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Weekly Column: Behavior as a pathway to success and the accomplishment of goals

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Nonfarm payrolls expanded by 431,000 for the month, while the unemployment rate was 3.6%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Economists had been looking for 490,000 on payrolls and 3.7% for the jobless level. To combat inflation, the Federal Reserve is planning a series of interest rate hikes that further would slow growth. Markets now are anticipating rate increases at each of the six remaining Fed meetings this year, likely starting with a half percentage-point move in May and continuing to total 2.5 percentage points before 2022 comes to a close. There was little in Friday’s report that would alter that outlook. ­– Jeff Cox, “Economy Added 431,000 Jobs in March Despite Worries Over Slowing Growth,” www.cnbc.com, April 1, 2022.

U.S. 5-year and 30-year Treasury yields on Monday briefly inverted for the first time since 2006, raising fears of a possible recession. This is the first time the shorter-dated 5-year Treasury yield has risen above that of the longer-dated 30-year U.S. government bond since 2006 — just a couple of years before the Global Financial Crisis. – Maggie Fitzgerald and Vicky McKeever, “5-Year and 30-Year Treasury Yields Invert for  First Time Since 2007, Fueling Recession Fears,” www.cnbc.com, March 28, 2022.

It was a big news week for economic matters. The news sounded mostly grand in the short-term, but more worrisome longer-term. That may be fine for traders, but ought to raise warning flags for investors that the outlook for sustained economic growth is not so rosy.

Several world stock indices paused their impressive multi-week rallies last week as Venus and Mars entered the time band of their conjunctions to Saturn, March 29-April 5. But then, as I discussed in last week’s YouTube interview on Antonia Langsdorf’s monthly New Moon Outlook (see Announcements), the Russian/Ukraine conflict escalated. That, along with the inversion of the yield curve, does not bode well for either inflation or the economy. The probability of a brief recession by the end of this year just increased.

In Europe, the Netherlands AEX, German DAX, and Zurich SMI all topped out on March 29 at their highest levels in 5-7 weeks. The London FTSE did the same two days later.

In the Americas, the three major U.S. Indices also topped out on March 29 at their highest levels in 7-10 weeks. In Brazil, the Bovespa continued its explosive rally right into the end of the week, reaching its highest mark since August 12.

It was a little more complicated in Asia and the Pacific Rim. China’s SSE and India’s NIFTY indices rallied all week. In the case of the NIFTY, it was its highest level in 8 weeks. In Australia, the ASX soared to its highest level in 12 weeks on March 31. But neither the Hang Seng of Hong Kong nor the Japanese Nikkei Index could take out the prior week’s high.

It was the reverse in commodities. Gold, Silver, and Crude Oil all dropped on March 29. In the case of Gold and Silver, it was their lowest price in 5 weeks. But in the cryptos, both Bitcoin and Ethereum marched in tune with stocks as they recorded their highest price of the new year on March 28-29 before pulling back into Friday, April 1.

Short-term geocosmics  

The Federal Reserve’s efforts to fight inflation threaten to sink the U.S. into contraction, according to economist Mohamed El-Erian. El-Erian said consumers will be struggling with inflation in the coming months. The Fed will try to contain inflation with rate hikes that could constrict economic growth. “We are looking at a cost-of-living crisis. That’s what we are looking at for the next two quarters, three quarters, where the consumer is going to be hit hard by inflation, they’re gonna get hit hard by lower consumer sentiment,” he said. – Jeff Cox, “El-Erian Warns of ‘Cost of Living Crisis,’ Says Fed Rate Hikes Could Cause Recession,” www.cnbc.com/, March 28, 2022.

Biden tries everything to cut gas prices except what would work… His latest gambit was to say he will release 180 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the next six months. But the oil will need to be replaced, which will push up future demand. … He could strike a deal in Congress to remove regulatory obstacles to U.S. oil and gas production in return for more green-energy spending, as Senator Joe Manchin has suggested (similar) to the 2015 deal between Paul Ryan and Barack Obama. – Opinion Page, “A Strategic Political Petroleum Release,” Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2022.

Remember when the political class was claiming that tax cuts had produced a historic decline in federal revenues? In the first five months of fiscal 2022 through February, federal receipts climbed a remarkable 26% from a year earlier. These fiscal 2022 increases follow enormous increases in fiscal 2021. Washington would prefer that Americans not know that tax revenue is booming… The current tax system is throwing off revenues to spend if the politicians would show a modicum of restraint. Yet the Biden Administration is proposing $2.5 trillion in tax increases over 10 years. That would take the tax share of GDP to new records and it’s the last thing that taxpayers or the economy needs. Opinion Page, “Washington’s Record Tax Windfall,” Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2022.

All in all, last week was pretty much reflective of the transits to Saturn, which is more representative of the principles of contraction, frustration, and worry about the future than expansion and optimism about the future. That dynamic of tension and conflict may peak this week as the Mars/Saturn conjunction is in a direct opposition to President Putin’s natal Pluto. That tension was evident on Friday, April 1, at the midpoint of Venus and Mars conjoining Saturn, as Russia accused Ukraine of striking an oil depot in Russia. That, combined with President Biden’s earlier comment about Putin that, “This man cannot remain in power,” certainly have escalated the tension.

However, the cosmos holds out hope that the course of escalation might change this week as Mars moves past Saturn, and Jupiter continues towards its conjunction with Neptune on April 12. On its own, this indicates a reduction of the Saturn themes (contraction and pessimism) and a transition to Jupiter and Neptune themes (euphoria or hysteria), possibly lasting through the end of the month when Venus will conjoin both Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces, April 27-30. This also overlaps with Pluto turning retrograde on April 29 and the solar eclipse on April 30. At its best, this could coincide with a period of speculative frenzy, driving equity markets sharply higher than anyone is focused on at the moment. Or, if it relates to hysteria, the opposite could happen and equity prices could crater.

A key market to watch will be Crude Oil, ruled by both Jupiter and Neptune as well as the sign of Pisces. With Biden’s directive to release strategic U.S. supplies of oil and gas, one would think prices will fall sharply in the short-term. Indeed, they did last week. But with Middle Eastern oil producers and leaders unwilling to work (or even speak) with President Biden to expand production, along with the president’s own resistance to ramp up U.S. production in a time of military threat to its allies, the long-term outlook for Crude Oil has to remain bullish. At some point, those supplies have to be replenished, and thus bought back. Hence, worries about inflation won’t likely end in the next six months unless the administration itself reverses its policy – even temporarily – towards the nation’s own oil producers.

Yes, it is very well to be concerned about the well-being of the planet and the lands we live on. It is also important – arguably, more important – to be concerned about protecting the lives of humans that live on this planet in a time of heightened danger. Sometimes you have to make short-term sacrifices in order to attain your longer-term goals. Reasonable people do that. The waxing phase of Jupiter and Saturn (2021-2030) points to that behavior as a pathway to success and the accomplishment of goals.

Are we there yet?

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