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Stellar Year for Stocks in 2019; Andrew Yang Talks about Debate. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 31, 2019 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Invested in the market. But what if you're not. Christine Romans on the state of the U.S. economy, next.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And check out this incredible show in the nighttime sky from Sydney's world famous Harbor Bridge. There's the countdown. Australia, they've already rung in 2020 just moments ago. A very Happy New Year to them, to you, to all of us.

We're bringing you more of these in the coming hours.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: All right, it's time for CNN Business. It has been quite a year for stocks despite the ups and downs of the trade war with China.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us with more.

Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's always nice, guys, to look back, isn't it?

HARLOW: Yes.

ROMANS: Especially when you can look at your 401(k) and smile. You know, what a difference a year makes, you guys. A year ago was the weakest December since the Great Depression. And then stocks did this. Gains of more than 20 percent this year for the major U.S. stock market indices.

[08:35:02]

Record highs led by a huge rally in tech stocks. The S&P 500, this year, had the best year since 2013. Back then it rallied more than 30 percent. The economy and the stock market had been recovering for a decade now. Since those dark days of the recession, in 2009 and 2010, the S&P 500 has risen 255 percent.

So it's going right. And a jobless rate at a 50-year low. The Fed cut interest rates three times. Borrowing costs remain super low. The trade war with China, it ends this year, you guys, simmering, not boiling. Recession fears from the summer evaporated.

Now, manufacturing was hit hard by the trade uncertainty, but consumers are the backbone of the economy and they remain strong.

Now, the Trump economy is solid. A lot like the Obama economy. And 2.1 percent economic growth in the third quarter. It's not the 3 percent, 4 percent, 5 percent the president said his tax cuts and his rolled back regulation would produce, but it is solid. And CNN polling this month shows Americans, ten years into the recovery, they finally believe it. Seventy-six percent said economic conditions are good. The highest rating in nearly two decades.

You know, it's an advantage for the president heading into the election. He won the White House on a message the Obama economy wasn't working for everyone. It's why Democrats running for president have zeroed in on wages, health care, student debt, fairness. They're trying to chip away at that Trump advantage in the economy.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely. And those messages consistently at the top of the list among voters as to their voting concerns going into 2020.

ROMANS: That's right. Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: Christine Romans, always good to have you on.

ROMANS: Happy New Year.

HARLOW: Happy New Year.

SCIUTTO: Happy New Year. Enjoy it. Get a break.

Andrew Yang has yet to qualify for the next Democratic debate, just two weeks away now. So what is his plan? We're going to ask him on this broadcast, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:40:39]

HARLOW: All right, so you can kick off 2020 with the sound of an iconic voice. CNN Films "Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice" premieres tomorrow, New Year's Day, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Our Anderson Cooper sat down with the superstar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I hadn't realized how early you started singing. I mean it seems like music from the earliest memories were -- were a part of your life.

LINDA RONSTADT, MUSICIAN: From two. I remember trying to write a song when I was two on the piano.

COOPER: When you were two? RONSTADT: Yes, it was called "Tweet, Tweet, Tweet." It was about a

bird.

COOPER: Did you ever plan on -- I mean becoming a superstar or was it --

RONSTADT: Well, I never thought about that. I thought I wanted to sing. And I thought it would be nice if I could make my living singing and paying the rent and groceries. I wouldn't have to go work at a bank or something else.

But -- and I always managed to do that. I never had to get a different job. But, you know, when I was getting paid $30 a week to sing, I thought I was doing fine. I thought that was really success.

COOPER: What did you feel when you were singing? Especially early on?

RONSTADT: I just felt like I wanted to make myself feel like music that I liked made me feel. You know, I'd hear (INAUDIBLE) or, I don't know, Louis Armstrong or Ella Fitzgerald and I'd go, I want to do that. I want to feel that way.

COOPER: The act of singing, was it -- was it joyful?

RONSTADT: Well, it was something because I -- people used to turn around when I'd sing and I'd -- you know, at school, you're supposed to pretend to sing. You're kind of la, la, la. But I was going, let's sing, you know, because my family sang. So I sang with my older brother, who was in the Tucson, Arizona, boys choir, one of the soloists. He was wonderful.

COOPER: And he taught you about vibrato and --

RONSTADT: Yes, he did. He did. And -- and we learned harmonies. We just didn't have to be taught them. We just knew how to sing harmony. We used to sing in the back of the car. We'd sing with our hands in the dish water.

I think everybody should do their own singing. You don't have to be a professional, you don't have to delegate our sorrows to professionals. You can sing your own sorrows.

COOPER: You don't have to delegate your sorrows.

RONSTADT: So some music is just for privacy. You know, it's just something you sing in your bedroom and some music is something you play at the piano maybe to just a select group of friends. Not everything is meant for the big world.

COOPER: Were you confident as a singer? I mean did you know how good you are?

RONSTADT: Well, I never thought I was good.

COOPER: You didn't?

RONSTADT: I always thought I might get a little better tomorrow, but I always felt that my phrasing was kind of hopeless.

COOPER: In the -- in the documentary it -- somebody says about you that when you would be on stage, if you saw people in the front row, two people sort of whispering to each other, that you assumed they were saying bad things about you.

RONSTADT: Yes, poor, Linda, she can't sing.

COOPER: You really felt that? Even -- I mean you're on a stage in front of thousands of people --

RONSTADT: I tried to keep my eyes closed so you don't see the audience very much because they're not (INAUDIBLE). But you are. So you can pretend you're all by yourself. It's when I see the audience, I go, why are all those people staring at me? Because, in the animal kingdom, when some -- another animal is staring at you, they probably want to eat you.

COOPER: It's a hostile gesture, is it?

RONSTADT: Yes. It's just deep -- deep rooted instinct, you know.

COOPER: Was there ever a point where you were satisfied with it, with the quality of it?

RONSTADT: In the '90s, I sang better than I sang in the '80s. In the '80s I sang better than I sang in the '70s. That's the only thing. It's always a work in progress. It's very weird to hear a recording because it's frozen in time. And when you do -- and, you know, I go, oh, I sang it better in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1978. You know, you remember the moment that you really achieved something. But it's not the whole song even, it's just a phrase or a note. You go, oh, that was the gold standard, yes.

COOPER: So it's just a little -- a little piece of a song that you feel, OK, that -- that meets my standards?

RONSTADT: Yes, when I hear records, I go, that phrase was nice. That measure was nice. That song sucked. You know, that -- that song proves I never could sing my whole life anyway.

COOPER: You weren't a songwriter, but you picked songs and you made them your own. And I mean you -- in such an extraordinary way. How did you know what songs to --

RONSTADT: Well, I --

COOPER: Because it seems like a number of them you -- you heard on a radio or you heard somewhere.

RONSTADT: Well, I'd hear something and it would speak to me urgently that that was like something I'd felt in my life. Sometimes it was only a phrase, you know, and then I'd have to figure out how to make the rest of the song fit. And sometimes it was not musically terribly well suited to my style, but I'd have to make it that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: That's amazing that she never had to work another job. She always made some sort of a living, even $30 a week, singing. It would be great.

[08:45:00]

SCIUTTO: Yes, and also to say that she got better through the years, you know.

HARLOW: I loved that.

SCIUTTO: Well, maybe it's a sign we can all get better through the years. Let's -- let's take that --

HARLOW: Let's not quit our day job too.

SCIUTTO: As we go into another year, 2020.

Today is the last day of fundraising for 2020 candidates this quarter. How did Andrew Yang do in the last quarter of the year? We're going to ask him live on this show, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Well, five weeks to Iowa and the Democratic presidential candidates shifting into high gear as that comes up.

Joining us now, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

We appreciate you taking the time this morning.

So you have been pushing the DNC --

ANDREW YANG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello.

I can't hear really.

SCIUTTO: Can you hear me OK?

YANG: I'm so sorry. It's literally like a --

SCIUTTO: Let -- oh, we lost your audio. We're going to try to fix that. We're going to try to fix that. And the moment we do fix it, we're going to bring Andrew Yang right back.

CNN has more on the breaking news unfolding as well at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. We'll take a quick break.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:53:23]

SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Apologies for the technical issues. I think we have them fixed.

Back with us now, U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang.

Andrew, next debate, two weeks away. You have not qualified yet for the stage because you haven't met a threshold as defined by the DNC in national polling. You've pushed for them to institute state-by-state polling. They've rejected that. Tell us your reaction.

YANG: Well, Jim, we just celebrated our millionth donation. We have almost 400,000 donors. And there has not been a poll in Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, or right where I am right now in New Hampshire that satisfied the DNC in almost a month and a half. So all we want is for there to be polls in order for us to demonstrate that we would easily qualify by the DNC's own threshold.

We're well over the donation threshold. We're looking to raise $1 million just today alone. And all we need is for there to be some polls in the field so we can see what the American people are thinking.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, because some of the other candidates have said that shrinking that stage over time has been to the benefit of the Democratic field, allows voters to focus in more on the frontrunners. What's your response to that argument?

YANG: Well, what we've said is that we don't have a problem with the DNC setting thresholds, as long as there are actually polls so candidates can meet those thresholds. And I want you to put yourself in the shoes of one of our almost 400,000 donors who have fueled this campaign and then there aren't any polls to even see whether our support has been growing over the last 45 days. That's not fair to the voter and the DNC should be trying to make the voice of the American people heard, not pushing it aside.

[08:55:06]

SCIUTTO: Well, one thing you have generally avoided is attacking head- on your fellow Democratic challengers. Pete Buttigieg has -- who has been competing and he is on the debate stage in a couple weeks' time, directed some criticism at the frontrunner, Joe Biden, saying, with regard to his son having a position on a board of a Ukrainian gas company while Biden was vice president, saying that I would not have wanted to see that happen, and saying that if he were president, he would have higher standards of ethics.

I wonder if you agree with him, that Joe Biden, the former vice president, having his son on that board was a mistake and should not happen in the future.

YANG: I think that Democrats need to be focused on solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place. The fact that we're going through the most profound economic transformation of our time. And we need to provide a new, positive vision for the country that Americans will get excited about. A new way forward. Most Americans regard all of those conversations as political distractions. SCIUTTO: Fair enough. And I do want to get to your focus on how the

economy is changing. But before we get there, and I think you're referencing this to some extent, you have criticized your fellow Democratic candidates and the party as well for placing too much blame on Trump himself rather than addressing the issues that got Trump elected. Explain that point of view.

YANG: Well, tens of millions of Americans decided to take a bet on Donald Trump. And it's up for Democrats to dig deep and figure out why they made that choice. And, to me, the answer is very clear, that we automated away 4 million auto manufacturing jobs that were primarily based in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, all the swing states that Donald Trump needed to win. And it's not stopping there. Amazon alone is closing 30 percent of America's stores and malls while paying zero in taxes.

So the fourth industrial revolution does not care about political ideology. It's ripping our communities apart and that's what the Democratic Party needs to address. That's what I will address as president.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I listened to a long podcast you did with David Axelrod where you get into this issue, that -- that, listen, the economy is changing in ways -- I mean, already, manufacturing jobs have disappeared to a great extent via automation. But as you have more of this happening, retail stores, a whole host of jobs that will be eliminated.

I wonder, when you hear, not just President Trump, but fellow Democrats talk in old school terms about, yes, I'm going to bring those manufacturing jobs back, are they misleading voters to some degree by not talking about economic realities here that are fundamentally changing how companies operate in this country and where jobs are coming from?

YANG: I think that many of the other candidates don't truly understand the impact of technology on our workforce. Time only heads in one direction. And it's very hard to say to Americans with a straight face that we're going to bring back the economy of the '80s or '90s or even the last decade. So we have to think bigger about how we're going to help all Americans transition during this time.

And I'm proposing a $1,000 freedom dividend for every American adult that would help make all Americans better able to adapt. It would make us stronger, healthier, mentally healthier and would even improve our decision-making and relationships.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. You're not on that debate stage. To this point, you're well behind the frontrunners in this case, Biden, Warren, Sanders as well. How do you change that dynamic, and can you change that dynamic in these early weeks of this election? We're five weeks away. We're a month away from Iowa.

Well, we're going to raise well over -- even the $10 million we raised in the last quarter. And as soon as there are polls in the early states, you will see that we've been gaining strength this entire time. We are catching up with the frontrunners. We're going to grow and grow and peak right when the voting starts in February. And I fully expect to be on that debate stage as long as there are some qualifying polls in the early states between now and January 10th.

SCIUTTO: The biggest question on the mind of Democratic voters, this is consistent in the polls, is can the eventual nominee beat Donald Trump? Can you, someone with no political background, can you do it?

YANG: Well, Jim, right here in New Hampshire there was a poll that came out that said that 10 percent of Donald Trump voters would choose me over Donald Trump in the general election. Another survey said that 18 percent of college Republicans would choose me over the president. I am the best candidate to take on and defeat Donald Trump in the general election because I'm already drawing many of his disaffected voters, as well as independents and libertarians, as well as, obviously, Democrats and progressives. Americans can see I have my eye on the future, and that's what they're looking for.

SCIUTTO: Andrew Yang, we wish you the best in the race and we wish you and your family a very happy 2020.

[09:00:04]

YANG: Happy New Year. Thanks so much, Jim.

HARLOW: All right --

SCIUTTO: He says --