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Taiwan's Significance to the U.S. and China; Inflation Cools to 6 Percent; Seth Goldman is Interviewed about Being Affected by Silicon Valley Bank; Decades-Old Library Book Returned. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 14, 2023 - 08:30   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: It actually is not that - too far unaligned with the stance of one of his potentially strongest potential rivals, which is former President Trump. However, this is what DeSantis is saying now as a 2024 hopeful. But back in 2015, after Russia illegally annexed Crimea, DeSantis was a congressman, this is what he said then talking about President Obama. Quote, we, in the Congress, have been urging the president to provide arms to Ukraine. They want to fight their good fight. They're not asking for us to fight for them. And the president has steadfastly refused. And I think that's a mistake. As he is now saying, F-16s, long-range missiles should not be going to Ukraine.

This really is one of the biggest points of the 2024 race. This is a very big deal that he came out and said this.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It is going to be a very big point for the 2024 race.

And speaking of the former president, is going to face -- facing some issues as well when he is possibly, you know, going to come under indictment in -- here in New York. And you have his former fixer -- I was just reading it -- testifying in front of a grand jury, indictment for hush money payments to the former -- well, to the adult film star.

So, we are seeing the 2024 race shape up, even though Ron DeSantis hasn't officially thrown his hat into the ring. You have Donald Trump out there doing his same old thing that he's done in '16 that he did in '20. But then we have to figure out now, how are these investigations going to play into this. How are they going to play into this. Do we know?

COLLINS: We don't know. I mean that's actually what I think we've been talking about, which is the case in New York is not clear. It's not like a slam dunk for prosecutors. And so I think the concern that we've heard is, if they do bring it, and they're not - the prosecution's not successful, how Trump utilizes it, and wields it in places like Iowa and on the trail.


LEMON: Yes. HARLOW: And Georgia.

LEMON: Yes. Well, I mean, we know how he's going to do it. I am the most investigated person, political figure in history, the Democrats are after me, you know, it is Ron De-sanctimonious. I don't know if he'll blame Ron De-sancti -- whatever he calls him. It doesn't make sense. But he's going to blame - as everyone laughs - he's going to blame someone, right, other than himself for all of the investigations. So, we'll see.

In the meantime, we need to talk about what's happening this morning, the threat of Chinese invasion that's also playing into this, invasion of Taiwan is growing. If that happens, the U.S. has vowed to fight in Taiwan's defense. A battle between China and the U.S. over the self- governing island nation could result in devastating mutual losses, which is just one of the reasons Taiwan is a critical interest to both superpowers.

Will Ripley joins us now with more.

Hello, Will Ripley from Taipei.

Tensions have been rising across Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait. Where do things stand now between China and the U.S.?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, the United States, under former President Trump and President Biden, has been selling Taiwan billions of dollars in weapons, more than ever before. They're trying to get weapons into this island so that it could defend itself, potentially, if China were to try to make a move.

And you also heard the former president talking about he being able to prevent World War III. Well, President Biden, with this new submarine deal with Australia and the United Kingdom, is hoping that there will be deterrence in this region, an underwater power, to prevent China from making a move on Taiwan.


RIPLEY (voice over): Chinese fighter jets streaming over its skies. Military ships sailing off its coast. Daily occurrences for Taiwan, living under the constant threat of a possible Chinese attack.

Beijing's communist leadership claims Taiwan as part of its territory despite having never ruled it. Tensions rising across the Taiwan Strait since Nancy Pelosi's visit in August, the first visit by a U.S. House speaker to the island in 25 years.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan.

RIPLEY: Who can forget China's response last year, those days of large-scale military drills encircling the island, firing ballistic missiles over Taiwan. Analyst fear this may be repeated again next month.

Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, expected to meet U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, are you saying that the United States would come to Taiwan's defense if China attacked?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. Yes, we have a commitment to do that.

RIPLEY: But the U.S. has reasons to worry about a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Protecting valuable semiconductor chips. Taiwan is a global leader in semiconductors, tiny chips that power everything from computers to cars. The island producing 70 percent of global supply. Defending democracy. Losing democratic Taiwan to communist China would shatter U.S. credibility in the Indo-Pacific region. Protecting U.S. alliances. Asian countries would face an even more powerful China, a headily surveilled policed state with little freedom of speech. The stakes are indeed high, but experts do believe there's reason for optimism.

RIPLEY (on camera): Do you think the U.S. and China are headed in a positive, optimistic direction?


LEV NACHMAN, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, NATIONAL CHENGCHI UNIVERSITY: The idea that conflict between the U.S. and China is inevitable, I strongly disagree with that.

Meaningful channels of communication between the U.S. and the PRC, that helps us minimize unknowns, it helps us minimize confusion and misunderstands. And, ultimately, that's good for Taiwan.

RIPLEY (voice over): U.S./China relations on a downward spiral since that suspected Chinese spy balloon bursting months of Beijing/D.C. diplomacy. As two democratic allies, the U.S. and Taiwan get even closer. Taiwan's president and the third in line to the U.S. presidency meeting on American soil. As tensions escalate, all eyes will be on China and where is this all headed?


RIPLEY: When you look at the U.S. expanding its military presence in the Philippines, encouraging Japan to expand the role of its own military, these -- this nuclear submarine deal, it is clear that the United States feels that deterrence in this part of the world is going to be crucial to prevent conflict with China. And China's rhetoric, Don, is really sharp. From Xi Jinping all the way down, China is blasting the United States. And it's apparently the external messaging matches what the tone is internally. They haven't reestablished those lines of communication since the U.S. shot down that spy balloon.

COLLINS: No, they haven't. And, I mean, that's been a big part of this is that they haven't had those conversations. We were just talking to Natasha about that earlier.

And, you know, while we're seeing President Biden taught this submarine deal, it's not a surprise, they talked about this, they announced this 18 months ago, was a big deal certainly then now that it's coming to fruition.

But all of this is also happening with the background of what everyone in Washington was talking about this weekend, which is China brokering this diplomatic deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

RIPLEY: Yes, you're seeing these power plays. The United States, you know, is supreme when it comes to underwater power. So, to have nuclear submarines now, they're going to be rotating in Australia. Eventually, in 25 years, Australia can start producing its own nuclear submarines, that changes the dynamic militarily here. China going to the Middle East, which traditionally has been a stronghold of U.S. diplomacy, and trying to broker a deal - they're not the first, obviously, trying to broker a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

But it is a message to the United States, the fact that they were specific and clear that this -- none of the language would be in English when they were doing these negotiations. So that just goes to show that in and of itself China's rising influence whether the negotiations will be successful. You know, it's also happening in Africa, where China is making economic investments. So, it's economic and diplomatic power and military power. And you have the U.S. and its allies and you have China and Russia and other authoritarian countries really gearing up here for this showdown, both sides trying to outmatch the other. Will it be deterrence or could it evolve into something more and where would the flashpoint be? Certainly here in Taiwan it's one of them, but there are plenty right now.

COLLINS: Yes, it's a scary look ahead and we'll see where the influence game goes.

LEMON: Thanks, Will.


HARLOW: OK, so, we just got this reading on inflation. We've been talking about it all morning.

Christine Romans with us.

This was good, no?


HARLOW: That's next.

COLLINS: A preview.

HARLOW: I didn't realize it was a tease. Sorry.

LEMON: I thought -



COLLINS: All right, a number you are going to want to see just in is the latest Consumer Price Index report. That is a key marker of inflation that we have been watching for about a year now and it's just been released for today.

Christine Romans is here. She has the numbers.

It eased a little bit.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It eased a little bit, 6 percent year over year inflation. Look, that's way above the Fed's target of around 2 percent. But for eight months in a row, this number has been a little bit smaller than the month before. So, 6 percent. It was 6.4 percent last month.

And month-over-month, 0.4 percent increase in prices. These are consumer prices. This is what you pay, folks. Remember, last month was a shock because it was half a percent and people got very concerned about, you know, reinflaming inflation here.

When you look at where we're seeing these price changes, gas prices went down a little bit year over year. That's good news. But food prices up 9.5 percent. And shelter prices up 8 percent. The government's saying that 70 percent of the increase overall in inflation was shelter alone.


ROMANS: So, this is a rent and a housing problem in terms of prices. You just had that Gabe Cohen piece about kids graduating from college and living home with their parents. That's why. Because we have sticker shock in what it costs to pay for rent and to pay for housing.

So, these numbers, I think, come in, in line with expectations. They're cooling a little bit. Still too high. The big story now is, what does the Fed do next? And with this banking turmoil we have, sort of the while playing field has changed. So it's going to be really interesting in the next couple weeks. The Fed next meets March 22nd.

COLLINS: Yes, to be a fly on the wall there.

ROMANS: Exactly.

COLLINS: Christine Romans, thank you.

ROMANS: Nice to see you guys.

HARLOW: OK, the sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank left thousands of business owners, startup founders really in the lurch. One of the companies is UrbanStems. You probably know them, right? Their on- demand flower delivery, you know those famous boxes. The company has 150 employees, started here in New York, and Washington, D.C. They now deliver nationwide. They had 100 percent of their cash assets banked with SVB.

So, with us now is the CEO of UrbanStems, Seth Goldman.


SILICON VALLEY BANK: Thank you so much for having me.

HARLOW: Thank you for the flowers.

GOLDMAN: You're very welcome.

HARLOW: An early text this morning. I said, can you bring some so people can, you know, see what you do? We talked a lot this weekend, you and I, about what you were going through, what your board was all considering, how this could happen. So, what is the latest now for you guys with 100 percent of your money in this collapsed bank?

GOLDMAN: Yes, so we are, as you said, an on demand flower delivery service. We never considered that something like this would happen. The latest is, as of about 6:00 last night, we got an email saying that SVB was back open for business with a new CEO.


I don't know exactly what that means. I'm trying to get in touch with our reps there, who are great, by the way, our partners there were great, and they don't really know what's going on yet either.

HARLOW: Can you explain to people how you got into this situation with SVB, because so many of you guys, startup founders, banked with them and you had 100 percent of your money with them. Why?

GOLDMAN: Yes, a lot of people say, why didn't you have money elsewhere? We also took a loan from SVB. And they were very generous in terms of some of the terms. But one thing that was strict was that you had to bank with them exclusively if you took a loan from them.

HARLOW: You had to put all your money there?

GOLDMAN: All the money effectively, yes.

HARLOW: So, everything was at risk?


HARLOW: How does this change how you do business going forward? Because you had said, this is the last thing that kept you up at night is, would our cash not be safe?

GOLDMAN: Yes. We are a flower business, so we're used to things happening. Before Valentine's Day, the Kodapaxi (ph) volcano was active. So, we were worried if that was going to impact floral quality. And there was ash spewing from it and it made, you know, the skies a little dark over the flowers. Those are the kinds of things that we are used to worrying about.

HARLOW: You think about volcanic ash, not banks collapsing?



GOLDMAN: So, we have a tough decision to make if we're going to stay with them or not and we're going to -

HARLOW: Oh, you're considering staying with SVB?

GOLDMAN: Well, we're not sure if there are any risks to leaving. So, yes.

HARLOW: What do you mean by that?

GOLDMAN: So, we're not supposed to take our money out. We don't know exactly what it means right now, though.

HARLOW: Says who?

GOLDMAN: Says our loan covenants (ph) with SVB.

HARLOW: But they're now regulated by the government.

GOLDMAN: Yes. So we don't -

HARLOW: Or, they're now controlled by the government.

GOLDMAN: Yes, so we don't know exactly what any of it means.

HARLOW: How do you run a business like that with all of these unknowns?

GOLDMAN: So, the first thing we did last -- late last week was we just made sure that we were going to be able to pay our people. After we did that, we made sure that we were going to be able to pay our critical vendors. Once we had a plan in place there, we calmed down and we said, we're going to wait for the fed. And I actually give them a lot of credit. They acted pretty quickly and decisively.

HARLOW: What -- how are your employees doing? I can just imagine what Monday 9:00 a.m. was like.

GOLDMAN: Monday, you know, was OK. We - we felt like everything was going to be calm. So, I thought it was my job to just stay very, very calm and absorb information, not panic. I knew we were going to have plan one way or another. And, you know, thankfully, things sort of worked out the way we kind of expected to.

HARLOW: We just had Robert Altmann (ph) on talking to Kaitlan, the former high-ranking official at Treasury, who said what the FDIC and the government did over the weekend is so breathtaking because they've essentially said all cash deposits at all U.S. banks are guaranteed by us anywhere above the $250,000 limit.


HARLOW: You're nodding. That's like - that's how you view it now?

GOLDMAN: Yes, I guess that's how we view it. And it's an odd thing to say, where are you supposed put your money? I actually asked, after this happened, I said, where does Apple have their money at? I mean I just don't know. Does it -- is it with JPMorgan? Is it in some - I'm sure it's in more sophisticated ways, but, where are we supposed to put our money?

HARLOW: But you feel like it's protected now by the government?


HARLOW: As much as you will put in any bank at this point?

GOLDMAN: And we're probably going to have to change how we do that. We could never again agree to only have one bank have all of our money.

HARLOW: Well, it's extraordinary. We're glad you guys are OK. Keep the flowers coming. And thank you for talking us to, helping us understand what this means for main street.

GOLDMAN: Thank you so much. And if people want to use this as an opportunity to send loved ones flowers, we'd love that, too.

HARLOW: Mother's Day's around the corner, right?

GOLDMAN: Mother's Day is around the corner.

HARLOW: All right.

Seth, thank you very much.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.


LEMON: UrbanStems.

So, how long have you accidentally kept a library book? I have a story for you. Big story. A few months? A couple years? Well, one person in Oregon may have you beat or maybe me beat. Harry Enten has this morning's number.

Like you can read.



LEMON: OK, so the question is, how many times have you checked out a book from the library, right, and you completely forgot to return it? Well, one borrower in Oregon really forgot. A book that was checked out in 1979 finally made its way back to the shelves of the Deshutes (ph) Public Library with this handwritten letter. Luckily that library doesn't charge late fees, but the person who checked it out gave a $20 donation.

Harry Enten with this morning's number. $20.


LEMON: Yes. They deserve more than $20. I mean I'm glad it got it back. They deserve more than $20.

OK, so -

ENTEN: So, what's this morning's number? This morning's number is 44 years. That was when "The Hockey Trick," which was the book was returned to this Oregon public library after it was checked out back in 1979, 44 years later.

LEMON: Oh, my gosh.

ENTEN: I want to give you an understanding of what was 44 years ago. So, Tip O'Neill was the House speaker. Remember Tip O'Neill, the lion from Massachusetts?

LEMON: Knew him.

ENTEN: Billy Joel had the top album.

LEMON: Know him.

ENTEN: "Laverne and Shirley" was TVs top show.


ENTEN: Of course, the Bills didn't win a Super Bowl that year, either. So --

LEMON: You managed to work them in.

ENTEN: I always work them in. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same, Don.

LEMON: OK, so can I -- should I tell you my story now or do you have something else you want to talk about?

ENTEN: I'll give you a little bit more here. I just want to give you an understanding of the state of reading in America, right?


ENTEN: So, the adults who have read at least one plus book in the last year, in 2021, it was 75 percent. In 1978, it was 75 percent.

LEMON: Oh, wow.

ENTEN: So, I think there might be this idea, right, that we're reading less. But, in fact, we're reading the same amount -- the same percentage of people are reading as they were, say, 44 years ago, or 45 years ago.

But the way we're enjoying books has certainly changed, right? So, in 2021, 65 percent of Americans read at least one book via print, 30 percent said an ebook, 23 percent, audio. Compare that to just a decade ago when it was 72 percent who read via print. So, ebooks and audios have become much more popular, while print books have, in fact, become less popular.


We're not reading the same way that we were.

LEMON: I wonder how many people are still going to libraries, too, because in -- there are beautiful libraries in communities that people I don't think they're taking advantage of as much.

ENTEN: Well, what's so interesting to me is it turns out there are actually more public libraries now than there were 30 years ago.


ENTEN: So, look, they are not actually -- public libraries aren't dying, they are thriving. There are over 9,000 now. There were a little less than 9,000 in 1992.

LEMON: OK, so here's my story.

ENTEN: Go ahead.

LEMON: So, the first book I ever checked out - and my mom is watching and she knows -- was a cookbook for children.


LEMON: I almost burned the kitchen down with the recipes for making eggs. My mom got out of bed. She had to go and take the eggs off the stove. And then I guess I had a mental block for that book and I kept it at least three to five years. And the library kept sending notices. And my mom said, you've got to return this book. So, I think they waived the fees and then we ended up giving a donation, but I think I kept that book for like five years and I almost burned the house down because of that book.

ENTEN: I still almost burn the house down when I try and cook. So, you know, you did it when you were younger. I still do it when I'm older. So, you're a better cook than I am, I'd say.

HARLOW: You know Kaitlan and I returned all our library books early, obviously.

ENTEN: Oh, of course. Goody two-shoes over there.

LEMON: Goody two-shoes. Oh, my gosh, he took the words right out of my mouth. Boom.

ENTEN: Got it.

LEMON: CNN "NEWSROOM" starts right after this.


ENTEN: Thank you.