan institution. 

It is fascinating to see how this unexpected and somewhat ironic achievement is reflected in Obama's horoscope. Both Jupiter and Ketu (the south lunar node) were closely conjunct Obama's Moon within one degree.  It is useful to think about the relative influence of each planet here in the unfolding of this event.    Read more...


US Presidential Election 2012: Obama vs. Romney

(Posted 4 June 2012)
  With Mitt Romney sealing the Republican nomination in Texas last week, the race for the White House has entered a more intense phase.  US President Barack Obama is facing an uphill battle as he seeks re-election in November against a backdrop of a flagging economy.  Recent polls are showing Obama in a virtual statistical tie with Romney as the economy weighs on Obama's popularity.  In a classic example of political schadenfreude, Romney's fortunes got a major boost from Friday's disappointing jobs report as more commentators are openly considering the possibility that Obama may be a one-term president.

For the past couple of years, I have thought that Obama's chances for re-election were fairly good.  In an article I posted in the run-up to the mid-term elections in 2010, I briefly noted how the favourable placement of Jupiter and Rahu in November 2012 suggested that he stood a good chance for winning.  Other factors also suggested that Obama had a good chance for a second term but a lot would depend on the horoscope of his opponent.  I wanted to revisit this question now that we know that Romney will be the challenger on November 6.   Read more...


Aung San Suu Kyi wins historic election in Myanmar

(Posted April 2, 2012)  The Burmese democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi has won an historic victory in by-elections in Myanmar.  As the long-persecuted leader of Myanmar's democratic movement, Suu Kyi has spent twenty years under house arrest since the military government refused to acknowledge her original election victory in 1990.  It is believed that this election result will be allowed to stand by the military as Myanmar slowly opens up to the outside world.   While these by-elections only give her NLD party a small foothold in parliament, this victory may well represent a major turning point in the history of this often troubled and isolated former British colony. 

This election victory and emotional vindication of her lifelong struggle can be seen in her horoscope.  While we do not know her birth time, we do know that she was born on 19 June 1945 in Rangoon. The resulting chart suggests a highly intellectual person: a Moon in sidereal Virgo with the Sun conjunct Mercury in Gemini alongside Saturn and Rahu.  Since Virgo and Gemini are both ruled by Mercury, the planet of intelligence, we can see why Suu Kyi excelled in her education at British universities before returning home to assume the role as unofficial leader of her people.  If we use the Moon as the ascendant, then all of her Gemini planets are in the 10th house of leadership and status -- a nice fit.  As the dispositor of the Moon, Mercury is also appropriately placed in the 10th house with the Sun, the planetary significator of status and power. 
Read more...



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