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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Investors Are Very Optimistic About A Potential Trade Deal Between The United States And China; Lawmakers Are Focused On President Trump's Declaration Of A National Emergency To Build His Border Wall; President Trump Is Hinting That He Is Very Ready To Spice Up The Special Relationship With A Huge Boost In Transatlantic Trade With Britain As The Brexit Clock Ticks Down; French Aerospace Giant, Airbus Is Strapping Itself For More Brexit Turbulence; The Arrest Of One Of Russia's Most Prominent Foreign Investor Is Sending Shockwaves Through The Business Community There; Violent Protests Call for Haiti's President to Resign; Amazon Ditches New York, Ignites Debate Around Public Subsidies; LinkedIn Report Suggest Public Sector Brain Drain in U.S.; Nigeria Gears Up for Election Day; Venezuelans Seek Financial Safe Haven in Bitcoin; Police Responds to Active Shooter in Aurora, Illinois; Stocks Surge Amid Trade Talks and Border Wall Fight. Aired: 3-4p ET
Aired February 15, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZAIN ASHER, ANCHOR, CNN: Take a look at that. A sea of green. Dow almost up 400 points. Last hour of trading. Investors seem to be very optimistic
about a potential trade deal between the United States and China.
My friends, this is what is moving the market on Friday, the 15th of February. Emergency on the border, no fears on Wall Street. Investors are
upbeat over trade talks with China. Donald Trump says the trading relationship with Britain is about to get a bit more special. And a top
U.S. investor gets detained in Moscow. I will speak to the Russian CEO who still has his back.
Hello, everyone, I'm Zain Asher, in for my colleague, Richard Quest and this is "Quest Means Business."
All right, so we have about 59 or so minutes to go in terms of trading left on Wall Street. The Dow is up 1.5% as investors look to the White House
for direction. As I mentioned, investors are very optimistic about a potential trade deal between the United States and China. Lawmakers are
focused on President Trump's declaration of a national emergency to build his border wall.
But Wall Street's attention is fixed on the same issue that has really driven the markets for the past year. I'm talking about the trade war.
President Trump says that talks with China are actually going very, very well. Negotiations are due to pick up, continue next week in Washington,
but time is really running short.
New tariffs are supposed to kick in in about two weeks from now after March 1st. So the deadline is approaching, but President Trump teased that he
could actually extend that March 1st deadline if the right conditions were met. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a possibility that I will extend the date. And if I do that, if I see that we're close to a
deal or the deal is going in the right direction, I would do that at the same tariffs that we're charging now. I would not increase the tariffs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: But the tariffs on Chinese goods aren't the only ones to watch for. The Commerce Department has until this weekend to deliver its
recommendations for tariffs on autos from Europe and elsewhere.
President Trump then has 90 days to decide whether or not to move forward. Rana Foroohar is our CNN global economic analyst. She is also a staple of
"Quest Means Business." We love having you on, Rana.
RANA FOROOHAR, GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: I love being here.
ASHER: So let's just talk about this potential trade deal between the U.S. and China. I mean, obviously, the President seemed upbeat and optimistic
and Wall Street loved what he had to say. But where do you anticipate some of the sticking points being really ironed out here?
FOROOHAR: Right, I think what we're going to see is a very surface level deal, if we do see a deal. I think it is going to be China saying, yes,
we're going to buy some more soybeans. Yes, we are going and up our purchases of certain kinds of U.S. goods and the U.S. may be backing down
from the tariffs or saying, we'll give you more time to work out the more contentious issues, which of course around intellectual property
protection, the fact that U.S. companies that go into China have to do it with joint ventures, the fact that China doesn't protect data privacy
There's a whole host of issues. I don't expect those to be resolved any time soon and that's why I think the deal that you're seeing may be a bit
of a head fake.
ASHER: So even though China technically has the most to lose from a trade war with the United States, you don't see -- I mean, obviously,
intellectual problem, I mean, everyone has said that the most difficult issue between the two countries is going to be intellectual property and
also, forcing China to open the country up to American businesses. You don't see that going away at all?
FOROOHAR: I don't think that is going to go away because if you look at everything the party has said, they have said in the China 2025 plan that
they want to be independent of western technology within the next ten years.
You see the way in which they're growing their own national champions, their own big internet companies. They are not going along with new WTO
negotiations around data privacy and cross border data transfers. They're really staking out their own claim.
Now, some critics would say, they have a surveillance capitalist state. They are watching people. People do not have privacy debates in China the
way they do in Europe and the U.S. and so, some would say this is actually a time for the U.S. and Europe to come much more closely together and say,
"This is the way we're going to do things, even if China as the second largest economy is going to go this other way, let's create this large
transatlantic alliance to give some comfort to markets."
ASHER: So speaking of comfort to markets, was it the markets that have been really forcing President Trump to at least appear to be trying to
reach a deal with China?
FOROOHAR: I like your careful wording.
ASHER: I am trying to think very carefully --
FOROOHAR: You're doing a very good job with that. I think it is the markets. And you know, privately, I know a lot of business people are
saying to him, do not slap 25% tariffs on because businesses have been able to manage. Profits have been high, share buybacks are continuing. The
markets have been able to manage so far.
FOROOHAR: Every CEO I have spoken to in really every industry has said, "If we go to 25% tariffs, that's when the rubber meets the road. That's
when you're going to see consumers having to pick up some of those costs and markets are not going to like that."
ASHER: Rana Foroohar, have a great weekend.
FOROOHAR: You, too.
ASHER: Okay, so let's turn to the border wall. We've touched on it earlier in the show. Democrats and some Republicans are already pushing
back against President Trump's declaration of a national emergency.
Congress passed bipartisan legislation to avoid another government shutdown and included money for border and security. So technically, there's not
going to be another government shutdown as there was about a month or so when we saw the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, 35 days, I
President Trump said that the money set aside for border and security is simply not nearly enough. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I got almost $1.4 billion when I wasn't supposed to get $1.00, not $1.00. "He's not going to get $1.00." Well, I got $1.4 billion. But I'm
not happy with it. On the wall they skimped. So, I did, I was successful in that sense, but I want to do it faster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Okay, so, President Trump's declaration of a national emergency gives him the power to take billions of dollars from sources like, for
example, the military budget in order to actually build the wall he has promised his base for so long. But critics warn this action lowers the bar
under which future administrations might also end up declaring a national emergency, as well. For example, on gun violence or climate change.
Before today, there are actually 31 national emergencies in effect. Almost all of them relate to terrorism, sanctions on human rights abuses and other
international issues including foreign meddling in U.S. elections.
For more, though, let's go to Jeremy Diamond who is live for us at the White House. So, Jeremy, what happened? I thought Mexico was supposed to
pay for this wall?
JEREMY DIAMOND, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, CNN: It was indeed. That was the President's promise.
ASHER: I'm not being funny, I am being serious actually.
DIAMOND: Of course, I mean, it was indeed supposed to pay for it. That was the President's promise for so long on the campaign trail and he is
insisting that he is still fulfilling that campaign promise for Mexico to pay for it. How, you might ask? He is insisting that once again that this
trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada is going to indirectly pay for this wall.
Of course, that's not exactly the case. Yes, there could be some trade benefits, economic benefits to the United States from this trade deal which
in the long run, could help fill those Treasury coffers a little bit more, but what the President is doing now is taking specific funds that were
allocated for specific functions and taking that and allocating it towards the border wall.
So any benefits that you might see from a trade deal with Mexico and Canada, those would have to be, once again, allocated towards this border
wall funding which we do not expect to be the case.
ASHER: So what are we talking about? We're talking about what? $8 billion. So how do other agencies, say agencies under the U.S. Defense
Department suffer when you have the President declaring a national emergency for something that most people, honestly, don't think is a
DIAMOND: Well, here's what we know so far is that they are going to be pulling from a few different funds. There's the Treasury asset forfeiture
fund and then within the Department of Defense, there are a couple of different pots of money they're going to pull from.
They are going to be pulling from this military construction budget and they're also going to be pulling from the Department of Defense's drug
interdiction program, but on the military construction projects, so far the White House hasn't told us which projects are going to suffer as a result.
The President, though, made the case today that he said several of his generals, unnamed generals, have supported this notion of pulling those
funds saying they would be put to better use by building this border wall.
So, we don't know yet what the specifics are of that, but, again, we do know it is military construction funds. The Department of Defense's drug
interdiction program. That's at least at DoD. The question is what programs will be hurt as a result of those funds being pulled away from
there and put towards this border wall construction.
ASHER: And you know what, as Nancy Pelosi said, Democratic Presidents can also declare national emergencies, as well. So we'll see what sort of
precedent this sets up. Jeremy Diamond, good to see you. As always, thank you for being on the show. Appreciate that.
All right, coming up, of the many news lines coming from Donald Trump's Rose Garden appearance today, here is one that you actually may have
missed. The U.S. President looks to set to make a big post-Brexit trade pledge with Britain. We will have more on that and a prominent investor is
arrested in Russia. The business community is coming to his defense. You'll hear from a close adviser from President Putin after the break.
ASHER: All right, welcome back, everybody. So President Trump is hinting that he is very ready to spice up the special relationship with a huge
boost in transatlantic trade with Britain as the Brexit clock ticks down. I believe, we have a month and a half or so to go. The U.K. badly needs to
add some big names to its list of post-E.U. trade deals.
Until today, Britain has managed to sign up Switzerland, Chile and the Faroe Islands. Now, Donald Trump said, a much bigger price is actually
getting close as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So with the U.K., we are continuing our trade and we are going to actually be increasing it very substantially as time goes by. We expect
that the U.K. will be very, very substantially increased as it relates to trade with the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Actually, I wasn't talking to myself just then. I have Antony Phillipson here. He is the British Trade Commissioner for North America
and a British Consul General in New York. So you were trying to explain this to me during the commercial break. What is the current status of the
negotiations between the U.S. and the U.K. when it comes to a trade deal because, the U.K. can't actually do anything until after Brexit.
ANTONY PHILLIPSON, BRITISH TRADE COMMISSIONER FOR NORTH AMERICA: That's right. So there are two sets of activity happening here, both are really
important to our trading relationship between the U.K. and the U.S. The first and immediate priority is there is a whole host of agreements that
we're part of with members of the E.U. that underpin our trade with the U.S. and indeed, the U.S. has traded with U.K.
As we leave the E.U., we come out of those agreements and we have to re- create them. So what we signed yesterday was a mutual recognition agreement --
ASHER: That's a framework.
PHILLIPSON: A framework and there are some quite detailed issues around conformities, but they really matter to sort of cross border trade between
the U.K. and U.S. So that was signed yesterday.
A few ago, there were two agreements signed on wines and spirits and for example, a month or so ago, we signed an aviation agreement to say that
planes can keep flying between the U.K. and U.S. and there's also been, I think, something called a covered agreement on reinsurance. They all sound
quite dry and framework -- but it's really important in terms of keeping trade flowing.
On the parallel track, a separate track that can't really take off properly until we have left the E.U. is our intent and the President and the Prime
Minister's intent to do an ambitious bilateral free trade agreement between the U.K. and U.S. to take our relationship further into the future.
ASHER: Okay, so as you know, you've been following, I'm sure, all the latest Brexit developments out of Downing Street and out of U.K.
Parliament, and so a lot of people are fearing a no-deal Brexit. The fact that the U.S. or the U.K. rather has a preliminary kind of sort of verbal
commitment from the United States, from Donald Trump, does that ease the pressure for Theresa May and, if so, by how much?
PHILLIPSON: I think, the point I would really make on this is that we have an incredibly deep and meaningful trade and economic relationship between
us now at the moment in terms of volumes of investment, jobs on both sides of the Atlantic that is sustained by this.
PHILLIPSON: And what the Prime Minister and the President have said from the very beginning, they said it together when Prime Minister visited
Donald Trump in the White House in January 2017 is that our ambition, once we have left the E.U. is to do a bilateral deal that takes really turbo
charges that relationship and takes it forward and that is what we have been preparing to do.
But we are not starting from scratch to say we already have this amazing relationship that we're building on.
ASHER: Right, but if you remember, I think it was what? Two, two and a half years ago right when the referendum was happening. President Obama
came out and said, "Listen, if the U.K. decides to leave the E.U., they will have to go to the back of the line, the back of a queue in terms of
any kind of relationship - trading relationship with the United States."
President Trump -- I am trying to put this diplomatically, but President Trump obviously doesn't have the same kind of respect for multi-national
agreements and it seems as though Prime Minister May has since been able to use that to her advantage.
PHILLIPSON: I think if we look forward and actually, if we go to the point you made, this is an important part of our Brexit agenda. One of the
reasons for leaving the E.U. is seize the opportunities of developing an independent trade policy crucially with nations like the United States.
In terms of what has been said in the past about where we are in the queue, I think I would just point to the fact that the U.S. is an incredibly
capable trade machine. It can negotiate on multiple fronts at once, but I think the positive thing and an important thing here is that the President
and the Prime Minister with the shared ambition to really do a deal, as soon as we possibly can, which we can't start negotiating until we've left
the E.U. which is why we want to get on and leave the E.U., do the withdrawal agreement, leave in a smooth and orderly way, free up the
opportunity of that, protect the border in Ireland -- these are I think, shared ambitions between the U.K. and the U.S., and that's what we're
looking to deliver.
ASHER: All right, thank you so much. Appreciate you coming on the program.
PHILLIPSON: Thank you so much.
ASHER: French aerospace giant, Airbus is strapping itself for more Brexit turbulence. The company's CEO says it is spending tens of millions of
dollars to weather whatever storm may might come, but he is still optimistic that a hard Brexit can be avoided. Here is Part 2 of Tom
Ender's conversation with our Richard Quest.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TOM ENDERS, CEO, AIRBUS: Well, I mean, we are as ready as we can be. We always said, there can be no perfect preparation for a Brexit, particularly
a hard Brexit. We have certainly upped or increased our inventory. Inventory with suppliers is increasing. That all costs quite some money,
but that would carry us for a certain while.
Richard, I mean, you know me personally. I am a helpless optimist. I'm still optimistic that the cliff can be avoided in the coming weeks and that
both sides -- Brussels and London -- will be reasonable enough to avoid at least a hard Brexit.
I think everybody understands by now, maybe my little video message has helped here that this is very, very serious for not just for Airbus, but
for the entire industry.
RICHARD QUEST, ANCHOR, CNN: Now, don't be modest, Tom. I will show you, that video puts a rocket at everybody, and suddenly from somebody like
yourself focused the attention, which I'm guessing was exactly your intention.
ENDERS: That was the intention, Richard. I think it's important that we let the industry speak out so that nobody afterward says, "Well, if you had
spoken out that clearly," then obviously, that would have brought some action from the various stakeholders in this process.
So, I think everybody is aware of the risk now and I'm sure people will be working diligently to find a solution in the time available.
QUEST: If they get over the hurdle of March the 29th and get into the interim or transitional period, that will give you chance to see what the
future looks like, will you be sort of more relaxed? It won't be you then, it will be your successor, will it be right to be more relaxed once you're
into the two-year transition?
ENDERS: Yes, absolutely. More time will help, absolutely, in preparation for the inevitable. And we will certainly be more relaxed, and then we
look into the long term. I mean, I said in this video, don't take us for granted, dear friends in Britain. And I meant it.
I mean, we obviously are not picking up our main factories in Britain and move them somewhere else; that will be uneconomical. But like other
companies, we will certainly review our investments in the future when we plan a new program, et cetera. This is where we make the big investments,
as you know.
QUEST: You are handing over Airbus in probably the best shape economically it has been in and solidly financially robust. So, if you had to grade
yourself, this is an impossible question, but I'll ask it anyway, grade yourself, Tom, as a CEO of Airbus.
ENDERS: What I'm proud of and that's really the effort of great teamwork that we've driven the integration forward in the company that we build a
much more international company with investments in China, in the U.S. and in other parts of the world.
ENDERS: Innovation, we kicked off, again, a couple years ago, particularly in the context of digitalization. We're featuring an open aviation
platform today. They are second to none in the world. That is the leading aviation platform and that's good to see. Obviously, not all we unveil,
think about our BA merger project, there is success and there is some failures. It's like in real life, Richard, right. But I have no doubt
that my successor, Guillaume Faury, a great talent and a great leader will continue to propel Airbus to new horizons and new successes.
QUEST: And you, what will you go on to?
ENDERS: Well, I will take a little rest. Hopefully, there is still enough snow in April that I can go skiing a little bit and then I will see. But,
you know, 28 years in the aerospace industry, I reached what I possibly could reach there's so many other exciting stuff to do and to find out
about in this world. I don't think I will be bored, Richard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Tom Enders there with our Richard Quest. The arrest of one of Russia's most prominent foreign investor is sending shockwaves through the
business community there, especially in Moscow. Michael Calvey is a U.S. citizen and founder of Baring Vostok Capital Partners, a court in Moscow
says Calvey was detained in connection with a large-scale fraud investigation. That is what a court in Moscow is saying.
Members of the business community are coming to Michael Calvey's defense. Kirill Dmitriev heads the Russian Direct Investment Fund. He is also a
close adviser to Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Speaking with me earlier, he said that he would absolutely, definitely, 100% vouch for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRILL A. DMITRIEV, CEO, RUSSIAN DIRECT INVESTMENT FUND: He is a very professional investor. So to us, it's a very surprising story. You know,
we have known him for the last 15 years. He made great investments in Russia. He is a highly ethical professional. So, I cannot say anything
negative about him.
And, of course, we need to wait for the results of this investigation, but he has always been a very ethical and professional person.
ASHER: So how has this particular case been a cause of concern for the business community in Moscow?
DMITRIEV: Well, I think people want to wait until it's clear what the actual charges are. It seems to be related for corporate conflict on a
bank. We will be talking to different people in the government to ensure that the case is transparent. We believe that it is very important that
Mike is treated fairly.
So, we'll see how this develops, but very important that everything is very transparent and everything is very clear.
ASHER: When you look at the timing of this, this comes just as the U.S. Congress appears to be stepping up pressure on Moscow in terms of slapping
on new sanctions on Moscow. Some people might say that there could be ulterior motive to this arrest, what do you make of that?
DMITRIEV: Well, we don't believe it's politically motivated at all. I think there are some criminal accusations, you know, but we believe Mike is
a very ethical person. I think definitely, this is not related at all to U.S. sanctions. We have been consistently saying that we believe U.S.
sanctions do not work. They are bad for Russia, but they're also bad for Europe, for the U.S. and actually, we have a number of examples.
For example, the holding of U.S. debt decreased from 47% to 40% by international players and that is the exact result that many countries, not
just Russia, is afraid that U.S. will use sanctions quite a bit and that means that people are just moving away from dollar, frankly undermining
U.S. strong position as the dollar based economy of the world long term.
ASHER: But do you anticipate this leading to possibly, if American fund managers are worried, possibly more of an outflow of capital investment
DMITRIEV: Well, frankly, U.S. is not investing so much in Russia now. Many corporates continue to operate in Russia, but as far as fund managers,
not much investment is coming from the U.S. Quite a bit is coming from China, from Asia, from other Middle Eastern countries. This case will
definitely have an impact on, you know, investment management industry and that is why we'll pay particular close attention to this case and ensure
that it is transparent and handled in a proper professional manner.
ASHER: All right, because even though you mentioned about the U.S. isn't investing that much in Russia, just in terms of foreign investors taking
their money out of the country, that has got to be a cause for concern. Finally, what do you see the impact being on Russia relations in this case?
DMITRIEV: Well, we believe that dialogue is very important for U.S-Russia relations. It's very important that business plays a role in this
dialogue. We want to have some of our U.S. partners come to St. Petersburg Economic Forum and we need to continue having discussions and I think,
everybody should be interested in improved U.S.-Russia relationship. Too much has been done to destroy them.
DMITRIEV: And we need to really start to recover them, despite all of the difficulties and all of the disagreements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: So, as we told you yesterday, Amazon is bowing out from New York City, but now the blame game begins. There is new scrutiny over other
deals with publicly funded perks with the wealthy tech giants. That story after the break.
ASHER: Hello, everyone. I'm Zain Asher. Coming up on the next half hour of "Quest Means Business," Amazon's exit from New York City has sparked an
angry reaction from some New Yorkers and get out your phones right now and go to cnn.com/join.
Nigeria is having an election this weekend by the way -- my home country. We want to hear your views. Go to cnn.com/join. We would love to hear
from you. But first though, these are the headlines on CNN this hour.
Some breaking news in the past few minutes. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed exclusively to CNN that she has been interviewed as
part of the Russia investigation. Sanders said that President Trump urged her to fully cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team.
And U.S. President Donald Trump declared national emergency today to bypass Congress and get funding for a wall along the border with Mexico. He says
it is needed to stop an invasion, his words, of drugs and criminals and gangs. But Democrats say that he's inventing a crisis and cannot be
allowed to shred the Constitution.
And a top U.S. Commander leading the fight against ISIS disagrees with Mr. Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria. General Joseph Votel spoke
exclusively to CNN's Barbara Starr. He says, Mr. Trump made the decision too soon and insists ISIS is not defeated. General Votel says he will
carry out the Commander-in-Chief's order.
And protesters in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince are calling for President Jovenel Moise's resignation. Demonstrations against him have turned into
deadly street battles as Haitians ...
ZAIN ASHER, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Capital Port-au-Prince are calling for President Jovenel Moise resignation. Demonstrations against him have
turned into deadly street battle as Haitians face off against police. The country has been in a state of crisis due to rampant inflation since July
All right, welcome back, everybody. Amazon's decision to bail on plans for a headquarters in New York City is igniting a debate about the role of
government subsidies for wealthy companies. Google announced a major expansion across the United States this week.
They're building a new billion-dollar campus right here in New York. And they're doing it without actually any incentives from the public. A deal
in Wisconsin is drawing scrutiny as well. Taiwan's Foxconn got $4 billion in incentives to build a manufacturing plant.
Donald Trump personally took the credit for that. Two years later, it's unclear when the jobs will arrive, and this is not Amazon's first
controversy, by the way. Their Seattle headquarters is also problematic for a lot of people. Seattle counselors even visited New York, warning
politicians to learn from their mistakes and consider the housing and transportation issues.
Amazon might end up bringing with it. Amy Liu is the head of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings. Amy, thank you so much for being
with us. So would you describe the multi-billion dollar package of incentives that Amazon was offered to stay in New York or to come to New
York City. Would you describe that as corporate charity, what are your thoughts?
AMY LIU, PRESIDENT, METROPOLITAN POLICY PROGRAM, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, first of all, Amazon received $3 billion from state and local leaders
for locating in New York. And that has certainly been the source of the backlash in that city. Now, economic developments subsidies for companies
to create jobs has been part of the economic development DNA n the United States since the 1980s.
But what has been so maddening for taxpayers is the size of the subsidies have grown enormously in recent years. You mentioned $4.5 billion for
Foxconn, we're talking $3 billion for Amazon, at a time when we have huge inequality in the country, there's just not a lot of public tolerance for
continuing to reward corporations with taxpayer funds when they don't need them.
ASHER: So, do you think that the incentives would have been OK, had they been absolutely 100 percent tied to -- listen, Amazon, if you want to come
to Long Island City, you've got to invest in more trains, more subway trains, you know, housing, workforce -- I mean, I know that Amazon gave lip
service to all of that.
But a real commitment, if they had given a real commitment to those things, do you think it would have been different?
LIU: Well, I think all of us would love to see really good, corporate citizenship in our communities, and we do see examples of that. But I
think in this particular situation, I would actually put a little bit of the responsibility on the state and local leaders themselves.
Because look at Virginia, which is the other site of Amazon's other headquarters. They put forward an incentive package that was only $500
million for the 25,000 jobs. And instead, the state and the city invested and created or at least approved $1 billion to go towards tech talent
pipeline for multi-mortar infrastructure investments.
Basically, the state said we're going to give Amazon very little direct reward, meanwhile, we're going to match that with major investments in our
community. And that is actually the right way that public officials should actually position these kinds of opportunities.
ASHER: You know what, Amy, some people say, and I spoke to a U.S. Congressman yesterday on the show. And he was basically saying that, you
know, there could be an element of U.S. politicians or local politicians in New York pandering to local politics, because he felt -- I'm using his
words, that what Amazon was bringing to the city in exchange for that $3 billion in incentives was far greater than what the city was losing.
So, for example, everyone has talked about the 25,000 jobs, but also the amount of revenue that would or economic activity that would have been
generated, in their view, would have been far greater than $3 billion. So, some people say this was just politicians trying to pander to local
politics. I mean, is there an element of that, that you might be able to agree with?
LIU: Well, there's definitely a contingent of constituents in New York that are very disappointed that a very small, vocal, minority, basically
killed this deal. And this is black and Hispanic residents in the surrounding neighborhoods were really supportive of Amazon coming because,
you're right, it will create 25,000 jobs.
[15:35:00] But those 25,000 jobs will create more jobs in restaurants and local industries where they could be hired. A public housing resident
community nearby very disappointed at the loss of job opportunities. A community college community of students and faculty also was looking
forward to the opportunity to partner with the Amazon.
All those opportunities are gone are gone --
ASHER: So --
LIU: As a result of this action --
ASHER: So Amy, would you say other massive corporations -- I'm just trying to think what the lesson is here, and would you say the lesson was --
listen, if you are a local politician, a state governor and you are inviting a massive corporation to your city, before you negotiate billions
of dollars in incentives, there needs to be an open dialogue with the community first to see what you can give in exchange for that. I mean,
what do you think the lesson is here?
LIU: Yes, the big lesson is that our public leaders, whether a state or local need to understand that there is just very little -- the times have
changed. There is very little political appetite now or public appetite for giving large grants to companies at a time when the average worker is
not seeing their wages improve.
And so, we do need to strike a different kind of partnership with our companies and in these economic development deals. That does mean capping
the size of these economic development incentives. It means greater transparency so the public can participate in shaping the nature of those.
Putting more accountability on tracking how companies use those -- and, frankly, you know, if we don't -- I'd rather not see those kinds of
incentives for companies. What I would rather say is, Amazon, you're going to come here, but what we're going to do is we're going to put money into
partnerships, we're going to put money into some job training programs, so you're going to have a workforce that can join you in this cause. But
we're not sizing the investments the right way.
ASHER: All right, thank you for making your point, Amy Liu, appreciate you being on the show. OK, so we actually have more breaking news to bring
you. It's actually taking place right here in the United States. We are getting word of an active shooter situation.
There is an active shooter situation in a business in Aurora, Illinois. Always breaks my heart to have to report this sort of news. But that's
about an hour from Chicago. Aurora, Illinois, this is about an hour from Chicago in the Midwest. A source tells CNN that there are no injuries at
this point to report right now.
Police actually headed to the scene about 30 minutes ago, but getting reports of an active shooter at a business in Aurora, Illinois. We will,
of course, continue to update you on this story as more information comes to us. Want to return now to Amazon.
Polls show that there was an overwhelming support in the surrounding neighborhood for Amazon to actually move in. Some are blaming politicians
as I just spoke with our Amy Lui there for seeking a spotlight and then chasing them away. Tensions are certainly running high.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to sit here and say the capital of business in the entire world doesn't want business. We're closed for
business in Queens, everybody. We're closed for business here. Don't bring your big business here because if you're too big, you get the ire of
office seekers. This is not Shingler(ph) law over here. We needed this over here. We needed this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: It's a complicated enough and controversial picture for the labor market in the United States right now. Caroline Fairchild is the Managing
Editor at LinkedIn, it publishes the monthly workforce report. So, just looking to what's happening right now in the United States.
Some good news is that we avoided another government shutdown. I'm sure a lot of federal workers will be relieved to hear that. But we did have one
that was actually the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. How has that affected the labor force in the United States, do you think?
CAROLINE FAIRCHILD, MANAGING EDITOR, LINKEDIN: Well, Zain, thank you so much for having us. Yes, we're seeing both in LinkedIn data as well as
from stories from our LinkedIn members that there could be some long-term implications of the last government shutdown.
More specifically, when we look at the federal sector with employees there, saying to us that they might want to leave and go to the private sector
when you look at federal workers who are on LinkedIn showed us that they were interested in opportunities outside of their current job. That went
up 60 percent right after it was announced that the shutdown was going to happen.
So what could happen is a huge brain-drain from the public sector into the private.
ASHER: OK, so that's because a lot of people -- I mean, you know, you remember, 35 days to go without a paycheck. A lot of people then thought
to themselves, it's not worth me keeping my government job or people who are announced of the public sector, looking in, thinking do I really want
to work for the government when this is a possibility.
FAIRCHILD: Exactly, so this is really a market place happening right here. So jobs -- people who have jobs in the federal sectors, saying that they
opened other opportunities and the recruiters are coming to LinkedIn and saying, hey, we have jobs for you.
We saw an uptick in both recruiters recruiting federal workers as well as federal workers looking for other opportunities. So this really could lead
to there being less people in the public sector willing to have these jobs.
[15:40:00] ASHER: So just looking at your report, hiring from what I understand was slightly lower compared to January last year. But were
there any industry sectors that still remain the bright spot, despite hiring being slightly lower.
FAIRCHILD: Yes, so you look at software in IT, that's really where the strongest demand of hiring is happening. But if you look at D.C., we're
talking a lot about how this is impacting from the shutdown. D.C. hiring was the lowest, it was the lowest of this 20 cities that we track, and so
that's really what we're really tracking and seeing what the next news event is really going to help and in terms of what happens in D.C.
ASHER: OK, so, the unemployment rate though is 4 percent, historically low. I'm just curious, how does that -- this is a broader question about
LinkedIn in general. How does that affect your business in terms of people actually using your site to look for jobs when the unemployment rate is
already historically low.
FAIRCHILD: It's a tightly for markets, so what that means is that people are coming to LinkedIn not just to look for jobs, but to boost their skills
with a tight labor market, people are coming to LinkedIn to do things on LinkedIn learning to try and boost their skills in different skill-sets.
But also to boost up their profiles so that when employers come to look at them, they're more attractive.
ASHER: Wonderful, Caroline Fairchild, thank you so much.
FAIRCHILD: Thank you.
ASHER: Good to have you, appreciate it. OK, so Africa's largest economy, I'm talking about Nigeria, my home country will soon head to the polls.
Muhammadu Buhari is facing off against millionaire entrepreneur and 70 other candidates. We are live for you in Lagos with a friend of mine
after the break.
ASHER: Welcome back, everybody. Africa's largest democracy will vote for its next president on Saturday. The frontrunners in the race to lead
Nigeria have similar backgrounds but actually very different views. The incumbent Muhammadu Buhari is a member of the APC or All Progressives
His challenger Atiku Abubakar is a member of the PDP; the People's Democratic Party. He's a former vice president of the country and a multi-
millionaire entrepreneur. More than 70 candidates are running for president. The vote comes at an important time for Nigeria which suffers -
- continues to suffer from so much economic hardship.
Wherever you are in the world, I want you to get out your phones right now and go to cnn.com-slash-join, tonight, we're asking you the question, what
should Nigeria's top priority be? What should the next president of Nigeria really be focusing on? Should it be, "A", the economy, "B", security, "C",
corruption or "D", poverty.
[15:45:00] So, the economy, security, corruption or poverty. What should the next leader, whoever it is between the two main candidates be focusing
on? Just go to cnn.com-slash-join and vote now after I do my next interview, you end up seeing the results on your screen.
Adebola Williams is a friend of mine and also the CEO of Red Africa, he's also the author of the book, "How to Win Elections in Africa". Adebola, my
friend, good to see you.
ADEBOLA WILLIAMS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RED AFRICA: Hello, Zain, good to see you.
ASHER: OK, so, here's the thing. You worked on Buhari's first campaign and a lot of people credited you with helping in some way, shape or form
get Buhari elected. How would you assess his first term? How has it gone for him so far?
WILLIAMS: It's been an interesting four years. But there is a consensus it would be that a lot more could have been done. I think that he's tried
to do a lot of big ticket projects which might take a bit of time to see the full impact. The trains, the massive investments and agriculture
amongst other things.
But maybe on the side of the quick wings on the low-hanging fruits, there might be a bit more that could have been done. In terms of directly
engaging the masses, especially the poor, I think he's done quite a number of initiatives, which is getting money into the hands of the poor.
But what might be missing with that is the oiling of the private sector who also by itself automatically generate work and generate income --
ASHER: So --
WILLIAMS: To the masses as well --
ASHER: So Adebola, let me ask you this, let me ask you this, because Atiku has been very focused on the private sector. My question to you is, if an
incumbent loses, like what happened with President Goodluck Jonathan, if an incumbent loses in Nigeria, what message does that end up sending to the
WILLIAMS: I mean, I think if an incumbent loses again, you know, you would finally say to the Nigerian people that their vote counts, that their power
you know, is indeed in their votes. We did it in 2015, repeating the same exercise in 2019 establishes that indeed, when the people rise, government
must pay attention.
And so, what that means is that whoever takes over, be the new guys, the Moghalus, the Fela Durotoyes, you know, or whoever takes over, you know,
must pay attention to the voice of the people because indeed, perhaps, the voice of the people would be the voice of God.
ASHER: So, when you have a country like Nigeria that is so divided, you know, I mean, you and I have talked about the divisions between the various
tribes and the various factions in Nigeria, how does the president, whether it's Buhari or Atiku. How does the president go about uniting the country,
because that is -- for me personally as a Nigerian, that is a very important issue.
WILLIAMS: Very tough question, this -- Zain. This is a long-standing conversation. I've always said that beyond the surface, there is a lot of
angst, a lot of pain from different regions in the country, and whoever takes over from here on or if it's a continuation, that person must be
ready to deal with the differences, you know, of the different parts of the country.
Restructuring is an issue that must come to the fore, you know, in the next four years. People want to spend their resources, people want to use their
allocation by themselves, people want to know what exactly they bring to the table and be engaged based on what they bring to the table.
I think that the Kagame model is something to also consider, Facing on our past problems like the Biafra issue that continue to rear its ugly head
from every now and then, facing onto deaths in the north, you know, the fact that the people in Lagos or the west might be slightly disconnected
from the deaths in the north.
How do we together mourn these losses? How do we together look back on our problems and say, we will be united together, build a better nation. So a
leader who will be bold enough to confront all of these differences and bring us together like Kagame has done with the genocide.
And I would think that probably, you know, maybe the younger guys have been bold enough, you know, and to do this, the --
ASHER: All right --
WILLIAMS: The Felas, Moghalus, the Obis, you know, have been bold enough to take on such a challenge.
ASHER: All right, Adebola, good to see you my friend, I hope we can hang out next time I'm in Lagos.
WILLIAMS: I look forward to seeing you again.
ASHER: Thank you so much. Adebola actually threw me a party -- threw me a birthday party the last time I was in Lagos, so he's definitely good
people. OK, so according to those of you who voted at cnn.com-slash-join, most of you actually say that corruption and the economy, corruption and
the economy should be the president's top priorities.
[15:50:00] Obviously, that election happening in Nigeria tomorrow, Saturday, February 16th. Coming up, few would describe bitcoin as a
stable investment, but for desperate Venezuelans struggling with the plunging currency, the cryptocurrency has actually become a haven from
hyperinflation, that's next.
ASHER: All right, welcome back, everybody. I want to give you a quick update on the breaking news right here in the United States that I told
you about 15 minutes or so ago. The shooting that happened in Aurora, Illinois. Police are calling reports of an active shooter situation at the
The name of the company is the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois. They are calling it an ongoing active scene. Aurora, just for those of you
who may not be as familiar with the area, it's about an hour from Chicago, it's in the Midwest. Schools in the area have actually gone into a soft
lockdown because of this active shooting situation.
But we don't really have any information right now in terms of potential injuries. We'll keep you updated though. OK, so rampant inflation has
actually pushed many Venezuelans to the brink, for some, life savings have actually been reduced to pennies as the value of the country's currency
falls lower and lower.
Now, a growing number of Venezuelans are opting to put their money in cryptocurrencies to avoid the bolivar's wild swings. Bitcoin trading in
the country has actually exploded, reaching an all-time high. Mauricio Di Bartolomeo is the co-founder of Ledn, he also spear-headed a project to
teach hundreds of Venezuelans how to mine cryptocurrencies.
He joins us live now from Toronto. So, thank you so much for being with us, Mauricio. So you grew up in Venezuela, you've actually experienced
hyperinflation firsthand yourself. So for you investing in cryptocurrencies wasn't really just, you know, sort of an investment
vehicle, it was more an economic necessity in a way.
MAURICIO DI BARTOLOMEO, CO-FOUNDER, LEDN: Yes, that is correct. And in fact, that is the same conclusion that many Venezuelans are coming to today
as inflation goes over a million percent annually. They're exploring ways of getting rid of their bolivars or assets that can preserve some of their
And so, dollars are very hard to acquire and store in Venezuela, and there are some challenges in opening the U.S. dollar denominated bank account and
even transferring that. And other items such as gold or even food can be seized.
[15:55:00] And so, they're finding bitcoin as a result of this experiment and they are coming back to it once they realize how convenient it is for
them. When it's actually allowing them to save in a hard money type of vehicle.
ASHER: So how tightly is cryptocurrency regulated in Venezuela?
DI BARTOLOMEO: Cryptocurrency in Venezuela, there have been some recent attempts by the government to get their hands in some of the remittances
and some of the volume that's traded internally. They have more recently tried to set up a centralized exchange, and they're trying to do that --
they're trying to lure people to basically sell their bitcoins that are incoming as remittances for bolivares.
And they're basically trying to be the buyer of those bitcoins. And the numbers that we follow as well, which are the numbers for P to P, trading
platforms for bitcoin, also show record volumes. And so, you know, my impression along with others is that the government is actively trying to
really get their hands on their bitcoin, whether through centralized exchange or by directly trying to buy it in the P to P market.
ASHER: So as you know, there are -- I guess the country has two presidents, two competing presidents, if you will. If Juan Guaido actually
takes over fully, and he manages to try and sort of implement measures to get the economy back on track, do you anticipate still the same level of
cryptocurrency trading as you're seeing under Maduro?
DI BARTOLOMEO: Well, I feel like the levels of trading that we're seeing today really reflect the complete lack of confidence in the Venezuelan
government and their ability to control inflation. In fact, people are really landing into bitcoin because of there's -- it's really one of their
only assets that they can save in, that even has a potential --
ASHER: Right --
DI BARTOLOMEO: To appreciate in U.S. dollar terms.
ASHER: Mauricio --
DI BARTOLOMEO: And so --
ASHER: Mauricio --
DI BARTOLOMEO: And I saw, it's the only --
ASHER: Mauricio, sadly though, we have to leave it there, we're running out of time, but thank you so much for coming on the program. OK, there
are moments left to trade on Wall Street. We'll have the final numbers and the closing bell right after this quick break.
ASHER: All right, investors on Wall Street have just moments left to trade. The Dow is set to close near the day's highs, investors -- well,
every sector rather in the S&P 500 is up for the day. Investors are watching the trade talks between the United States and China.
President Trump says they're actually going extremely well. Those talks are set to resume next week in Washington. And that is QUEST MEANS
BUSINESS, I am Zain Asher in New York --
The closing bell is about to ring, Pam Brown is next with "THE LEAD", and the latest on the active shooter situation in Illinois.