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Stock Market Opens Amid Banking Industry Turmoil; Biden to Tout Prescription Drug Plan in Vegas; Number of Americans Living with Alzheimer's to Double by 2050; Visiting Antarctica Amid Record-Low Sea Ice in the Region; NCAA Tournament Tips Off with First Four. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 15, 2023 - 09:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. markets opened just moments ago. You can see the Dow down, just under 500 points there. It was down more earlier, but folks clearly nervous.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joining us now.

So when we look at those numbers, the Dow down, not quite 1.5 percent, what else are we looking at this morning?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We need a few minutes for everything to open. OK?

HILL: Yes.

ROMANS: What we're looking at here is weakness in the banking sector again and this is stemming from Europe. Credit Suisse is a big European bank, stock down 20 percent. A few other European banks halted in their trading overseas. Big concerns about Credit Suisse not being able to raise some more funding that it needs.

So it's sort of separate from what's been going on in U.S. regional banks but it just shows you that there is pressure on the banking industry writ large because of now a year of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates. It sort of like exposes weaknesses right and left, right, when you have interest rates that have risen so dramatically so fast.

When we look at the regional banks, hopefully they're opening up here, but regional banks had bounced back very, very nicely yesterday and now are giving back some of those gains again here today.


Erica and I were just, Jim, looking up the 52-week high of First Republic Bank, the 52-week high, $174.21.


ROMANS: Those shareholders have just been pummeled here. SCIUTTO: Yes.

ROMANS: That bank has said it has funding from the Fed, it has funding in investments from JPMorgan, that it is on solid footing. But there is just this feeling among these regional banks that there is some concerns, concerns about what they hold in terms of their investment portfolios and the mismatch between assets and liabilities, and of course whether people are going to be pulling their money out, looking for higher interest rates in a different bank, to make sure they're covered by the insurance limit from the FDIC.

SCIUTTO: And sometimes feelings can trump fundamentals in the markets, right? We risk contagion.

ROMANS: Exactly right.

HILL: That's for sure. That's for sure. I do think it's important to point out, Christine, you said this earlier in the morning, though, for folks at home, your money is safe this morning.

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

HILL: Really important to point that out.

ROMANS: The banking industry under pressure, your money is safe.

HILL: Christine, appreciate it. We will continue to check in with you.

Meantime, beginning next month a lot of Medicare recipients are actually going to pay less for dozens of prescription drugs. This is part of the sweeping health care and climate bill that President Biden signed last year.

SCIUTTO: Later today at the University of Las Vegas, the president will tout his budget proposal which he says will help Americans save even more money, as the nation continues to deal with high inflation.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us now from the White House.

Priscilla, tell us about those changes. What specifically do they mean for folks watching at home?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Biden is concluding this West Coast swing with a focus on reducing health care costs, which he is expected to do more of in the following weeks and months. So what this means is that some Medicare beneficiaries will pay less out-of-pocket for 27 prescription drugs. Those are drugs whose prices went up and rose faster than inflation did last year.

So that would mean that seniors would, for example, see cost sharing drop from $2 to $390 per average dose for medications. Now, in addition to this being cost saving, officials also say that it would serve as a disincentive for these drug makers to raise their prices. And then Secretary Becerra mentioned that they would also be reviewing this on a quarterly basis. In fact, in a statement the HHS secretary said, quote, "President Biden made lowering prescription drug costs for Americans a top priority, and we're using every lever we have to deliver results."

So expect to hear some of this in President Biden's remarks this afternoon as he and his administration really focus on the measures that they are taking to save Americans some money with those out-of- pocket costs and then today specifically what that looks like for seniors and Medicare beneficiaries -- Jim and Erica.

HILL: Priscilla Alvarez, appreciate it. Thank you.

A new report shows a staggering rise in the number of Americans living with Alzheimer's. So what is behind this alarming increase? We're going to take a closer look ahead.



HILL: An alarming new statistic, the number of people living with Alzheimer's is expected to double by 2050 and that's from a new report from the Alzheimer's Association.

SCIUTTO: CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

This is a significant jump. I wonder, what's behind this number? I mean, is this about better counting in part, people living longer, I imagine a factor, or is this just becoming more common?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, it really is just kind of demographics. I mean, it's many things, but the aging baby boomers are really behind this.

Let's take a look at what this means number-wise. So if we look at this year 6.7 million people will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's- dementia. If you look at 2050 it's going to be 12.7 million. And the implications for this and what we need to help, it's a lot of things. One of them is more geriatricians. We need more people who specialize in care for the elderly.

We also need more good treatments for Alzheimer's that are actually affordable. There are two treatments out there that can slow the progression of the disease, but there's two issues, one, there are some questions about how effective they really are, and two, they are enormously expensive and many insurance policies are really, really not so -- you would have a hard time getting your insurance to pay for them. So those are really two big problems that we're seeing right now -- Jim, Erica.

HILL: Once again, cost rearing its ugly head.

The report also found, which I found really interesting, part of the issue here is that people aren't talking to their doctors about some of the early warning signs, specifically cognitive warning signs. Is this just sort of an embarrassment, you don't want to admit that these things are happening, or is there more to it than that?

COHEN: And so you know, experts say that that very much is part of it, Erica. That it's just embarrassing, you know, you've been successful all your life and then all of a sudden, wow, I'm having trouble remembering things. And fear, denial. You don't want to think that you're headed towards Alzheimer's. Another thing that's standing in the way and this is sort of part of the denial is that people think it's just a part of aging. It's not necessarily a part of aging.

So let's take a look at what some of the symptoms are of mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment you can think of as almost like a precursor to Alzheimer's disease. So losing things often, forgetting events or appointments that you should know about, and having more trouble coming up with words when you compare yourself to other people of the same age. And so don't just attribute these things to, oh, I'm getting older. You want to make sure that you know exactly what this is.

Now, to be clear, your doctor might not have a lot of great prescriptions for you, but they will be able to help you think about what could lie ahead and how to plan for it.



HILL: Yes. All important. Elizabeth, appreciate it. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: All right. To the planet now. After a dire warning about Antarctica's record low sea ice levels CNN chief climate correspondent Bill Weir went to the bottom of the world to learn more. He captured these stunning images. You will only see them here on CNN. Wow, that's beautiful. Just last month scientists warned that the sea ice there hit record lows for the second time in two years.

HILL: That is not a record that you want to see. Our chief climate correspondent Bill Weir here now with more details from your latest assignment. This was your seventh continent.


HILL: You got to check that box.

WEIR: Exactly.

HILL: The pictures are stunning. What did you find in addition to these beautiful vistas?

WEIR: What I found was that these iconic species at the South Pole are already being forced to adapt in dramatic ways because of our warming planet. We made landfall, one of the first times you step foot in the Antarctic Peninsula you're greeted by colonies of penguins, the cuties creatures arguable on the planet. My toddler loves them.

But soon sort of the wonder turns to worry when you realize that a lot of these nesting moms, those chicks and those eggs, there's no way they can survive because they got freakishly late snow. They're supposed to be hatched by Christmas. But like we've had bizarre weather patterns in the states they're seeing the same thing down there.

At the same time, as the sea ice goes away that is the key habitat for krill. The little shrimp like creatures that are at the bottom of the food chain. They feed everything from the penguins to the sea birds to the humpback whales. And now ecologists, we were hanging out with whale specialists who have proven that when sea ice goes down, krill goes down, and humpback whale pregnancy rates go down.

We were using darts on crossbows. That's how you give a pregnancy test to a humpback whale to take a blubber sample. Also measure their stress levels. And so, you know, penguins and whales are sort of our metaphorical canaries. What's happening down there, the water under those glaciers is heating up so much, it's melting that sea ice, and then of course we worry about our lives being impacted at sea levels, from Miami to Shanghai with one of those big glaciers like the Thwaites glacier breaks loose.

SCIUTTO: Wow. I mean, listen, such stunning pictures there. I'm envious but also tremendously important reporting. So you actually found some hope down there. Please share it.

WEIR: I did, Jim. I did. I came away realizing that Antarctica is sort of like this cold laboratory of human cooperation. It's the only place on the planet not owned by any countries. It's set aside for peace and science. How often do you hear that combination of words, right? And since the Antarctic Treaty in the late '50s when 12 nations signed on, there is now 55 nations. They stopped the slaughter of humpback whales.

Back in our great-grandparents' generation, killed them by the millions. They would kill the penguins, use their blubber to grease the machines that kill the whales. It was just decimation industry down there. All of those species, many of them have come back fully now. There are other new pressures, the climate change, ocean pollution, ghost nets, shipping traffic that threatens these creatures as well.

But as an example of what can happen if humanity agrees on something, some people even think we should use Antarctica as a model for how to behave in space as the human race, and how to think about colonizing the moon or other planets in a cooperative way. So we learned our lesson down there. The question is, can we keep that going and extend it, create blue corridors for some of these massive creatures, that had turned out to be our biggest climate allies for the services they provide the planet for free.

So I came back inspired of what we're capable of when it comes to realizing our limits and then pulling back and letting nature heal.

SCIUTTO: What we're capable of, let's hope we follow through.

Bill Weir, thanks so much. We will be watching for that special to come. WEIR: You got it.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, a look at some March Madness teams that could become a bracket buster. You're going to want to take note of this. I certainly will be taking notes as you make your picks.



HILL: So you have some really important work ahead of you today, and I'm not talking about the work that you actually get paid for. It's about your bracket.


HILL: We all need to put the finishing touches on our March Madness brackets here so that Jim can win because I'm probably going to lose. For the first round tip-off is tomorrow so we are going to get working on that.

SCIUTTO: The deadline is Saturday actually, so you've got loads of time. Just don't -- you know, you can sit on it.

HILL: Funny.

SCIUTTO: Sit on it for a couple of days. CNN sports anchor Andy Scholes joins us now.

So, Andy, with the proviso that you only tell me and not Erica all the information, let's talk about bracket busters. Cinderella teams fighting for the spot now. How often do they advance or, well, even go further?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, you know, these teams that we're watching right now in the first four last night and tonight they never win the tournament but it's worth paying attention to them because since they started the first four teams that grab the 11 or 12 seed out of the first four they've gone on to pull off an upset in the first round of the tournament every year except for 2019.

Then you've got teams like VCU and UCLA. They've gone from the first four to the final four. So it's worth paying attention to. And Pitt and Mississippi State they played a great game last night for 11 seed, it's back and forth, 21 lead changes in this one. Pitt's Jamarius Burton made a go-ahead jumper with 10 seconds left. Mississippi State had a great chance to win this game. They ran a great play. Shaquille Moore got a wide-open three to try to win it. It's no good and the tip just no good as well. So the Panthers win a nail biter 60-59. They're going to advance to play Xavier on Friday.

And the other match-up last night, you had 16 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi earning their first ever NCAA tournament win in program history beating Southeast Missouri State 75-71. Next up for them they're going to play the overall top seed Alabama on Thursday. After the game head coach Steve Lutz said, you know, his team plans on making the most of the opportunity.


STEVE LUTZ, TEXAS A&M CORPUS CHRISTI HEAD COACH: Our guys are battle tested. They're not scared of the moment. They're -- you know, you've got to go play, and you know, you've got to embrace it, but, you know, history tells you that not many one seeds beat 16 seeds.


So, you know, that's why you have the NCAA tournament so you have situations like this where you get a chance to go shock the world.


SCHOLES: Their beating Alabama certainly would shock the world. Now you got two more games on our sister channel TruTV tonight. Fairleigh Dickinson takes on Texas Southern at 6:40 Eastern. The winner gets number one seed Purdue. Then you get Arizona State against Nevada just after 9:00 for a shot at number six, TCU. The women's tournament also tipping off tonight with their first four starting at 7:00 Eastern.

But, guys, the thing is to pay attention to the 11 seeds that win. Since 2010, 11 seeds actually have a winning record against six seeds.


SCHOLES: You know, popular upsets is always 12 versus five, but it's trending more towards 11 versus six is the way you should go.

SCIUTTO: OK. All right. I'm hearing Andy.

HILL: Eleven over six. Wrote it down, Andy. Don't worry.

SCIUTTO: Erica doesn't need to hear that, to be clear.

HILL: Andy Scholes, I'll call you after the show. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: All right.

HILL: Still to come here, a high stakes court hearing in the battle for reproductive rights today. A federal judge set to consider whether to take an FDA-approved abortion drug off the market. It was approved more than 20 years ago. We're live outside the courthouse next.