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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Interview With George Soros; Interview With Steve Forbes

Aired December 10, 2009 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, GUEST HOST: Goldman Sachs upsets the gravy train, financial (ph) sectors miss out on those cash bonuses.

Steady as she goes, the Bank of England holds the line on quantitative easing.

And cooking up a French festive feast on our third day of Christmas.

I'm Max Foster, in for Richard Quest. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening to you. Tonight we hear from two billionaires as well. First off is George Soros at the Copenhagen summit, the climate summit there. He says he has a plan which can bridge the gap between rich and poor countries on the issues, so long as the political will is there.

Plus, in the second part of our interview with Steve Forbes, he tells us weak money can only mean one thing, and that is a weak recovery.

Now, bankers bonuses are taking a battering yet again. And even Goldman Sachs, the world's most profitable bank is looking for some pay back on its pay outs. Goldman says its top 30 people won't get cash for performing well. Instead, they will get a special form of company stock that comes with strings attached. The move comes as the British and French leaders take joint aim at financial bonuses. They don't often agree about much, but the pair have chosen a popular target this time.

Jim Boulden is following all the bonus bashing for us.

Jim, thanks for joining us. At the end of the day, Goldman Sachs is paying out bonuses. That is crucial point here. But how are they doing it?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have said that there are 30 executives, they are going to lock these bonuses up for five years and they are going to be in stocks. Well, it is a move that people were looking for. You know the idea of these excessive bonuses coming through to just the very top tier of people. So, they are making an effort. They are not being forced to do that, of course, but they are doing this for public relations reasons.

FOSTER: That is one way of dealing with it. And Europeans are looking at another way of dealing with it.

BOULDEN: Yes.

FOSTER: So, take us through that.

BOULDEN: Well, what we saw today was this joint statement from Mr. Brown, Prime Minister Brown, and from Nicholas Sarkozy, to say that the world should be looking at taxing bonuses, these excessive bonuses. And we saw that, of course, in the announcement yesterday, here in the U.K. So the U.K. has said that they will be taxing bonuses. Only raising $800 million, at the most, and it is only for one year. Now, we are hearing from France now, they will do the same thing. There will be an announcement probably in the next couple of days. They feel they can do that (AUDIO GAP)

It is an interesting idea. So, the idea here is you can't do it in one country, because then there is this fear that, you know, the bankers will move somewhere else. So the idea is that if more people do it, then, it becomes a G20 issue and then the bankers are just going to have to pay.

FOSTER: The big problem here is that the public doesn't like the idea of publicly funded banks to dish our bonuses before the money, the loan, is paid back to the governments. So, how do you think that these two are going to play? These two plans are going to play with the public in most countries?

BOULDEN: Well, obviously, it was done here. The announcement made yesterday, here, by Alistair Darling, everyone said, well, we have an election coming up in a few months, so it was a very populist move. So it is very popular. It is not going to raise a lot of money. It is simply not - it isn't there to stop bankers from doing something. Because a lot of people would say the bonuses weren't the problem, it was the excessive loans and all that stuff, which of course were allowed to be done by the government.

So, they governments are picking on the bankers, not taking a lot of responsibility themselves to be honest. So, it could become a very popular way of -the government is kind of hiding behind all of this. But to be truthful, it is one year, one time, in the U.K., one time for Goldman Sachs. Who knows what is going to happen next year, maybe they will get double bonuses.

FOSTER: And will it be enough for the likes of Goldman Sachs and RBS, then, to also keep hold of their key staff. Because they are saying they will walk if they don't get the bonuses.

BOULDEN: We have been hearing that all week, haven't we, from ING in the States. There were rumors that people at RBS would walk, as well. Let's be honest. If you want to keep good staff in a very, very difficult environment, then you are going to have to pay them. The issue always is excessive bonuses, obscene bonuses.

FOSTER: Guaranteed bonuses, they are back up, in some places.

BOULDEN: Yes, well, guaranteed bonuses -yes, absolutely how else are you going to keep these people at the banks?

FOSTER: OK, Jim, thank you very much, indeed.

Now, here in the U.K., the Bank of England is taking a wait and see approach to the economic recovery more generally today it decided not to pump more money into Britain's economy. The central bank is also holding interest rates steady, at a record low, 0.5 percent for the tenth month in a row. And rates are likely to remain unchanged at least until February, as we understand it.

Now, back to quantitative easing, or printing money, as you and I understand it. The Bank of England says it will not put more cash into the financial system right now. It is already pumping in $325 billion. And the bank did say the scheme will be kept under review. Now the finance minister is predicting the economy will pull out of the recession in 2010. There is some optimism that the U.K. then is on the road to the recovery.

Now, here in Europe investors were feeling pretty positive, meanwhile, on the markets. As you can see it is solid greens all the way. All the main markets finish high, stopping a three-day losing streak. So some positive feeling then on the financial markets in Europe.

Let's see how they are feeling in the United States right now. Let's see how the Dow is doing. It is also up, positive across the globe. It is all about housing markets. We have improved readings on the housing market. That came few. There were fewer foreclosures and that is reassuring investors, really about the economic recovery, more forwardly.

That is the financial news then, let's cross over to the newsroom. Let's get the latest headlines, more generally from Fionnuala.

(NEWSBREAK)

FOSTER: Now the billionaire investor George Soros has come up with a new scheme, to make money. If it comes off, developing nations could benefit and also the entire planet, he says.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Billionaire investor George Soros has outlined his plans to help developing countries fight climate change at the U.N. summit in Copenhagen.

Soros says he has found a way to bridge the gap between the money that is being offered by rich nations and what is needed. In short, he says the money exists, it just needs to be shifted around and then put to use. Here is a break down of what Soros' plan is then.

He says developed countries should hand over their special drawing rights, or SDRs, essentially their international currency assets distributed by the IMF. Soros says they should be given as loans to help poor nations tackle climate change.

Developing countries would pay interest and eventually pay back the whole of that loan. But if they default, the sum would be backed by the IMF's gold reserves. It is a very different approach to current proposals which primarily rely on contributions from the balance sheets of developed countries.

CNN's Charles Hobson spoke to George Soros, at the U.N. summit in Copenhagen. He asked him, if he thinks his plans can really work?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE SOROS, INVESTOR, PHILANTHROPIST: This can be done by using idle resources, the money lying there unused. And there are two elements to it. One is the recent distribution of special drawing rights, the developed world received over $150 billion. And they really have no use for it, at all. They have it in the shop window, but as decoration. And they would lend that to the IMF, that would set up this green fund. And the interest and the principle would be guaranteed using the gold reserves of the IMF, which again, are on the balance sheet at historical costs (ph). And the current market value is at least $100 billion, more. And so that could be used to guarantee the interest and the repayment of the --

(CROSS TALK)

CHARLES HOBSON, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: It is an neat and ingenious scheme, but would it actually work? And would the projects that you would fund using this $100 billion be worthwhile and really make a difference?

SOROS: Well, the certainly the project works. And then everybody I've talked with says that it is doable. Then it would be up to the green fund to invest the money in projects that produce the carbon savings. But all the experts tell me that protecting the rainforest, forestry, and agriculture, land use, are actually the areas where the greatest potential for a carbon savings is to be found.

(CROSS TALK)

HOBSON: OK, well, the experts clearly are onboard, Mr. Soros, but what about --

SOROS: It would be worthwhile -

HOBSON: The experts are onboard, but what about the politicians. Do you think that the leaders of those developed nations are willing to run with your cunning plan?

SOROS: Well, it remains to be seen. I think there will be some resistance and I think that it won't happen unless there is public pressure and demands from the developing world to make it happen. And the main difficulty, actually, is that it would require congressional approval in the United States. And that is a cumbersome and painful process for the administration to go through it. And so they would probably prefer not to do it unless the political will can be generated.

HOBSON: Putting that together --

(CROSS TALK)

SOROS: I think that the president would certainly favor it.

HOBSON: OK, but the president, clearly he can't get anything he likes through Congress, as we have seen over health care. But are you, at the end of the day, a pessimist, or an optimist, both on Copenhagen and on the kind of plan that you are putting forward there?

SOROS: I think that this will have legs. I have a feeling that this could really make the difference between success and failure. And I think it will be embraced. It is coming rather late in the day, but I did actually discuss it with a number of governments and I think there will be support for it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: There you are a confident George Soros, speaking from Copenhagen.

Now the shockwaves from the Dubai debt crisis continue to shake that region. A big merger plan in the Middle East has fallen into quicksand. The who, the why, in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: On Wednesday you may have seen Richard speaking to the editor-in-chief and billionaire founder of "Forbes" magazine, and quizzed him on the big issue of bonuses, that we have been talking about today. In a second installment we heard what Steve Forbes has to say on the U.S. dollar and the economic road to recovery. And, as you will hear now, the U.S. trade deficit shrank in October, and that was helped by a weak dollar. And Steve Forbes says that that is not necessarily a good thing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE FORBES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "FORBES": I think that they are pursuing the wrong policies and that is why both the U.K. and U.S. are going to have substandard recoveries from this disaster. It is precisely - we are both doing the same thing, cheapening the currency, raising tax rates, putting more onerous regulations when people want to do positive things. In the United States we have a weak dollar policy, which encourages speculation in commodities and currencies, instead of have the money go into businesses, expanding businesses, creating new businesses.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INT'L. ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: That cheap dollar policy is allowing exporters to grow, though. You can't have it both ways.

FORBES: No, oh, come on. No, the way you get real export growth is value added, having products that are better than other people's products, advanced technology. If you are trying to compete with China on wages, forget it, unless people are going to cut their wages 95 percent. It is a losers' game. Weak money means weak recovery. Your country should have learned that from the `60s and `70s. My country should have learned that. It doesn't work.

That was, by the way, even though I'm a Republican, the biggest mistake of the Bush administration, domestically, was its weak dollar policy. Bill Clinton understood that.

QUEST: If you have a strong-dollar policy, you are going to suck in more imports. You are going to have a worsening trade deficit, which ultimately, of course, takes its toll on the currency in its own way.

FORBES: No, when you have a strong and stable dollar you get more investment, and start ups, more investment in businesses expanding. Right now, in the U.S. what are companies doing because of the weak dollar. They are borrowing the dollar and then investing the money overseas. Not a good thing for the U.S. economy.

Again, experience shows, theory shows and experience shows, weak money means weak recovery.

QUEST: I'm taking you overseas, again, if I may?

FORBES: Sure.

QUEST: Dubai? What have we learned from the Dubai fiasco?

FORBES: What you have learned is watch out for family feuds. Dubai is part of the family, part of the United Emirates. And you know, Abu Dhabi has got more money in one hour's oil revenues could pay off the debts of Dubai. But they want to teach a lesson to the sheikh there. And so they are going to make him give up his airline. They are going to make him give up this and that. So, that is what happens when family members fight each other.

QUEST: Were you surprised that Dubai, that Abu Dhabi has not come the rescue more quickly. I mean, we are getting this argument at the moment, are we not, that basically says we, from Dubai World, we never gave government guarantees. We never -but you know, and I know, they were implied, exactly the same thing. Dubai World was borrowing at almost sovereign debt rates.

FORBES: Sure. Dubai, Dubai, whether you call it world, or city, or whatever, city of London, city of Dubai, yes, it was seen in the market place, and that is why, for example, in the U.S. Freddie and Fannie, not part of the government, but everyone knew it had implicit guarantee of the federal government.

What you see here, though, is punishment time. They didn't like -Abu Dhabi didn't like what Dubai was doing. And so it slapped them down. After all, Dubai in the eyes of some is Las Vegas without the casinos. Everyone went there to let off steam. Now they are going to say, well, look at what all that sinning did for you. And so we are going punish you. We are going to humiliate you, make you give up your race horses.

QUEST: That is a very harsh way of looking at it.

(LAUGHTER)

FORBES: They have the money to pay it off. Come on.

QUEST: We are just coming up to the mid-terms. Next year it is the mid-terms. I mean, is this the year that we saw some improvement in Republican gubernatorial stages, but can the Republicans do better next year, with President Obama's approval ratings slipping?

FORBES: The Republicans will do well, because not anything the party as a whole has done, but because local candidates have realized focusing on issues like binge spending, raising taxation, hurting economic growth, nationalizing health care, not to mention other industries, is not the way for sound future economic growth. So, they'll make gains on that. So it is really not in the Republicans hands. It is in President Obama's hands. If he continues on his present course, he is giving a gift to the Republicans, elections gains.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Steve Forbes was just touching there on the lessons learned from Dubai. Today the stock market there had its biggest one-day gain since last February. So they won't be too upset by what he said.

The DFM general index closed up 7 percent. One of the shares soaring was Emaar Properties, it closed up 15 percent, and that is the maximum allowed under the rules of that exchange. Share in Emaar Properties surged after the company said it is backing out of a merger with Dubai Holding. The Arab world's largest property developer says the deal no longer makes financial sense. CNN's "MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST" anchor John Defterios explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN INT'L. ANCHOR, MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST: The announcement that Emaar and three property companies of Dubai Holdings will not merge rounded off what could be called a Triple Crown of bad news coming out of Dubai this week. This finished off with the Emaar and Sama (ph), Touchwere (ph) and Dubai properties announcement. It was preceded by an announcement by Moody's to downgrade six of the Dubai companies, some just above junk grade. And this week started off with Dubai World asking for not just six months of time to restructure its books, but much more than that.

This proposed merger was to consolidate $52 billion worth of property assets. The challenge was it came with $3.7 billion of debt. Further complications come in a sense that the government of Dubai has 32 percent holdings of Emaar, itself. But an Emaar spokesman told CNN that there was a lack of information to get this job done by the end of December.

Of course, Emaar is the builder of the Burj Tower, which is going to open January 4 of 2010 and they didn't want to have this merger taking place with the complications coming at the launch of that large skyscraper.

I was at a conference here in Kuwait City and spoke to a number of different business leaders and government leaders, they offered their support to Dubai, but at the same time they were seeking greater information. In fact, on senior executive from the Gulf said, they thought that the information coming out at this stage could be called, quote/unquote, "primitive". They need to get more clarity. They would like the restructuring to move forward and they don't want this to spill over into the other Gulf or broader Middle East markets right now.

But it is worth noting that in fact that the forecast for 2010, in markets like Kuwait City, and markets like Saudi Arabia and even in Bahrain is quite positive. I sat down with the head of the economic development board of Bahrain and they are expecting growth of 4 to 4.5 percent, for 2010. So far no contagion, but indeed, they would like clarity from Dubai and to hope that it can be contained to that one single emirate. John Defterios, CNN, Kuwait City.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Now, the gains we saw in Dubai's main market this Thursday snap a downhill slide which began almost two weeks ago now. Dubai's problems have rattled markets around that region.

Richard spoke about the Dubai crisis with Naguib Sawiris, he is chairman and CEO of the Orascom Group. And he asked him whether he was concerned about the contagion in that region?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NAGUIB SAWIRIS, CHAIRMAN, CEO, ORASCOM GROUP: First, I am not concerned of any contagioncy (sic) because it is more or less of a local problem, you know. We don't see any affects in our markets. I don't think there will be any affects in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, in Egypt, and other Gulf countries. It is a local problem. And I don't even -I'm not concerned, even, locally. I believe that there is too much noise on the issue. I believe that this is a country that has proven to be the mandate (ph) of liberalism, and the development that has happened in Dubai is all still there, all the infrastructure and the bases. They have set an excellent example on free economy, on freedom and liberal thinking, on quality of life. It is a destination, it will maintain that and it will get out of that problem, definitely.

We have seen many companies go into difficulties and restructure and get out of it. So, I'm not really concerned at all.

Actually, there is a bit of enviousness, or what we call, I don't know what is the English word for it, but it is like gloating. A lot of gloating on the issue there, as if people were happy that they failed, because they were doing nothing to -and they couldn't come up to speed, to their speed, and to their quality. And now they are looking, and say, see, we are better off because we didn't do anything.

QUEST: Right, but I do wonder, are there legitimate questions of transparency in the way business was done, and changes that surely need to be made for the future, to ensure there isn't a repeat?

SAWIRIS: I don't see any non-transparency in anything they did. If you want me to be critical I will only be critical on the timing of their announcement. Before the vacations, and the Eid, you know, I find that to have been not a very fortunate decision. Because you need to face facts and you need to face the lenders and the financial markets. Besides that, all the dealings were transparent. If some people who lent money to the companies are now crying and saying we should have the state guarantee, it was never there to start with. And they are not entitled to that, so as I said, there is like a -some people have interest in exaggerating on that issue.

QUEST: Let's talk about the telecom industry, if we may, finally and briefly.

We are seeing, I mean, it is still one of those industries that is the most vibrant. The technological advances are still coming at a faster speed than both companies, and to some extent, consumers can grasp. It is still the business to be in, would you say?

SAWIRIS: Always. I mean, even in crisis time, people used their phone than in normal times. So, we actually prosper in crisis. The only problems are the banks. When you need financing to do further acquisitions or anything, they are not there anymore. So, it is fine, I mean, that is another drive to consolidate. And consolidation could be done on the equity side by merger, by mergers, you know. Until the market revives and the debt market is back.

QUEST: Naguib, many thanks indeed for joining us. Excellent to talk with you. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Head of Orascom speaking to Richard, earlier.

Now, in defense of the TARP, the massive spending measure will now run far into next year. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner went to Capitol Hill to face his critics. Some lawmakers didn't buy into his logic. Details after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Welcome back.

I'm Max Foster.

This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS here on CNN.

Let's take a look at how the U.S. stocks are faring this session.

It was a good day yesterday. Another good day today, as well, it seems. Up 90 points, as you can see. The housing market, new figures on the housing market coming through. And that's (INAUDIBLE) got everyone there pretty encouraged over there on Wall Street.

Also today, we had some encouraging trade deficit figures, one of the factors boosting the market. Another one, investors also mulling over a mixed reading on weekly jobless claims.

With more on the impact those reports are all having on Wall Street, we bring in Felicia Taylor from the New York Stock Exchange.

I guess all in all, people think these reports are pretty good news.

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max. Actually, we've had the bulls out pretty much all session long. We learned the nation's trade deficit shrank almost 8 percent in October and first time jobless claims increased by 17,000 last week, to nearly 475,000.

That is a larger than expected increase and it does come after five weeks of declines.

However, the market is taking it in stride because the Labor Department says that those numbers are inflated because of the Thanksgiving holiday, when many state unemployment offices were closed.

The number of people collecting benefits on a continuing basis fell sharply, to 5.1 million. And that is the lowest level since February.

Let's take a look at how it is playing out on all the major averages. The Dow is up about 4/5 of 1 percent, a gain of 86 points right now.

Disney is the biggest gainer after CEO Bob Iger said the company's advertising will have increased 25 percent in the fourth quarter.

And the NASDAQ is up 2/3 of 1 percent.

The S&P is also up about 4/5 of 1 percent -- Max.

FOSTER: Felicia, a lot of people are wondering if we'll have actually some job creation coming through once the whole market does stabilize, that labor market.

TAYLOR: Yes. And that is the real crux of the equation, isn't it?

And it remains to be seen, but we're heading in the right direction. One economist tells the A.P. that if this trend continues, claims will fall below the 400,000 mark by February. Fiddling with the economy would actually be generating jobs.

Even more optimistic, analysts are saying, the gains could come as soon as next month, in January. Yet still, most agree that the jobless rate will continue to rise in the coming months and remain above 9 percent right now. It's at 10 percent. And it will stay that way through next year.

That's because the more than 15 million unemployed Americans have to compete with the more than 10 million who are underemployed for any of those new jobs that are created.

By the way, the underemployed are those people who just aren't working as many hours as they would like.

There's also a lot of people out there who have given up looking for work altogether.

And also today, Congress passed legislation to extend federal benefits up to 99 weeks, depending on the state. But the law only helps those who exhaust the unemployment lifelines by year's end. So there is help out there to extend those -- those benefits, but, nevertheless, the real -- the real point is that we need job creation in this country -- Max.

FOSTER: Felicia, thanks for the very latest there on Wall Street.

Now, they're talking TARP on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, one day after announcing the bailout program will be extended, the Treasury secretary is explaining why.

Stephanie Elam is at the CNNMoney.com newsroom in New York -- Stephanie, there's a lot of dis -- disagreement, isn't there, about the future of this program?

ELAM: Oh, for sure, Max. There's no doubt about that.

What we can tell you for sure is that the TARP has been wildly unpopular and that there are a lot of lawmakers here who'd like to see it expire at the end of this year.

But yesterday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner notified Congress that the bailout program will stay in place until next October.

Today, Geithner testified before the Congressional Oversight Panel. That's the independent body that oversees the bailout program. And he actually got some pushback. Although the panel credits the program a financial collapse, it says TARP has not done enough to get banks lending again or to help struggle -- struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. Geithner says that's why TARP has to be extended and that's why it is being extended.

And next year, it will focus on three key areas -- mitigating foreclosures, providing capital to small banks and lending to small businesses. That last one is really important, Max, for the employment picture here, since small businesses create more than half of the jobs in this country -- Max.

FOSTER: That must have been quite encouraging, hearing small businesses as well as the big banks are being affected by this program. We started to see this whole program sort of affecting people -- everyday people, people you see wandering down the street.

Is it affecting them yet?

ELAM: Yes, well that's the -- that's the plan here. And this is what the -- the government knows that they have to do something about. They've got to get out there and start spurring jobs through small businesses, because of the fact that they do spur most growth. And a lot of people feel like Wall Street has been helped out more than Main Street.

But they're -- there's definitely a case of people wondering, because of this, does it mean that overall that the financial situation is not any better, that it's not out of the woods here?

And there's definitely a little bit of that just -- just in case going on here. Even though Geithner says confidence in the system has improved dramatically, there could always be another shock. And the government needs to be prepared for that.

FOSTER: OK, Stephanie, thank you so much...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: We still need to keep in reserve some ability to respond if we ever face again a serious escalation of systematic concern. It would be deeply irresponsible and imprudent at this stage, only a year into this recovery process, only three months after we had the first period of growth, to stand back and walk away from those challenges ahead. That would leave the taxpayer at much greater risk of future losses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: Now, the Treasury Department now projects TARP's ultimate price tag will be around $500 billion. That actually happens to be about $200 billion less than originally expected. So that's setting the stage for a new battle. Democrats say some of the unused cash should be used to create jobs. Republicans want to use the money to pay down the door -- soaring national debt.

Obviously, this one is nowhere near done, Max. And we will be following it. Of course, if you want to hear more on this one, and can check out CNNMoney.com and you can also follow us on Twitter, as well.

That's -- that works anywhere in the world -- Max.

FOSTER: Absolutely. Available anywhere.

Thank you so much for joining us, Stephanie.

Now, in a moment, we'll be showing you how to make a profit out of poultry. And I know you've always wondered how to do that. Now, in our World At Work, we're in the kitchen and we're under pressure.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

FOSTER: "The 12 Days of Christmas" sung by the Bach Choir. The traditional song has inspired us to bring you a special seasonal series focusing on your World At Work.

On day three, we found a French chef, Helene Darroze. And she just so happened to be cooking up three French hens from her home region. So it fitted perfectly into our series.

Here's her World At Work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HELENE DARROZE, CHEF, CONNAUGHT HOTEL: OK, can we go, please, with one hot jolie (ph) vegetarian, three alibis (ph).

RICHARD QUEST, HOST: So this is a French hen?

DARROZE: Yes, yes, yes. Con petit. Con petit (ph).

I am from Lilan (ph), in the southwest of France. And poultry are very, very important. The chicken from Lilan (ph) is very, very known all over the -- the -- all over France.

And so what we are going to do is to stuff the chicken before cooking it in the oven. We are going to stuff it with pasta and faula (ph). This is stuffed (INAUDIBLE) macaroni. What we are going to do now is to mix the faula (ph). The key point is how you choose the product, because, OK, if you cook a tomato in winter or black (INAUDIBLE) in summer, there is no sense from you with that. So respect the season, respect the product and choose the best.

QUEST: It seems to me one of the great tricks or one of the great arts is timing.

DARROZE: Timing, of course, because at one moment, we have guests around the table and we need to provide food and dishes for them. So it's -- it's a lot of about communication between the team, between the different stations, between the meat, the -- the -- between the vegetable, because, of course, you can provide the meat, but if you don't have the garnish on the side, what are you doing?

OK?

QUEST: Do you ever get tired of the kitchen?

DARROZE: Never. I used to say that I am born in the kitchen (INAUDIBLE) and I have that in the blood, you know. I have -- I have this -- this passion and the guests below (ph) me and I'm so happy with that.

QUEST: Cooking is in your family, isn't it?

DARROZE: Yes.

QUEST: Tell me about that.

DARROZE: Yes, yes. It comes back in the family, because I am the fourth generation to cook. My father and all my uncles are chefs. My grandfather, my grandmother. I learned a lot from my grandmother when I was a child. I will now stuff them with the pasta and the faula (ph). And everything will be roasted together. So the pasta will continue to be cooked until this -- even the faula (ph) and all the pasta will be mixed together and that will be something fantastic.

QUEST: Look at that.

DARROZE: Which part would you like, the leg?

The breast?

QUEST: The breast, yes.

DARROZE: I prefer the leg.

QUEST: Oh, good.

DARROZE: Very tender.

QUEST: Three French hens won't be nearly enough today. Ellen needs at least 10 for her lunch guests. It's all part of her World At Work.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: And on Friday, true love will be sending four calling birds. We head to a famous fortress and prison for the next installment in our festive World At Work series. Be sure to stay tuned and find out what Richard finds at the Tower of London. We're hoping he did get out. He's not here today.

Let's find out what the weather has in store for us.

Guillermo is at the Weather Center -- hi, Guillermo.

GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Max, you know, the weekend is going to be very cold in Britain, I have to tell you that. For you and for Richard, who will be at the -- the Tower. But apart from that, it's going to be even colder into the east.

Now, you see this spinning down here?

It is bringing severe weather into Greece and Turkey. So the Aegean Sea all over here -- Turkey's coast. Watch out if you're going to cypress or if you are planning to go there, if you're watching from there, because, also, we are going to see some storms in cypress coming up this weekend.

Well, let's see what we have in store concerning appoints. It's not that bad, actually. I was checking out Geneva with some delays over there. And I think that that's about it in Europe. At Nuremberg, also, in Germany, like 45 minutes or so. It's raining in Nuremberg. But look what's going on here. Winds in the Frankfurt and Munich; also Copenhagen with some chilly conditions and also with some windy conditions in the area.

Apart from that, the south appears to be OK. Rome is going to see some winds lingering in the area, as Amsterdam will. You see Brussels with some rain showers.

Now, when I say that it's going to get cold it is not evident yet in here. But wait until the weekend. You will see that we have frost in Great Britain, in -- in the Midlands. Also, we're going to see some rain in Northern Ireland. Sibian (ph) at five; Kiev, minus two. Well, for the time being, it's pretty good. But this is going to spread on the weekend and it's going to invade the area that is coming with cold air from the north being pumped by this high pressure center. And certainly temperatures will be below average. And that is including Great Britain, as well.

You see, compared to the rest of Europe, Britain is doing fine. But you will notice this weekend, it's going to be foggy. It's going to be foggy, actually, tomorrow. And as we go to the north, we will see more frost.

Now, Northern Ireland with rain showers. But in general, it's going to stay dry. Look at London here, partly cloudy skies. Four -- we may get to freezing point, as well -- eight, seven degrees.

The more we go to the north, the colder it gets. It's going to stay dry, of course, but the bad aspect is that the cold air is coming.

When we compare this with the United States, and especially Canada, I mean, no comparison, this is really cold. And we showed you a lot of video with -- with snow and ice. Well, it is getting better in the States. I saw the word delays with winds in San Francisco and in Newark, as well, like two hours or so. But it is going. It's getting better.

The cold air is dangerous, though. Compared to Europe, this is really bad.

And if you think about numbers, like what about minus 20 in Calgary?

What about Winnipeg with minus 22?

And these are departures from average. So, I'm hoping to see like Winnipeg gets a little bit better, but we're expecting a high of minus 18.

Chicago it's going to be chilly. New York is going to be extremely chilly. And Montreal, minus six degrees. All over the States, temperatures are actually quite cold.

So Northern Europe, northern North America, it's going to be really cold.

When we come back on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, we're going to have "Avatar" -- the premier in London tonight -- a live interview with Morgan Neill.

Stay tuned.

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FOSTER: "Avatar" is happening tonight here in London. It could be one of the most expensive films ever.

Why?

Well, take a look at this.

(VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: The film is using cutting edge technology and 3-D effects. A big budget doesn't always mean big bucks in the box office, though. And we'll have to see if the scale of this investment really equals success on the silver screen. Certainly, there's a huge amount of hype around this movie.

Our Morgan Neill is on the red carpet at the premier right now -- Morgan, one thing no one has really explained to me is what it's all about.

MORGAN NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. And let me just jump in there, Max, at the beginning and give you a minor correction. It's actually the blue carpet. I don't know if you can see behind me. And the blue carpet is now being pulled up. Blue because that's the color of the skin of the alien Navi, in this film.

Basically, this is an epic adventure about a wounded ex-soldier who goes to a -- to a foreign planet where he's then to infiltrate the indigenous race there. He does so, but does so well that it winds up having divided loyalties.

Now, as you mentioned, there's been a huge amount of anticipation for this movie. One, because of the budget, as you mentioned in the toss. Two, because of the director, James Cameron, who's also directed "Aliens," "Terminator," "Terminator 2," and, of course, "Titanic." And third, because of the technology involved. They actually had to create a new kind of camera just to be able to bring Cameron's vision to life.

So a huge amount of anticipation around this movie. But a fair number of risks, too, when you're talking about a movie that costs this much money to make, Max.

FOSTER: That's right. The producers have spent something like $200 million, haven't they, on this one movie?

So what sort of assurances, apart from the reputation of the director, have they got that they're going to get their money back?

NEILL: Well, essentially, there -- there are no assurances. It's -- it's a huge risk. But, as I say, they are cutting their risk to a certain degree by their -- by going with James Cameron. If you're going to make a big budget movie like this, this is the director you want to go with. Remember, "Titanic" had a very big budget, as well. It wound up bringing in $1.8 million of worldwide box office.

So they've cut their risk to some degree there. But there is still some other risk factors. You're -- you're talking about two lead characters who are not big stars in their own right, which was not the case with "Titanic," where you had Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. This time, you've got some relative unknowns in Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana.

But Cameron is very confident. We -- we spoke to him just a little while ago and I can tell you, the man seemed to have no nerves whatsoever in his face, very anxious to -- to -- so that the fans could finally get a look at his creation.

FOSTER: Yes. And he's calmed down a bit now, because everyone is in there watching the movie.

But what was it like before they went in?

Lots of glamour?

NEILL: Oh, absolutely. And plenty of drama. There were -- there were all kinds of fans around here. We had great big displays. As you can see, all of that changes very rapidly as the focus now becomes what -- what are we looking at?

What is this movie like?

Who will it bring in?

How will it do in its premier, in its operating weekend?

And, as Cameron himself pointed out, in the weeks ahead, because it's not just that first weekend, but it's the weeks that follow that -- that can make or break one of these big -- big budget Hollywood films.

FOSTER: OK, Morgan, thank you so much for joining us from the blue carpet.

Good stuff.

We'll be back in a moment.

We're going to check on the market numbers for you. We'll see what they've been doing in the last half hour or so.

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FOSTER: Let's have a quick look at the U.S. stock markets now and see how they're faring this session, because stocks have been rallying. They were rallying yesterday, as well. The weak dollar continuing to help a lot of those companies.

And, as you can see, up 3/4 of 1 percent. So more good news.

We've had some good trade figures today.

Mixed labor market figures.

But we also had some very strong housing figures, according to some. Foreclosures are down and investors are pretty much reassured about the state of the recovery right now. They all change from day to day, of course.

Here in Europe, all the main stock markets were also up. This after a three day losing streak. Banks across the region leading the way, really. The Paris CAC 40 was the day's winner, as you can see.

Here in London, the big news was about interest rates. It's not whether they moved at all, but the news was that they didn't move. Still down at that record low, .5 percent. Also, the Bank of England deciding it doesn't need to chuck more cash at the problem. A quantitative easing -- eased for now.

In the Gulf Region, another one we're watching, Dubai's main stock market index soared by 7 percent, and that's why we're watching it. That was its biggest one day gain since February. Umar Properties soared 15 percent -- the maximum it can go up in a day, after it said it was canceling a merger with Dubai Holdings. And Abu Dhabi, the main market there closed up nearly 1 percent -- 1.5 percent, actually. So good news for the Gulf Region.

This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

I'm Max Foster in London.

Christiane Amanpour is up next after the headlines from the I Desk.

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