Premature Optimism For Goldman Sachs and BP

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Mars represents action, and there was certainly a lot of that on July 15 as Mars in Virgo squared the USA’s natal Mars in Gemini and conjoined the USA’s Neptune in Virgo. Beyond actions involving the military and oil, transits to the USA’s Mars/Neptune alignment have coincided with major financial developments.

Since Gemini and Virgo are dualistic signs ruled by Mercury, the news came from multiple fronts: FINREG, Goldman Sachs, and the BP oil disaster. Mars squaring the USA’s Mars/Neptune square reflects the interconnectedness of these events that act to erode Neptune’s illusions where things never are as they appear to be.

As the consumer elements of FINREG are enforced, people will begin to realize lax credit standards not only pushed people further away from the American Dream of home ownership but deeper into debt they could not afford. Goldman’s settlement with the SEC is as murky as the waters of the Gulf polluted with the Neptune ruled oil and chemical dispersants from BP’s toxic disaster.

Senate Passes Financial Regulatory Reform:
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto in a challenging planetary alignment in cardinal (initiating) signs now describes FINREG as the biggest expansion (Jupiter) of government regulatory (Saturn) reforms (Uranus) transforming (Pluto) the financial system since these planets formed a similar alignment during the Great Depression. These planets are and will be transiting the USA’s natal Venus (money/banking) between now and the first quarter of 2012.

The Senate passed FINREG by a vote of 60-39. The combination of Mars in perfectionist Virgo meeting the fervent idealism of the USA Mars/Neptune square, together with Saturn in Virgo exactly opposing Sen. Feingold’s natal Mercury in Neptune-ruled Pisces reflected his resistance to voting for a bill that fell short of what he believed the legislation should contain. Like healthcare reform, the Dodd-Frank Act as it’s come to be nicknamed has numerous flaws but the bill is far better than caving into the financial industry and Republican rhetoric of maintaining the status quo.

Of particular importance to the public will be who President Obama nominates to head the new consumer protection agency since the bill gives a lot of discretion to the regulators rather than prescribing specific rules and regulations that companies can find ways to circumvent. This is where industry lobbyists have shifted their attention, hopeful that since the existing regulators at the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and Treasury are the very same players who helped enable the crisis in the first place, they will continue to be sympathetic to the industry.

Republicans were against the bill; threatening it will drive up the cost of consumer credit since a key provision in the bill requires lenders must ensure a borrower’s ability to pay! Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Scott Brown were the only Republicans voting for the bill. I’ve previously described why Brown’s “regular guy” driving a pickup truck is an illusion. To secure Brown’s vote, Democrats had to agree to remove a $19 billion tax on banks, bend the Volcker Rule by allowing banks to invest up to 3% of their tier one capital in hedge funds and private equity firms, and change the definition of a systemically significant firm to be based on its activities rather than its size. This is what Brown delivered in his truck to his real constituents – Fidelity Investments and State Street Corp. (STT).

FINREG passed as Jupiter in Aries is about to exactly square Pluto in Capricorn as both planets transit the USA’s natal Venus in Cancer (banking). Jupiter square Pluto indicates that not only will FINREG have worldwide ramifications, but this time around U.S. regulators are unlikely to push back at global bank capital requirements currently being formulated by the Basel Committee.

Saturn represents government and government regulations, and Saturn in its last days in Virgo since September 2007 is completing a cycle that has shown areas of the economy where accountability has become sloppy and needs to be cleaned up. Saturn entering Venus-ruled Libra July 21 until October 2012 is about structuring the financial system so the scales are less tilted in favor of Wall St. and large corporations and more balanced between commercial and consumer interests.

The passage of FINREG occurs as Mars in Virgo returns to its natal position and Saturn conjoins President Obama’s progressed* Sun in Virgo. Since President Obama’s natal Mars conjoins the USA’s Neptune in Virgo, it’s his job to clean up messes he inherited from actions taken by Congress and previous administrations, shattering the nation’s illusions (as well as his own) along the way. Mars in dualistic Virgo reflects this is his second major piece of legislative reform following Virgo-ruled healthcare. Mercury conjoining President Obama’s Leo Sun reflects the legislation will help the President’s reputation.

President Obama is scheduled to sign FINREG on Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Building in DC. The time is unknown as of this writing but it is interesting that Saturn enters Libra at 11:09 AM EDT, signifying a new beginning in financial rules and regulations. I will elaborate more on FINREG after the President signs the legislation into law.

SEC and Goldman Sachs Settle on a “Mistake”:
After being down over 100 points around midday Thursday, the Dow and the major indices made a sharp reversal in the final 35 minutes of trading after the SEC issued a statement it would announce a “significant event” at 4:45 PM EDT. Goldman’s (GS) stock soared $6.16 to close at $145.22 as traders bet the SEC would be announcing a settlement with the firm as reported in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal. Mercury exactly conjoining the GS incorporation chart’s progressed Sun Wednesday reflected market chatter that the news would be beneficial to the firm.

As the stock continued to rise in after hours trading, The New York Times website displayed a banner at the top of its homepage at 4:19 PM that “Goldman settles securities claim for $550 million, a person close to the deal says.” It was strange that trading in GS stock wasn’t halted until after the SEC’s press conference as stocks typically are before market moving announcements.

On the surface it might appear paradoxical that less than two hours after Congress passed financial reform that the SEC settled its April 16 fraud lawsuit against Goldman for $550 million (about two weeks worth of profits for the firm). SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami was even questioned during the press conference about the timing of the announcement coming just after FINREG passed, denying there was any connection.

From a planetary perspective, FINREG and the SEC/GS settlement are definitely interconnected. Neptune rules fraud, and the SEC’s fraud charges brought against GS on April 16 spurred Democrats to clampdown even further on Wall St.’s financial alchemy (Neptune). Despite the multimillion dollar lobbying and Republican opposition, the Administration got the essence of its blueprint for regulatory reform that President Obama announced on June 17, 2009.

If approved by Judge Barbara S. Jones, the $550 million settlement seems like a lot of money to pay without “admitting or denying the allegations.” Yet the market was overjoyed that the fine was almost half what the Street expected GS would have to cough up to settle. The market was really happy that the SEC’s accusation of fraud against GS in the marketing of a CDO custom built to fail was reduced in the Consent agreement to a “mistake” in the marketing materials that GS admitted “contained incomplete information” by failing to disclose “the role of Paulson & Co. Inc. in the portfolio selection process and that Paulson’s economic interests were adverse to CDO investors.”

Neptune in Aquarius opposing GS’ Inc. chart’s progressed Mercury in Leo and squaring its progressed Ascendant in Pluto-ruled Scorpio reflects that GS paying to make the fraud go away does not lift the fog of uncertainty surrounding the firm.

Fraud, deception, and faith – they’re all ruled by Neptune as they can all be interconnected. Neptune opposing GS’ progressed Mercury indicates that GS is taking a leap of faith by counting on the goodwill of the SEC and the government to leave them alone. Yet no such guarantees are provided in the Consent agreement. GS cannot offset this judgment against future judgments; the Justice Department could still press criminal charges.

As I wrote in a post about the lawsuit (see link above):
“Even if the SEC’s case does not succeed, the lawsuit can cause GS clients to wonder if they were deceived too. A bank’s very survival depends on trust, and as the world is all too painfully aware, so does the entire global financial system.”

GS is admitting to wrongdoing by acknowledging its “mistake.” $150 million of the settlement will go to German bank IKB who lost that amount on the CDO, and $100 million will go to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). According to the FT, RBS which is majority owned by the British government, is contemplating legal action against GS to recoup the remaining $741 million it lost on the CDO (through its acquisition of ABN Amro). The planetary lineup affecting the USA’s natal Venus described earlier is affecting GS too, reflecting that profits will be reduced not only as FINREG’s rules are gradually implemented, but from additional legal costs.

Some market watchers were surprised that the SEC did not force any management changes from GS. The early October to early December period raises the potential that this could change as transits to the GS Inc chart, stock chart, and CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s chart could result in a new CEO. For Blankfein, this period will conclude with Mars in Sagittarius squaring his natal Sun in Virgo while the energies of Uranus in Pisces are pronounced as the planet turns direct** December 6 exactly opposite his Sun. An unexpected turn of events could occur pushing Blankfein to suddenly quit.

The SEC’s settlement with GS did not extend to Fabrice Tourre, the sole GS employee named in the lawsuit. Tourre is currently on paid leave from the firm’s London office and GS is paying for his legal defense. With Neptune conjoining Tourre’s progressed Sun in Aquarius through 2012, Tourre should be careful who he places his faith in as his career and reputation are on the line. Tourre’s natal Sun and Mars in Capricorn exactly oppose the GS Inc. Sun in Cancer, reflecting that GS is looking out for management’s best interests and is not out to come to the rescue of a lower level employee such as Tourre.

Tourre’s Sun/Mars exactly conjoins the USA’s natal Pluto in Capricorn located in the sector representing the financial industry in the USA chart. The SEC might believe that Tourre could be the key to unlocking the secrets regarding the “mistakes” made at this very influential firm. Unless he receives an extension from the SEC, Tourre has until July 19 to file a response to the SEC’s charges against him.

BP’s Black Hole:
90 days equates to the 90 degree square aspect. Planets squaring one another create friction, a motivating force for taking action to resolve a situation in crisis. In 90 days time the Sun has traveled 90 degrees (3 zodiac signs), squaring the Sun’s position from 90 days ago.

The SEC’s settlement with GS occurred 90 days after it was filed. Around the same time the news was leaking that a settlement announcement was imminent, BP announced the containment cap had closed off the oil leaking from the Macondo well - the 85th day since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20.

The GS lawsuit and the oil explosion occurred just before Saturn in Virgo opposed Uranus in Pisces on April 26 for the fourth time since Election Day 2008. These energies showed a lack of safety and soundness (Saturn) in the financial system and deepwater oil drilling that was unable to withstand the unexpected shocks of the bubble bursting (Uranus in Neptune-ruled Pisces). Their regulators and the government were all too willing to look the other way as long as the money was flowing.

Mars in Virgo squaring the USA Mars/Neptune can raise optimism that actions taken to contain the oil will succeed as Mars on July 15 was opposing Jupiter in Pisces at the time of the explosion and Neptune in Aquarius returned to where it was transiting April 20.

Mars in Virgo intersecting with the Saturn/Uranus opposition at the time of the explosion will be a key test to see if things are doing as well as BP claims. Mars will oppose the Uranus degree from the April 20 explosion on July 26 which could raise the potential for explosions coming from a methane bubble escaping from under the Gulf’s floor which could trigger a gas explosion. Saturn rules pressure; Mars conjoining the April 20 placement July 28 could create problems due to a sharp drop in pressure that could cause further delays for getting the relief well in place.

At the same time Mars is transiting the explosion degree Saturn/Uranus opposition, Saturn in Libra will oppose Uranus in Aries July 26, the day after the Full Moon in Uranus-ruled Aquarius. When Mars enters Libra July 29 it will oppose Uranus July 30 and conjoin Saturn July 31. Reinforcing the planetary patterns in the sky increases the chance of an incident that could jeopardize the plans BP has formulated under the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard.

When President Bush signed the Domenici-Landrieu Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Plan on the 203rd anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase that opened up 8.3 million new acres to oil and natural gas production, the Sun (the President) and Pluto (transformation) in expansive Sagittarius was conjoining the Galactic Center of our Milky Way galaxy that contains a supermassive black hole. Mars and Jupiter conjoining in Sagittarius squaring Uranus in Pisces in this chart hinted that not only is drilling in the Gulf of Mexico an explosive political issue (Florida was exempted from the expansion), but describes an oil explosion caused by a foreign company operating in the Gulf.

BP commenced drilling on the Macondo well October 7, 2009 as Mercury and Saturn in Virgo squared the Sun/Pluto and the Galactic Center of the legislation. Mercury conjoining Saturn in Virgo in the commencement chart indicates the delays that caused the well to run behind schedule. Names have meaning, and it didn’t help that BP decided to name the well Macondo after the cursed town in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” In the novel, Macondo ends up being wiped off the map after a gigantic windstorm. (Uranus rules destructive winds as well as explosions; BP’s first setback with Macondo was caused by Hurricane Ida that halted drilling on November 29, 2009 for almost 90 days.) Mercury retrograde in Taurus squaring Mars in Leo on April 20 reflects the shortcuts taken to save money and the arguments that ensued resulting from those shortcuts.

Mars in Virgo will square Pluto and the Galactic Center July 23, the same day that Jupiter (the ruler of Sagittarius) energies will be pronounced as it turns retrograde in Aries. Jupiter in Mars-ruled Aries and Pluto in Capricorn are squaring each other now, reflecting that even if BP successfully kills the Macondo well over the next few weeks, there is a massive black hole of oil and chemical dispersants that is creating a dead zone in the Gulf. It could take “one hundred years” to clean up the Gulf and the surrounding land.

Mars in Virgo transiting the USA’s Mars/Neptune square just before Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto form challenging alignments to one other over the next few weeks indicates that the USA’s long held beliefs and illusions about financial innovation and the thirst for oil at any cost have caused more harm to our economy and environment than good. Restoring both to health will require massive structural transformation to make that bold leap to a new and sustainable economy with new technologies that will gradually dissolve our addictions to cheap and easy credit and oil and other fossil fuels.

* A mathematical calculation that moves the planets forward in time as a method of prediction.

**Planets do not really move backward but appear to from Earth’s vantage point. Uranus has been retrograde since July 5. A planet’s energy is more pronounced when from Earth’s vantage point when it appears to be motionless in the sky as it changes direction.

USA: July 4, 1776 5:10 PM LMT Philadelphia, PA
Russell Feingold: March 2, 1953 time unknown Janesville, WI
Fabrice Tourre: January 19, 1979 time unknown Paris, France
President Bush Signs Domenici-Landrieu Act: December 20, 2006 11:53 AM EST Washington, DC
BP Deepwater Horizon Explosion: April 20, 2010 9:53 PM CDT 28N45 88W23

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