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First Move with Julia Chatterley
Argentina's Third World Cup Victory and its First Since 1986; Bank of Japan Policy Move Jolts Global Markets; CNN is First to Visit Snake Island since Ukraine Recaptured it; EU Agrees to cap Natural Gas Prices; Artificial Trees Grow in Popularity; Victory Parade for World Cup Winners. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired December 20, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN HOST, FIRST MOVE: A warm welcome to "First Move", fantastic to have you with us. We begin today's show with a jolt from
Japan, the Japanese Central Bank surprising investors by loosening the tight hold, it keeps. On longer term borrowing costs, allowing them to
raise a touch now it was a tweak.
And I emphasize that but the broader belief is that it could single a decision to start reducing base rates, which of course have been negative
for years. Especially, of course as other Central Banks around the world continue to hike interest rates and the policy gap between them and Japan
continues to widen. The big question, of course is, is the era of cheap money in Japan finally over not according to the Bank of Japan at Chief
It is significant though. The Chief Kuroda is stepping down in the spring. And again this is the talk today is that today's move could allow the new
Bank of Japan had to come in with a clean slate and performs some kind of policy pivot early on next year. For now, though the Yen is surging against
major currencies currently up more than 3.5 percent as you can see, there just under now against the U.S. dollar.
Context of course, is key; the Yen is rising from ultra-low levels, and is still down some 16 percent against the U.S. dollar this year. Now as you
would expect with moves like this in the currency. Japanese stocks also under pressure, the NIKKEI tumbling some 2 percent as you can see around
2.5 percent. They're banking, one of the few sectors actually moving higher in Tokyo though.
Rising yields will ultimately help their profitability. Global bond yields including the U.S. dollar moving higher as well that the impact on U.S. and
European equity markets far less severe. U.S. futures a bit softer, Europe pulling back during the session too, but this has been an extremely
challenging month for global equities bucking the usual holiday trend.
The S&P 500 in particular has fallen for four straight days losing more than 6 percent so far this month lots of sad centers perhaps in roaming
around trading floors except perhaps in Buenos Aires where nothing will stem. The joy today is the World Cup winning footy team, the white and blue
sky is given a hero's welcome in just under an hour.
A victory parade will begin in the Argentine Capitol tens of thousands. Wow! I mean it looks like more than that and fans have been gathering
through the night after the squad arrived in the early hours of the morning too. What could only be called a rock star reception? We just hope the team
has been able to get some sleep.
They have if this post by Lionel Messi is anything to go by. Take a look at that he's even sleeping with that World Cup trophy. Stefano Pozzebon is in
Buenos Aires where the excitement is reaching fever pitch. No pun intended. Stefano, I'm sure you could barely even hear me with the noise that we can
hear behind. You just described the scenes there, incredible.
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Absolutely Julia, yes, I was just about to tell you that. Please speak as loud as you can, because here we are nine
floors above the avenue, the ninth of July Avenue and the sound from the tens of thousands of Argentinian fans. They have been hitting the streets
since the early hours of today to give their heroes, a hero's welcome as they come back from Qatar has been mountain and mountain it's something
that hundreds. Literally I have not experienced that anywhere before.
It's a three day so of collective celebration that these country has gone through since Sunday. It's been more than three decades since Argentina
were on top of the world in awards football and it does make sense that the people here are intended to party as hard as they can in terms of what to
expect it today. The national football team and Lionel Messi will arrive on an open bus carrying the trophy from the big Avenue that is just behind my
This is the ninth of July Avenue. It's a wide nine Lane artery to cross through the heart of Buenos Aires and it's already absolutely packed in the
team will then do a roundabout attempt to do a roundabout around the obelisk and from their head to the presidential palace where they had they
were meant to meet President Alberto Fernandez. So really it's the culmination of three days of a national celebration.
POZZEBON: And today by the way is a national holiday here in Argentina just to celebrate the World Cup victory, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, and everyone's as we can see there the ninth of July Avenue crowding in. How on earth is the bus even going to get through that?
POZZEBON: That is a question that I'm asking myself - as the bus. We'll try to attempt. We were here we were down on the ground on Sunday and the
scenes were really something we had never seen before it's, well, they will one way or another.
They will make it through. They made it through Qatar after losing the first game of the first match against Saudi Arabia, but then collecting six
victories in a row and it made you through the penalties against the France. So perhaps some crowd control and make it through the crowd will be
possible for this ever conquering Argentinian team, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, good luck with that. I think something tells me it's going to take them far longer than they planned. Stefano, we'll be back later on
in the show with you, but for now, I'm going to let you go Stefano Pozzebon there, basking in the glow of happiness in Buenos Aires. And stay right
here with Ted and we'll have much more live coverage of Argentina's World Cup victory parade in Buenos Aires next hour too.
Let's move on for now and the crypto court chaos isn't over for Sam Bankman-Fried just yet. The Former FTX, CEO is expected back in court in
the Bahamas today at a hearing on Monday. We're told that Bankman-Fried agreed to be extradited to the United States, but proceedings did descend
into confusion as prosecutors and Bankman-Fried's Bahamian lawyer argued in court.
CNN's Patrick Oppmann joins us now from the Bahamas. What on earth happened yesterday, Patrick, because I do believe we were thinking it would all be
signed and sealed and the extradition process would crack on and today we've got another court hearing and no real clarity I think on when
actually his journey to the United States will take place? What happened and what can you tell us?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to put it simply, there was just a lot of drama in the Bahamas and yesterday supposed to be a court hearing
today but I've got inside the quarter. They have no information to give us at this point, though. We don't see a heavy Police presence like we saw
yesterday when they brought in as SPF as he's known Sam Bankman-Fried.
So we're all waiting to see what's happening. There is a huge disconnect, obviously between his U.S. legal team, which is running the show, but
there's Bahamian legal team, which is the only attorneys that have any say when it comes to the Bahamas. So there is obviously been some egos bruised.
There is a tremendous amount of pressure from the U.S. government on the Bahamian government to get this done as soon as possible. But his Bahamian
attorney yesterday, dug in and said that until he's ready to lease. He had the opportunity to advise his client leasing all the paper that he needs to
He's not going to permit this extradition to go forward. Yesterday afternoon, there seemed to be some relenting from his Bahamian defense team
saying that, yes, having talked to Sam Bankman-Fried that he had agreed to be extradited. So you would think that there would be some movement at the
courthouse or where the hearing would take place that would allow his extradition to move forward.
That could happen as soon as today we were told late last night, but at this point, there's just very little movement here. Obviously, a lot of
pieces still being worked on behind the scene, but it really are surprisingly chaotic. And of course, for the many, many people who invested
in FES who lost their life savings, lost money that they need for car payments or rent, you know, those people want answers. They want to know
where their money is, and we are no closer to those answers as of right now.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, to your point and incredibly high profile detainees so a lot of focus on this person. They want to get this right, Patrick; we shall
see what today brings. Patrick Oppmann there covering as you said, dramas in the Bahamas. Thank you for that.
OK, Investors were expecting a snooze fest at the Bank of Japan's end of year policy meeting on Tuesday. What they got, though, was a pretty sizable
wakeup call that could reverberate through global markets for years and pave the way for the First Bank of Japan rate hike in well over a decade.
Paul La Monica joins us now. Steady on, I think with that first rate hike in over a decade.
I think you have to explain what's going on because traditionally the Bank of Japan have kept an incredibly tight control over where borrowing costs
particularly longer term borrowing costs have held. They ease that slightly but they also announced more bonds buying too so easing one thing trying to
control something else. They have a job, Paul.
PAUL R LA MONICA, CNN REPORTER: Its, going to be very difficult Julia, you're right. I think that the Bank of Japan is trying to show global
markets that they are still in a more easing sort of mode with regards to monetary policy compared to the rest of the world.
MONICA: Obviously the Fed ECB, Bank of England, but this step to widen the band for bonds is definitely something that is reverberating around the
world, because I think Investors are rightfully interpreting this as a precursor for an eventual rate hike. And that's why you are seeing the U.S.
dollar take a hit today, as the Yen has strengthened.
You've got U.S. bond yields rising along with Japanese bond yields, as well. So this would just be another example of the tightening that is
taking place around the world in response to inflation Japan, clearly behind every other major Central Bank now they're trying to catch up.
CHATTERLEY: And significantly behind, of course, as I mentioned in the introduction to the show, they've got negative Central Bank base rates. And
they've stayed there while all other Central Banks, and you mentioned a number of the really important ones have continued to hike interest rates
to combat inflation. And it's had a material impact on the relative strength of the Yen.
I mean, they're still down what 16 percent relative to the U.S. dollar, the Japanese currency, Yen. And that has an impact on inflation because you
effectively import inflation because everything you buy is getting more and more expensive. A kind of decision had to come. I think, to the point
you're making, Paul.
MONICA: Yes, I think that the Bank of Japan realizes that, for the sake of Chinese. I'm sorry, excuse me, Japanese consumers, as well as major
Japanese conglomerates, many of whom do business in the United States. It makes sense to do these moves in order to strengthen the Yen, which has
been floundering against the U.S. dollar for years.
So dollar strength was a big part of the global market story in 2022. Are we now all of a sudden going to see dollar weakness in 2023 versus
currencies like the Yen, even though the Fed is not done raising interest rates just yet? Jerome Powell, obviously suggesting that more tightening
probably to come in early 2023 before they pivot to a pause.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, 2023 going to be equally interesting. I think is 2022 for monetary policy or ongoing monetary policy decisions. And Paul, a little
slip there, but you could have been looking at our rundown because we are headed to China next. So thank you for that too. Paul La Monica there
China and their sudden abandonment of its zero COVID policy could come with a high price. And new study warning that nearly a million people could die
from the disease as the country and restrictions on movement and the health system is increasingly overwhelmed. Selina Wang has been looking into the
details from Beijing.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: China's COVID policy has swung from one extreme to another. And many people here have been caught off guard by this
sudden shift from harsh lockdowns over a few COVID cases to now letting the virus rapidly spread in the major City of Shenzhen, which was under mass
COVID locked down last month. Well that city is now telling people that even if they have COVID and are sick, as long as they're only mildly sick.
Well, they can go back to work as normal. This is a dramatic unexpected U- turn that health experts say the health system is not prepared for after three years of harsh lockdowns and mass testing. And we're already seeing
hospitals under strain in major cities.
Hospitals have said they're dealing with outbreaks amongst staff. Long lines like these are forming outside of hospitals in big cities like these
videos from Hangzhou and Wuhan. Now China has only announced a few COVID deaths since reopening, but what we see on the ground points to a different
I went to a major crematorium in Beijing and you can see the long lines of cars waiting to get to that cremation area. The parking lot was full as
well and several people there told me their loved ones had died from COVID and it employee said they're swamped with dead bodies. The stores nearby
selling funerary items said they're much busier than normal.
Now a new study from Hong Kong researchers says that China's set an exit from zero COVID policy could lead to nearly 1 million deaths. But the
report does say that 1 million people dying of COVID in China is a worst case scenario if China doesn't take extra precautions. It says that China
can successfully boost the vaccination rate, use antiviral treatments and take other public health measures.
It could reduce the deaths by hundreds of thousands. U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the toll of COVID-19 in China is of concern to the
rest of the world given the size of China's GDP and its economy. Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.
CHATTERLEY: OK, coming up here on "First Move", A cap on top Europe's latest move to tackle high energy prices.
CHATTERLEY: Plus, perfect or just pricey the CEO of artificial Christmas tree retailer Olson brands coming up next, stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "First Move", Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has visited the frontline city of back marked where a brutal
battle for control has dragged on now for months. It comes as Russia's President Putin admits the situation in parts of Ukraine claimed by Russia
is as he puts it, "Extremely Complicated".
I think we can call that an understatement and in that vein, remember Snake Island. Early in the war, the island became a symbol of Ukrainian defiance,
as well as a key outpost in the Black Sea. Well, and this exclusive report Will Ripley takes us to the island for the very first time.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As the saying goes, whoever controls Snake Island controls the Black Sea the
safest way to get there the Ukrainian Military's inflatable speedboat with seating for six. It's small enough to stay out of sight.
RIPLEY (on camera): We are really getting tossed around out here but we need to take a small boat because we need to stay out of the sights of
Russia reconnaissance aircraft.
RIPLEY (voice over): Safer than a helicopter but no protection from the Black Sea's big waves, bitter cold and whipping winds, not to mention the
lines. By the end of our stomach turning journey Snake Island's craggy cliffs are a welcome sight. Of course, appear in pieces, previews the
destruction we're about to see.
We enter Snake Island by climbing up a pile of half sunken, slippery sea blocks. We're the first journalists allowed here since Ukraine recaptured
Snake Island five months ago. Russia blanketed the island with booby traps before bailing out.
RIPLEY (on camera): The soldier has told us we need to follow in their footsteps Exactly. We need to be very careful where we step. This whole
island is littered with landmines, unexploded ordnance, basically a powder keg.
RIPLEY (voice over): A powder keg with plenty of cats, wandering through the wreckage of 10 brutal months of war, not a snake in sight. On February
24, the first day of Russia's full scale invasion, Russia's Black Sea flagship the Moskva aimed its arsenal Snake Island demanding dozens of
Ukrainian defenders surrender or die.
RIPLEY (voice over): What happened next is how legends are made? Five words seen at the time as a final act of defiance everyone on Snake Island
presumed dead Russian bombs raining down the islands radio when silent those five words telling the Russian warship where to go. Instantly iconic,
inspiring T shirts, postage stamps, pop songs Ukraine later learned Snake Island's defenders were alive, prisoners of war. Some released in a POW
swamp earlier this year. Others remain in Russian captivity.
FORTUNA, A VOLUNTEER SOLDIER, SNAKE ISLAND: Is it intimidating to look out and see a giant Russian warship and know that you guys are a small group
RIPLEY (voice over): If anybody tells you it's not intimidating, he's a liar, says Fortuna a volunteer soldier. It was chaos. The garrison here was
small Russia capture the island quickly taking the island back took a long time.
RIPLEY (on camera): On Snake Island we find a graveyard of Russian weapons, the result of relentless Ukrainian attacks for several months earlier this
FORTUNA: This is one of Russia's most expensive anti-aircraft weapons systems as you can see not much use anymore.
RIPLEY (voice over): In April, Ukraine says its missiles sank the Moskva. Where did it go? The bottom of the Black Sea a humiliated Kremlin says
their flagship caught fire sinking in stormy weather. In May, a Ukrainian drone strike on Snake Island turned this helicopter into a fireball.
FORTUNA: This is what's left of that Russian helicopter pulverize, along with its crew of about eight people.
RIPLEY (voice over): A twisted relic of Russia's ill-fated plan to transform these remote Black Sea outposts into a permanent aircraft
RIPLEY (on camera): What's it like to live out here?
RIPLEY (voice over): We need to be on guard 24/7 Fortuna says. So we never get bored. We notice his Russian accent turns out Fortuna was born in
Russia. He moved to Ukraine and got married before the war now part of a Russian volunteer corps protecting Snake Island for Ukraine.
RIPLEY (on camera): How do you feel about Russia now?
RIPLEY (voice over): For us they are enemies no matter what most of the Russian volunteer corps lived in Ukraine before the invasion, he says. We
were living life, had families, good jobs. And here comes Russia attacking us if some other country attacked us we would fight too. Life on Snake
Island means almost total isolation. Soldiers tell me the simple act of switching on a cell phone brings Russian rockets within 40 minutes. They
say Russia attacked the island just last month.
FORTUNA: We are now out of time we've been on the Island just about an hour and it's important that we get off before the waves get too big and before
the Russians nowhere here.
RIPLEY (voice over): The Ukrainians say Russia blew up Snake Island's historic lighthouse and museum on the site of an ancient Greek temple. Evil
spirits are rumored to roam these 46 acres of rock and sand bearing witness to centuries of bloodshed. Ukraine is not the first nation to control Snake
Island, but vows it will be the last. Will Ripley, CNN on Snake Island, Ukraine.
CHATTERLEY: Plenty more to come, stay with CNN.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "First Move" and a cap on natural gas prices finally agreed. The European Union has decided to impose a cap if the price
of gas one month in the future exceeds around $190 per megawatt hour for three consecutive working days. Prices must also be at least $37 higher
than the global prices for LNG or better known as Liquefied Natural Gas. And once triggered, it will remain active for at least 20 days Moscow
calling the deal unacceptable.
Clare Sebastian joins us now. Wow, Clare, our poor viewers today between the moves in Japan and now our gas price caps for the EU. Just talk us
through the details of this. Obviously I've translated to dollars here, but obviously it's a Euro number. Walk us through how these caps are set to
work? And can you give me a sense of what would have happened had these caps been in place this year?
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, we've seen that all the time in the gas market Julia. Over the summer, I think this cap at this
level, which is much lower than EU members had previously be considering would have been triggered the way it works. They're calling it a market
So if the prices go over the 180 Euro, $190 per megawatt hour level and the month ahead futures market, then the cap is triggered. So essentially,
transactions over that level will not be allowed. This is really the first time that we've seen a mechanism like this even be attempted, though, as
you say it's not going to come into force until February 15. But in the meantime, regulators in Europe have to start to study the impact of this
because this is extremely controversial. There are major questions around what the impact of this could be?
What could it do to market stability Goldman Sachs out in a note this week, Julia? Just that it wouldn't even have to be triggered for it to have an
impact. Take a look at this. They say even if trigger conditions are not met, market tightening events that lift prices anywhere near the proposed
cap are likely to cause preemptive action by market participants, potentially leading to all of the negative cap effects.
Then suggesting, for example, that traders could liquidate short positions or even stopped selling all together this could really affect the market
and there are also concerns around supply will descend suppliers elsewhere where they can get a price higher than the cap. This is something that
Germany has been concerned about all along, and will capping the price actually incentivize demand at a time when you're supposed to be doing the
Clearly, it was a big achievement to get a political agreement on this after months of talks. But there are concerns that it does not fix the core
issues at stake in the European energy crisis, which is that as of the spring. They're going to have to start refilling storage without most of
their Russian gas supplies.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, all hugely important questions. Thank you, Clare Sebastian, there. Let's talk this through and for more on this and more EU
commissioner for the economy. Paolo Gentiloni joins us now he's also of course, a Former Prime Minister of Italy. Commissioner, fantastic to have
you with us! Thank you so much for joining us. That's exactly where I would like to start and I'm sure you were just listening to Clare speak there as
CHATTERLEY: A price cap agreed significantly lower than what the European Commission initially proposed and there's clearly concerns that it's going
to have negative or adverse effects.
PAOLO GENTILONI, EU ECONOMY COMMISSIONER: Well, it was, well, good morning, it was indeed a very long discussion, maybe seven, eight months. So my
first reaction is that I am quite happy of the fact that we reached an agreement because this is in itself a good message. There is a deal at the
EU level, it will enter into force in mid-February. It is obviously, much higher than the prices are now.
But why are the prices now lower than they were a few months ago? I think that this is not something coming from; I don't know where it is coming
also from the decisions that are taken until now. First on storage, we have an extraordinarily high level of storage now in Europe and second on
savings. So I think that this measure is a proportionate measure. It is not a silver bullet. So we should be, I think, honest in saying that, we need
to continue on savings and on independence from Russian fossil fuels. It's not with a cap that we solve all the problems.
CHATTERLEY: And all of this, of course, vitally important as the European economy overall slows and the concern about recession as we head through
the winter. I think you've been pretty clear on that, that that recession is likely over the winter months into next year. But the hope is that it
will be short lived, and by the middle of next year into the summer, hopefully, the European economy will be out of recession. Is that right at
least at this stage?
GENTILONI: Well, indeed, this is our estimates; we all know that uncertainty is now dominating. So estimates are frequently fragile.
GENTILONI: But our estimate is that we will have probably a contraction in winter, last quarter of this year, first quarter of next year and then a
very slow start of growth next year. Overall, we estimate for next year, a growth of 0.3 percent, so very, very low and faster in 24. But we can avoid
having a deep and long lasting recession. I think this message should be very clear. It is also policy independent. Of course, it depends on our
CHATTERLEY: You've said that you think a European response to helping European nations manage some of the consequences and the higher costs and
support their citizens is required. I think on average nations in the EU spent around 1.3 percent of GDP supporting their citizens and providing
support in 2023, perhaps even more of that more than that will be needed.
And obviously some countries have more wiggle room and more capacity to provide support than others. What does the European response look like? And
does it mean perhaps easier access to the money that was set aside to support with the fallout from the pandemic?
GENTILONI: Well, of course, the reactions of European member states were inevitable. We all know that the consequences of the Russian aggression for
Europe are not only geopolitical, they are very clearly economic. And it was inevitable for member states to shield their citizens from energy
But we are suggesting everyone to make as possible - as far as possible, these measures targeted, especially to vulnerable households. And of
course, we need common tools because the pockets are not equal among European member states.
And we can't accept the idea that deep pocket member states will react with a strong firepower and the other will be lagging behind. So we need again,
as was the case for the response to the pandemic common European tools. And this is now the big discussion going on in Europe, but I'm quite optimistic
that we will have these common tools in place for the first quarter of next year.
CHATTERLEY: And vitally important discussion, as you say, taking place. I think one of the biggest concerns out there and it, it ties back to the
discussion that we were having about the gas price caps is what happens in winter of 2023. And obviously, to your point, great uncertainty over the
situation in Ukraine and what happens in that regard, but also the challenge of not having Russian energy available to increase storage for
And particularly, as was just being discussed by Claire, the risk that if these all price caps come into play, people look to sell that gas to other
nations where those caps don't apply, is the real concern what happens in Europe come winter 2023. And that it could be even worse than what we've
seen this winter?
GENTILONI: It could be a challenge, of course. On the optimistic side, I would say first, that our dependency from Russian fossil fuels decreased in
a quite impressive way. We were 40 percent dependent I mean, the EU overall from Russian fossil fuels, we are now 7 percent. So the dependency
decreased from 40 percent to 7 percent.
Or it the problem is now much lower than it was a few months ago. At the same time, of course, we have to keep the needs on all our measures to give
a price signal in favor of the green transition and the renewables, we should avoid them.
When we decide a price cap for gas, we send the message that the future is gas, the gas is a transition. The future is incentivizing renewables and
diversifying from Russia, our providers, are we working on this direction? Yes, we are. But this doesn't mean that next year is not a real challenge
CHATTERLEY: Yes and to your point, that transition at this stage can't happen soon enough. I want to ask you about something else. And I want to
talk to you about to your point about some of the more optimistic and progressive steps that have been taken in Europe as well.
And that is to put into law, the global minimum tax rules that were agreed, of course, by the G 20. And many of the OECD nations 137 of them, I believe
and you're the first region to do so. Talk to me about that and what the plan is for 2023 with the next stage of implementation?
GENTILONI: Well, great achievement. Proud of this, it was also a personal fact for me. And we had a lot of a long journey in the EU; we need to
overcome differences and vetoes et cetera. But now I think it's important that the EU is the first big global player to implement this global
agreement, I'm sure that we will be then followed by other global players, including the U.S.
And this is very important because especially in these times of uncertainty and economic difficulties, the message that we will be able to have
increasing revenues around 150 billion at global level. And that we will have more fairness in taxation, that we will not have the big multinational
corporations looking for countries and jurisdictions with lower level of taxation or even to tax havens.
This is also a political message, very strong political message. Now we have to follow and to continue this commitment. We have a second pillar of
this taxation agreement, which is what we call the relocation of taxing rights, meaning that you pay taxes where your profits are, not where your
headquarters are, that this is the next step, the first step. The minimum taxation for corporate multinational is done in Europe and I hope that we
will progress all over the world.
CHATTERLEY: And you've thrown the gauntlet down to other nations to your point. Commissioner, I have about 30 seconds left. But I did want to ask
you about the recent arrests and the concerns of a potential payment scandal in the European Parliament.
I know it's a separate body but for EU citizens watching this, what can you say to them to convince them that all investigations will be fairly carried
out? And this will be prevented if indeed, it's true in future.
Well, it's a shame. To prevent such a shame, I think we have to increase our transparency, we have to recognize the fact that Brussels is maybe
after Washington, the biggest concentration of lobbies, global economic international lobbies, and you need to have stricter rules to avoid this
kind of things to be repeated. And I think the message should be very clear, because the reputation of the European Parliament is at stake.
CHATTERLEY: Thank you, sir. Greater transparency and rules and those rules followed. Paolo Gentiloni, EU Commissioner for the Economy, sir, thank you
so much for your time today and happy holidays.
GENTILONI: Thank you.
CHATTERLEY: Take care. Thank you.
GENTILONI: Thank you.
CHATTERLEY: OK, still to come here on "First Move", Deck the halls with boughs of holly with our families, - in around a real or an artificial feel
forgive my singing, the CEO of - and more retailer - brands up next.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "First Move". For millions around the world Christmas now is just five days away and for many an age old question comes
up year after year. Do we get a real or do we get a fake tree? Last year the American Christmas Tree Association estimated the market for artificial
trees at between one to $2 billion annually.
And in 2020 81 percent of U.S. household bought fake. Well our next guest plays into that trend. Balsam Hill sells high end artificial Christmas
trees the company began looking to fill the gap for realistic looking trees and then expanded into home deco for Christmas and other seasons. And
joining us now is Mac Harman Founder and CEO of Balsam Hill.
CHATTERLEY: Mac, fantastic to have you on the show. I think for most people, and obviously all the Americans, for the most part are on board
with the artificial tree is that they are far more expensive, at least upfront than an ordinary tree. What's the appeal and what keeps people
MAC HARMAN, FOUNDER & CEO, BALSAM HILL: Well, good morning, I think really what brings people artificial trees. For most people, it's just the
convenience, I grew up with real trees, I love the scent and the experience of a real tree, but it's kind of got a lot of work to it, you've got to
bring it in, cut the trunk off, it's got sap the needles fall off, you need to water it.
And then you have to string the lights on yourself with an artificial tree of that stone for you. The lights are pre lit on the tree are Balsam Hill
trees, we very carefully do that tedious work of wiring the lights on, and then you don't have that maintenance.
The other thing that's really driving it is that at least in the U.S. and it's different internationally, but in America, we like to put our trees up
early, maybe Thanksgiving weekend or even before and take them down after New Year's. And a fresh grown tree really should only stay in your house
for about four weeks before it can dry out and become a fire hazard. And so that trend of decorating for longer has led into artificial trees in the
North American market.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, that actually that makes sense. It's the length of time isn't it in particular? I have to be in full disclosure, I'm 10 years and I
bought one of your trees 10 years in. I took custody of it once in a breakup and it's still going 10 years later, which is great for me. And
it's a pre-lit one, less bad for you. How long do you expect them to live for and don't you want people to be sort of buying them, perhaps more often
than once every 10 years, I'm still going.
HARMAN: Well, you know, it's funny. This is our 17th season at Balsam Hill. And so we still have lots of trees from our very first season 17 years ago
that are out in circulation. And it is a concern for us about you knows how long they last; we expect them to last 20 plus years.
What we're seeing, though, is that more and more people are decorated with multiple trees. And so it's interesting because I actually started this
business as a side project I didn't intend to be here 17 years later. I would have thought, jeez, this is you know these, how many people more than
one tree and they need last such a long time.
But we do see people come back and buying new trees, but it's often adding a tree having a second one having one in their foyer. So it's still been a
good market for us. And we'll do our best to keep the growth going.
CHATTERLEY: I've seen, I also read as well when I was researching for this that the carbon footprint, apparently of a plastic tree is around 10 times
greater than that of a real tree. And you can correct me if I'm wrong. But once you've gone beyond the 10 year point, then I think on that point,
you're winning as well.
Where are the growth opportunities for you? Is it internationally given? As we said Americans are clearly on board and if people are buying more than
one tree that helps too but what about internationally? Because it's tougher to get one internationally though, I admit I have done that too.
HARMAN: Yes, I think for Balsam Hill, international markets have been a great source of growth for us over the last five years. We have local
language websites in France and Germany in the UK and Australia. And those have all been really strong markets up until this year. So that's where
we've seen more aggressive growth.
But we're still growing well in North America. And some of that I think is growing share away from other retailers. We're kind of the main specialty
player for artificial trees. But I do think this trend; it's not so much people giving up real trees. It's people celebrating Christmas with more
And actually we're also seeing I think 6 percent of U.S. households now have both artificial and farm grown trees in their home. And so people are
putting up that artificial tree to kind of have the holiday cheer longer and then they're bringing in the real tree maybe in their family room or
something like that.
And to put it up for a shorter period of time but people are right now decorating with more trees more reads more Garland's and that's been a good
trend for Balsam Hill.
CHATTERLEY: Yes and they are truly very beautiful. And people as you say are still buying it even as some of prices rise as well. Mac, happy
holidays, thank you so much for what you're doing. It may have been a side project, but they are pretty magnificent. More trees we like, the Founder
and CEO of Balsam Hill, thank you, sir.
All right, Christmas, though, has come early in Argentina; the buses have started to roll for the victory parade for the World Cup champions. And we
are live back live in Buenos Aires after a quick break. And there's the bus and I think I can see Messi; we'll be back in two minutes. Stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Ray footballs coming home to Argentina. Of course the victory parade is now well underway in the Argentine Capitol. As you can see, it's
promising to be the party of all parties. I can't even tell you even guesstimate how many people there have already lined the street and that
avenue there to celebrate their returning players.
If we can get a close up on the Boston you'll see it in a second, there are five players I think Messi is sitting in the middle. One of those next to
him is actually holding the World Cup Trophy, but you need really good eyesight to see that right now. Let's return to Stefano Pozzebon who's in
the Argentine capital for us.
We said it was going to be tough to get through those crowds. This is going to be a slow parade; I can see people surging now towards the bus. Wow.
POZZEBON: It's literally Julia, it's a sea of people here on the avenue the ninth of July Avenue - one of the largest - definitely one of the -
absolutely packed. - they are on my back around the office, which is a symbol of Buenos Aires is just jammed and the bus meant to do a turn around
So how they can get it done? It's everyone's guess - -to catch that moment, but Julia - and by the way, it's very loud today. There are nine floors
above the avenue and the sound, the music all these never ending chance of supporters is jazz defining, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, Stefano. And I apologize to our audience briefly. And I'm sure you can, you can hear me but we're struggling to catch you probably
because there are so many people taking pictures, using their phones calling that it's interfering with the reception.
But we were just looking at the bus there again, as you said the crowds literally surging to meet their conquering and returning heroes. This is
the ninth of July Avenue as you were describing in the pictures that we're looking at. But we can see Argentinean flags flying all over the place
Hopefully we'll be able to get you another look at the bus that contains the players as they're being celebrated by all this supporters here that
are in that avenue there. And it's working its way through as best it can you actually can see the police and the security presence around them now
just to, I'm assuming try and provide some space even to let this bus pass.
We'll try and get you another shot if we can get any closer just to give you a sense of how the players, but what we were looking at just moments
ago was them waving to the crowds. We had Lionel Messi there sitting at the back of the bus in between a couple of others, so he was right in the
center there and holding the person next to him was actually holding the World Cup Trophy.
So he's actually despite sleeping with it last night he's let someone else hold it. But as you can see now I think we're just showing you again,
pictures of supporters, people simply just want to get closer if they possibly can.
CHATTERLEY: And get an image, I think of this momentous occasion, a momentous occasion for the country, a momentous occasion for the team, of
course to not only Lionel Messi himself with, with scoring that goal, I think one can only imagine.
Congratulations if you are in Argentina at the moment and somewhere in this crowd welcoming your players home because these are incredible scenes.
Tens, truly tens of thousands of people there is waiting to celebrate them. And as I said earlier on the show, this is going to be a lengthy parade
because good luck getting that bus through those happy crowds, a party to end all parties taking place in Argentina.
And here on the show oh look, there's the bus. You can see it now on the right hand side of your screen there, celebrations taking place. That's it
for the show. Do not worry though. We're going to bring you plenty more special coverage of those amazing celebrations in Argentina right after
this, stay with CNN, more to come.