“Shock” and “surprise” were the words used to describe the market’s reaction Monday after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the outlook on the USA’s long term credit rating from “stable” to “negative” over concerns that the U.S. will delay addressing medium to long-term budgetary challenges until after the 2012 presidential election. Yet the real “surprise” was that the market was surprised since S&P (as well as Moody’s) had warned on January 13 that the USA’s outlook might be lowered in the future.
Those early warning shots were fired as Mars in Capricorn conjoined the USA’s natal Pluto, indicating serious and substantive action must be taken now to reduce the USA’s enormous debt mountain. Pluto in the sector of the USA chart representing the nation’s wealth and the overall economy reflects that a large amount of government spending is kept secret (“black budget”) and off the balance sheet. Government debt generates wealth for a select group of individuals and corporations (the plutocrats) who benefit from government (Capricorn) spending and bestowing all types of tax subsidies and loopholes for their benefit.
The ratings agencies’ warning came as Pluto in Capricorn was opposing the USA’s natal Jupiter for the first time in the nation’s history, indicating that the U.S. debt burden has become so large that decisions must be made to curtail its growth.(1) Reaching these decisions will force the nation to deal with the very deepest and most divisive ideological and philosophical issues of our time.
Coming during the Capricorn New Moon cycle when the Solar Eclipse exactly opposed the USA’s Cancer Sun on the day that Mercury re-entered Capricorn after being retrograde in December, reflected that the ratings agencies viewed December’s tax cut deal as an ominous sign that Congress and the Administration lacked the political will and discipline to tighten spending.
Saturn represents the “as you sow so shall you reap” principle. Saturn returning to its birth position about every 29 years represents a time of testing and whether the nation has learned from its mistakes since the last Saturn return (October 22, 1981). The Saturn return is a reality check that major structural changes are required.
Since the USA was born with Saturn in Libra, it’s all about taking fiscal responsibility for a federal budget that has become way too out of balance. Balancing the budget before the USA’s next Saturn return in 2040 will require the full cooperation of both political parties to put the nation’s welfare ahead of their own and the status quo. Libra’s scales cannot be balanced unless the government is willing to set the “free market” free by eliminating all tax loopholes, deductions and government subsidies to corporations and individuals.
Saturn can represent delays and obstacles, yet with Saturn the more you delay and postpone dealing with the tough issues and instead obscure them with the little things or seek to divert attention away from the root causes, the more difficult (and more expensive) it becomes in the long run. It’s like ignoring the hole in a roof (Saturn) by putting a bucket underneath it to catch the rain. Patching the roof only serves as a temporary fix when the only solution is to install a new roof. The military builds Libra-ruled bridges and other infrastructure in Afghanistan instead of rebuilding our decaying and outmoded infrastructure here.
S&P’s downgrade is warning that it is unimpressed with how the U.S. is handling its Saturn return so far. The first pass (December 3, 2010) corresponded to the tax cut deal and the second pass on March 22, 2011 which occurred at the time of the Vernal Equinox and the final opposition of Jupiter and Saturn (March 28) reflects the enormous philosophical divide between the two political parties impeding their ability to accomplish anything beyond the superficial.
Mercury retrograde is about putting the “re” prefix in front of everything as it is a time to rethink/refocus on existing issues rather than starting something new. So when Mercury turned retrograde March 30 in Aries squaring the USA’s natal Mercury retrograde in Cancer in the sector of the USA chart representing debt, S&P was reviewing the situation and preparing to act on its previous warning.
With the April 3 Aries New Moon opposing Capricorn’s planetary ruler Saturn and squaring the Capricorn solar eclipse, new action was about to be taken on an existing issue that would send shockwaves through the market as Mars and Uranus were conjoined in Aries at the New Moon.
According to Bloomberg, the White House knew of the impending outlook downgrade for about two months and tried to persuade S&P not to issue the downgrade as the Administration and Congress were actively working on forging a credible deficit reduction plan. But the theatrical showdown leading up to a last minute agreement of the current fiscal year budget agreement shortly before midnight April 8 that averted a government shutdown about to occur over social issues that cost in the millions vs. the real spending culprits, was probably the deciding factor in S&P’s decision to downgrade the U.S. outlook.(2) With Saturn’s third and final pass approaching on August 28, 2011 and the U.S. debt hitting its limit (Saturn) by May 16, S&P understood the clock is ticking but Washington is not paying attention to what time it is.
True to the essence of Mercury retrograde, S&P reaffirmed the USA’s AAA/A-1+ sovereign credit rating but revised its outlook on the long-term rating to “negative” from “stable.” In its statement, S&P is skeptical policymakers will reach an agreement and begin “meaningful implementation” “to address medium and long-term budgetary challenges by 2013.” S&P informed the Treasury on April 15 of the outlook downgrade when the Moon (sentiment) was in Mercury-ruled Virgo.
I have written many times that if you want to attract the maximum amount of attention, make your announcement at the time of the Full Moon. The April 17 Full Moon in Libra squared the USA Pluto as the Moon’s brilliant bright light shined the spotlight on debt, taxes, entitlements and subsidies. The Moon shifting into Pluto-ruled Scorpio the next day further emphasized these issues. Although U.S. futures and financial markets around the world were selling off due to the influence of Mars in Aries opposing Saturn in Libra re-activating the Jupiter/Saturn opposition which reflected concerns about global sovereign debt and its drag on economic growth, the S&P downgrade announcement at 9:01 AM EDT accelerated the trend.(3)
Mercury is the planetary ruler of the chart erected for the time S&P issued its announcement explaining the downgrade and is located in the sector representing Congress and rules the sector of the chart representing speculation. S&P is warning the government to rethink its priorities by taking action to pass legislation enforcing fiscal discipline.
Mercury conjoining Mars in Aries opposing Saturn in Libra in the sector of speculation reflected the market’s fear that true austerity measures taken by the government could impede the market’s ability to continue climbing the wall of worry. Wall St. and corporate America want to be free of government regulations, but they certainly don’t want to be weaned off of tax deductions, loopholes, and subsidies as reflected by Saturn ruling and Pluto conjoining this sector in the announcement chart.
Venus in the sector representing the Administration approaching conjunction with Uranus in Aries in the sector of Congress is a wakeup call for both parties to come together to take bold action in cutting/eliminating spending that had always been considered “off the table” and/or classified as “off budget.”
Uranus in Aries opposing the USA’s progressed Moon in Libra exactly to the second at the moment of the announcement indicates that S&P’s warning should serve as a wakeup call to the public that they cannot remain passive (not voting in ALL elections, taking what they hear and read at face value without doing research to formulate their own conclusions, etc.), but must be active participants if they expect to ever see Libra’s scales equally balanced. This is also reflected by the USA’s progressed Moon transiting the sector of the USA natal chart representing the government and in the USA progressed chart where the progressed Moon in Libra is transiting the sector representing the nation’s wealth.(4)
Saturn rules history and Mercury retrograde reflects history repeating. Although Saturn in Libra and Pluto in Capricorn are squaring each other again, the impact of their square will not be as influential as it was between 2009 and 2010 when their square was precise. Saturn square Pluto tends to give rise to promoting conservative ideologies and a fear-based agenda that actually serves to consolidate the wealth and power of the status quo. Saturn rules the elderly who tend to vote in all elections as well as individuals obsessed with extreme points of view related to Pluto-ruled issues such as abortion.(5)
The cycle of Saturn square Pluto in 1993-1994 led to the Republicans taking control of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections during a Democratic Administration just as the 2009-10 cycle led to the Republicans gaining control of the House. Jupiter and Saturn were squaring each other then, reflecting the conflicting philosophical differences that made cooperation difficult between Congress and President Clinton. Jupiter opposite Saturn now represents a politically divided Congress.
While many Republicans and the media were hailing Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan as “bold” and “courageous,” “Ryancare” was appropriately introduced when Mercury retrograde since it is a rehash of a plan Republicans introduced in 1995 that would give seniors vouchers to move them out of traditional Medicare into private insurance plans! Ryan’s plan is also short on details; once again Republicans planned to use budget cuts to pay for tax cuts.
The government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996 occurred after President Clinton vetoed legislation on November 10, 1995 to raise the debt ceiling as the legislation also contained amendments to curtail tighter environmental, safety, and health regulations (Saturn!), and increase Medicare premiums. Jupiter and Saturn were in an exact square and Uranus in Capricorn exactly conjoined the USA Pluto then. (Please see this previous post for more on the federal government and the planetary influences at that time.)
Mercury was retrograde and opposing the USA’s natal Mercury on January 24, 1996 when Moody’s downgraded the USA’s credit rating to negative outlook after Congress refused to raise the debt ceiling – four days after the Capricorn New Moon conjoined the USA’s natal Pluto and as Jupiter in Capricorn opposed the USA’s natal Venus and Jupiter, reflecting the opposition to expanding government spending.
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission described the ratings agencies as “key enablers” that lead to the financial crisis by bestowing top credit ratings on mortgage securities that were subprime. Once again, S&P’s assessment of the USA’s fiscal risks does not represent the complete picture.
What’s screaming out from the announcement chart is that with the Sun, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus transiting Aries (military) as Mercury and Aries’ ruler Mars opposing Saturn with Saturn and Uranus squaring Pluto, the top fiscal priority should be to end the wars and severely cut military spending and transform the nation’s entire defense structure to meet the defense needs of the 21st century. Yet S&P doesn’t even go there. But TIME does in their article published at the time of S&P’s decision (“How to Save a Trillion Dollars”), pointing out that “the U.S. spends about as much on its military as the rest of the world combined.” Military spending has increased from $1,500 per person in 1998 to $2,700 in 2008 vs. our NATO allies spending the equivalent of $500 per person. “As U.S. taxpayers fret about their healthcare costs, their tax dollars are paying for a military that is subsidizing the health care of their European allies.” Saturn conjoining the USA's progressed Mars in Libra September 30 as Venus conjoins Saturn and the Libra New Moon squares Pluto and the USA Venus indicates action will be taken to curtail defense spending.
Uranus in Aries transiting the USA’s sector ruling domestic security and real estate squaring Pluto in Capricorn (2012-2015) indicates that the nation’s view of defense spending and government subsidization of mortgages is going to undergo revolutionary transformation. So while S&P ignores defense spending as a concern, it overestimates projections of Fannie & Freddie under the assumption that the government will restore them to their former selves.
With Pluto opposing the USA Jupiter this year, S&P is correct to call student loans a “material fiscal risk.” Student loans are likely to become a far bigger problem than the GSEs since at least the collateral (the home) always has some value vs. student loans which are not backed by any collateral. Student loans had been issued by the government until the Bush II Administration which began to give banks free money by allowing them to issue student loans with 100% government guarantees. The Bush Administration also allowed loans to be issued to for-profit colleges that derive almost 100% of their revenue from the government guaranteed student loans. These “subprime” loans have loss ratios exceeding 70 to even 90% as their students are rarely employable at incomes substantial enough to repay their borrowings. The for-profit students are also subprime as they were not acceptable to traditional nonprofit public and private colleges.
Heavy industry lobbying ensured that the FY2011 budget agreement blocked the Obama Administration from implementing rules limiting federal aid to these types of colleges. However, Pluto opposing the USA Jupiter means that all types of colleges will have to cut back on excess spending and overpaying for “superstar” professors.
S&P cites the United Kingdom which is the USA’s Solar opposite as an example of taking credible measures to shrink their deficit going into 2013 when Pluto conjoins the UK chart’s natal Sun in Capricorn for the first time. (The UK could save even more money if it abolished the monarchy which is a possibility under this influence.) The US won’t face its real identity crisis (Pluto opposing its Cancer Sun) until March 2014.
The Treasury projects that the U.S. will reach its debt limit by May 16. Vice President Biden will open negotiations on raising the debt ceiling with Congressional leaders on May 5. Following the May 3 New Moon in Venus-ruled Taurus (money) which favorably aspects the USA Sun, the Moon (sentiment) will enter Mercury-ruled Gemini the following day, making favorable aspects to Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus before leaving Gemini later Friday afternoon (May 6). These energies represent an opportunity to reach agreement on legislation to expand the debt limit while taking action to begin to develop a credible plan to reduce the deficit.
Uranus exactly squaring the USA’s natal Venus in Cancer on May 8 indicates there could be other unexpected financial shocks that the U.S. could face, so having a government shutdown over not agreeing to raise the debt limit would only add to the challenges.(7) Mars in Aries will square the USA Pluto, followed by Mercury and Venus on May 13 and Jupiter on May 23 which will oppose the April 17 Libra Full Moon.
Treasury Secretary Geithner has indicated that by July 8 the Treasury is likely to have exhausted its options to keep the government operating if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling and the planetary energies then reflect an explosive situation. This is the day the First Quarter Moon (the “crisis in action” phase of the lunar cycle which is occurring in between eclipses) will be in Libra conjoining the USA Saturn in the sector of the USA chart representing the government. Pluto is opposing the USA Jupiter for the first time since the ratings agencies January warning, while Venus in Cancer is squaring Uranus and opposing Pluto as Uranus turns retrograde squaring Pluto.
The USA’s Saturn return occurring as Uranus and Pluto impact the USA’s Venus and Jupiter indicates that the period of unrestrained fiscal and monetary expansion is over as both the federal government and the Federal Reserve will have to tighten their “balance sheets.”
(1) Although transiting Pluto will again oppose the USA’s natal Jupiter on July 8 and November 20, its influence is in effect from June to December 2011.
(2)The Moon (sentiment) was in Mercury-ruled Gemini then as the Sun (representing the nation’s leaders) conjoined Mercury (legislation) as Pluto (debt) was turning retrograde.
(3)April 18, 2011 9:01 AM EDT NYC
(4)A mathematical calculation that moves the natal chart forward in time as a method of prediction.
(5) The Republicans were good at scaring seniors (Saturn) to believe that enacting “Obamacare” would severely limit their Medicare benefits (Saturn) by providing all Americans with health insurance rather than keeping health insurance limited (Saturn) to seniors, the poor, and those with group coverage and the small amount of individuals who can pass the health insurance companies death panels (medical underwriting). Republicans transformed an optional Medicare benefit originally proposed in the healthcare legislation that provided free counseling to help seniors formulate end of life care choices to ensure their personal wishes are fulfilled into “death panels” (Pluto in Saturn-ruled Capricorn).
Saturn in Libra square Pluto in Capricorn also describes individuals obsessed with gaining power over controlling the public's (especially women with Saturn in Venus-ruled Libra) ability to make their own decisions regarding personal sexual and reproductive issues (Pluto).
(7) Although the exact transit will occur on May 8, September 22 and February 28, 2012, this influence will be in effect through 2012.
USA: July 4, 1776 5:10 PM LMT Philadelphia, PA