Return to Transcripts main page


Financial Planning for a New Decade; Interview with Brian Hook; Young@Heart Chorus, 11 Years Later. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 1, 2020 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Welcome back, everyone, to this special New Year's Day edition of NEW DAY.


CAMEROTA: We have a lot to get to this half hour, including the most valuable New Year's resolutions you can make.


CAMEROTA: Christine Romans has some money-saving tips to make 2020 off to a good start.

BERMAN: The year's just starting, you're already sick of me, I can tell. It's taken like 25 minutes.


And the late-night comics, making hay of some of the biggest political headlines. We have the highlights, ahead. First, let's get a check of your headlines at the News Desk.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Alisyn, thank you, good morning, Happy New Year. I'm Ryan Nobles. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says his country should feel free to resume nuclear testing. He says it's because the U.S. continues to apply sanctions on his regime. President Trump, hoping things remain calm.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's representing his country, I'm representing my country. We have to do what we have to do. I think he's a man of his word, so we're going to find out. But I think he's a man of his word.


NOBLES: North Korea last tested a nuclear weapon in September of 2017.

Deadly wildfires in Australia's New South Wales, claiming seven lives in 24 hours. Among those killed? A 63-year-old man and his 29-year- old son. They tried to defend their home instead of evacuating. Authorities are working to open roads along the south coast of New South Wales for evacuation efforts. Conditions are expected to worsen by Saturday.

I'm Ryan Nobles. Let's go back now to John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: A new year, a new decade and a new chance for resolutions, especially when it comes to your money. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with a look at how to get your finances in shape for 2020

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Can we first play a little game of woulda-coulda-shoulda? Because the last year was great for investors, the last decade was great for investors.

Let's first look at the year, 25 percent return for the S&P 500. Is that amazing? That's the best year since 2013. It has been a remarkable 10 years. Guys, can I show -- look at that, 245 percent return for the S&P 500. What a decade it has been.

Let's take a look at -- this is the woulda-coulda-shoulda. Wow. If you could have put a grand in each one of these stocks 10 years ago -- Netflix, Ulta Beauty, Amazon, Mastercard, United Health, Apple, Chipotle -- look at the returns on some of those stocks.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh. And were you counseling us, a year ago --


CAMEROTA: -- to stuff all our money in those?

ROMANS: I will be honest. Ten years ago, it was really ugly, right? The housing market was blowing up, people were losing their jobs, factories were closing. But if you had made those investments at the time, just shows you, like, the power of the American economy and American investments.

BERMAN: Well -- well, since you didn't tell us 10 years ago, tell us now.


BERMAN: Where are we going?

ROMANS: So that's where we've been. Where are we going? Well, look, 2020 doesn't look like it's going to be quite as gangbusters, at least if you believe a "Wall Street Journal" poll of strategists. They think the stock market will be fine, the economy will be accelerating. But so-so, more like single-digit returns.

We're 10 years into an economic recovery, guys, the longest bull market in history. Global growth is slowing, there's still some uncertainty over trade policy. The Fed is expected to keep interest rates near historic lows. Wells Fargo expects Jerome Powell -- that guy there, in the Central Bank -- will be patient this year, but they could act as needed to support the economy.

Translation in real-people terms? That means mortgage rates stay low. I mean, those are things you can't control, though, right? The Fed, interest rates, the stock market, all that sort of out of your control, though.

CAMEROTA: OK, but what are the top financial resolutions that most people make?

ROMANS: Yes, so the things that you can control, right? Well, Fidelity says -- Fidelity Investment says there are three most popular financial resolutions this year, 2020: saving money -- yes, I do that one every year -- paying down the debt -- yes, that's also on my list every year -- and spending less.

This is pretty predictable, but people really have to follow through on those. It's really the only protection you have against the top money worries. Those are -- also according to Fidelity -- unexpected expenses, personal debt, not saving enough, rising health care costs, the economy and the volatile stock market. All of those things are really concerning for people, and voters.

BERMAN: I normally have a bracelet, but I'm not wearing it today -

ROMANS: Me, too.

BERMAN: -- it says --


BERMAN: Yes. What Would Romans Do? So if they look to 2020, you know, what would Romans do?

ROMANS: You know, if you are overwhelmed about making a financial resolution right now, fine. Wait until your birthday and then do it then. But make sure that you have a time when you can really sit down and get a gut check on your finances.


My advice? Safe to check your 401(k), do it. Rebalance it right now to make sure it's right for your age and your risk tolerance. I mean, if you're really close to retirement, it should not all be in stocks. Sock away money into 529 college savings plans -- you guys have heard me say this -- and ask your parents and your kids' grandparents to do it too. Stuff does not get you through college or get you to retirement. Savings gets you through college and to retirement.

I also tell everybody, you know, you have to have six months' expenses saved for an emergency. Live below your means. Live below your means, that is the easiest most important thing to do, and then you invest the rest. There is nothing wrong with a nice boring S&P 500 index fund.

BERMAN: You live on the edge. Romans lives on the edge.

ROMANS: But it hasn't been boring, 245 percent return in just a standard --

BERMAN: That's good, that's good.

ROMANS: -- boring plain vanilla S&P 500 index fund.

BERMAN: Happy New Year, Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Happy New Year, you guys.

CAMEROTA: You, too. That's some 2020 vision for you, that she's got.

BERMAN: How do you like that.

ROMANS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

NOBLES: (INAUDIBLE) today, new overnight, more violence at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Can anything be done to slow down the escalation?


NOBLES: Breaking overnight, more violence outside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The embassy security, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors trying to climb the exteriors and set fires. CNN's Ryan Browne is live in Washington. Ryan, what's the latest?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Ryan, the situation appears fluid right now. We're hearing reports on the ground from our Arwa Damon who's there in Baghdad, saying that some of the protestors, demonstrators aligned with this militia group, Kata'ib Hezbollah, have begun pulling back from the site of the embassy there.


I mean, they had breached the outer perimeter. Typically, that outer area is maintained by local national security forces, Iraqi security forces. They seem to have pierced right through that, and get pretty close to the embassy compound itself. They're starting to pull back a little bit, according to reports from the ground.

But, again, the situation, very fluid. The U.S. has sent an additional number of military personnel to the area, both a hundred U.S. Marines have been deployed into the embassy. They flew into the compound yesterday to kind of bolster security, Marines trained in kind of crisis response. U.S. has flown attack helicopters overhead.

So the situation -- and from the U.S. perspective, very concerned. There's been a high level of engagement from the U.S. side with Iraqi leadership. The president of the United States, Donald Trump, calling the Iraqi prime minister to, you know, talk about the situation, asking them to help safeguard U.S. personnel and U.S. facilities.

We've also heard about similar calls between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Iraqi prime minister and the Iraqi president. So there's been some efforts from the U.S. side to get the Iraqis to do more. So, again, very fluid situation there on the ground in Baghdad.

NOBLES: Ryan Browne, live in Washington.

Let's get more, now, on the administration's response. Joining me is Brian Hook. He's the special representative for Iran and senior policy advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mr. Hook, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it. Now, you have described the airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against the Iranian-backed militias as defensive. Now, as the administration planned for this attack, did you anticipate that you'd see the type of response that we're dealing with right now? And were you at all concerned that the U.S. embassy in Baghdad would be a target?

BRIAN HOOK, U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAN: Well, our troops are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government. And the Iraqi government is responsible for the safety and security of those troops.

The base where our forces are stationed, that was attacked about 11 or 12 times in just two months. And so we took the measures -- the president ordered the necessary measures to protect our troops.

We then had terrorists protesting outside of our embassy in Baghdad. This was orchestrated by the Iranian regime, these are the kinds of tactics that they use. Forty years ago, they stormed our embassy and then here we are, 40 years later, and they're directing these terrorist groups to then attack our embassy.

So the president took very decisive action and put in place the necessary force protections, and for our people, our diplomats and our embassy. And it was the right thing to do. And today, the situation is much better.

NOBLES: So were you at all surprised that the Iraqi government did not do more to prevent these protestors from getting to the embassy? We understand there are a number of security checkpoints that are -- that are responsible by the Iraqi government. And it appeared the protestors were able to get through there without much problem.

HOOK: Well, the president and the secretary worked very closely with the Iraqi government. Their security forces have taken all the necessary measures to disperse the crowd there so that we're not facing an imminent threat to American personnel or to the protection of our facility in Baghdad.

It is the responsibility of the host nation to protect all embassies. And so the Iraqi government, today, I think the situation this morning is pretty calm.

NOBLES: We know that the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, did talk to the prime minister of Iraq. What can you tell us about that conversation? Did he specifically ask him to help disperse the crowd in front of the embassy? HOOK: Yes. Well, Secretary Pompeo is in pretty regular touch with the Iraqi leadership. He worked alongside the Iraqi prime minister. He and the president were in touch with them. And so we're pleased that the Iraqi security services have come in and done what is necessary. And so our diplomats are safe and so is our embassy.

NOBLES: How concerned are you about the relationship between Iraq and Iran in this situation? Are you worried that it may be getting too cozy, that Iraq may be working with the Iranian regime too much? What is your view of the situation there?

HOOK: Well, the -- we have seen recent protests in Iraq against the Iranian domination in Baghdad. So we have seen thousands of Iraqis rise up against Iranian domination.

Iran has been running an expansionist foreign policy for some time. President Trump is standing up to that. And the regime is not used to being told no, but for the last three years, we've put in place the kind of sanctions and other deterrent measures that have weakened the regime and weakened its proxies.

So the regime does not enjoy the support of the Iraqi people. You had a handful of terrorists who were at our embassy yesterday, but that does not represent the views of the Iraqi people who want Iran out.


NOBLES: OK. Brian Hook, who -- the special U.S. representative, dealing with the situation in Iran. Your perspective, so valuable to us this morning. We appreciate you being on, sir.

HOOK: You bet. Thank you.

NOBLES: And we are going to be right back.


BERMAN: So last year, which is to say, yesterday and before, we brought you stories of exceptional people who are making a lasting impact around the world. We called the series, "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE." It's our chance to revisit amazing changemakers we met in the past who, in my case, literally rocked my world.

So you might have heard of the Young@Heart Chorus. There was a wonderful 2008 documentary on the group, and that's when I met them while working for "Nightline" at ABC. They're an antidote to cynicism, and an inspiration to new groups of people every day.


BERMAN (voice-over): The Young@Heart Chorus has a unique membership.

BOB CILMAN, DIRECTOR, YOUNG@HEART CHORUS: It's a performance group of older people, ranging in age now from 75 to 90.

BERMAN: And how young are you? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seventy-eight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will be 90 in November.

BERMAN: When you're up there singing --


BERMAN: -- do you feel 90?

MARTIN: No, I don't feel any age.


BERMAN (voice-over): And the chorus has a unique repertoire.

BERMAN: Seniors singing rock and roll is a simplistic way of saying it, yes?

CILMAN: It is. It's a very limited way of saying it, yes.

BERMAN: Well, why limited?

CILMAN: Because there's more to it than that.

I think for older people, I think it's a real joy to see old people on stage as opposed to in the seats in the audience. I think that breaks a lot of rules, and I think that the music we choose to do breaks a bit of the mold of what seniors are used to singing.

MARTIN: Don't give up when you get older. Don't be afraid of getting old. Because you have so much to offer, you have so much to give.

BERMAN: So the first time I visited with the Young@Heart Chorus, it was 2008. I had spent much of the previous five years going back and forth to Baghdad, covering the U.S. war in Iraq. I meet Young@Heart. And what I really need more than anything is a story that, you know, not violent and will just make me smile. And, man, did I find it.

When I first met you, which was 11 years ago --

MARTIN: Right.

BERMAN: -- you told me that --

MARTIN: It's like the Super Bowl, it's like the world's best Bar Mitzvah, and being ordained as a pope.

I still feel that way. It gave me a purpose, to want to wake up in the morning and come to rehearsal and participate in something that just was great.

BERMAN (voice-over): And everyone needs to participate. As I learned, even a reporter can't stand around and watch.

BERMAN: And we were pretty much getting ready to go, and you said to me, no, wait a minute --

BERMAN (voice-over): So I sang Barry Manilow's "Copacabana."

BERMAN: The chorus, as you told me, is always about 25, 26 members. And it changes.


BERMAN: The membership changes.

CILMAN: Yes, it does. You know, we lose a lot of people. We've lost a lot of people. There's probably maybe four or five people left from the chorus you saw in 2008.

BERMAN (voice-over): So 11 years ago, Young@Heart had performed in a prison basically once or twice. They went in and they sang before the prisoners, and it was a very moving experience. But it was performance. Now, 11 years later, it's part of their program. They're inside the prisons, singing with the prisoners.

BERMAN: When you hear that Young@Heart's coming, when you see on the calendar --

AARON FOGG, INMATE, HAMPSHIRE COUNTY JAIL: Oh, I get excited, I get excited. I -- like, I'll be -- it'll be like the night before, and I already want to go to bed early. It's what keeps me going, definitely.

CILMAN: They know it's an hour or an hour and a half, where they're going to be able to really just express themselves in a way that they feel really comfortable doing.

ANTHONY RODRIGUEZ, INMATE, HAMPSHIRE COUNTY JAIL: Never done this, out of my comfort zone. I'm just doing this because, I don't know, I want to -- I want to change, you know what I mean? I want to be a new person. This is a new side of me.

BERMAN: Do they inspire you?

RODRIGUEZ: Of course.

MARTIN: IT's a blessing to both of us, the prisoners and to us. We mix between the grandfather or the grandmother that they can't see or may not even have. We're saying to them, look, you're OK. You're going to be all right. Don't quit.

BERMAN: What's changed for you since we first met?

CILMAN: My age. I have -- I've become one of them, you know? It's like I'm now 65, you know, I get Medicare. The average age of this group is 84. And I can't imagine what I'm going to be doing when I'm 84, so I look at what they're doing and I have deep appreciation for it all.

BERMAN (voice-over): And I do, too. Because if they can do it, who am I to say no to a little James Brown? MARTIN: This chorus, someday, people would look back and they'll say,

they did good things for people of all ages.

CILMAN: Quit your day job.

BERMAN: I'm not going to have a day job after this.


CAMEROTA: Well done, John Berman. You've missed your calling, I feel.

BERMAN: I feel like they make you do it. You can't not sing when you're with them. And so I figure if I'm going to do it, I might as well, you know (INAUDIBLE)?

CAMEROTA: No, I thought you did it really well. I mean, do you have rock star aspirations? Because I think you could do it.

BERMAN: More musical theater. More -- I mean, sorry.

CAMEROTA: That's so --


BERMAN: Am I not supposed to admit that?

CAMEROTA: Jazz hands?

BERMAN: Are we on TV right now? No one's seeing this, right?

CAMEROTA: Oh, no, no. This isn't live --

BERMAN: All right.

CAMEROTA: -- oh, hi.


CAMEROTA: That was excellent.

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: What a great story.

Thanks so much for joining us for this special holiday edition of NEW DAY.

BERMAN: Yes. From our family to yours, have a healthy and happy New Year.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Very good morning to you, first day of 2020. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York and welcome to a special holiday edition of NEWSROOM. President Trump, facing two escalating foreign policy crises. Right now in Iraq, a tense situation on the ground. For a second day in a row, Iranian-backed protestors attacking, surrounding, camping out outside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Embassy personnel, firing tear gas and rubber bullets as demonstrators tried to climb the compound's walls.


And new video overnight, about a hundred U.S. Marines landing in Baghdad, filing out of MV-22 Ospreys to protect the embassy.