Italian uncertainty undermines markets as Berlusconi gains influence

(3 March 2013)  Financial markets took a hit last week as Monday's Italian election did not produce a clear winner.  Even worse was the fact that anti-austerity parties including the one led by disgraced former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi vowed not to co-operate with the party headed by pro-EU candidate Pier Luigi Bersani.  It may take days or even weeks before a working coalition is formed.  If no coalition can be cobbled together, we can look forward to another election in short order and yet more political uncertainty.  Most global markets fell sharply early in the week as investors contemplated the real possibility that Italy may sink back into its economic morass and thereby drag down the rest of Europe with it.  US markets recovered by week's end, however, as the Dow closed modestly higher at 14,089.   It was a different story in Mumbai, however, as investors gave Thursday's budget a lukewarm response as no new growth policies were announced.  The Sensex lost 2% on the week closing at 18,918. 

The week unfolded largely as expected as I noted how the early week alignment of Mercury, Mars and Rahu (North Lunar Node) looked troublesome and increased the likelihood of some kind of fallout over Italy's election.  This proved to be correct.  The recovery later in the week also roughly corresponded with the bullish Venus-Neptune conjunction.  While this was not the case in India due to local peculiarities of the budget, it is worth noting that stocks were higher on Thursday up to 11 a.m. before the budget was released.

The Berlusconi Effect on the markets is a fascinating one.  Given his track record of scandal and financial incompetence, his new-found political strength may well be toxic for markets.  The closer he gets to power, the more frightened the investment community becomes.  Berlusconi rejects the austerity program implemented by outgoing PM Mario Monti He also wants to do away with various new tax measures that seek to increase government revenue.  This has proven enormously popular as it appeals to the public's desire to avoid economic pain, no matter how short-sighted or irrational it may be.  Berlusconi is a politician, after all, and not a banker.   His job is to get elected and this is usually accomplished by telling people what they want to hear, not what may be in the best interests of the country. 

Given his revival, it is perhaps not surprising that Berlusconi's horoscope shows considerable strength at the moment.   Focusing only on the simplest and more compelling influences, we can see that Jupiter and Uranus are in close aspect to his Sun-Mercury conjunction in the 1st house.  This has boosted his public profile enormously in the past several months.  We can see that Jupiter and Uranus are both moving very slowly here and hence their positive influence is protracted.  Jupiter stationed at 12 Taurus at the end of January in a very tight aspect to his Sun (12 Virgo).  This is a classic combination for success, achievement, and recognition.  Although we are more than one month after that direct station, Jupiter has only moved two degrees and remains very close to this Sun.  Even as it separates from the Sun, it delivers more strength to Berlusconi via its aspect to his natal Mercury at 16 Virgo.  Bunga-bunga, indeed.   The dashas are also favourable to him as Venus-Mercury began in late 2012.  Both planets are natural benefics and both look to be quite well positioned in his natal chart as both are in their respective home signs.  For all these good influences, though, Berlusconi didn't win the election and seems unlikely to become the next Prime Minister according to most commentators. 

(On a side note, we may suggest that Berlusconi's womanizing is a possible reflection of his 12th house Mars that comes under the close aspect of Rahu.  There is the possibility of lots of secret sexual encounters there, especially since it is also closely aligned with Pluto and Venus.  All three sexual planets are aligned here and amplified and perhaps distorted by Rahu. He comes by his libido and licenticiousness honestly, and that is to say, karmically.) 

I do not have a strong enough sense of his planets to make a clear prediction either way.  I would say, however, that the planets do favour him for much of the month of March.  Just how far he can go with these influences is another question.  It certainly wouldn't surprise me if he was named PM once again.  The Jupiter-Uranus combination is one of the most potent ones a person can have in their chart.  But I would tend to think that he won't make it all the way to PM.  But it may be that the benefit that Berlusconi receives from this aspect is an ability to maneuver behind the scenes to arrange key cabinet members that better reflect his interests.  The puppeteer returns to power behind the scenes.  The short term aspects this week appear to favour him even more.  We can see that the Moon, the 11th lord of gains, will be conjoined by the Sun, Venus and Mercury at various times.  These are all positive influences that load the dice in his favour.  Things are likely to go his way this week and perhaps into next.  Perhaps his party will emerge the winner in the Senate, or the coalition will have significant representation from his party.  One potential trouble spot is Rahu's close aspect with natal Saturn.  Saturn is strong in the 6th house, so this may simply reflect the shadowy or surprising (Rahu) competitors and enemies he has to contend with at the present moment.   It may also weaken his health somewhat since Saturn rules the 6th house (Aquarius).  

So Berlusconi is likely to be a winner in some way from these elections as Jupiter will aspect Mercury in the coming weeks.   However, if we look further down the road, we can see that transiting Saturn will eventually station at 10 Libra in July.  This will be just three degrees away from his Venus and just one degree from Venus' node.  This is a difficult influence that suggest troubles involving women, which is perhaps not surprising given his history of public womanizing.  But Pluto and Uranus will also be forming hard aspects to his Mercury (16 Virgo) around the same time.  This is probably not good either, especially since Mercury rules the 1st house.   His progressed chart is also very afflicted (not shown) so it seems that Berlusconi will suffer a major setback in the summer.  If there happens to be another election at that time, he is almost certainly going to do poorly.   He may also have more health concerns on these transits, given his relatively advanced age.

The planets this week again offer more possibilities for declines, albeit mixed in with some good aspects.   Monday's Venus-Jupiter aspect could coincide with some upside but by Tuesday, Mars will enter sidereal Pisces and thereby join Uranus.  This is not a stable pairing of energies.  Mars-Uranus aspects can produce sudden or shocking events, and for this reason they are associated with market crashes.  The conjunction is quite wide here so I tend to think we aren't in crash territory and likely won't be.  But it is a burden on the early week.  The midweek could go either way as Mercury conjoins Venus on Wednesday and into Thursday.  This is normally a bullish combination but this time they form an alignment with Saturn and Pluto.  Any alignment with Saturn increases the possibility of declines.  It is by no means a sure thing -- few aspects are in financial astrology -- but it opens the door to more declines.  It will be interesting to see if those midweek aspects that look good for Berlusconi end up being negative for the markets thus reaffirming his profile as a contrarian indicator.

Transits for Wednesday 6 March 2013 9.00 a.m. Mumbai


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