How much debt is too much and when does it begin to have corrosive economic consequences? No one knows, but one economic benchmark for harm has been 90% of GDP…. Debt held by the public – the kind the government has to pay back – broke above 100% of the economy in 2020. Even without new Biden spending… We’d better hope renewed inflation doesn’t force the Fed’s hand as it did in the early 1950’s during the Korean War – and that the world keeps faith in the U.S. Dollar… But then the U.S. has never conducted a fiscal experiment like this one. The laws of economics haven’t been repealed, no matter what the modern-monetary theorists say. – “The Pandemic Spending Hangover,” Wall Street Journal Opinion page, February 13-14, 2021. 

According to reports, Ms. DeLauro and Senate Chairman Patrick Leahy will soon announce that earmarks are welcome in annual spending bills. A few English words to describe what’s returning: Pork. Logrolling. Sleaze. Bridges to nowhere… In reality, there could be no more dangerous moment in congressional history to reintroduce earmarking. Congress’s budget process is more dysfunctional than ever. – Kimberley A. Strassel, “Return of the Swamp Creatures,” Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2021.

Global equity markets began to run out of steam last week. So did the speed of Mercury’s movement as seen from the earth as it approaches the end of its retrograde cycle this weekend. Given that many equity markets made a major cycle bottom on Friday, January 29, the day before Mercury turned retrograde, it is no surprise that the rally might end close to the time it turns direct.

Many markets did make new all-time or multi-year highs last week before the slowdown began. In Asia and the Pacific Rim, India’s Nifty recorded another new record high on Tuesday, February 16. Japan’s Nikkei Index also posted a new 30-year high on the same day. On February 18, the Shanghai Composite soared to its highest mark since August 2015, and the Hang Seng of Hong Kong posted its highest mark in three years on the same date. Australia’s ASX made a new post-crash high on February 17.

In Europe, the Amsterdam Exchange (AEX) index rallied to a new 20-year high on February 16. The other indices failed to exceed their highs of the last two months for a potential case of intermarket bearish divergence.

All U.S. stock indices we analyze made new all-time highs last week but still did not close strong (the Russell 2000 did not take out its high of February 10). The NASDAQ made a new all-time high on February 16 before a somewhat sharp decline into February 18. This is significant because on February 17, Saturn made its first of three passes in a waning square to Uranus, the longest planetary cycle in effect this year. Plus, Uranus rules tech stocks, so it is noteworthy that the NASDAQ began a decline, but the DJIA not so much (yet).

In other markets, Bitcoin continued its remarkable rally to new all-time highs, surpassing 56,000 during the day on Friday, February 19. Crude Oil soared to a new yearly high of 62.29 on Thursday, February 18. Gold dropped to 1759 on Friday, February 19, its lowest price since June 26, 2020. But then it rallied to close at 1781 by the end of the trading day. Silver also took a dive on Friday morning, falling to a low of 26.10 before recovering and closing above 27.25. Like the glowworms of summer, Mercury the Trickster seems to be losing some of its force as it gets ready to change its direction this weekend.


Amid the dire Covid warnings, one crucial fact has been largely ignored: Cases were down 77% over the past six weeks. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume a normal life. –  Dr. Marty Makary, professor at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, “We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April,” Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2021.

Let’s talk about Mercury retrograde for a moment. Last week’s column pointed out that many financial markets, like stock indices, will often form a major or primary cycle (high or low) within three trading days of Mercury turning retrograde. These markets will often end that counter-trend move within three trading days of turning direct. We are there now, and from the lows of January 29, many stock indices are making new cycle or even longer-term highs as we enter this three-day trading time frame. Is this the top? Looking only at the Mercury retrograde cycle, an argument can be made for that possibility.

In the study of astrology, there is a concept known as “Mercury’s shadow period.” Basically, this refers to the time band when Mercury is direct, yet is in the same degrees it transits during its retrograde cycle. For instance, in the present case, Mercury went retrograde on January 30 at 26° Aquarius. It turns direct on February 20 at 11° Aquarius. The “shadow period” would be when Mercury was first direct between 11-26° Aquarius, which was January 15-30, and then again when it returns direct, following the retrograde, between these same degrees, which will take place between February 21-March 13. The entire period is considered to have qualities associated with Mercury retrograde. It is interesting to note that the first Mercury retrograde “shadow” of January 15-30 was quite noteworthy. During that time, COVID-19 cases were peaking, fear and restrictions had returned, and stock markets were in decline. But then a counter-trend phenomenon took place. COVID-19 cases reversed. They have declined rapidly during Mercury retrograde, and stock prices rallied sharply, with several making new all-time or multi-year highs. It begs the question as to whether or not both will return to their pre-retrograde Mercury trends. 

In our annual Forecast webinar last weekend, we started by examining the geocosmic correlation to the COVID-19 pandemic. We reiterated our research presented in the Forecast 2021 book, namely that the transit of Neptune will leave the opposition to the super-charged zone of 15-19° Virgo in February 2021. We forecast the pandemic would begin to recede within three months of February and command less and less attention no later than May 2021. Right now, that seems to be what is happening. Maybe by the time we exit the Mercury retrograde “shadow” period, fear will subside enough such that people will begin to feel less anxious and more hopeful. And by the time of the vernal equinox (i.e. the beginning of spring 2021), a sense of greater freedom and fewer restrictions will begin to arise as the ingress chart for spring in Washington D.C. finds Jupiter rising in Aquarius. Both the planet and the sign are harbingers of greater liberty and social activity.

Three weeks ago, no one expected this huge decline in new COVID-19 cases – except perhaps those who read this column and had the opportunity to read Forecast 2021, which was written in November 2020. It’s not that I am psychic – I often state that I am about as clairvoyant as a potato (maybe more like a fried potato chip). Rather my superpower is that I am able to observe, research, and delineate the correlation between cycles in the cosmos and the history of cycles in human activity. What is happening now in the cosmos has a strong similarity to what happened in 1965-1967, as explained in last week’s webinar.

One would think this huge decrease in COVID-19 cases would have a positive effect on equity markets. After all, many businesses, like restaurants, sporting events, and travel-related companies will soon see a surge of new revenues. Consumers will be spending again. However, the market is forward-looking and may have already baked that into equity prices. So, once again, it may be “buy the rumor, sell the fact.” And it is also Saturn square Uranus for the rest of the year, a cosmic combination I refer to as “The Year of the Contrarian.” When things look bleak, the market rallies because investors know it will get better. When things look good, the market may have other ideas, especially since Mercury the Trickster, like Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog on February 2, is still immersed in its shadow (or lack thereof in the case of Phil) until about March 13. I like the trend, but Mercury turning retrograde causes me to be a little wary that these trends could reverse again since Mercury retrograde corresponded with the counter-trend moves. Hence the plea: stay safe and don’t stop with the cautions you have adopted to contain the risk of contracting the virus yet. Let’s see what everything looks like after March 13 and the vernal equinox. Dr. Makary and Forecast 2021 could be right – it certainly looks promising today.



NOTE 1: THE MMA ANNUAL FORECAST OUTLOOK TOOK PLACE LAST SUNDAY. It went very well, perhaps our best ever. Recordings (MP4) are now available. In the comfort of your home or office, you can tune into Raymond Merriman’s annual worldwide Forecast 2021 Webinar. This broadcast addressed a variety of subjects, from COVID-19, to national and international politics, with updates on financial markets, including the U.S. stock market, Gold, Silver, Crude Oil, Bitcoin, Corn, Wheat, and Soybeans, and the Euro as well as U.S. Dollar and Dollar/Yen currencies. The focus was on the Saturn/Uranus squares of 2021. Under Saturn/Uranus, things do not usually go as expected. It is shaping up to be “The Year of the Contrarian.” Cost for the recording is $55.00 and includes the presentation slides. For more information and registration, go to or, Shop> Webinars> Forecast 2021 Webinar.

Here are some comments from some of the 500 attendees around the world:

Ray, I wanted to reach out to let you know how much I enjoyed the webinar today. You have a beautiful delivery style and an impeccable pace. Thank you for your thorough explanations of the cycles. Your charts and slides were very effective in delivering the application of each concept. Thank you, Ray. Rita. P., professional coach. 

You never fail to deliver, and I understand it has been a lifelong journey to get to your level. The cost of $55.00 should be deemed as priceless for one who wants to take control of their finances and meet financial one’s goals. Charlie H., professional trader. 

Wonderful content today. Your updates make me consider alternate market outcomes. I am looking forward to the May webinar and would like to see a Webinar in late August 2021. Rick B., trader. 

The presentation was outstanding!! Ray did some great work there. Pls thank him for me. Terry B., trader. 

NOTE 2: The ICR (International Cycles Reports) will be released this week, February 23-24. The ICR Financials includes analysis on ASX (Australian Stock Index), RUT (Russell 2000), SSE (Chinese Shanghai Stock Composite), HSI (Hang Seng Index), AUD (Australian Dollar), DXY (US Dollar), and GBP (British Pound). The ICR Commodities Report includes analysis on LC (Live Cattle), MJ (Cannabis), XAU (Gold and Silver), KT (Coffee), KA (Sugar), C (Corn), and W (Wheat). These reports are written by MMA Analyst and editor Mark Shyterman (metals, stock indices, and soft commodities), MMA President Raymond Merriman (China’s Shanghai Composite Index), MMA Analysts Ken Liao (Hang Seng), Ulric Aspegren (Currencies), Isabella Suleymanov (Grains), and Gianni Di Poce (Australian ASX and Dollar, Cannabis, and Live Cattle). Order now to make sure you get this month’s report! Consider a one-month trial for only $35. 

NOTE 3: MMA is pleased to announce that Great Conjunctions: Shifting Times is now available! Written by Chris McRae, who was one of the world’s leading Mundane Astrologers before her sudden passing to the cloud, this fascinating book on the history of Great Conjunctions involving the outer planets throughout history is of great importance to all astrological historians. It is especially appropriate today because 2020 was such a year exhibiting Great Conjunctions. In fact, the grandest of all outer planet conjunctions – the Jupiter/Saturn synodic cycle – took place on December 21, 2020, so this book is timely. The insights that McRae provides on these rare but remarkable configurations will make this one of the most valuable additions to the field of Mundane Astrology. The cost is $24.95 plus postage. 

NOTE 4: The print edition of the Forecast 2021 Book is now available while supplies last! The e-Book English version is also available. 

This year’s printed and/or e-Book versions of Forecast 2021 are also available in these languages:

German: or email at



In addition to this year’s Forecast book, we are offering a separate publication for those who enjoy the yearly trends for the twelve individual signs. It is titled “Trends for the Twelve Signs 2021” and written by Antonia Langsdorf-Merriman and Ray Merriman. It, too, is at the printer now and due out any day. The eBook version is now available as of Monday, December 7! The cost of this book is $25, with a further discount if ordered with the Forecast 2021 Book.


April 3, 2021: MMTA Course 2 begins! The subject of this course will be “The Correlation of Long-Term Market Cycles to Geocosmic Studies.” Cost is $1800 and includes 7 classes from 1 – 3 PM, Eastern Time, every Saturday, for seven weeks, via Zoom. Registration details will be announced shortly.


Disclaimer and statement of purpose: The purpose of this column is not to forecast the future movement of various financial markets. However, that is the purpose of the MMA (Merriman Market Analyst) subscription services. This column is not a subscription service. It is a free service, except in those cases where a fee may be assessed to cover the cost of translating this column from English into a non-English language. This weekly report is written with the intent to educate the reader on the relationship between astrological factors and collective human activities as they are happening. In this regard, this report will often cite what happened in various stock and financial markets throughout the world in the past week and discuss that movement in light of the geocosmic signatures that were in effect. It will then identify the geocosmic factors that will be in effect in the next week, or even month, or even years, and the author’s understanding of how these signatures may affect human activity in the times to come. The author (Merriman) will do this from the perspective of a cycles’ analyst looking at the military, political, economic, and even financial markets of the world. It is possible that some forecasts will be made based on these factors. However, the primary goal is to both educate and alert the reader as to the psychological climate we are in from an astrological perspective. The hope is that it will help the reader understand the psychological dynamics that underlie (or coincide with) the news events and their potential effect on financial markets.  

No guarantee as to the accuracy of this report is being made here. Any decisions in financial markets are solely the responsibility of the reader, and neither the author nor the publishers of this column assume any responsibility whatsoever for anyone’s trading or investment decisions. Readers of this report should understand that commodity futures and options trading are considered high risk.