Return to Transcripts main page
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Mario Draghi Is Launching Fresh Stimulus; LSE Poised To Reject HK Stock Exchange Bid; AB InBev Set To Revive Hong Kong IPO; Benjamin Netanyahu Visits Russia Five Days Before Israeli Election; U.S. Supreme Court Allows New Asylum Rule to Take Effect; Activists Stage Bridge Protest Ahead of Democratic Debate. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired September 12, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Let's see if we can make it two in a row. Well, it's more than two in a row. But I mean
two in a row of good gains, as we go into the final hour of trading. We have 137 points, the market is off the best of the day, but it's really
weird sort of, at 11 o'clock -- here we go -- which we'll get to and this early open movement, all very strange it is the way the markets are looking
And perhaps these are some of the reasons why. It's a punch bowl out in Europe. Mario Draghi is launching fresh stimulus. AB InBev is shaking off
the hangover, wants to try again, by listing -- IPO-ing in Hong Kong. And tariffs on hold. U.S. and China are making trade concessions. That's one
of the reasons we think why the market in the U.S. up.
Tonight, we are alive from London on Thursday, September the 12th. I'm Richard Quest, and yes, in London, I mean business.
Good evening. Tonight, Super Mario has reached for his final power up. The European Central Bank is going to back to the stimulus tap, it is
pushing interest rates further negative. And once again, it's turned on the printing press, QE is back.
The rates were lowered by 10 basis points, putting it to negative 0.5. There was 0.4, negative -- negative, and there'll be a new $22 billion a
month bond buying program. Mario Draghi promises this will go on as long as necessary. But crucially, it will be until there's a robust performance
towards the two percent inflation rate.
It's Draghi's penultimate meeting at the helm of the ECB, Christine Legarde takes over later in the year, and he warned, recession risks are low, but
rising. Opposition from some member states is growing. Germany is worried the ECB is using too much of its arsenal too early in this particular slow
down, but the President says the ECB is trying to get ahead of the risks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIO DRAGHI, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: Incoming information since the last governing council meeting indicates a more protracted weakness of
the euro area economy, the persistence of prominent downside risks and muted inflationary pressures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Anna Stewart is in Frankfurt -- we're surprised -- this was all as billed. But what are they saying in Frankfurt tonight in terms of the
nuance of the announcements?
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, I mean, there's few surprises in the works because it was largely baked in, I'd say what possibly the forward
guidance. The idea that there is no end date to the QE, also no data head for the rates. They said that the rates will say at this level or will be
lower for as long as it takes. So that was kind of new.
I'd say the QE was less than many investors expected. But Richard, the first question to Mario Draghi in the Q&A that followed his statement was,
what was the chemistry in the room? And that's what everyone is interested in because we all knew that be a lot of dissent among those -- among the
governing council when it came to QE.
QUEST: The question of dissent. Germany, of course, is the well-known hawk in all of this, but the dissent clearly wasn't sufficient to overturn
STEWART: No, and it wasn't just Germany, we believe it is also France, Estonia, the Netherlands, Austria -- a sizable amount of dissent there, not
unexpected because they were all very vocal about this weeks before this meeting happened. It was all very much telemarked by Draghi back in June.
So they've had the plenty of time to speak up about this, but the feeling was that it wouldn't even go to a vote. Mario Draghi took the decision
that this is the right decision to do the QE. So that's how it works with the ECB. They voted unanimously though on the rate itself, on the telltale
and on the forward guidance, they did not vote on the QE itself.
QUEST: Anna, good to see you. Anna Stewart in Frankfurt there, from cars to interest rates. I suppose one leads to the other or vice versa.
Today's moves by the ECB furthering the global trend of monetary listening, Central Bankers around the world reacting to the growth slowdown and
worsening trade climate.
Turkey has also cut rate, and since we updated last, China and Mexico have cut. It's a problem for Donald Trump spurring him to rail at the Fed to do
more. On Wednesday, he even tweeted that negative rates in the United States might be necessary. Fabio Balboni is the Senior Economist at HSBC.
He joins me now. You are listening to all of that. What for you was the most unusual part of what the ECB did? Or the most interesting part.
FABIO BALBONI, SENIOR ECONOMIST, HSBC: So I have to say, we were surprised by the open ended element because we know that the German were particularly
reluctant to open ended announcement in the past. And clearly given the inflation backdrop in the Eurozone, there's a very strong feeling that open
ended means infinite. And therefore, you know, we might just have a QE for a very, very long period of time. And that was probably the element of
surprise, I think.
QUEST: Does QE work? And if you remember, about two or three years after the crisis, the Fed did a paper exactly on this, questioning the efficacy
of a long-term QE. And as I recall, the conclusions were that it is a policy with diminishing returns.
BALBONI: Absolutely. But QE helps in the Eurozone, by reducing government borrowing costs, and thus, the fundamental problem in the Eurozone is there
is a lack of investment. And the hope is that by keeping borrowing costs of governments artificially lower, it can help growth as long as they will
be willing to invest.
That has a huge effect. I mean, borrowing costs are falling in the region of 0.2 percent of GDP each year in the Eurozone.
QUEST: The economies -- I mean, it doesn't really matter if it goes in recession in the sense of, it is virtually there. There's not a huge a lot
of difference in some Eurozone countries. Will this do the trick?
BALBONI: No, it won't do the trick. And that's why markets were skeptical in terms of the reaction that they had. Of course, you know, the ECB has
delivered, but there wasn't a fundamental steepening on the curb. And what I thought was interesting is that even at times, they felt the ECB was
throwing the towel themselves. Mario Draghi said, "There's only so much we can do." Now we need to look at fiscal policy, the next leg has to be
QUEST: The problem with fiscal policy, it requires individual governments.
QUEST: And that's much more difficult, and you've got a banking crisis in Italy. Spain ain't doing particularly well. France has got industrial
unrest, and the economy is half-heartedly roaring and Germany is in recession. It doesn't paint a very good picture.
BALBONI: It doesn't paint a very good picture. And you mentioned before, you know, the Eurozone might be near a recession, you know, on a good
quarter, the Eurozone would post point 0.3 or 0.4 growth, to some extent, every quarter they are close to a recession, but I think you know, maybe
the mood might be changing slightly. There is a --
QUEST: But who leads -- I am sorry to interrupt you, excuse me.
BALBONI: Of course, yes.
QUEST: But who leads in terms of fiscal policy? Because this is one of the -- Christine Legarde has been on this program many times, saying every
country needs to do structural reform and needs two changes. The only problem is nobody ever does it.
BALBONI: It is pretty clear who leads on fiscal policy, and that's France, because that's where, you know, they've been promising spending cuts for
the recent years, and they haven't done it. And that's what's helping the economy continue to grow at a relatively resilient pace compared to
So it's clearly that these are the leaders. Spain is following a similar route. Italy now with a new government might be following a similar route
and the Europeans might be keen to turn a blind eye on them.
Those that so far haven't followed, unfortunately, are those with the bigger fiscal space, the Netherlands, Germany, of course, and that's why
Mario Draghi today was very keen to encourage Dutch, the Dutch government to spend those 50 billion of investment they've pledged to do.
QUEST: Look at the interest rate curve or the graph -- the basic interest rate graph within European and you see, for example, you see the tremendous
falls, of course, as we go into the crisis, and then at 2016, it falls again. Now, you know, if you bear in mind that the U.S. pretty much came
out of the crisis in 2012, and Europe has just been continually getting worse to a point of sclerotic growth. This is not acceptable, is it?
BALBONI: And it is largest self-inflicted pain. The Eurozone didn't need to go through the austerity in 2011 and 2012 that they did, but they did
that because of politics and because of the inability to come up with a comprehensive plan. So I think to some extent, now that Eurozone faces
almost an existential moment.
QUEST: And the Fed. The Fed is now put in an incredibly difficult position because the dollar rallies of course, as U.S. interest rates, the
differential gets greater, it's still the safer haven. And they will get more -- as they have already been getting more pressure from the President.
Mario Draghi has not done Jay Powell any favors today, has he?
BALBONI: No, absolutely, absolutely. And that's the game in town. I mean, Mario Draghi keeps saying we don't target the Euro, but we know that
ultimately that's what they do because they only hope to generate some growth in the Eurozone is through exporting and in the current global
environment, a weaker Europe -- that's what could do it.
QUEST: That's what we used to call -- and I think you still do, "beggar thy neighbor" policy.
BALBONI: Well, that's exactly what it is. But unfortunately only does is it is exporting deflationary pressures throughout the world, so it's made
the job of Central Banks even so harder.
QUEST: Good to have you, sir. Thank you so much, indeed.
BALBONI: Thank you very much.
QUEST: Thank you very much. Now European stocks finished the session mostly higher. There were signs of a thaw in the U.S.-China trade war that
helped boost the automakers and technology stocks. You see the numbers there.
On the currency, the Euro initially fell during Mario Draghi's announcement. That's exactly what you would expected on technical
measures. It's now rebounded, which is slightly odd. But I think there's other issues at play there. It's up more than half a percent against the
QUEST: These EB decision helped boost sentiment on Wall Street. Investors were also digesting conflicting reports on the U.S.-China trade war, use of
an interim trade deals caused a spike, and then the reports for future earlier claims, the Dow looks set to close with its held on to some other
things, positive news on the trend.
And the exchange of olive branches between the U.S. and China continues with negotiations between the two. China has made the first move. Now,
China suspended tariffs on 16 American goods, not major ones, but they did it for a year. The U.S. responded postponing five percent hike on $250
billion worth of goods by two weeks.
Now Chinese companies are inquiring about that buying American agricultural products. Speaking with CNN, the President's Trade adviser, Peter Navarro
said it's up to the Chinese to follow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: President Trump tweeted that there will be orders, let's see if the Chinese fulfill their commitments.
So as you know, the problem we've always had with the Chinese is that they don't necessarily honor their commitments.
We would have probably had a deal months ago, we had 150-page agreement that was close to the finish line and the Chinese backed up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Paul La Monica is in New York, and there's something going on, isn't there? But I mean, it's not quite kiss and make up. What is it?
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, I think we're not necessarily at that level yet. I think, you know, to quote a Buffalo Springfield song,
"There's something happening here. But what it is ain't exactly clear." You have these conflicting reports about whether or not the Trump
administration wants to delay tariffs further, you know, including some of the ones that would kick in in December. That's I think the reason for the
market rally today.
You're seeing some denials of this, but I think both the U.S. and China are realizing that this is a painful battle. No one is winning, it's a matter
of who loses less. We're going into an election cycle in 2020.
So losing less isn't necessarily a great slogan for the Trump campaign. So I think it's possible that we could have, you know, inching more towards a
deal and these olive branches that China threw out with regards to some products like shrimp, for example, and what the U.S. has come back with in
extending some of those tariff hikes from October 1 to October 15. Maybe it gets the parties back to the table and having them discuss things in a
more friendly way in earnest.
QUEST: Okay, if it does that, if it does that, the market should rally considerably. This is the conventional wisdom at the moment, but the S&P
is only a half a percent, in its all-time high. So -- and I know that it's sort of, you know, not all stocks are equal in the sense of some are
suffering more than others, but the market has regained much of the loss of recent months.
LA MONICA: Yes, a lot of it is you know, bit of rotation, you obviously are having some of the more defensive sectors, ones that pay high dividend
yields, particularly those that are much more than what you would get from a U.S. Treasury bond or negative yielding Eurozone debt or Japan.
Those have been the big star, so I think people are waiting maybe for a shift back into growth overvalued because that would really cement that the
U.S. economy is going to pick up some steam, maybe not lose a lot of ground in 2020. The big question, Richard, of course is earnings are not that far
away, right around the corner on October. Are companies absent a trade deal going to talk about a weak fourth quarter and a weak 2020 or will they
give guidance that betters what is currently expected.
QUEST: Another reminder that IPOs can be brutal. SmileDirect -- they are smiling.
LA MONICA: Yes, SmileDirect, a loss -- a company that is losing money, a unicorn. It went public at a valuation of nearly $9 billion, at last check
the stock is down 25 percent. I think it shows that investors are not thrilled with these companies like Uber, like Slack, like WeWork if they
wind up going out that are just bleeding red ink.
And in the case of SmileDirect, yes, it's an interesting premise to sell these aligners online, but they have a very formidable competitor in align
technology, which owns Invisalign. It's an S&P 500 company that's got a lot more capitalist's disposal.
You know, companies have to realize that there's competition and you need to be making money in this market. If this is supposedly a great economy.
What's up with all these losses?
QUEST: Good to see you, Paul. Guru La Monica, thank you. It's a busy day. In fact talking about IPOs, well, later in the program, we'll also
we're talking about how AB InBev is going to be looking to go back to the market.
QUEST: And mergers and acquisitions -- Hong Kong has hit a roadblock in its quest to buy the LSE. You'll hear from the LSE's former Chief
Executive in just a moment.
QUEST: The London Stock Exchange reportedly going to reject to take up the bid from Hong Kong Exchange. It's believed a pushback from regulators and
investors is behind the rejection. The LSE is in the process of its own $27 billion deal for a data and trading group called Refinitive.
Shares in Hong Kong Exchanges is down by three and a half percent, a billion dollars off its value. Meanwhile, the former Chief Executive of
the LSE, Xavier Rolet told me a number of global players were trying to create the holy grail of the exchange industry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
XAVIER R. ROLET, FORMER CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF LSE: From the outside, what it feels like is perhaps this is something that it might have been preparing
for a while, and perhaps got caught off guard by the announcement of the Refinitive deal. At least that's one possible interpretation.
And, you know, speculation is probably, you know, idle at this stage. So I guess shareholders now have a choice between two very, very different
projects on the backdrop of an industry where a small number of highly valuable global players of which the LSE is now part, engaging and
potentially looking for further consolidations to create essentially the holy grail of the exchange industry, which is global pools of liquidity,
global pools of capital services, clearing, settlement, global pools of data and intellectual property.
That's -- we're not quite there yet. There's a small number of exchanges that have some of these assets and they're kind of looking at all the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: From IPA to IPO, well, that's good, there you go. IPA to IPO, AB InBev is trying once again to list in Hong Kong. It's two months since its
scrapped, what would have been the biggest IPO of the year? The brewery owns hundreds of brands including Budweiser and Stella Artois. Clare
Sebastian is with me in New York.
Clare, when they scrapped the last one, it was the last minute, they did it very late, and there was confusion overnight about how and why they were
doing it. And it was only the following day, we got a lily livered weak answer about market conditions. What's changed?
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, there's still not very much detail around this, Richard. It was a very short statement.
They said that they're going to look again at doing this. There's still no assurance that it can happen. And just as they said, when they scrapped it
in July, they are still saying that prevailing market conditions could be a factor going forward.
But there are a couple of differences here. The key one is that the business that they're now set to IPO has changed. They sold of the
Australian unit, they did that just a few days after they scrapped the idea for an IPO back in July.
So it is a smaller potentially offering, a more focused one, potentially more focused on China, which is one of the fastest growing parts of their
QUEST: But it's all about reducing debt for AB InBev, and to that extent, all right, so they got rid of the Australian part. It focuses it, but the
market didn't like -- I mean, we watched this IPO, at its initial valuation just get slowly lower.
SEBASTIAN: Yes. And I think look, I mean, there's speculation about what they mean by prevailing market conditions. Could it be external factors
like the protests going on in Hong Kong? Or could they just be talking about the fact that the market wasn't quite ready for the valuation that
they were looking at?
And I think that's why they're trying again at a smaller scale. But yes, this is a company that has more than $100 billion of net debt on its
balance sheet that comes mostly from the acquisition in 2016 of SABMiller, they are aggressively trying to cut that debt. They've already cut their
dividend in half. But that was part of the reason for selling of the Australian unit.
So they do I think, still need to find other ways to do it, and I think that's why they are looking again, at this IPO. One of the key reasons so
that they're billing it, of course, as a way for investors to get access to one of the key markets for beer in the world, which is of course, Asia, and
in particular China.
QUEST: All right, so finally, is it -- I mean, they are being canny, someone would say obscure about if and when. When do you think?
SEBASTIAN: I mean, that is really hard to say, you know, it could be as soon as a couple of months, but I think they're going to have to look at
the appetite for this. It was of course a little bit dubious last time. And then, of course, the external market conditions as well, Richard, that
there have been a bit of mixed messages with the issue of the LSE acquisition from an Hong Kong IPO.
And whether or not you know, the international community will want this, but I think the key is that the Chinese consumer, the Chinese market is
still something that interests investors.
QUEST: Clare Sebastian who is in New York. Clare, as always, thank you. The world is awash with oil, even as growth in demand slows dramatically.
There's simply too much oil being pumped and the IEA -- International Energy Agency says a growing surplus in the oil market will push prices
even lower next year.
And of course, the reason is the U.S. production boom, non-traditional fracking, which has now overtaken Saudi Arabia. The U.S. is the number one
oil exporter in June.
Oil prices have fallen sharply on the warning of overcapacity. Brent is down more than one percent. CNN's John Defterios spoke to the head of the
IAE and he says he sees signals of a weakening global economy.
FATIH BIROL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IEA: I think the current attempts not only in oil, but also electricity consumption, which is a very important
indicator for the health of a global economy shows us that the global economic growth is weakening, not only the Western world such as Europe and
the United States, but also India, which was one of the bright spots of the global economy or China.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: It's amazing. It's like a dark cloud this U.S.-China trade dispute. You wouldn't think it
would filter into demand, but it's there.
BIROL: It is there, because of the global economic impacts, U.S.-China trade tensions have a lot of implications for the factories, for the
manufacturers, for the economic activity in the region in Asia, in Middle East, of course, the United States and China.
DEFTERIOS: Five OPEC producers have lost better than six million barrels a day of crude, all filled up by the shale producers. We would have had
$30.00 oil, if in fact, we had business as usual in OPEC.
BIROL: But you should look at the problem from the consumer's side as well. If there was no U.S. production growth, we could have seen oil
prices skyrocketing as we have seen in the past when there was a geopolitical tension in the Middle East.
We have seen now Iran and Venezuela's production is going down. We could have seen oil prices skyrocketing and thanks to production growth in the
United States, we have now stable oil prices.
DEFTERIOS: What does OPEC and non-OPEC do then, Fahti, going forward?
BIROL: I think the life for the OPEC-plus countries, you know in other words, OPEC plus Russia will be more and more difficult to determine the
prices because of the U.S. coming in big terms.
DEFTERIOS: So the IEA believes OPEC-plus is fighting a losing battle with more suppliers coming on from the U.S. That group met here in Abu Dhabi
co-chaired by Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman in his first being a Saudi Minister of Energy.
ABS as he is known said it's all about better compliance to their existing agreement, not additional cuts yet, despite the rise of U.S. shale. He
said, quote, "Every country should live up to their commitments regardless of their size." Firm language, but it's clearly not enough to support a
near-term rally or help a planned IPO for Aramco in the future -- Richard.
QUEST: John Defterios in Abu Dhabi. Coming up, Boris Johnson says he didn't lie to Her Majesty, the Queen. The Prime Minister is pushing back
against the ruling from Scotland's Highest Court. And we've just had the full judgment from the court, it has just been published.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. There is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists he did not
lie to the Queen. If he did, how serious is that?
The French Finance Minister is pledging to block Facebook's cryptocurrency ambitions in Europe. And before all of that, this is CNN and on this
network, the facts always come first.
The Bahamas have reduced the number of people missing up after Hurricane Dorian by almost a half now saying 1,300 people are missing. Official say
many of those have turned up in shelters or elsewhere. Fifty people are confirmed dead. Searches are still expected to find more remains.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Sochi in Russia five days ahead of Israeli elections. The Israeli Prime Minister is meeting
President Vladimir Putin. Russia has warned Mr. Netanyahu's plan to annex the West Bank Jordan Valley could escalate tensions in the region. And of
course also on the agenda the war in Syria.
After John Bolton's very public departure on Tuesday, sources tell CNN that the administration officials are considering Mike Pompeo as Donald Trump's
new National Security adviser.
He would take on the role as well as his current job as U.S. Secretary of State. Pompeo is believed to be one of several names being discussed. The
U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to proceed with a hard line immigration policy, dramatically lifting the ability of Central
American migrants to claim asylum at the U.S. southern border.
President Trump is calling it a big win for border security. Critics say it puts vulnerable lives at risk. A dramatic sight in Houston, Texas, U.S.
city hosting tonight's Democratic presidential debate. Meanwhile, environmental activists from Greenpeace have suspended themselves from a
bridge to protest against the use of fossil fuels.
Combating climate change is one of the top priorities of the candidates, all of whom are vying to replace Donald Trump. The British Prime Minister
Boris Johnson says he did not lie to her majesty, the queen. This is despite a Scottish court, a senior Appeals Court at that, specifically
saying that he acted unlawfully, and the unlawful act was what he told the queen. The Prime Minister insists he did not lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you lie to the queen when you advised her to prorogue, to suspend parliament?
BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Absolutely not. And that - - and indeed, as I say, the High Court in England plainly agrees with us, but the Supreme Court will have to decide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now, 50 days ago until Brexit and Europe is, the two sides are extremely far apart in terms of a new deal. And the idea of a Northern
Ireland only backstop is once again on the agenda, but it's something that the British has already rejected. Bianca is with me, two things, first of
all, how serious if he did lie?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's -- it can't get graver than that for a Prime Minister. It would be almost unthinkable that he would
remain in post. And let's just remember, let's remind our viewers what this is all about. This is the idea that Boris Johnson said that his
reason for suspending parliament was the fact that he wanted a fresh agenda.
The opportunity to give the queen's speech where parliament gets suspended and then the government goes back and gives a clean slate, lots of fresh
ideas and outlines what they want to do. But nobody really believed in parliament that, that was a genuine reason that Boris Johnson and his
government wanted to prorogue parliament.
QUEST: For simple, yes, for the simple reason it was five weeks long and most prorogation in the last century have been at the most two weeks and
usually a few days.
NOBILO: Oh, but it's complicated by the fact that this is in the court documents that Boris Johnson -- the handwritten note they have from him
says, well, it falls over conference recess. So, in the United Kingdom, there would always be a recess of about three weeks at this time. So, then
he was just tacking on the extra days to that.
That was part of his argument. But everybody in parliament felt like he was just trying to exclude the legislature from --
QUEST: Right --
NOBILO: Looking at what he was doing.
QUEST: The U.K. Supreme Court will deal with this next week. The bigger issue in a sense is the more pressing one --
NOBILO: Yes --
QUEST: Which is are there fresh negotiations? Has the British government come up with something new and put it on the table? The French say they
haven't, the Germans say they haven't, nobody seems to say they have.
NOBILO: Well, not according to the EU, and really, that's all that matters. The United Kingdom could think as much as they like, so they're
coming up with fresh proposals that the EU don't see it that way, but then it's not a negotiation and there's no progress.
QUEST: The idea of a Northern Ireland only backstop, this was rejected by the previous --
NOBILO: Yes --
QUEST: Government of Theresa May because it effectively creates the potential for a border down the Irish sea.
NOBILO: Yes --
QUEST: Is Boris Johnson prepared to say -- to do that?
NOBILO: My sources tell me that he's looking at it again, because it's one of the only workable, legal and practical suggestions that's being put
forward to remove the backstop. But Boris Johnson is still -- I was going to say propped up by the DUP --
QUEST: But he's not --
NOBILO: But he's not propped up by anything now.
QUEST: Right, but if there was -- this is, let's take in geopolitical realm. If there was a Northern Ireland only backstop, would he gain the
support of enough opposition MPs that he can stick whatever up at the DUP?
NOBILO: You know, it's really hard to tell at this point because there were at least 20 opposition MPs that were keen on bringing Theresa May's
deal back. Regret as some people refer to it, they wish that they had the chance just to vote the deal through again.
And they might be willing to look at this, but the problem is, the Conservative Party that Boris Johnson leads is the party of the union.
That's how they see themselves, and the problem with the border in the Irish sea is that it siphons Northern Ireland off from the rest of the
United Kingdom --
QUEST: Potentially --
NOBILO: That's how unionists --
QUEST: Potentially --
NOBILO: Would see it.
QUEST: Potentially only if there's no agreement after two years at the end of the transitional period.
NOBILO: That's right, but the DUP aren't willing to give any grounds on that. They think it's unconstitutional and undemocratic, and indeed, Boris
Johnson has said the same.
QUEST: I've got a headache because just trying to work out the permutations of what happens next. I can't see how this ends because he
can't get Brexit because of the October the 19th letter he's got to write.
NOBILO: Yes --
QUEST: He says he won't write the letter, rather it'd be dead in a ditch. The parliament is not sitting, we've got the Supreme Court which might
order parliament back.
NOBILO: This is the problem with all of it and I share your headache. It's the fact that if there was an inarguable, unassailable position that
was correct, a solution that was right, a way forward that commanded a majority, then we would not be in this mess. It is all subjective, yes, a
lot of it is evidence based.
But then people harness the statistics, the legal judgments to whatever ends they so desire.
QUEST: Oh, we are in a constitutional crisis. I remember we had a guest recently that describe the constitutional crisis as being where the
different institutions of the constitution are -- war against each other. We don't seem to be there.
NOBILO: We are very close because that's where nobody is quite sure where the power lies. So, right now, it still seems that it's with the executive
because parliament is indeed prorogue, parliament still not sitting despite the command of the government. And equally, the courts have decided not at
this point to intervene, even though they're saying in Scotland that what Boris Johnson did was unlawful. So, right now, it seems that the power is
still residing with the executive, that could change next week.
QUEST: Good to see you, thank you. I think that we're both entitled to a day off, right, take the day off.
NOBILO: Yes, please.
QUEST: I'm sorry, thank you, Burg(ph) is there, thank you very much. A call for urgent action on gun violence in America, and this time from an
unusual quarter, 145 CEOs basically saying enough is enough.
QUEST: Corporate America is taking a tough stand on gun violence in the country. The CEOs of 145 companies have written to the U.S. Senate
demanding stricter gun laws and better background checks on all firearm sales. Among the names, the bosses of Uber, Lyft and Twitter and Levi's.
Travis Truett is the co-founder and CEO of Ambition, he's one of the signatories. He joins me now from Tennessee in the U.S. -- in Nashville,
Tennessee. So, why did you sign?
TRAVIS TRUETT, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, AMBITION: Yes, a great question. So, growing up in East Tennessee, which is you know, the south of the United
States, I grew up with guns, I grew up getting guns for my birthday, I grew up hunting. And I have always had a respect for guns, but I've also been
really frustrated with the continual news of gun violence and of these mass shootings.
And when I had an opportunity to sign this letter, I decided that it was time for me to put my name on something and make a stand that even for me
was something to lose here in the south that I've had enough, and that it is time to actually have real dialogue and talk about real solutions.
QUEST: What makes you think that anything can be done here? Those of us who watch from afar, you know, one hesitates to say hopeless, but if you
can't get a -- if you can't get gun control or gun change after children are killed in a school and there have been numerous school shootings,
you're never going to get it.
TRUETT: Yes, I mean, no, I'm an optimist, so that can definitely serve as a double-edged sword here. I -- what gives me hope is that speaking as a
millennial, I do feel like we as a generation have this opportunity to see everything unfolding and being able to kind of come into our own and start
to understand that we do have this --
QUEST: Right --
TRUETT: National voice, and be able to actually make a difference. And again, maybe I'm being naive, maybe I'm being too overly optimistic, but I
don't think it's going to happen overnight, I think this is obviously a very difficult nuance issue, but I do think that we have an opportunity,
we've hit an inflection point and that we can do something about it. What it is --
QUEST: Right --
TRUETT: I don't necessarily know, but I'm hopeful.
QUEST: Right, now, this takes us into the interesting area because when Wal-Mart announced it was stopping selling guns, it took a lot of heat and
criticism. Now of course, surely, the way forward is for corporations like yours to put the power of the purse behind it. Because if that happens,
then it's very hard. But are you prepared for the backlash?
TRUETT: We are. And I say we because we've spoken about this as a company. And you know, the way I think about it is, it is my fiduciary
responsibility as CEO of Ambition to protect the company and protect the company's profits.
But I believe that long-term profits happen when you put people over short- term profits. And I think that's what we're doing here, and we are willing to make a stand, again, myself and my leadership team and our company, and
say that while there might be a backlash which happens when you take stands on really difficult nuance issues like this, it is worth it for us because
we've collectively had enough and we want something to be done.
You know, Ambition as a company, we are -- we are a --
QUEST: Right --
TRUETT: Company full of entrepreneurs. And as entrepreneurs, when we see problems, it is our prerogative, it is our instinct to understand what it
is, to talk about it and to try and fix it. And that's --
QUEST: Right --
TRUETT: Where for us, the risk is worth the reward because we're just -- that's what we're tired of. Is we are tired of our inability to, number
one, talk about these issues in a real way, and then number two, do anything about it. And so again, as a company, we've just said that this
is the stand we're willing to make.
QUEST: And it's worth pointing out that you're not talking about banning guns, are you? Or, you know, the Second Amendment. I mean, you're talking
about what in the rest of the world would be regarded as -- they regard normal common sense restriction on the ownership of firearms.
TRUETT: And that's a great point, and I'm actually really glad you brought that up because to my knowledge, nobody is talking about repealing the
Second Amendment or collecting everybody's guns. What we're talking about here is the ability to say, hey, listen, we believe that we need stricter
We believe that when it comes to assault-styled rifles, they should be harder to purchase if not illegal to purchase. We believe that people with
backgrounds in violence and mental health should have a much harder time buying and owning guns.
It's to me, it's pretty simple. It's something that I almost kind of question myself of why am I sitting here talking about this because it
seems obvious. Although, clearly, it's not because, you know, as a country --
QUEST: Right --
TRUETT: We are continually dealing with this problem. And I think you know, that goes to the bigger picture here which is social media and media
in general and there's obviously agenda out there and there's obviously companies that are trying to make money and I respect that.
I'm a capitalist myself that's trying to make money, but at what point again, is it time to look at the bigger picture, and is it time to think to
ourselves this isn't about the Second Amendment, this isn't about repealing rights. This is about common sense and looking across the aisle here in
the United States and being able to come to agreements that make sense --
QUEST: Got it --
TRUETT: For the greater good.
QUEST: Travis, thank you, Travis Truett joining me from Nashville, Tennessee. Thank you sir. Purdue Pharma is the maker of OxyContin has
reached an ostensive settlement in a major class action lawsuit. Well, 2,000 plaintiffs are suing the company over its alleged role in the opioid
Purdue says it's willing to pay billions to settle the lawsuits without admitting any wrongdoing. New York's Attorney General has called the
proposed settlement set to be $12 billion, "a low ball offer". Pennsylvania has called it "a slap in the face" and is suing the family in
their personal capacity. Jean Casarez is in New York. Is this first settlement likely to hold? And Jean, even if it does, doesn't somebody else
like Pennsylvania's AG just come around the back-door and have another go at the family?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, those are great questions. This is very complex, will it hold? Yes, it appears as though it will be
holding. This is according to a source of mine that is part of the current negotiation. Does it matter that some of these states are saying that they
don't agree with it?
In essence, it doesn't matter because once Purdue files for bankruptcy, and I am told that they will eminently be filing for bankruptcy. It goes into
the federal bankruptcy court and then all of the dealings are within there. But here's what I am told. Currently, 22 states have signed on, saying
they agree with the settlement plus four territories.
And what this settlement is at this point is that the Sackler family will personally pay out $3 billion. In addition to that, they will sell Purdue
Pharma plus 30 to 40 international companies that they have, and the moneys from that sale will go to the states, the municipalities, all of them that
are part of this global --
QUEST: Right --
CASAREZ: Negotiation, 90 percent of the proceeds will go to those people, 10 percent will be kept by the Sackler family. Now, if -- to go on
further, the Sacklers don't want any personal responsibility once they file for bankruptcy I am told and once this gets into the court. So, they are
asking for, and it appears that there will be an injunction there, so that if states personally sue the Sacklers in federal court, it will be
transferred to the bankruptcy court up to the judge then what to do, but more likely than not, any personal responsibility will not be allowed.
QUEST: Jean, you are right, you are right. This is very complicated, but important, very important. But crucial to the issue is, I mean, I suppose
anybody watching us tonight will say, all right, so the Sacklers will give $3 billion and they get rid of their shares and is that -- but I assume,
the Sacklers family will still be extraordinarily wealthy once it's all finished.
CASAREZ: Well, most likely they have money and will have money, yes. But I guess it's two separate issues, right? And the states that are against
the settlement believe that they have profited so much personally that they should be giving more. According to my source, it is believed -- financial
analysts say that $8 billion to $9 billion will be the total output from the Sacklers when this is all said and done.
So, there's -- and remember, this is just one defendant. The largest one, yes, but in this national prescription opioid litigation, first trial
begins in October, and there are many defendants, many manufacturers and distributors. And so this is one right here, the largest. But there will
be more moneys to come.
QUEST: Jean, I think you've got your work cut out for you for some time to come, thank you for this --
CASAREZ: Thank you --
QUEST: Many thanks indeed. Now, Facebook's Libra, that's the cryptocurrency that is starting, it's under fire from France. The nation
is vowing to keep the cryptocurrency completely out of Europe. So, why is Libra a threat in France?
QUEST: France is pledging to block development of the Facebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra in the European Union. The French Finance Minister
Bruno Le Maire warned sovereignty of nations could be at risk. Le Maire did not spell out how France plans to keep Libra out.
However, he's urged governments to work on their own public digital currency instead. Robert Courtneidge is the CEO of the international
payments company Moorwand. He joins me, good to see you, sir.
ROBERT COURTNEIDGE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MOORWAND: Great actually to see you --
QUEST: What's the concern here?
COURTNEIDGE: I think the concern is they actually feel that with something the size of Facebook, you could actually create something that could
challenge the dollar as a world reserve currency.
QUEST: Now, this works on the basis that so many people would use it, that the Libras would go backwards and forwards between everybody and nobody
would ever need to go to another currency.
COURTNEIDGE: That is the risk. And effectively, the risk is that you're creating your own reserves. But unlike a central bank -- so central banks
have their own reserves, and if you need to, you can get the reserves to pay you back. There's no -- nothing within a stable coin, a Libra-type
coin that means the individuals that hold the Libra coins would be able to call on that reserve if the company went down, if the coins were lost. And
so, this is a --
QUEST: So, there's no lender of last resort -- there's no lender of last resort --
COURTNEIDGE: No --
QUEST: Underneath it. Except it is backed, it is backed in the sense of somebody paid dollars, pounds or euros to get the Libras.
COURTNEIDGE: In the first place --
QUEST: Right --
COURTNEIDGE: Or they could have paid bitcoin to get them.
QUEST: Or bitcoin. So, there's sort of a currency underneath it in that sense.
COURTNEIDGE: In that -- and it's based on the basket of --
QUEST: And it depends --
COURTNEIDGE: Currencies --
QUEST: And it depends how Libra -- Libras are created.
COURTNEIDGE: So, Libra is created in the same way as any other blockchain currency. So, they are created without intervention of any government --
QUEST: Right --
COURTNEIDGE: Any bank. And that again is a concern.
QUEST: Is it realistic for France to try and stop it?
COURTNEIDGE: No, I think this was a discussion in the OECD and the French minister put their views out there and they would want the rest of Europe
to follow that. We've already got a lot of laws coming in, and they are now laws, fifth many (INAUDIBLE) directors have just come in, and that's
going to apply to all cryptos.
So, there are a lot of laws that are going to apply to these cryptocurrencies any way. So, it's just a matter of regulating them the
right way and then you could enable these solutions.
QUEST: One assumes Facebook does not wish to completely annoy every Central Bank and a powerful government in the world.
COURTNEIDGE: No --
QUEST: So they must be aware of this and trying to tailor Libra.
COURTNEIDGE: But we know that Zuckerberg had meetings with Mark Carney, and there are now rumors spreading on Twitter that he is going to -- when
he steps down in months time join Libra which it'd be very interesting. I think there's been a lot of --
QUEST: Did you see -- did you see that?
COURTNEIDGE: If it's going to be the next global reserve currency, who would -- who better to run that than someone like Mark Carney?
QUEST: You're an expert in all of this --
COURTNEIDGE: In all regulation, in relation to this, yes --
QUEST: Not very good payments in all of that --
COURTNEIDGE: Yes --
QUEST: Are you worried about Libra?
COURTNEIDGE: I'm not worried. I think it's a massive opportunity to free up a lot of the frictions, but it has to be done properly. The nodes that
govern the blockchain could easily be given permissions and you could have governments to have their own permissions, you can have regulators to have
permissions, and you could see this actually working really well.
And Mark Carney, before this came up was talking about creating a global reserve currency that the Bank of England could do for example. China has
announced that it is creating a global reserve currency. I think this is the future, it's where it's going.
QUEST: Right, currently it's whoever been, thank you very much --
COURTNEIDGE: It's very nice to be here --
QUEST: Very pleased to meet you, thank you very much. The last few moments on Wall Street where the Dow is looking to close at solid gains.
Look at that -- oh, well, they were not as solid as they were when you and I started speaking at the beginning of the hour. It's off its best of the
day, but not bad. A profitable moment after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's profitable moment. When Mario Draghi said whatever it takes to protect the euro -- I'll bet he did not expect seven years later
to having to be cut interest rates further into negative territory. I'll also bet he didn't expect QE printing presses to be turned on again to the
tune of $22 billion a month, nor did he expect to be making a public statement that he would continue printing money until the foreseeable
future whenever it ends.
But that's the barrenness state that Europe is in at the moment. Germany on the brink of recession, Italy still facing a banking crisis, Spain in a
mess and France wondering what comes next. And yet, still governments collectively will not realize that it's the fiscal space that's important
And that's going to be the job of Christine Lagarde, who incidentally finished the day at the IMF. She has her work cut out for her. And that's
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight, I am Richard Quest in London. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. The day is done.
The Dow is up. The bell is ringing.