Market Reflections: Were the ECB’s Bold Action Less that Meets the Eye?

What Did the European Central Bank Do?

The European Central Bank – eager to combat too-low inflation – acted decisively March 10 by announcing a package of rate cuts and an increase in its bond purchase program. It pushed its main deposit rate for excess reserves banks hold at the ECB further into negative territory, cutting the rate to -0.4% from -0.3%. To combat the potential adverse effects from negative rates on banks’ financial health, the ECB also announced a package of loans from the ECB to banks in which the ECB could actually pay banks to borrow – provided the banks then lend those funds out – under certain conditions. The ECB also will buy €80 billion per month of Eurozone bonds versus €60 billion previously – and the ECB will now also buy eligible investment grade corporate bonds. (One euro equals about $1.11.)

Stocks in Europe initially surged and the euro plunged, which we might expect. But then a curious thing happened as Mario Draghi, the head of the ECB, spoke: stocks fell and the euro rose (though stocks in both Europe and the U.S. rebounded the next day). The action in the euro was not what was supposed to happen; indeed, a primary (if unstated) goal of enacting such a monetary stimulus program was to cause the euro to fall in value.

Why Did the ECB Take the Action It Did?

A weaker currency would accomplish two key things. First, it would make European exports more competitive abroad and imports more expensive. A weaker euro would thus make European-made goods cheaper to foreign buyers, and would stimulate demand and economic growth, while discouraging competition from imports. But for those goods and services that are imported, they would become more expensive, helping to accomplish the ECB’s goal of increasing inflation up to, but not above, 2%.

Inflation in the Eurozone was -0.2% year over year in February, according to Eurostat, and that is certainly a disappointing outcome, especially because it fell from a 0.3% year over year increase in January. More inflation would make existing debts easier to repay, for one, and it would also encourage consumption and investment now, instead of postponing it (or abandoning new investment projects altogether).

Of course, goosing inflation can come from increasing demand for goods and services. That would reduce slack in the economy, as unemployment falls and wages might (hopefully) rise and as spare capacity is eroded. That’s why the ECB wants banks to lend, so as to get businesses to invest and consumers to spend. Giving banks free money to lend (and even charging them on certain assets for those funds they stash at the central bank) is one way to motivate banks to push loans on to creditworthy customers.

Why Were the Markets Initially Disappointed?

Eventually, investors realize that central bankers may be pushing on a string. Even if banks want to lend, and loans are cheap, it is beyond anyone’s power to force a would-be borrower from taking on a loan. That is particularly the case when confidence is reduced by the same central bank in question.

Indeed, the seeds of the program’s disappointment are sown into the policy statement itself. The ECB slashed its forecast for inflation this year – and lowered its projections for 2017 as well. It now expects consumer prices to rise by just 0.1% in 2016, having forecast in December they would rise by 1%, with inflation set to pick up to 1.3% in 2017 and 1.6% in 2018, still below its target of just below 2%.

The ECB also cut its growth forecasts, with Eurozone gross domestic product projected to increase by 1.4% this year and 1.7% next, identical to forecasts by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That compares to previous projected growth rates of 1.7% and 1.9% respectively.

So, if prices are expected to grow only slowly, and the economy might expand only modestly, what business would want to borrow to expand its operations? Similarly, why would consumers desire to leverage themselves further if their wages may not grow? When policy measures intended to reassure and to encourage consumption and investment are announced at the same time as forecasts that neither goal seems likely, it is easy to see why markets were disappointed.

Mr. Kelly Trevethan is a Certified Investment Management Analyst & Registered Financial Consultant. He is a Managing Director with United Capital Financial Advisers LLC, a national private wealth advisory firm with 79 offices across the nation. He can be reached at 415-418-2101. To obtain your free copy of the New York Times Bestselling book “The Money Code”, email him at


Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal, and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions. The information contained in this piece is intended for information only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered investment advice. Please contact your financial adviser with questions about your specific needs and circumstances.

 The information and opinions expressed herein are obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by United Capital. Opinions expressed are current as of the date of this publication and are subject to change. Certain statements contained within are forward-looking statements including, but not limited to, predictions or indications of future events, trends, plans or objectives. Undue reliance should not be placed on such statements because, by their nature, they are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Indices are unmanaged, do not consider the effect of transaction costs or fees, do not represent an actual account and cannot be invested to directly. International investing entails special risk considerations, including currency fluctuations, lower liquidity, economic and political risks, and different accounting methodologies.

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Definition: having the job or duty of dealing with or taking care of something or someone; able to be trusted to do what is right or to do the things that are expected or required; involving important duties, decisions, etc., that you are trusted to do

This is a powerful word. It describes a character trait I find revealing. How people act—what they choose to do or not do and what they believe they should do—says a lot about them in terms of how relevant the concept of responsibility is to them. To a large degree, what we think about responsibility is reflected in our political philosophies. It informs our thinking about equity, law and liberty and influences what we think about our institutions and what power we grant them.

One example that came to my attention recently illustrates my point. I was discussing with a friend—one often opposed to my political leanings—the recent San Francisco Unified School District’s decision to allow distribution of condoms to middle school students. At some point I mentioned that this wasn’t all that surprising, considering that it is already law in California that all children aged 12 and older can be tested, diagnosed and treated for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, receive “medical care related to the prevention and treatment of pregnancy,” and have abortions—all with the stipulation that “The health care provider is NOT permitted to inform a parent or legal guardian without minor’s consent.”   

Daughter Being Carried by FatherAt first, my “it takes a village” friend didn’t believe it, but then said this was probably a good thing, since some parents cannot be trusted to care properly for their children and might even punish them under such circumstances. In other words, the welfare of one’s child is the responsibility of the state instead of the parent.

In his defense, I suppose the intention of these laws is to provide care when parents do not accept responsibility—but I would argue that this goes too far because it assumes that most parents are irresponsible, which is ludicrous.

After being stated in more personal terms, as in: “What if one of your young daughters (he has two) became pregnant, was diagnosed with AIDS, and was considering an abortion; would you want a school administrator and health care provider to be the ‘default’ individuals to help her and guide her decisions, without your knowledge or consent, or should it be you and her mother?” my friend capitulated, agreeing that this didn’t seem right at all.

How we consider responsibility as individuals, members of our community and as citizens weighs heavily upon the direction we travel in every area of life.

It is a most important responsibility that each of us be… responsible.
















New Skin Care: Science not Fiction

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Future Perfect Skin:

Buzzing with great cosmetics and highly-advanced scientific skin care since it opened its doors more than ten years ago, The Rouge Cosmetics offers the most effective skin care products in the industry. The Rouge products start with science, with their Ongrien Advanced Skin Care Treatments. The Rouge Cosmetics along with Ongrien Technologies’ research team has helped pioneer the advent of cosmeceuticals and has continued to lead the industry as one of the first companies to provide scientific evidence to support product benefits. Their anti-aging, nutrient-based products deliver advanced protection, while neutralizing free radicals. Better than organic, Ongrien Technologies is a nutrient-based line that is healthy for the body, with valuable vitamins that ensure safety, all designed to prevent damage to the skin. Qualified and proven as one of the most superior anti-aging products on the market, while backed with scientific facts on repairing skin from the inside out, these anti-aging treatments help reduce fine lines and wrinkles for a smoother complexion and healthier skin for the future. Aging Is Optional!

Break-up with Break-outs

Using new technologies and science-based techniques to repair, control and reduce break-outs, Ongrien Technologies has come out with an acne treatment line that helps reduce acne and skin related problems. While the cause is still unknown, hormones and stress are contributing factors; that is why Ongrien developed a Clear Skin System that treats acne for those with sensitive skin. Treating the skin delicately without harsh chemicals is key, while using triple action exfoliating agents and perfectly balanced glycolic acids to unclog pores and kill bacteria, it improves the skin’s balance and controls breakouts. Pathogenic bacteria lives on acne skin types, so reducing bacteria on the skin helps prevent future breakouts.

Pure Skin Appeal

Ongrien’s nutrient-based anti-aging treatments are healthy for the body and given the attention and nourishment that your skin deserves, it can be strengthened, toned, and indicative of the youthful and healthy beauty you always wanted. Harness the scientific benefits of Ongrien Advanced Skin Care Collection that has been created with YOU in mind—Ongrien Technologies offers state-of-the-art skin care solutions and products meant to respect every skin type and need. There is no one-size-fits-all skin care solution, so they have developed options for every woman’s skin type.

Ongrien Technologies has formulated these science-based products, using perfectly balanced antioxidants and peptides with the highest quality ingredients and formulations including:

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Through years of research, Ongrien Technologies has formulated a collection of world-renowned, pharmaceutical-grade, anti-aging skin care products, that deliver powerful, effective benefits to provide a youthful, toned and radiant appearance to the complexion.

For more information related to your specific skin concerns, The Rouge offers skin care consultations to help you choose the correct balance, regime and treatments for the future of healthy skin.  



He Said/She Said with Robin and Shawn

Dear SSHS,

I have guests in my home quite regularly, and I’m getting fed up with all the dietary restrictions out there. From gluten and dairy-free to Vegans and Atkins, I feel like I’m running a restaurant when people come to stay. Any suggestions?                                             Juan Menu, Lafayette

concept of dietary restrictionsShe Said: Real food allergies and Celiac disease aside, it is not your obligation to check in with everyone coming to your lovely B&B to see what they will and will not eat. People are constantly jumping in and out of fad diets or eliminating food groups entirely, making it very difficult on hosts. I knew someone who went from Atkins to vegetarian in the same week, and expected everyone to oblige. That’s just bad manners. Do not cater to picky eaters. Issue your invitation and let all know what will be on the menu and that they are welcome to supplement their diets with items brought from home.

He Said: There’s nothing worse than taking the time and effort to host guests in your home then hearing them say they can’t eat this or that. It just makes you want to never have another guest in your house again. You can’t be expected to cater to everyone’s finicky food habits or needs so I suggest you politely ask ahead of time if they have any preferences. If any requests are unreasonable, then simply ask that they bring their own food that meets their needs or point them in the direction of the nearest store that has what they want. You’re providing the shelter and basic food, if they want more than that, that’s on them.

Dear HSSS,

A friend of a friend recently moved to the area, and I’ve been asked to show her around a bit and help her get acquainted with the area. I have a hectic work schedule and family life and really don’t have the time. Plus I don’t care for this person much. How can I get out of this?                         Janice, Danville


He Said: It’s always nice when a local can show a transplant around, but it’s not fair for a friend to expect this of you. First I would explain to your friend that you have other priorities and that you just can’t spare the time. Then, I would definitely let the friend know that you’re not fond of this person. If you don’t, this won’t be the last time this newbie reaches out to you. You can ask your friend to keep this info confidential or not, it’s really up to you. Also, there are literally a million social apps and websites where people can reach out and get info or meet people from an area when they move. Let the technology be their friend, not you.

She Said:  It’s time to just say no, and you will be amazed at how great that feels. You have little enough time as it is for your real obligations, and people will always ask, so it’s your job to protect your limited time. But, I do want to play devil’s advocate here a bit. You say you don’t care for this person, but how about inviting her to coffee when she arrives, telling her where some of your favorite hotspots are and giving her a second chance to be someone you do care for. Some of the best friendships start with two people not liking each other that much.  Her moving to the area could be a real game changer.


Robin Fahr is a communications specialist and host ofConversations seen daily on Tri-Valley TV, Channel 30 and online at Shawn and Robin also host He Said/She Said on       TheTalk  Send your questions to

45 Degrees Kitchen

This month’s installment combines two of my “feels.” Granted to actually eat here is a bucket list thing, or at the very least, a “when in Rome thing.” Nevertheless, I truly hope that this might create a moment when we find ourselves in Nairobi, Kenya engaged in the universal conversation of “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” and then we get stricken with the thought….aha!  Remember what Toby was “having.” Let’s backup a bit first.

Show of hands: who remembers my love of Kenya? Those that raised, thank you, but I can’t see you, so I will assume everybody thrust their digits skyward. That’s right, I lived in Nairobi for three months and the experience changed my heart. But wait, I am not writing about some “local’s only” mom and pop in the heart of the city center; I am writing about an endeavor that has its roots right here in Pleasanton and Danville.

I was lucky enough in the first stage of my food and beverage career to be mentored by a genius Chef, Harold Sena-akoto. I was not “back of the house” (kitchen staff), but this man took the time to teach me food costs, wine pairings and management styles that I still use today to lead flocks.

Harold was the Executive Chef at Ruby Hill Country Club in Pleasanton. On a nightly basis he would create masterpieces for the same people with an infectious smile and energy that could not be rivaled. He was the exact opposite of the knife and temper wielding chefs that I had come to expect, and would later be personally subjected to.

Harold is a Nairobi native, and last year, after a stint heading up the food program at Choice Lunch and Choice Kitchen in Danville (another one of my articles), he packed up his girls (wife Rose and beautiful daughter) and headed back to his family’s plot in Nairobi Kenya to open his lifelong dream: 45 Degrees Kitchen.

45 Degrees Kitchen is a rugged structure built on an old poultry farm in Garden Estate. The rustic interior décor and flow to the natural African surroundings put the emphasis on nature, whereby gentle sounds from the outdoors form the backdrop to your evening. The tall Eucalyptus trees in the distance and rustic surroundings are comforting and put guests at ease, making it easy to focus on the work to be done for your dining experience. The fine dining restaurant features a sustainably and organically grown ingredient-driven menu, utilizing produce from the restaurant’s organic garden. The menu is influenced by modern Californian, provincial French and Italian cuisine.

Chef Harold is the type of man with an inviting aura that leaves everybody he comes in contact with feeling better about the interaction they just had. Along with his equally as positive energy wife Rose, they are doing what everybody longs to do at least once in their lives—they are taking their passion and creating something from the ground up.

45 Degrees hosts private events, caters off-site parties, does cooking classes and offers the outdoor/indoor African experience that was once reserved only for safari but from a culinary standpoint.

Our local loss has become Nairobi’s gain, and generally speaking, in any other circumstance I would feel the pangs of loss when a friend moves worlds away, however with the Sena-akotos I feel their presence daily through Facebook ( and know that they are simply giving me one more reason to return someday.

Bookmark this culinary adventure for your next trip to Africa and tell them Toby sent you, although you would get the same incredible hospitality no matter who you are.

Garden Estate, Nairobi                                                                                                                              Reservations 0705151086/0705150898



Take Me Out to the Ball Game

As spring splashes its way in, we are encouraged that Baseball is back. How do we exist the rest of the year when there is almost always a Major League game being played in the area? It is well nigh impossible to go to the park every day, but the magic of TV and radio brings it all home to us. What else is there to say? Play ball!

1. Where did the SF Giants play their home games their first two seasons in San Francisco 1958 and 1959?

2. Who played Dizzy Dean in the movie biopic “Pride of St. Louis?”

3. What Broadway musical hit was based on Douglas Wollop’s book “The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant?”

4. Sam Malone, the owner of Cheers of TV fame, had been a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. What was his nickname as a pitcher?

5. Who threw a perfect game for the Oakland A’s in 1968?

6. Who wrote the book “Moneyball?”