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. 

In previous posts, I have discussed some of the problems in President Obama's chart including the ongoing affliction of his Sun (leadership, confidence) by Saturn (restrictions, obstacles).   This aspect will likely remain in effect for the rest of October and does not argue for a quick or successful resolution to this dispute.  While it is conceivable that the Saturn influence could represent something other than the current impasse, I tend to think that his leadership will continue to come under increased scrutiny in the weeks ahead.  




The USA horoscope is also under significant affliction at the moment.  From a medium term perspective, the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square aspect continues to be in close hard aspect with the natal Jupiter in this chart. Most fundamentally, Jupiter symbolizes law and philosophy so it is somewhat fitting that the government should be thrown into such disarray with these aspects.  Uranus (independence, instability) and Pluto (power, manipulation) are both showing their harder edges in their aspects as the very basis of the US political system is now coming into greater relief.  Government gridlock and internal divisions were built into the US system from its inception as a check against the temptation of tyranny.  Too often, however, this division of powers has prevented the government from moving forward on important and necessary policies.   If the 6.30 pm chart is correct, then the condition of Jupiter becomes even more important since it rules the entire chart which has Sagittarius rising.  This double-barreled affliction by Uranus and Pluto would then represent much more instability and disruption in the country as a whole. 

More specifically, there are a couple of fast-moving transits upcoming that suggest that tensions are more likely to increase rather than decrease in the days ahead.  First, transiting Mars will oppose Neptune next week (Oct 14-19).  Mars will therefore oppose the natal Moon in the USA chart.  This is a bad transit that heightens the likelihood of discord, especially with Neptune so close to a conjunction with the Moon.  Mars-Moon-Neptune combinations are often found in situations of deception and conflict.  In light of the current shutdown and impending default, this aspect would tend to suggest that a last-minute agreement before the October 17th default deadline is less likely.   If there is an agreement, it may have some conditions attached to it.  Maybe there will only be a postponement rather than a proper resolution. 

The other aspect to watch is the approaching Mercury retrograde station on October 21st.  On the face of it, this seems quite positive since it occurs in close aspect with Jupiter.  Mercury stations at 24 Libra while Jupiter sits on 25 Gemini in a near-exact 120 degree trine aspect.  But the problem here is that Mercury will be in a very tight 30 degree alignment with the natal Saturn (24 Virgo) in the USA chart.  While this is not an aspect in the proper sense, it is still a geometric alignment that may describe some state of tension or frustration in the country.  Such Mercury-Saturn aspects are common when things are not going according to plan and goals are not realized.  And since Saturn is placed in the 10th house government, this Mercury Rx station to Saturn could well mean problems, headaches and setbacks involving government.  Of course, Jupiter in the mix there, too, so I would be a bit surprised to see a outright breakdown and default.

What this astrological analysis suggests is that the conventional wisdom of a timely resolution to the shutdown and debt ceiling debate may be overly optimistic.  The presence of these two Mars and Mercury transits do not bode well for a typical resolution.  While the chart does not look bad enough to predict a full-blown default, there would seem to be some reason to expect some twists and turns in this story before the thing gets settled.   I would therefore expect financial markets to be on edge in the coming days as nervousness is more likely to increase. 

Thus far, financial markets are not overly worried.  US stocks only declined slightly last week as most investors expected cooler heads to prevail.   As expected, the midweek Sun-Saturn-Rahu alignment did coincide with the shutdown.   This brought some weakness to stocks but gold was more sharply affected since it tends to move in close relationship with the condition of the Sun.  Indian stocks ended higher on the week overall.  



This week could see some turbulence around the early week Mercury-Saturn conjunction.  However, the midweek Venus-Neptune and Sun-Jupiter alignments may improve sentiment.   Underneath it all, however, is the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square which is tightening in the coming days to a near exact angle.  This is a potential source of unease and disruption.




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