Return to Transcripts main page

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

US Adds 170,000 Jobs in October; Jobs and the Presidential Election; US Jobs Report; Salvaging the Subway; Many Say New York Should Postpone Marathon; Euro, Pound Down; American Quest: Brigham Young Students Weigh in on Alum Romney; Gas Shortages Persist

Aired November 2, 2012 - 15:00   ET

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


RICHARD QUEST, HOST: Has President Obama created enough jobs to keep his own job in the White House?

Motorists fume over fuel shortages in New York. We are one in the gas line outside the city.

And my American Quest takes me to Utah's so-called Mormon University, the alma mater of Mitt Romney.

I'm Richard Quest. It may be Friday, but of course I mean business.

Good evening. The US economy gained 171,000 jobs last month, almost 50,000 more than expected. It's the last employment report before the presidential election, and you can be in no doubt that the voters are watching.

The unemployment rate for October rose from 7.8 -- 7.8 -- to 7.9 percent. Now, that's not a contradiction. It's because more people joined the overall US workforce and began looking for a job.

And if you look at the way in which they actually did raise, we now have a complete picture of the unemployment rate under President Obama. It has gone full circle. The current rate of 7.9 percent is just a fraction above when he took office in 2009.

The president on the campaign trail in Ohio. It's a key state for the car manufacturing industry. He used that to his advantage. He does like his jogs as he goes to the microphone. He used it to his advantage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: GM said, "We think creating jobs in the United States should be source of bipartisan pride, and I couldn't agree more..

(CROWD CHEERS)

OBAMA: And I understand that Governor Romney's had a tough time here in Ohio because he was against saving the auto industry, and it's hard to run away from that position when you're on videotape saying the words, "Let Detroit go bankrupt."

(CROWD CHEERS)

OBAMA: And I know we're close to an election, but this isn't a game. These are people's jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: President Obama. Mitt Romney's also on the offensive, as you might expect. This time, he's in Wisconsin and says that jobs numbers are a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill. At a rally in West Allis, he said the jobs market is worse now than when the president took office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), US PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said he was going to focus on creating jobs. Instead, he focused on Obamacare, which killed jobs.

(CROWD BOOS)

ROMNEY: He said he was going to cut the federal deficit in half, and then he doubled it. He said he was going to lower the unemployment rate, down to 5.2 percent right now. Today, we learned that it's actually 7.9 percent, and that's 9 million jobs short of what he promised.

Unemployment is higher today than when Barack Obama took office. Think of that. Unemployment today is higher than on the day Barack Obama took office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Think about it. Diane Swonk, the chief economist for Mesirow Financial, joins me now from Chicago. Think about it, Diane. Unemployment now today is higher than when Barack Obama took office. Is it a fair point?

DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MESIROW FINANCIAL: Not statistically significantly different, actually --

QUEST: Fine.

SWONK: -- than when he took office, so -- it's two-tenths of 90 percent common and I know that's a little wonky, but that means 7.9 is not really different than 7.7 or 8.1, so --

QUEST: All right. So, we get --

SWONK: -- I guess you can -- you can pick which side you want to play.

QUEST: All right. Let's get out of -- let's deal with the economics first, and then we'll deal with the politics. On the economic front, the trend is there, isn't it? There may be blips in the road, but the trend is clear of lowering unemployment in the United States.

SWONK: It's sort of been a very slow erosion. And, in fact, it did slow down and stall out. The unemployment rate sort of stalled out above 8 percent for a while this year, and is now finally coming down again. That's the good news.

And as you mentioned earlier in the program, the reason that it actually ticked up was because there was some hope out there, which has shown up in the consumer sentiment and consumer confidence surveys, that people feel better about the job market, and they're willing to throw their hat in the ring and actually look, because they think they can get a job now.

And that's what you tend to expect when the job market is improving. And this sort of validates some other indicators on consumer attitudes and surveys out there that showed you can't pull the wool over Americans' face. They know -- conditions are getting better, just not rapidly.

QUEST: And that's the question. So, it begs the question -- we'll get to the politics in a second -- why is it so slow? The number of new jobs at 171,000 is not enough to make a long-term dent in the overall unemployment rate.

And you're right, more people are coming back into the market, which is why we get an uptick. But why is it so slow?

SWONK: Well, in the wake of the financial crisis, you're feeling the aftershocks of it. In Europe, it's all over the place, the aftershocks. You need capital to have capitalism, and we eliminated much of our capital market during the financial crisis.

And when you don't have any -- not only not any leverage to respond to lower interest rates when they fall, the housing market being the most interest-rate sensitive market out there. Of course, it couldn't respond because it was over-levered and part of the crisis.

We also had to deleverage for quite a while. We've now gotten back to about 2003 levels on US consumers for deleveraging, and the real issue now is, we're in this sort of slow growth and hesitation cycle, which couldn't be worse, because of a high level uncertainty --

QUEST: OK.

SWONK: -- mostly emulating out of Washington.

QUEST: Let's move to the politics, and I'll tread on thin -- thin ice, here, because obviously I know you don't particularly want to get --

SWONK: I'm wearing purple.

(LAUGHTER)

QUEST: I know, you --

SWONK: That's red and blue together. I bruise.

QUEST: You don't want to get well and truly enmeshed in it, but put an independent hat on, if you'll be as kind for me. Does today's unemployment data help one or hinder the other more than the other?

SWONK: It's not clear that it helps or hurts either one of them. It really is something we already saw in the improved confidence data. And so, if you just want to look at it in a trend of improvement, it was going in favor of the president in terms of improved confidence and people saying the jobs market was better than we were reporting.

And sure enough, we saw that in today's data, and we saw it in revisions to a couple of months back, as well.

On the other side of it, the confidence numbers, everything's relative. They're still low compared to earlier in the cycle -- earlier in the decade, and I think that's important, too. And so, it gets you to that sort of -- yes. There's something for everybody out there, the blue and the red, and --

QUEST: Oh, you missed your --

SWONK: -- those of us in the middle.

QUEST: You missed your call this morning. You should have been a diplomat.

SWONK: I'm a diplomat.

QUEST: I was about to say --

(LAUGHTER)

QUEST: You took the words right out -- finally, on a very serious note, EM -- the GDP effect of the storm and the weather, I've seen anywhere from a half to three quarters -- some say quarter percent off GDP. Now, I now there's a bounce back and pent-up demand bounce back that tends to happen. Have you got any numbers yet that you've worked on what you think it's going to be?

SWONK: Yes, actually, the only time we had an actual disaster like this of a magnitude that we didn't get a stimulus -- a perverse stimulus to the US economy because of the government funds and the drain in wealth from insurance and people doing repairs and having to do them quite immediately was Hurricane Katrina, where people literally left the area and businesses closed down for good.

We are not going to -- I'm not expecting that of New York, of course, and we have seen the emergency funds are coming in very rapidly. They've got to get things up and going for the election next week, let alone other issues that are very critical and important.

So, I think we're going to actually add on growth, when all is said and done, because it happened so early in the quarter. We're going to be adding a couple tons to growth in the fourth quarter.

And in the first quarter, it's going to come out -- the housing prices going up now instead of going down. Many of those repairs are already becoming remodeling, and so you add repairs to renovations, and you get, I think, a bigger effect --

QUEST: Got it.

SWONK: -- than many people are expecting from it.

QUEST: Have a good election day, and we'll talk to you --

SWONK: Thank you.

QUEST: -- we'll interpret the results. Diane Swonk joining me from Chicago. Always lovely to have on the program.

Now, the jobs figures giving the stock markets -- it was an initial boost, which very quickly evaporated. Now, we're 110 points, nearly 1 percent on the Dow Jones.

Coming up in a moment, the latest on the recovery efforts, the restoration. We'll find out why these people have to wait for four hours for basic supplies. We tour the subway to see the extent of the damage underground. It's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS on a Friday, good evening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: There were still massive traffic jams across New York City while, underfoot, efforts to drain the flooded subway continues. More than half the lines have reopened in some shape, form, or description. It is a partial service at best.

As for the rest, you don't need to be an engineer to work out it could take weeks to pump them dry. Our correspondent Jason Carroll has been and seen the damage firsthand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What is it exactly that you'll be doing down here? Because this isn't an area clearly where you're working now. I mean, it's --

FRANK JEZYCKI, CHIEF INFRASTRUCTURE OFFICER, MTA: Well, the station complex itself will require a significant rehabilitation due to the damage from the storm, the infrastructure. The electrical systems, the fare collection systems, the lighting systems, the stairways, the ventilation systems, the elevators, the escalators. They're all pretty much ruined from the water damage from the surge damage.

Just follow my same footsteps.

Believe it or not, these timbers washed in from the ocean or the bay, wherever they came from.

CARROLL: This bit right here, this timber right here?

JEZYCKI: All this, absolutely.

CARROLL: So, this washed in from -- ?

JEZYCKI: All of this debris that you see washed in from the tidal surge.

CARROLL: It's incredible to think that this was a subway station. It doesn't look anything like a subway station now.

JEZYCKI: One of our newest subway stations.

CARROLL: So were you able to -- obviously, you were able to pump out a lot of the water from this spot where we are right now. Because it's dry.

JEZYCKI: It's dry to this level, but we'll take a quick look over there at the stairway that goes down to the 109 terminal station, and you'll see -- you'll see the level of water, where it stands today.

CARROLL: This water her, this is -- this is toxic, correct?

JEZYCKI: That I could not tell you, if it was toxic in any sense.

CARROLL: It certainly looks --

JEZYCKI: It's seawater for the most part.

CARROLL: OK.

JEZYCKI: The bay rose over the seawall and flooded the station.

CARROLL: But at one point, the water was up where we're standing here --

JEZYCKI: Right.

CARROLL: Because you can tell where the steps are rusted.

JEZYCKI: Yes, at this very level, the water -- it's about -- we've pumped down about 15 feet so far.

CARROLL: So, you've pumped 15 feet out -- 15 feet you've already pumped?

JEZYCKI: Pumped.

CARROLL: Wow, OK. And a lot more to go, to 25 feet down --

JEZYCKI: Right.

CARROLL: -- of water, additional water --

JEZYCKI: Additional water still lies in place.

CARROLL: When do you think this particular subway station will be up and fully running again?

JEZYCKI: I couldn't tell you. I really couldn't tell you. I don't have the skills or expertise to really estimate it.

CARROLL: If you had to guess?

JEZYCKI: I would say months.

CARROLL: Months?

JEZYCKIS: Months.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: Those pictures and that story puts it into perspective. As the storm recovery continues, runners from around the world are arriving in New York for the marathon. It's the largest in the world, and its set place to take place this Sunday.

With city resources strapped and residents still suffering, many are asking if the marathon should have been postponed or even canceled? The mayor says it's important for the race to be run.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: As Rudy Giuliani said to me this morning, he said, "Right after 9/11, people said exactly the same thing. New York has to show that we are here and that we are going to recover and that we can, while we help people, still help companies that need the business, still generate a tax base, so we have the resources to help people."

And we give people something to cheer about in what's been a very dismal week for a lot of people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: That's the mayor of New York. Something to cheer about in what's been a dismal week.

Now, within the past few hours, one of the most powerful officials in New York City government, the city controller, has put out this statement. He says, "Recovery efforts must come before the marathon, and it's time to reevaluate whether the resources needed can really be spared."

So, maybe the collective bonhomie or will has sort of, perhaps, splintering somewhat, there. We'll follow that one. The marathon at the moment is still planned to take place. It is on Sunday. So, to tonight's --

(RINGS BELL)

QUEST: -- Currency Conundrum. Later in the program, I visit Utah as part of my American Quest. The Utah state quarter features two trains. What do they represent? Those are the two trains. What do they represent?

As to the numbers themselves, the euro and the pound are both down against the greenback after those better-than-expected job numbers. The Japanese yen is up. Those are the rates --

(RINGS BELL)

QUEST: -- and this is the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Just before the break, I asked on the Currency Conundrum, what do the trains featured on the Utah state quarter represent. The answer: the joining of the rails ceremony. Two steam locomotives met in Utah. It was 1869. where a golden spike was used to join the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads. It marked the beginning of the transcontinental rail travel in America.

Transcontinental railways, of course, from one side to the other. And today, on my American Quest, we've taken the Amtrak California Zephyr, and we are in Romney country. Well, Provo in Utah.

Voters in Utah are expected to overwhelmingly back the Republican candidate. Not surprising, he went to college there at Brigham Young University, and in that state and in that college, Mormon way of life is central.

So, I went to find out how the current round of students view their famous alumnus, and it's fair to say, it wasn't quite what I expected.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST (voice-over): Across the landscape of America, the Rocky Mountains are amongst the crown jewels. Majestic, eye-watering. This is what we've been waiting to see.

QUEST (on camera): It's the journey through the Colorado canyons that makes this train trip so special.

QUEST (voice-over): Enough sightseeing. On to our next stop: Provo in Utah.

(CHURCH BELLS RING)

QUEST: The Y on the hill is the landmark identifying BYU, Brigham Young University, often known as the Mormon college. This school is sponsored by the Church of Latter Day Saints.

This is Mitt Romney's alma mater. Romney is a devout Mormon and graduated from BYU in 1971.

QUEST (on camera): Are you likely to be influenced by the fact that the governor, Governor Romney, is of the same church?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

QUEST: In what way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I identify with him more because I know what background he comes from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would be, because I do believe that someone has to be committed to something, whether it be a faith, whether it be a belief in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's cool that he's Mormon, but it's not going to influence my vote at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reason I support Mitt Romney has nothing to do with him being LDS. I believe that he stands for great values.

QUEST: Most of the students I've spoken to say they won't vote for Mitt Romney just because he's a Mormon. They want someone who shares their conservative values, which is perhaps circular, because Mitt Romney has those conservative values because he's s Mormon.

QUEST (voice-over): Whoever the Republican nominee is, Democrats at BYU are always outnumbered.

QUEST (on camera): You must be feeling a bit lonely.

BEN ADER, CO-PRESIDENT, BUY COLLEGE DEMOCRATS: Why is that?

QUEST: College Democrats at BYU.

ADER: Yes, I don't necessarily feel very lonely. There's actually quite a few students who are supportive of the president.

QUEST (voice-over): Ben Ader is the president of College Democrats.

QUEST (on camera): And you don't find yourself in conflict with your religion on this?

ADER: No. I find my religion very conducive to Democratic ideals, personally.

QUEST (voice-over): When it comes to politics, he has no problem opposing a fellow Mormon.

QUEST (on camera): Are you proud that a member of the church is running for president of the United States?

ADER: Not this member of the church. Personally, I don't feel proud that because of who he stands for politically, I am not proud that he's our first major Mormon political candidate.

QUEST (voice-over): Whatever the political colors, at this university, all students must sign the honor code, pledging no alcohol, caffeine, or premarital sex. There's also a dress code and grooming standards. It all fits into their view of politics.

KELLY PATTERSON, PROFESSOR, BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY: They want to make sure that the person who's going into the White House believes -- and they don't care so much about what the person believes, so long as the person has a faith and that faith inspires them and makes it possible for them to relate to your average person, who also has a faith, and yet doesn't impose that faith on the rest of the United States.

QUEST: Governor Romney will carry Utah, and I have a better understanding of the conservative values driving much of America.

And so, we say good-bye to Provo in Utah and the Mormons. It's late evening, now, and I'm awaiting the arrival of the California Zephyr. It'll take 18 hours to our final destination.

(TRAIN WHISTLE)

QUEST: San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: We'll have that report, of course, on Monday, and over the weekend, you can see the full selection of the American Quest.

Thousands of gas stations in New York are still out of action more than three days after the storm hit. In some areas, only a third of the gas stations are working. In New York and neighboring New Jersey, long queues of cars and people on foot with cans.

The supply problem is down to a lack of power at the refineries and at the stations themselves. So, we decided to find out a little more about it. Susan Candiotti we sent from CNN New York at Columbus Circle. When she left there, she drove out --

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.

QUEST: And we went out across to New Jersey to a gas station in Hasbrouck Heights to find out more. Now, Susan, what have you discovered?

CANDIOTTI: Well, first of all, I discovered it's not easy to find a gas station that's open, and number two, a gas station that has gasoline, Richard, as you can imagine. Well, we finally found this one. They started pumping gas early this morning when the sun came up. And then about 20 minutes ago, they ran out.

QUEST: Hang on.

CANDIOTT: But --

QUEST: Hang on. You --

CANDIOTTI: -- before they did that, we got in line --

QUEST: Right.

CANDIOTTI: We --

QUEST: You were in line.

CANDIOTTI: We got in line because we heard that people -- we were in line, because we heard people were waiting four hours before they got to the front of the line. We got in line, and about a half hour into our wait -- I didn't even have time to get bored -- we got word that they had run out.

And word just sort of filters back. All of the sudden, the line started surging forward and we got up here -- there were two long lines. People who had gas cans were allowed to still stick around, just a few stragglers left, they've almost taken care of them, but the people who were driving were told sorry.

So, what happens next, Richard? They go on their new quest to find another gas station that has some petrol. And you could be driving for miles and miles. We talked to some people said they passed 25 stations still looking for more. You just never know when you're going to find it.

QUEST: OK. Now, this is actually much more serious and difficult than it sounds, because as you wait --

CANDIOTTI: Yes.

QUEST: -- and as you try to find the next gas station, you are using up --

(RINGS BELL)

QUEST: -- yes, you're using up gas. Inevitably, you're going to --

CANDIOTTI: Yes, you are.

QUEST: -- come to grief.

CANDIOTTI: Exactly. And the other issue is that it, of course, is very serious because we are in one of the hardest-hit areas that has no power. These homes -- it's not just they need it to drive around. They need this for generators to try to stay warm.

It has really gotten chilly over the past few days, and these are people who have nothing if they don't have those generators, trying to get by with flashlights and blankets and trying to stay warm.

QUEST: All right.

CANDIOTTI: Now, this young lady, Sigourney, here, Richard if I may quickly --

QUEST: Please, please.

CANDIOTTI: You were one of the last that was able to fill up your gas can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

CANDIOTTI: Sigourney, how long were you waiting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were waiting in line for about two hours, and then the car ran out of gas waiting in line, so I had to get in the car with some random person and get a ride here.

CANDIOTTI: People really helping each other out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, some random guy just drove me here. I was about two miles down from here.

CANDIOTTI: And how much were you able to get?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two and a half gallons only.

CANDIOTTI: That's all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

CANDIOTTI: Two and a half -- two and a half gallons, Richard. That's not going to get you very far. What are you trying to get the gas for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to get home. And then just wait for this to blow over.

CANDIOTTI: Are you -- how long do you think this will go on? How do you keep going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just staying inside, trying to keep warm. We just got power back yesterday. It was pretty rough, the storm and stuff, so --

CANDIOTTI: Good for you. Listen, we wish you well, we wish your neighbors well. At least Sigourney got her power back so that, of course, will help, Richard. There's no telling -- thank you. There's no telling what -- how long it will take, of course, to get more fuel coming in more quickly.

QUEST: All right. Excellent reporting, there. Susan Candiotti bringing us the real feeling of what is happening at the gas stations in and around New York following Sandy. Thank you, Susan.

Coming up next after the break and headlines, the crisis outside the capital city. Resignation is replacing protest in rural Italy. It is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS at the end of the week.

(RINGS BELL)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. There is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment. But this is CNN and, on this network, the news always comes first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST (voice-over): The story we're following from the Philippines, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake has hit the island of Mindanao in the south of the country. There are no reports of damage or deaths at this point. The USGA (ph) says the quake's epicenter is roughly 800 kilometers from Manila and fairly deep underground.

The U.S. economy gained 171,000 jobs last month, almost 50,000 more than expected. The unemployment rate rose from 7.8 to 7.9 percent. That was because more people actually joined looking the search for work. That rate is now almost exactly as where it was when President Obama took office in 2009.

There are frustrations over long fuel lines that are boiling over in parts of the U.S. hit by superstorm Sandy. Some stations actually have gas but no electricity for pumps or for taking payments. Some places are rationing fuel, even for the police. Officers have been called to several stations around New York where tempers have become frayed.

A warplane dropped what appears to be a bomb on a Damascus suburb. The opposition's also reporting regime air raids in Idlib and Homs. Activists say violence across the country has killed nearly 133 people today, and that includes 42 in and around Damascus.

Uganda is threatening to pull its peacekeeping troops out of Somalia after the United Nations accused Uganda of backing the Congolese rebels. It also says it could abandon peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: To our top story in the last U.S. jobs report before the presidential election, the numbers tell one story, 171,000 new jobs added last months. This figure could make all the difference to Tuesday's vote.

Normally, of course, on this program, we are far more concerned with the economics and what it means in our nightly digest and discussions we look at that. But at time of the year, we need CNN's chief U.S. correspondent, John King, who's in Ohio.

John, we need to look at the politics. How does it play out when both men claim the same numbers are to their advantage

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Well, Richard, as you know, the two candidates are focusing on a different part of the report. If you're the President of the United States, Barack Obama, you're saying more than 170,000 jobs last month; he's now a net jobs producer as President of the United States after bleeding so many jobs in his early days in office because of the recession he inherited.

So he's focusing on that number and he's saying that's a more robust number than we've had for months, and it's proof the president would say that the recovery is finally gaining steam and the job creation in the United States will pick up.

Governor Romney says look at the rate; it's 7.9 percent. This administration promised it would be down somewhere around 5 percent right now. And he's trying to say that essentially Barack Obama came for the presidency with unemployment just about 8 percent; now he's facing some voters asking for a second term with unemployment in the same spot.

So the president says things are getting better; Governor Romney says things haven't change. And the American people decide on Tuesday who gets the next four year.

QUEST: Are we seeing any evidence yet of an effect for one candidate or other -- I am outside the tri-state area that was immediately affected as a result of the handling of Sandy. In the battleground states is there any evidence -- I've heard you say that, you know, it's all about jobs and the economy.

Has Sandy played in at all?

KING: I think Sandy has played into a minor degree and it's such a close election a minor degree could make a difference. How has it played in? You've had Governor Romney had to suspend campaign events in the impacted states of Virginia, of New Hampshire, for example. He's now going back to those states.

But the President of the United States is on the national airwaves, not in a political way overtly, but he's with the Republican governor of New Jersey, who's saying, Mr. President, thank you; you did a great job in helping us.

So from a leadership standpoint, it helps the president. As the incumbent president, his record, especially that slow economy we just talked about, is a downside for an incumbent. But at right before the election, to be the leader at a time of crisis and for the federal government to get for the most part positive grade.

There are gas lines, you've mentioned; there are some problems in Staten Island area of New York. But for the most part, positive grades. It helps the president. So if you look at the national tracing polls, and it's most important not to pay too much attention to those, because we pick a president state by state.

But the president was a point behind Governor Romney a week or two ago. Now he's a point ahead. There's a small piece of evidence, I think, that being the dominant figure in the middle of a crisis helps any incumbent.

QUEST: I was talking to Hala Gorani earlier about -- we were going to have an office sweepstake about what time we might call this election or the networks will call it on Tuesday night, Wednesday morning. I'm guessing not -- you wouldn't want to join that sweepstake. It's going to be far too close.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I think it will be too close to call it early, but I will tell you this: we will get very good clue early on. The state of Virginia on the East Coast, Governor Romney needs it. The suburbs close in to Washington count pretty quickly.

We'll get a pretty good sense early on whether he will be able to sustain a potential Romney presidency as we move into the Central time zone. So I'm here in Ohio for a reason. This state also closes early, 7:30 pm in the East Coast. If Governor Romney's competitive here, we might be up late. If he's not, we might not be able to call it, but we'll be able to see it, Richard.

QUEST: John King, good to have you.

John King is in Ohio.

To Italy, where the jobless rate hit a record high of 10.8 percent, more than 2.7 million people are out of work. In some parts of the country, it is much worse than that.

Our correspondent in Italy is Ben Wedeman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the workers take to the streets of Rome, it's a noisy, colorful affair with banners and music, the chants full of derision for the bosses or, as they call them, "thieves and hustlers."

"We want work," says this unemployed factory worker from outside Naples. "We want the economy to be revived. They should tax capital in the bourgeoisie, not impose cuts on the poor."

But away from the capital in Caserta, outside Naples, resignation has taken the place of protest.

The economic crisis here in not new.

As these former workers explain, it began the 6th of July, 2006, when their high-tech factory suddenly folded. It's a complicated tale of businesses moving offshore, vanishing investors and Byzantine local and national politics, all combining to take this once promising project to ruin.

Most of the thousand people who once worked here remain unemployed. And after six years, their benefits have all but dried up.

"I have three children to feed and send to school," says Tartaglione Michele, "plus a mortgage to pay."

His ex-colleague, Arcangelo Roseto, insists, "We want to move ahead with our families in dignity. We don't want to be helped; we want work, honest work."

On the outskirts of Caserta, another factory among many lies idle. Before going bankrupt, it produced domestic appliances and employed 300 workers, including Clemente Cibbelle. Today, he's all but given up hope for work in this area.

"Here, there are only companies that are closing," he says. "You don't hear anything about new investors or new investments -- zero."

Southern Italians have always been worse off than their compatriots in the more industrialized north, where unemployment rates are about half of those in the south.

"Unfortunately," says 30-year-old Alessandro Borrelli, now unemployed, "to work, you have to move. There's no work. There are no serious investors here, so you have to go north."

With so many factory gates closed or closing, that may be the only direction left to go -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Caserta, Southern Italy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: The weather forecast now, Jenny Harrison's at the World Weather Center.

Good evening.

JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good evening to you, Richard. I'm going to start out with a rather cold winter weather that's working its way into the northeast of the United States. Still (inaudible) Sandy, it is moving up to the north.

But look at this the last few hours a lot of low cloud and also one or two just sort of passing showers and of course a little bit of sleet and snow in there as well. But the system continued to push into eastern Canada, rain along these coastal areas and on the back, colder side of this system, we will be seeing some snow.

And that snow will work its way southwards, too, across into the Great Lakes. Now the main story really as we go through the weekend, particularly thinking about the runners in the New York Marathon, of course, coming up on Sunday morning, but also for all those people still dealing with everything they are dealing with, we've got some very cold air in place.

The jet stream is moving further south (inaudible) allowing that cold air to filter in. Meanwhile to the west is actually a little bit above average. But look at what it does to the temperatures over the next few days.

New York City, so Saturday and Sunday, 8-9 degrees Celsius. The average is 15 this time of year and the not lows, just literally, hovering close to freezing. So about 7 degrees below the average; Philadelphia similarly cold with that cold air coming down from eastern Canada. And of course, for the New York Marathon, what it means is that it should actually be mostly dry.

Some good sunshine, too, as the day gets going under those clear skies and the overnight hours, but very cold. So to start the morning, temperatures just literally hovering above freezing and a cold wind as well. So really feeling colder than those temperatures.

Now when it comes to weather conditions in Europe, well, dry is not a word you'd use for the northwest of Europe. Look at this. There's a very large area of low pressure, just sort of sitting and (inaudible) off to the north of the U.K. and that is spreading some pretty gusty winds, but also scattered showers across much of the north and the west.

Some nice weather conditions now finally in the central and eastern Med, but this is a picture the last 12 hours across much of the west and scattered showers, some heavier styles (ph) of rain. This is the wind forecast, very strong, gusty winds pushing into west-facing coasts as we go through the weekend.

But the good news that by certainly by Sunday, it starts out cold this weekend, but it does actually get a bit milder. The rain, of course, continuing to speed in some heavier styles (ph) pushing into the southwest. But look at the temperatures, 10 in London, the best place 25 degrees in Athens, Richard, and there's some very nice sunny skies.

QUEST: Thank you, Jenny.

Jenny Harrison at the World Weather Center.

And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest. Thank you for joining us for our daily discussion on business and economics. And as always, whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. (Inaudible).

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: You're watching MARKETPLACE AFRICA. I'm Robyn Curnow in a rather windy Cape Town and we're here because of the Africa Oil Week conference.

All the big players are here: BP, (inaudible), Chevron, (inaudible) from around the world discussing, amongst other things, those big oil and gas discoveries in East Africa. And as Errol Barnett now reports, Malawi's looking to join its (inaudible) neighbors in the search for black gold.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERROL BARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Water has been lapping this shore for centuries, supporting a fragile and special ecosystem as well as Malawi's people. But the role this lake plays in the country's economic fortunes could be far greater if oil is discovered here.

KEITH ROBINSON: Surestream Petroleum have two blocks, here and here. There is a part of the lake to the south that isn't yet to be licensed.

BARNETT (voice-over): Keith Robinson works for the British oil company that's been awarded the only oil exploration contract.

ROBINSON: This area has a very high potential in the order of billions of barrels of recoverable oil. How significant is that? In a country the size of Malawi, it's not a big country; it does not have a large GDP. The income that could be generated for Malawi finally would be very, very significant. We think it could be a serious game-changer for this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): How do you find oil when you've almost 2,000 cubic miles of water?

BARNETT (voice-over): Since the contract was won a year ago, shale stream (ph) petroleum has been conducting an environmental survey to establish what impact drilling in this freshwater lake could have. The findings will be published soon.

ROBINSON: Once the environment work is all understood and it's agreed and accepted, we will then go to the lake and start the oil exploration process in earnest.

BARNETT (voice-over): But the prospect of drilling alone is a cause for concern for some of the people who rely on the lake for their livelihoods.

Michael Kanjira has been fishing here since he was 10.

BARNETT: What do you and the other fishermen think about the possibility of oil being in the lake? Is it the thing that you're all talking about the most right now?

MICHAEL KANJIRA, FISHERMAN: Yes, it is. It is the thing that we are talking about it, for us, the fishermen.

We are concerned because we don't know what is going to happen at our lake and we don't know -- maybe we are going to continue fishing when they're doing this project. It will be a big misplus (ph) because we've been on that, our children; they're going to school through this money that we get from fishing.

BARNETT (voice-over): Michael says he's one of more than 200 fishermen living in this community. Fish buyers travel here from the cities to purchase the latest catch. The fish in the lake are one of those that made its national park a UNESCO World Heritage site and a truly unique ecosystem.

MAX NGOCHERA, MARINE BIOLOGIST: It's one of the lakes with the most abandoned fish spaces (ph) in the world, so it's very unique. It's very clear, you know, it's not polluted yet. So it's very unique, you know, in that sense.

BARNETT (voice-over): Max Ngochera is a marine biologist. He says that if this lake gets polluted, it could be tragic. He says it would take up to 700 years for pollution to naturally drain out because there's only one river outlet.

BARNETT: What would happen if there was a mass polluting event?

NGOCHERA: Well, it'll be -- it'll be disastrous, you know. The polluters and oil disperse, it'll be a huge task, you know, to bring back (inaudible) lake to its pristine levels.

BARNETT (voice-over): But Keith Robinson says that the lake's biodiversity is not an impediment to drilling.

ROBINSON: We do have concerns and Malawians do have concerns about the future of the lake regardless of any oil exploration. But to do something is going to cost money. The oil revenue could be the source that we need. Yes, there are risks. But those risks are understood and they can be managed.

BARNETT: Lake Malawi truly is one of Africa's great lakes. Most of it sits here in Malawi; about a fourth of this lake is carved out from Mozambique. But Tanzania's portion is a matter for debate. You see a series of colonial agreements and disagreements has set the stage for dispute. And now that there could be oil in these waters, Tanzania in particular wants this matter settled once and for all.

ROBINSON: This is basically the top of the lake.

BARNETT (voice-over): The dispute over who owns these waters and its riches has now been referred to the International Court of Justice. There are reports of Malawian fishermen being intimidated and arrested by Tanzania.

BARNETT: Do you feel that this could go beyond environmental concerns?

REINFORD MWANGONDE, CITIZENS FOR JUSTICE: We don't want to see Malawi and Tanzania go to the point where they're fighting for Lake Malawi oil. And for too long, we haven't had Tanzania raising an issue of Lake Malawi is part of Tanzania. They have never said that.

So (inaudible) of that and Malawi says, no, you don't own this lake; this is our lake. Everything on the lake belongs to Malawi. When that happens, country may go to war.

BARNETT (voice-over): But Malawi's government admits that this border dispute is a source of concern, but it also says the Malawian economy needs oil to diversify away from tobacco.

BARNETT: Surestream Petroleum, though, says this could transform Malawi, help the economy surrounding the lake.

MWANGONDE: I don't think so. A lot of the people that live around the lake are (inaudible) fishermen. They have no schemes (ph) at all to wake in an oil industry.

BARNETT (voice-over): If generations to come are to rely on this lake for its food and potentially its oil, then Malawi's government faces a challenge, one of leadership and resource management, to keep this natural resource from becoming a natural disaster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: So is East Africa the new oil frontier on the continent? After the break, we speak to a CEO who believes it is.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

CURNOW: Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania have all made significant oil and gas discoveries in the past year, challenging the dominance of countries such as Algeria, Nigeria and Angola. Well, how does that change the perception of oil companies working here in Africa?

Well, for this week's "Face Time" interview, I sit down with Chris Pittman. He's the CEO of Surestream Petroleum, who recently awarded a license to prospect for oil in Lake Malawi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Is there essentially an oil rush going on in the river valley now?

CHRIS PITTMAN, CEO, SURESTREAM PETROLEUM: Ah, it's absolutely -- it's an immense oil rush. And the pressure is much harder; the timelines are shorter.

CURNOW: So pressure --

PITTMAN: Pressure on other companies coming in, which can compete, take the existing acreage, the licenses in Mozambique (inaudible) offered shortly.

CURNOW: High risk potential of a border war between Malawi and Tanzania from the work you're doing?

PITTMAN: Certainly. Yes, certainly, the resource curve seems to have come 'round for this particular occasion, you know, but soon as you find there's a possibility of natural minerals, natural resources, hydrocarbons and clearly old disputes or potential disputes are -- come to the fore again.

CURNOW: Which obviously isn't helpful for you.

PITTMAN: No, it's far from helpful. But we have to do our best and work around it and the best we can, Robyn, because Malawi is absolutely determined to push on and see if there is potential there for them to help them economically.

CURNOW: So Malawi is saying, listen, this is ours; go ahead, Surestream?

What do you -- I mean, what is your long-term game plan on this? I mean, are you -- do you want to get caught up in the middle of some sort of territorial dispute? Are you going to pull back, do you think, at some stage until this is resolved?

PITTMAN: I think what we're going to try and do is we're going to try and continue the exploration plans, because I think it's good for the country and it's economically what they need. But I think we're going to have to be sympathetic to the issues and the disputed area, particularly.

So what our suggestions are and what we're going to currently trying to work with the ministries is that we have a -- like a no-go area, which is the disputed area of which we're not in danger, none of our personnel are in danger, and there's no fear of escalating the problem anymore, but we will try our best to work within our full block 3 and half of block 2, where the border issue's a particular problem.

CURNOW: And the key in all of this, and also the huge criticism when it comes managing resources in Africa in particular is that often this money doesn't go down to the ordinary person. How do you guarantee that, particularly working in that kind of environment?

PITTMAN: Well, you don't. I mean, that's half the problem, (inaudible) the resource curse. And what we're hopeful (inaudible) particularly that --

(CROSSTALK)

PITTMAN: Give the new president, given that she has got to change now. The old president was a little bit more in the old mold of the older generation of persons in Africa where he was in for longer, had more of an autocratic nature. He tended not to listen to democratic institutions. There was less accountability.

I think Joyce Banda has amazing opportunity now to open it up to allow this to be done in a more accountable way so that there isn't the opaqueness. There's more transparency and we can avoid this spiraling inequalities which occur through oil wealth being 80 percent of often oil revenues benefit 1 percent of the population, which is a statistic which is used in Nigeria.

CURNOW: And also the big question, of the environmental damage, I mean, this really is an area under pressure, a fragile ecosystem, overfishing, pollution, the prospect of perhaps an oil spill is devastating.

PITTMAN: It would be devastating, Robyn. It would be absolutely -- and it's one of the things that the community, we felt most, when we've gone 'round in our environmental impact study with how everybody does the biggest fear.

But we have to sort of allay their fears a little bit and explain to them that, even now, in national parks in Africa, in Uganda, for instance, they're producing oil in national parks, and that it can be done in an environmentally sensitive way.

CURNOW: And if it's found -- and there are a number of surveys that are still to be released -- if it's found that this ecosystem is too fragile, will you pull back as well on that?

PITTMAN: I don't think that we're going to have a problem. I don't see, Robyn, I mean, and it's a valid question and it's difficult to answer, but we don't see any showstoppers. We're nowhere near the drilling stage. And that would need another (inaudible). At the moment, we're just working for the next 2-3 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Well, that's all for this week's show. I'm Robyn Curnow in Cape Town. Remember, you can always find us online at CNN.com/MarketplaceAfrica. See you again next week.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

END