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First Move with Julia Chatterley
New Numbers Show a COVID Driven Slowdown in the U.S. Jobs Market; Japanese Stocks Rally after the Prime Minister Says He will not Stand for Re-election; The F.A.A. Investigates Richard Branson's Spaceflight. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired September 03, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Live from New York, I'm Alison Kosik, in for Julia Chatterley. This is FIRST MOVE and here is your need to know.
Delta damage. New numbers show a COVID driven slowdown in the U.S. jobs market.
Suga stepping down. Japanese stocks rally after the Prime Minister says he won't stand for re-election.
And the Galactic grounded. The F.A.A. investigates Richard Branson's spaceflight.
It's Friday. Let's make a move.
Welcome to FIRST MOVE. Great to have you with us on another important jobs Friday in the United States. Just released numbers show the U.S. adding a
mere 235,000 jobs last month. That's way weaker than the 700,000 that had been expected with substantial job losses in the retail and food service
industries. The unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent and wage growth took a substantial jump higher.
That said today's numbers suggest that rising cases of the delta variant maybe starting to pressure economic growth. Today's report could also force
the Fed to postpone a decision on cutting stimulus later this year, as had been expected.
Looking at U.S. futures, they are pointing to a flat open as investors weigh what all this means for the economy and what it means for Fed policy.
Europe is trading mixed. In Asia, Japanese stocks rallied two percent on news that Prime Minister Suga will not run for re-election amid criticism
of his handling of the COVID pandemic. Investors hope a new Japanese leader can further boost economic stimulus there. We'll have more on that in just
But first, let's get right to our drivers with Paul La Monica who joins us now live to discuss these job numbers. Good morning, Paul.
So translation here. What happened here? A big miss, 235,000 jobs added in August instead of you know, 700,000 to 720,000 that were expected. Can you
explain what happened here?
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, I think that clearly Alison, the impact of the delta variant of COVID-19 is really negative on parts of
the economy where you need a lot of people working in physical locations.
So, you mentioned, you know, retail jobs were down. The food and drink part of the leisure and hospitality business was down. Delta clearly scaring I
think some people from going back out, and might be retrenching back into this behavior of sheltering in place, staying at home and ordering
So those two industries really reporting big drops in jobs last month, it's a worrisome sign, and I think as you already alluded to, it's probably
going to keep the Fed on the sidelines for a little bit longer, because this is obviously not a good number.
KOSIK: Thinking that the Fed could delay pulling back on its stimulus, but you know, at the same time, we're not seeing equities really move on this,
but we are seeing bond yields move higher. What do you think that's telling us? Are investors thinking maybe different? Are they thinking maybe the Fed
will stay the course?
LA MONICA: Yes, I think you know, with bond yields ticking up a little bit, maybe the knee jerk reaction is that the economy is still recovering.
Obviously, we did get job gains, not a job loss. So, there is a slow, steady increase gradually in the recovery, particularly in the labor
But I think when it comes back to stocks and the Fed and investors, there might be some people who are taking a step back and saying, hey, you know
what, August is a notoriously wacky month. I don't know if you remember a couple of years ago, there was an August jobs number that I think
ultimately got revised and changed, but the headline number came in with zero jobs added, and everyone was scratching their head saying how could
So, I think people are taking a step back and recognizing that August is, in usual times a quirky month, and it's probably even more prone to weird
data distortions because of what's happening with the delta variant of COVID-19.
KOSIK: Yes, Paul, I do remember that zero jobs drop. I can't remember which year it was, but yes, I do remember that moment where we were
thinking what the heck happened there?
Paul La Monica, thanks for translating all of this for us.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga planning to step down after just one year in office. In a surprise announcement, Suga said he will not run in
his party's leadership election later this month.
KOSIK: This is a surprise announcement Suga said he will not run in his party's leadership election later this month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOSHIHIDE SUGA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): While I had the schedule to run, thinking about COVID measures and election activities
needed an enormous amount of energy. In that situation, I could not do both. I needed to choose one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Selina Wang is live for us in Tokyo with all of the details. So Selina, the first thing that comes to mind is you think about Mr. Suga's
popularity, it was less than 30 percent and he has really had a hard time appealing to the people. So, how much of a surprise really was this?
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alison, we saw Japanese stocks rally after this announcement because investors are betting that the next leader
is going to be more effective at dealing with the pandemic and will usher in more economic stimulus.
Now, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took up the position after his predecessor, Shinzo Abe abruptly resigned for health reasons. He took
office with his reputation of being Abe's longtime right-hand man for being this successful behind the scenes deal maker political operative, but
instead, when he took office, he failed to deal with the challenges that he inherited and he was widely criticized for having slow and indecisive
He promised to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead a year later, COVID-19 cases in Japan are the worst they've ever been with the delta
variant quickly spreading in Tokyo. Large parts of the country still under a state of emergency. Suga oversaw this very slow vaccine rollout as he
plowed ahead with the Olympics.
Now, while the intense opposition to the Olympics started to soften once when The Games started, much of the public was still very frustrated. You
did not see Suga's popularity, you did not see his ratings rise after the Olympics. They were still angry that the government poured so many
resources towards the Olympics rather than dealing with COVID-19.
I spoke to a Professor at Sofia University, Koichi Nakano, who put it to me this way. He said that Suga failed to capture the public's imagination and
showed confidence at a time when this leadership was so badly needed.
KOSIK: So Selina, what's next for Japan then? Who could succeed Suga?
WANG: Well, Alison, fear is that now Suga has departed that Japan could go back to this period of political instability before his predecessor, Shinzo
Abe. Abe was Japan's longest serving Prime Minister and prior to that, Japan had gone through six Prime Ministers in six years, and now the race
is wide open for who could assume leadership of the LDP.
Now, someone who is considered a front runner is Fumio Kishida. He is a former Foreign Minister. He has been very vocal of his criticism of Prime
Minister Suga and he has formally declared his candidacy.
Another person who is seen as a potential popular candidate is Taro Kono, who is currently the Minister in charge of the vaccine rollout. He's also a
former Foreign and Defense Minister. He is prolific on Twitter and he speaks perfect English.
And Alison, the really big question for the successor is can they restore the people's confidence because all of Suga's challenges were really
compounded by the fact that he had this very uncharismatic public speaking style. He really struggled to communicate with the public -- Alison.
KOSIK: Okay, Selina Wang, thanks for all that great context.
Virgin Galactic grounded. Shares of the company are falling in the premarket after the U.S. aviation regulator opened an investigation into
Richard Branson's flight to space.
Virgin Galactic cannot launch any new flights until the investigation is concluded. Kristin Fisher is live with us from Washington with more.
Kristin, great to see you. You know, the first thing I thought about when I saw this headline was there was so much pomp and circumstance with this
launch. I mean, there was music, there were champagne bottles popping. Who knew the mission wasn't as successful as the company made it out to be?
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it looked picture perfect, right? Lift off, landing, champagne, big celebration. It
looked like, it was you know, a perfectly picture perfect flight.
But we are now learning that there was a problem on the glided descent of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two, and so what we're talking about here is --
kind of think about it, if you're a pilot, private or commercial pilot, if you fly out of your designated F.A.A. airspace where if you're caught
flying at an altitude, higher or lower than where you're supposed to be, you get in trouble. You can potentially have your pilot's license revoked
and there are all sorts of other potential fines and problems that you could encounter.
Well, that is essentially what Virgin Galactic is being accused of doing right now by the F.A.A. and Virgin Galactic is admitting it. They say that
they went outside of its F.A.A. designated airspace for about a minute and 42 seconds.
And according to the journalist who literally wrote the book on Virgin Galactic, spent years inside the company, the two pilots aboard SpaceShip
Two's aircraft got this warning light as the spacecraft was heading up into space and they faced this split second decision, either you abort the
mission, which means that Richard Branson likely would not have become the first billionaire spacefaring to make it into space onboard a rocket he
helped develop, or you try to take over controls manually and right the ship, and that is what the two pilots on board ultimately did.
FISHER: Now, Virgin Galactic is defending its pilots. They say that at no point the crew was in danger. None of the passengers were in danger.
They're also saying that no one on the ground or any other aircrafts were in danger as well, and they are now cooperating with the F.A.A. as they
But the F.A.A. says hey, you guys are grounded until this investigation is complete, and as you know, this is particularly problematic because right
now Virgin Galactic is really trying to start letting all of these customers that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, they're trying
to allow them to begin flying into space. In fact, the first paying customers were supposed to launch later this month or next month, now this.
So, certainly not the kind of headlines that any burgeoning space tourism company would like to get just, you know, a month and a half after what
they said was a first successful flight that Richard Branson, its founder went on -- Alison.
KOSIK: So, the decision was made while it was happening. We're going to ask for -- we're not going to ask for permission, we're going to ask for
forgiveness. We're just going to go ahead and make this move and deal with it after. We'll see if the consequences hit their bottom line with those
Kristin Fisher, thanks so much.
And these are the stories making headlines around the world. At least six people in New Zealand have been wounded in a suspected terror attack. It
happened at a supermarket in the Auckland suburb of New Lynn. Officials say the victims were stabbed by a supporter of ISIS who was a known security
threat. Police had been following the suspect and shot and killed him within a minute of the attack.
We get more now from CNN's Ivan Watson.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Prime Minister of New Zealand is calling it an act of terror when a suspect armed with a
knife began stabbing people in a supermarket in Auckland. The thing is, is that this suspect, and his violent extremist ISIS supporting views were
known at the highest levels of the New Zealand government.
WATSON (voice over): Panicked shoppers at an Auckland supermarket, inside --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is someone here with a knife blade.
WATSON (voice over): Disbelief as word spreads of an attacker on a stabbing spree.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cops and ambulances just teamed up --
WATSON (voice over): He wounded six people, leaving three in critical condition. Within moments, police shot the suspect dead.
JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: The attack began at 2:40 p.m. and was undertaken by an individual who was a known threat to New Zealand.
The individual was under constant monitoring, and it was the police surveillance team and Special Tactics group who were part of that
monitoring and surveillance that shot and killed him, within I'm told, the space of roughly 60 seconds of the attack starting.
WATSON (voice over): Just hours after the attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern identified the dead suspect as a Sri Lankan national and ISIS
supporter who had been under police surveillance and whose case she had personally known about.
ARDERN: What I can say is that we have utilized every legal and surveillance power available to us to try and keep people safe from this
individual. Many agencies and people were involved and all were motivated by the same thing -- trying to keep people safe.
WATSON (voice over): Police say the man took a knife in the supermarket and used it to carry out the attacks. An existing court order initially
restricted government officials from revealing more details about the attacker.
Ardern did say the man was labeled a national security threat as early as 2016, but that wasn't enough to warrant the man's arrest, says the Mayor of
MAYOR PHIL GOLF, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND (via phone): He was under police surveillance because of the views that he held, but in our democracy as in
yours, you don't get imprisoned for your views, you get imprisoned for your actions.
RODGER SHANAHAN, TERRORISM EXPERT: Yes, I think, one of the one of the shortfalls of New Zealand counterterrorism legislation is there's no law
against preparatory acts before an act of terrorism.
In Australia, that's what the majority of domestic terrorists have been charged under preparatory charges. It doesn't exist in New Zealand.
WATSON (voice over): The New Zealand government now lobbying to lift the court order gagging officials from revealing more about the alleged violent
WATSON (on camera): New Zealand compared to many countries has relatively low rates of violent crime.
WATSON (on camera): The most deadliest terrorist incident to date took place in the city of Christchurch in 2019 when an Australian white
supremacist attacked two mosques there killing more than 50 people. In that case, he was armed with firearms. The suspect in the stabbing in the
Auckland supermarket, only had a knife.
Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
KOSIK: Cleanup efforts are underway in the northeastern U.S. following historic flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. At least 48 people
have died across the region, most of them in New York and New Jersey.
President Biden has approved emergency declarations to help those two states. CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us now live from New Jersey.
Polo, great to see you. You know, what we went through a couple of nights ago was incredible. What's the situation now?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And yet here we are, Alison, days later and about everywhere you look in this particular neighborhood in Manville,
New Jersey, there are signs that the devastation, that the heartbreak is far from over. All you have to do is look over my shoulder.
This is an example of what was, at one point, specifically yesterday, a fire in the middle of flood. A neighbor who lives not far from here said
that she was at home when she heard a loud explosion. She looked out, she saw this all this area here was basically just flooded. This was water that
was spilled out of the banks of the nearby Raritan River.
And at some point, this house basically just destroyed. At this point, we're still reaching out to investigators to see if the flood was directly
linked, but that is certainly the suspicion here that these swift moving floodwaters definitely messed with the utility lines, the gas lines, for
And that's why, gas crews are out here right now making sure that there is no other potential threat for any surrounding homes. That's why this is as
close as we can get you right now. But what this does, it really does speak to, yes, that storm has come and gone. Those floodwaters for the most part,
have receded, but there are some communities still underwater, but yet the cleanup is just getting started. That's the hardest part right now.
Now, in terms of the lives that have been lost in New Jersey alone, Governor Phil Murphy just recently just updating those numbers. Sadly, two
more people have been confirmed dead. Now, 25 storm related deaths in the State of New Jersey and there is certainly concern that death toll could
continue to rise as all of this -- all of these damages continue to add up.
KOSIK: You know, you think about what was happening two weeks ago when Hurricane Henri was headed for the very area you're standing, and more so,
Long Island. But you know, it pretty much didn't cause any damage, any issues. What do you think happened here with Hurricane Ida's remnants, as
far as you know what residents were thinking when they heard that Ida's remnants were heading their way?
SANDOVAL: Well, we should mention that places like this community here, it is used to seeing this kind of flooding. There was a storm that blew
through here in the 90s that led to this flooding. There was also a storm a few years before that, so many folks here are accustomed to that.
But to your point, there were many people here that did not expect it to be perhaps this intense. But for some folks, including that neighbor who we
spoke to a little while ago, she has been through this like four or five times now, and so almost has to accept the fact that this community tends
to flood when such -- when so much rain is dumped in their neighborhood in such a short amount of time.
So, there are some people that evacuated. The neighbor, by the way, and this is important to note, did tell me that she has heard that the
occupants of that home did make it out safely. We haven't heard anything that lead us to believe that they were hurt based on what we've had our
conversations with investigators.
So there was a level of preparedness in this neighborhood. There were people that knew that this kind of flooding happens in these neighborhoods
and unfortunately, know what they have to do to rebuild again.
KOSIK: Okay, Polo Sandoval, thanks so much for your reporting.
In Afghanistan, women took to the streets to demand participation in the new government the Taliban is forming and demand the right to work.
Protests took place in Kabul and the western city of Herat.
Women's rights are one benchmark the E.U. is demanding as it lays out conditions for its diplomatic return to Afghanistan.
Still to come on FIRST MOVE, released money to the Taliban or risk more suffering for the Afghan people, warned a board member of Afghanistan's
Central Bank. He'll join me later this hour.
And China crackdown on celebrity culture. How Beijing plans to get those in the public eye to reflect party values.
KOSIK: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE, I'm Alison Kosik live from New York where U.S. stocks are on track for a flat open after today's shockingly
weak U.S. jobs report. Just 235,000 jobs were added to the American economy last month, with job losses reported in the retail and food service
industries. It was the weakest month for job growth since the spring, and it could force the Fed to postpone its decision on when to pull back on
Today's report comes amid new signs that supply bottlenecks remain a drag on global economies.
Ford says its auto sales fell more than 30 percent last month as worsening chip shortage slowed the pace of car production. Both Ford and GM are
announcing new temporary plant closures this week.
Okay, let's get to Mark Zandi. He joins me now live. He is the Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics. Great to see you.
MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Thanks, Alison. Good to be with you.
KOSIK: Let's talk about this huge miss, 235,000 versus around 700,000 expected. Walk us through what happened here and tell us what this means
for the real economy here in the U.S.
ZANDI: Yes, it's the delta variant that's really doing a lot of damage to the economic recovery. People are nervous. You can see it in the Sentiment
Survey, it rolled down a lot, and people are pulling back.
They're not traveling as much. They're not going to restaurants and bars. They are staying home. And the delta variant is also disrupting global
supply chains all around the world. I mean, a good anecdote is China shut down a big terminal and one of their major ports because of COVID, and the
cost of shipping, Christmas toys and other products, the United States jumped quite dramatically. So, that's just an example.
But delta is doing some real damage here and it is showing up in the economic data, unfortunately.
KOSIK: Should one report really be sort of the trend that you think we're after here? You know, August is usually one of these strange months where
were these numbers come out that really aren't what they seem. Do you agree with that?
ZANDI: Yes, August is a weird month. Low response rates from the businesses that participate in the survey, and so we often get a soft
number in August. So yes, I wouldn't read too much into it and I'm hopeful that the delta variant is going to roll over here, right. The U.K. is a
good case study for us. We should see after Labor Day in the next week, two or three, the number of infections start to come down.
If that's the case, I think, you know, things will rev right back up. But, you know, it highlights the threat here and the risk and the ongoing risk
by the pandemic. The pandemic is still, you know, raging and it's still a problem here in the U.S., it's a problem in many parts of the world. And as
long as that's the case, you know, we're going to have fits and starts to the economy, it is not going to be a straight line back.
KOSIK: Yes. I mean, we've been waiting for the workers to return. We thought that that would happen when kids go back to school, which is around
now. How do you think the Fed is going to view this? How will it influence their decision making?
Of course, they have their meeting coming up this month. The expectation was the Fed was going to go ahead and announce that tapering was expected
to come soon. Do you think that the Fed is going to change course here?
ZANDI: Not yet. You know, I think they, like me, thinks that the delta is going to roll over infections are going to come down and the economy is
going to rev right back up in the next -- not next month, not in September, by October-November. And I think they're hoping to start winding down their
bond buying or quantitative easing by December. I think that's their script.
But you know, if the -- this is the pandemic, you can't predict it -- if things continue to get worse, if the infections continue to rise, schools
have to start shutting down for in-person learning again or hospital systems get overwhelmed and we see restrictions on businesses or even
shutdowns in some parts of the country, they won't taper. They will keep their foot flat on the accelerator, until they're absolutely sure that, you
know, we're off and running here.
So, you know, they've got a script, but you know, they'll change it pretty quickly if they need to.
KOSIK: So, we are seeing with the announcement of what the jobs report numbers are, we're not seeing much movement in equities. But we are seeing
movement in the bond market. We're seeing yields move higher.
Do investors know something that we don't know?
ZANDI: Well, I don't know that they take any cues from an up and down equity market or bond market. What I do know is that the best window into
what investors are thinking about with regards to the economy is long term interest rates, the bond market, and bond yields, long term interest rates
The last I looked, we are at 1.35 percent on the 10-year Treasury bond, that's down from where we were a few months ago, and I do think that in
part, reflects concerns about delta and the impact on the economy.
As long as interest rates are low like this, that's a signal that investors think the economy you know, while it's improving, it's not often running.
KOSIK: Do you think inflation is transitory as the Fed says it is?
ZANDI: I do. It's all about the pandemic. You know, I think that the supply chain disruptions go directly to the pandemic. If the pandemic
starts to wind down and China can start shipping goods and chip plans can start producing chips so that we can produce more cars and get those
vehicle prices down, you get people back to work.
And, you know, we'll see labor cost moderate, and just a normalization of prices we've seen in airlines and rental cars, hotels kind of all abate.
So, it's going to take a bit of time. You know, I don't think this is going to come back into where we'd like to see it by, you know, early next year.
But I'm hopeful by this time next year, we'll see significant moderation in inflation. So yes, I think it's temporary.
KOSIK: Okay, Mark Zandi, the Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics, thanks so much for your expertise today.
And you're watching FIRST MOVE. I'm Alison Kosik, and the market open is coming up next.
KOSIK: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE.
U.S. stocks are up and running on the last trading day of the week. Investors trying to get a handle on today's much weaker than expected U.S.
employment report with stocks. They made a U-turn, mostly lower at this point.
Less than 250,000 jobs were created last month, about 500,000 below the figure analysts had expected. Economists say the rise in cases of the delta
variant played a big part in today's disappointing data. Investors now wondering if the Fed will wait a few more months before announcing a
pullback in stimulus.
Meantime, shares of Chinese ride-hailing app, DiDi Global are on the rise in early trading on reports that a state driven restructuring of the firm
may be on the way. DiDi's U.S. shares have slumped more than 30 percent since this summer's New York IPO as China slaps new regulations on leading
consumer tech firms.
In Afghanistan this morning, a small group of women protested for equal rights and political participation in Taliban-controlled Kabul.
Meantime, the U.S. says it has no plans to give the Taliban access to Afghan state assets held in America. Afghanistan's economy has been in
crisis since the western backed government fell last month. Anna Stewart reports.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice over): Banks are open again in Afghanistan, but it takes hours, even a whole day to reach the front of the
line. And then withdrawals are limited to 20,000 Afghanis, around $200.00, which has to last a week.
A journalist in Kabul working with CNN has seen prices for basic necessities skyrocket.
In just two weeks, petrol prices are 140 percent higher, cooking oil is up 63 percent, and basic food items like rice, flour, and sugar are all
significantly more expensive. It's adding pressure on people after weeks of upheaval.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I've been unemployed and sitting at home for 17 or 18 days. This isn't easy because we have rent,
electricity bills, and other expenses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I do not feel well, everyone fled. There are no work opportunities in Afghanistan at all.
STEWART (voice over): Afghanistan was already one of the poorest countries in the world, facing rampant corruption and dependence on foreign aid.
Around 75 percent of the previous government's budget came from overseas grants according to the World Bank.
Now the U.S. has blocked the Taliban from accessing Afghanistan's foreign reserves and the I.M.F., the E.U. and the World Bank have suspended
ABDUL FITRAT, FORMER GOVERNOR, CENTRAL BANK OF AFGHANISTAN: Now, the Taliban has only access to roughly $100 million in cash inside the country.
STEWART (on camera): Only $100 million? But Afghanistan's reserves are a little under $10 billion, but isn't all of that overseas?
FITRAT: Correct. And majority of them are in the U.S. and less than half in Europe.
STEWART: Should the international community unblock the reserves? Should they give financial aid to the Taliban to help the people?
FITRAT: No. If they have access to Afghanistan's reserves, they will not spend that for the benefit of the population. They will transfer some of
those money to their international terrorist colleagues in the country, to the terrorist groups. We saw that -- examples of that in the past.
STEWART (voice over): Aid organizations are already warning of a healthcare system facing collapse and food shortages.
Without recognition from the international community, it seems the Taliban could struggle to govern a country they fought so long to control.
Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
KOSIK: And as you heard in that report, some say releasing money to the Taliban will do nothing to help Afghanistan's people, but others argue that
Afghans will suffer unless the Taliban is given access to funds.
My next guest says the cost of withholding money from the Taliban will be a humanitarian crisis. I'm joined now by a sitting member -- a sitting board
member of the Central Bank of Afghanistan and Professor of Economics at Montgomery College. Welcome Shah Mehrabi, great to have you.
SHAH MEHRABI, BOARD MEMBER OF THE CENTRAL BANK OF AFGHANISTAN: Thank you very much, Alison, for inviting me. It's nice to be here with you.
KOSIK: Likewise. I'm curious if you're in contact with colleagues at the Central Bank in Afghanistan who are running operations there on the ground?
Can you get a sense of what's the situation is there -- what's happening there right now?
MEHRABI: Yes, there is some degree of uncertainty and that needs to be expected at this particular time, but I think it's important to keep in
mind that, indeed, the Central Banks -- the Central Bank is fully operational and all of the female and male colleagues, they have all
returned to work.
Some of the Central Bank senior management who have been employed at the institution for more than three years, and Central Bank has always been an
independent entity in Afghanistan, and there has not been really any political interference in conducting monetary policy in the prior
administration, as well as so far in the current regime.
KOSIK: At this point, though, the U.S. Treasury, for now, has no plans to release assets. Describe to me what you think the fallout could be from
that -- from withholding assets?
MEHRABI: Thank you, Alison. It says, look at the people of Afghanistan, it is very important that they have access to these monitors -- to these
reserves, and I think this humanitarian crisis and economic crisis is going to be far greater than what Afghanistan has experienced in recent history.
And I'll tell you why will this come into being if Afghans do not have access to international reserves? First is that we will have
hyperinflation. This has already occurred and there will be a prolonged currency depreciation.
It has been only two and a half weeks, if you look at the data here, again currency has depreciated in double digits, and people will suffer from this
prolonged depreciation. If Central Bank is unable to carry out most of its important monetary tool, which is auctioning of dollars, you will see
clearly food prices and fuel prices that have skyrocketed beyond imaginable by anyone at the rate that has gone up.
When you look at the food prices, the main staples that Afghans rely on has gone up about 25 or 30 percent. So, this will continue because Afghanistan
is heavily import reliant. So, if Afghans do not have access to the reserve that President Biden recently froze, it will create economic hardship for
the Afghan people.
It means banks will not open, private companies will not be able to continue to operate and the humanitarian crisis much worse than what is
going on at the moment will happen.
President Biden is not hurting Taliban. He is hurting everybody, every other Afghans and it will push them into poverty. This is on the top of
many crises and many conflict and war and COVID that is occurring in that particular country.
This is very important to me as an Afghan because the plight of the people should be of concern to us, because again, what I'm suggesting -- a
monitored access to this reserve can be done fairly well. We are able to negotiate what Taliban on other issues, that the United States was able to
engage in -- engaged Taliban in trying to evacuate our citizens and others who are our partners, in one way or another. We can negotiate also here,
what a structure that will have access to --
KOSIK: I hear what you're saying, but some would say it's hard to negotiate with the Taliban when you're negotiating with terrorists. I mean,
many of these Taliban are literally on terror watch lists. They have been known to have, you know, these very restrictive policies against women. How
do you give millions, possibly billions of dollars, open up that access for the Taliban have access to? I understand you're saying you would monitor
it, but how do you trust a terror group with that kind of money?
MEHRABI: Well, this is not difficult. We have independent auditing companies in Afghanistan. They are still there. You know, access to the
fund can be monitored with these independent auditing companies that as I said here, that are still in Afghanistan operating.
If the funds are not used for the purpose that it is designed to be used, that is to be used for auctioning dollars to stabilize currency, then block
the access. That is not that difficult to do. You know, you can monitor and I have proposed a very modest amount of trying to monitor it, if you can
get $150 million, this is a conservative amount, and try to go ahead and allow the banking institution, the Central Bank, to be able to use this
money to stabilize currency and monitor it with independent auditor.
Now, as I said, these auditors exist there, and if it is not used for that purpose, freeze it. No problem.
So if you remember here, this the crisis here, is that deposits have been reduced in commercial banks, even before the Taliban took over. That was
experiencing a shipment of $250 million to be delivered the day that Kabul to the Taliban. Banks are already placed award bids and so on in currency,
and there's a lot of withdrawal.
But this is also an important key point to keep in mind that this is one of the first time in the last 20 years that Central Bank had to limit the
distribution of dollars to preserve the bank supply of dollars.
KOSIK: Okay, all right. Shah Mehrabi, we hear your side. We will continue watching and stay in touch with you as well. Shah Mehrabi, board member of
the Central Bank of Afghanistan and Professor of Economics at Montgomery College. Great talking with you.
MEHRABI: Thank you very much.
KOSIK: Coming up on FIRST MOVE, the power of food. How a celebrity chef and his organization are helping people stricken by disaster around the
world. That story, next.
KOSIK: Welcome back. I'm Alison Kosik.
President Biden planning to visit Louisiana as many residents are still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, and that's where World
Central Kitchen is serving fresh meals to people impacted by the storm.
The organization was founded by world renowned chef, Jose Andres in 2010 after a devastating earthquake in Haiti. They are now also helping refugees
Joining us now, Nate Mook, CEO of World Central Kitchen. Great to see you, Nate.
NATE MOOK, CEO, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Thanks so much for having me, Alison.
KOSIK: Gosh, you know, when there's a disaster or a crisis, your team seem to mobilize and go there. And currently, it seems we are just having one
crisis after another. Tell me where your teams are fanned out around the world and what they're doing.
MOOK: Yes, so we have a big team in Haiti right now responding to the big 7.2 earthquake that hit a number of weeks ago. Myself and Chef Jose just
came from Haiti to New Orleans where we've been for the last week for Hurricane Ida, responding here.
We've been cooking since Monday, all throughout this week. We also have teams supporting Afghan refugees as they have been coming to the United
States at Dulles Airport, serving thousands of meals every day for all of those refugees coming in. And we're also continuing our work on the
southern border as well. We have teams in Tijuana and in McAllen, Texas.
So, a lot of places -- oh, and California wildfires as well. There's still two major fires burning in California and we're supporting shelters there.
So as you said, it's a very busy time right now.
KOSIK: And you mentioned Hurricane Ida. President Biden heading to survey the damage there in Louisiana today. What are you seeing in the aftermath
there? What are your team seeing?
MOOK: Yes, so we've been on the ground since before the hurricane hit. We started cooking immediately after the hurricane. I'm here in our kitchen
right now. We just got power on in our kitchen this morning. So on day five of not having power.
But our kitchen has underground power lines, we are in the central business district here. And so even though we have power, it does not mean that
power is going to be coming on in a lot of the other neighborhoods, places like the Lower Ninth Ward that were hit hard by Katrina.
So, it's going to be quite a while I think before power really gets off across New Orleans. And so, now you have really stifling heat outside.
Folks can't cook. There is no air conditioning.
You know, it's a real serious situation here. A lot of food needs around the city and the surrounding parishes that also took a direct hit from the
hurricane. So, we're trying to get out as many meals as possible, 20,000 plus meals a day out of this kitchen, and not just cooking, but also
delivering to those folks, those residents here in Louisiana that need food right now.
KOSIK: You know, long after crises fade from the headlines, those crises remain. I'm thinking about Haiti, which, as we said, had that devastating
earthquake, and then days later, a tropical storm. What challenges do you continue to see in Haiti?
MOOK: Yes, you know, Haiti remains a big logistical challenge. This earthquake that hit in more rural areas of Haiti. And so getting food to
communities that were hit hard is very difficult. We've been using helicopters and planes and, you know, trucks that have to drive for hours.
You know, it's going to be a while before some of these communities can get back up on their feet again, and get enough aid to sort of get recovered. A
lot of buildings damaged in Haiti as well. So the recovery process is going to take a long time.
And as you said, you know, one disaster after another, even here in New Orleans as we're struggling without power, and residents are without food.
You know, Hurricane Ida hit New York City and New Jersey, which, of course, you know, took attention there as well.
So, you know, we're hopeful people realize that there's still a lot of work to be done. We're going to continue to stay here in Louisiana, serving the
New Orleans community and the surrounding parishes. We're working closely with the city, as well, and we hope President Biden's visit will also, you
know, continue to show that, you know, as a country, we have a lot of work to do to make sure that we can respond.
We've certainly learned a lot since Katrina, but you know, it's still a big challenge and we need to get better at supporting citizens here. As we
drive around the streets, there are some folks that haven't received any support whatsoever, and it's a big challenge.
Folks don't have cars. There is no gasoline. They can't even get to food distribution sites even if they wanted to. So it's -- again, it's just a
real challenge that we're facing here right now.
KOSIK: Well, Nate, you are doing amazing work. We're so glad to have you on the show today explaining what you guys do.
Nate Mook, World Central Kitchen, thanks so much.
And she is one of the biggest stars in China, but her name and her movies have been wiped off the internet there. Find out why, next.
KOSIK: Shares of Alibaba are trading lower in New York after a pledge the company made in China. The tech giant says it will spend more than $15
billion by 2025 to help the country achieve what Beijing calls Common Prosperity. It's the latest Chinese tech company pledging its support for
President Xi Jinping's campaign.
Meantime, the Chinese Communist Party is increasingly cracking down on domestic celebrities. As Will Ripley reports, not even the biggest stars
are off limits for authorities.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Her face lighting up screens in China for decades.
Xiao Wei, also known as Vicki Zhao, one of China's highest paid household names, at least she was.
Government censors scrubbing Zhao from most of Mainland China's internet, yanking her movies and TV shows from streaming platforms without even
giving a reason.
FRIDA HAAPANIEMI, SENIOR ANALYST, TRIVIUM CHINA: It doesn't matter how big you are in China. You can be a very big celebrity, but the government is
not afraid. No one is above the law basically. I think that is the signal here.
RIPLEY (voice over): Zhao's agent did not respond to CNN's request for comment.
Zhao's name on a list of misbehaving celebrities circulating on Chinese social media.
The list includes Fan Bingbing, arguably China's most famous and reportedly highest paid actress, fined nearly $130 million in 2018 for tax evasion.
The same charge levied last week against another cancelled actress, Zheng Shuang slapped with a $46 million fine. She did reportedly make 24 million
bucks for a recent romantic drama, in a nation where hundreds of millions barely make $140.00 a month.
JENNIFER HSU, RESEARCH FELLOW, LOWY INSTITUTE: You can't get too high, you can't get too famous, and you can't get too wealthy.
RIPLEY (voice over): President Xi Jinping is pledging to redistribute wealth, a policy believed to be popular among many Chinese young people.
The nation's top internet regulator also targeting celebrity fan clubs, state media comparing them to cults susceptible to the influence of hostile
foreign forces. Authorities announced measures to clean up chaos caused by fan obsession and cut off the capital chain behind the phenomenon.
The Cyberspace Administration of China promising to protect online political security and ideological security.
RIPLEY (voice over): The Beijing leadership, calling on celebrities to promote patriotism, morality, and above all, the Communist Party's
MARK TANNER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CHINA SKINNY: You've got to stay clean and wholesome, make sure you're friends with the right people, and paying your
taxes. It is very narrowly defined what's good and what's not appropriate by Beijing.
RIPLEY (voice over): Those who don't comply, experts say, risk being blacklisted in the blink of an eye.
Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.
KOSIK: And that's it for the show. I'm Alison Kosik. Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend.
"Correct the World" with Becky Anderson is next.