Archive 2014

Stocks under pressure following oil price crash: 2008 revisited?

(15 December 2014)  Financial markets suffered a sharp decline last week as investors began to weigh the implications of the collapse of oil prices and the possibility of a wider global recession.  The Dow lost more than 3% closing at 17,280 while the Indian Sensex lost almost 4% and finished the week at 27,350.  Most other global markets also declined, with major oil producers like Russia and Canada suffering the biggest hits.   Read more...


Protests against police spread across US in wake of Garner decision

(8 December 2014) The nationwide protests over the death of Eric Garner has added yet another chapter in America's historical legacy of slavery, racial tension and civil strife.  Garner died from a chokehold administered by a New York police officer in August while being arrested for selling individual cigarettes on the street.  Despite the presence of video evidence of the police actions during the arrest, the officer was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing by a Grand Jury.  This has sparked protests in New York and across the country as African-Americans voice their anger and frustration over what they feel as unfair treatment by the police and the justice system.   Read more...


The Bill Cosby rape scandal: a case of Venus afflicted

(3 December 2014)  They say what goes around comes around.  That definitely seems to be the case here for beloved American comedian Bill Cosby whose squeaky clean image is now in tatters after the accusations of rape by more than dozen women.    The 77-year old star has is now the subject of  investigations over a string sexual assaults that date back as far back as 1960s.  After years of whispered accusations and formal denials, Cosby's luck may well have run out as he has seen his current television show abruptly canceled amidst this very public scandal.  While no criminal charges are pending at this time, the fallout thus far is such that Cosby has been forced out of the board of his Alma Mater at Temple University in Philadelphia.   Read more...


Oil prices plunge as OPEC maintains production levels

(30 November 2014) Crude oil prices plunged last week after OPEC decided not to cut production in an effort to reduce global supply.  WTI crude oil declined more than 10%  on Friday and finished near $66 a barrel.  Saudi-led OPEC has now entered a price war with the US and other non-traditional oil producers in an attempt to push higher cost shale oil out of the marketplace in order to return OPEC to its previously dominant position.   With the advent of shale oil, the US is now poised to become the world's leading producer of oil once again.   Read more...


Stocks hit new record highs on ECB easing

(23 November 2014) Global stock markets marched higher last week as the European Central Bank announced it was expanding its program to buy asset-backed securities.  Taking a page from the Fed's quantitative easing playbook, the program is designed to boost growth (and inflation) in Europe as that continent struggles to avoid a triple-dip recession.  In New York, the Dow gained 1% on the week closing at a new all-time record high of 17,810.   Read more...


GOP takes control of Senate

(10 November 2014)  Not surprisingly, the Republicans earned a solid win in last week's US midterm elections as the voting public delivered a stinging rebuke to President Obama and the Democrats.  The GOP now controls the Senate and House and will likely further hamper Obama's ability to implement his policies.  The GOP gains were fairly clearly seen through the horoscopes of the key players as Obama's chart continues to be weighed down by a stationary Rahu (North Lunar Node) and while the planets looked better for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.   Read more...


Stocks rise as Bank of Japan takes QE baton from Fed

(2 November 2014)  For anyone who owns stocks these days, it is surely comforting to know that no matter what, there is a central bank somewhere in the world that's got your back. Just two days after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced that it would end its QE bond buying program on Wednesday, the Bank of Japan revealed that it would undertake its own massive QE-style program designed to boost inflation, depreciate the Yen and prop up the stock market.   Read more...


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.    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.   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.    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.  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.    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.  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.  trickle down economics has purposely driven up the stock market to record highs.    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.  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...