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Isa Soares Tonight

U.S. Federal Reserve Makes Final Rate Decision For 2023; Ukraine Cites It Shot Down 13 Russian Drones In Kyiv Attacks; Four Dead After Boat Capsizes In English Channel; Fed Chair Jerome Powell Announces Rate Hike Of 0.5 Percent; Western Aid Money Benefits Churches' Anti-Gay Rhetoric In Ghana. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 14, 2022 - 14:00:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: We are expecting half a percentage point-rise, it's less than the previous fora(ph) gains of three-

quarters of a percent. But half a percentage point is what's expected. Mainly, taking the foot slightly off the brake, because the latest

inflation numbers starting to suggest that the U.S. inflation has -- if not coming down, at least it's easing off, slightly.

And that allows the pause that the Fed is looking for. It's going to a clock, directly on the clock. So, now I'm just waiting to be told exactly

what the number is. Because the way this thing works, the Fed will bring out the announcement very much within seconds of what the decision -- they

announce it almost within 20-30 seconds of the top of the hour, and we'll be able to gauge this.

The nature -- we have it, it's 50-basis points, that's half a percentage. That's 50-basis points, half a percent! So this is exactly in line with the

expectation of the market. The Fed, having raised rates three quarters of a percent, over the last four moves is basically easing off the brake. Now,

the important thing here, Isa, is to realize they are still tightening. Rates --


QUEST: Are still going up. But they're no longer going up as fast as the previous rises. And this, in a sense, is a pause that allows to see just

how the medicine is affecting the patient.

SOARES: So a little less aggressive, Richard, than the three-quarter hikes as you were saying that we have seen. Does it suggest the economic picture

is improving? Because yesterday, you and I were talking about that lowest TPI data on inflation. How -- what do you make of this?

QUEST: Right, so yesterday -- so today is a result of yesterday. The number of yesterday where we saw CPI, although we're really looking at core

CPI, we're sort of moderating. That's the phrase, it's off the talk. So, you see the top there, and were backup earlier this year, June-July of

earlier this year.

So we are off the top and we are moderating the rate. Prices are still going up, but they're not going up as fast, very small amounts. So, what

the Fed's logic is this, I'm waiting for the statement which will be printed and handed to me. What -- the Fed's logic is this, look, we are

worst -- we're past the worst.

But now, we have to get the number down. So, it's not getting worse, but we want to get the number. Now, bear in mind. You've got inflation at 7-8

percent. They want it down at 2 percent. So, they're going to see -- and the way the rate rises have gone in the last few months, they're like this.

It's not a step anymore. It's like it's straight-up.

And they're going to watch, Isa, and see how is the patient taking this medicine over the medium term? And doesn't -- now, the market is

interesting, it's literally gone in the opposite direction. There's no explanation --

SOARES: I mean --

QUEST: For that --

SOARES: No, I was going to ask because surely this was already priced when this is the expectation --

QUEST: Yes --

SOARES: I suppose they will be looking, Richard, in about 30 minutes or so for Jerome Powell, from any sort of signs of what the future may look like

in terms of rate hikes. That's probably --

QUEST: Well --

SOARES: What they're looking for --

QUEST: Exactly, and with dot plots and all sorts of --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Things. We're looking to be seeing that famous document where they show us what their thinking is. There is no real immediate other than knee-

jerk reason why market would recently drop by 100 points for a result exactly. I'm waiting to see the statement because once I see the statement,

then obviously, I can see within it, I can pass the language and you can see what they're talking about. But as you can imagine, this is a statement

that just about everybody in the financial world is trying to --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Print at the same time.

SOARES: And they're absolutely looking for like or sort of right projections for the next year. But I do remember --

QUEST: Yes --

SOARES: Jerome Powell saying in the previous Fed-rate hike that they were looking for clear and consistent evidence, Richard, I've got everything

down here, that inflation is going down. At what point do you think, the Fed says, OK, we've done enough, Richard?

QUEST: Oh, no, not yet. No, we're up to 4 and something on this number. I think you're looking at high level of 4, low level of 5. So, I think you're

looking at 2 or 3 more rate rises, probably maybe another 50-basis points and a few 25-basis points spread out towards the middle of next year, and

then it will top out as we say at around about 4 or 7.5 percent, 5 and a quarter. So it will top out in that sort of region. That will be the peak -


SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Of the cycle, and then you wait and you wait. And I think the test then -- and it's a long way off, the test is, does the Fed hold enough?

Same for the Bank of England --

SOARES: Yes --


QUEST: Same for the ECB. Do they hold their nerve to wait for inflation to get down to the target rate of 2 percent or do they pivot, say, at 3

percent, 4 percent and say, we've done enough --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Let's start lowering the rates.

SOARES: You were talking about the statement, Richard, I'm looking on my phone, just went to the website --

QUEST: Yes --

SOARES: Recent indicators point to modest growth in spending and production --

QUEST: Yes --

SOARES: Job gains have been robust in recent months and the unemployment rate has remained low, inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and

demand imbalances related to the pandemic. Higher food prices and energy prices and broader price structures. Pressure is in, goes on --

QUEST: Right --

SOARES: Talking about the impact on the Russia war in Ukraine, Richard. I think you got the statement in front of you now --

QUEST: Right, yes, I have. So, the committee anticipates ongoing increases will be appropriate to get the number back. In other words, we've got more

rate --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Rises to come. The committee continues to reduce -- but the issue on why they've decided to do it. The committee is prepared to adjust as

appropriate. So, really, what they're basically saying is, recent indicators point to modest growth, job gains have been robust, unemployment

remain low, inflation remains elevated.

But -- and this is the core, I think, of what you'll hear in the press conference, but you don't really see in the statement. You're going to hear

in the press conference Powell say we've given the patient a lot of medicine. We know the patient needs more, but we need to see the effect

of that of what we've done so far.

And that -- and that I think is going to be the crucial point here. That's why they're not saying it's all over -- oh no --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: There's more to come. But we need to see the effect of the medicine that's been throttled down the throat of the patient, which is the U.S.


SOARES: And we should be listening to those words in about 24 minutes --

QUEST: Oh --

SOARES: Or so we're going to hear from Jerome Powell. Richard, thank you very much. Richard Quest there, appreciate it, Richard. Of course, we'll

bring that to you as soon as that gets underway. I want to take you to Ukraine now, which is fighting off new Russian airstrikes.

Officials in Kyiv say they shot down 13 Russian drones flying over the capital region in what they described as two waves of attacks. Some

administrative and residential buildings were damaged, but there are no reported casualties nor any further damage to energy infrastructure.

Ukraine's Air Force spokesman says he's proud of his country's air defenses, and according to U.S. sources, they could be receiving highly

advanced Patriot Missile Defense Systems soon.

Will Ripley joins me now from Kyiv. So Will, another barrage it seems as strikes on the capital, but the air defenses were ready and prepared.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's been a drone attack or an attack of any nature here in central Kyiv in a number of weeks. And

we certainly heard the explosions this morning. Usually, we hear air raid sirens in advance, that did not happen this morning.

But what people were woken up to was that kind of moped-like wheezing sound of the drone engines as they went by, aiming, of course, towards the

embattled and battered power grid of Kyiv. Had they been successful in hitting their target, they could have potentially plunged, you know, some 2

million people who live here into darkness and cold yet again.

But instead, what happened was the drones were shot down. And the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was proud of the effort of the aerial

defenses. Some of whom by the way are actually doing it by hand. They are - - they literally are aiming at the drones and firing and shooting them down.

And there are some videos of this that have circulated in the past on social media. It is actually extraordinary and impressive if you realize

how these drones are being brought down. And in this case, there were 13 of them that were successfully. So, instead of causing widespread blackouts as

in previous attacks like for example in the Odessa region last weekend, when 15 Russian drones were launched, 10 were shot down, 5 hit their

targets, and that, of course, 1.5 million people were plunged into darkness for much of the weekend.

In this case, they got all 13 of them. That was however not the case with Kherson where air defenses were less successful, and there was a successful

rocket strike on an administrative building right in the center of Kherson, right in the heart of that city, which was liberated from Russian

occupation, but the people who live there have really been pummeled with a relentless barrage of attacks.

I was interviewing the Associate Director for Human Rights Watch here in Kyiv, who was saying essentially, they think that Russia is trying to make

life a living hell for people, not only in Kherson but across Ukraine. But particularly in Kherson, because, you know, when they retreated from that

city they have been firing pretty relentlessly, including using allegedly clustered ammunitions at least three times.


And so, Isa, clearly, this is a country that is under siege. And that is why the news here in Kyiv is so welcome that those Patriot advanced missile

defense systems are, you know, due to be arriving at some point. And that of course was first reported by CNN at the Pentagon.

SOARES: Indeed. Will Ripley for us there in Kyiv --


Pardon me, thank you very much, Will. Well, the U.K. government says at least four people died when a small boat reportedly packed with migrants

capsized in the English Channel. British media reports that dozens of people were rescued on Wednesday morning during a joint operation with

France. Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak expressed sorrow over the incident. While Home Secretary Suella Braverman says these crossings must be stopped.

Have a listen.


SUELLA BRAVERMAN, HOME SECRETARY OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: As the prime minister told the house only yesterday, it is not cruel or unkind to want

to break the stranglehold of the criminal gangs who trade in human misery and who exploit our system and our laws. He was right.

This morning's strategy, quite the loss of 27 people on one November day last year is the most sobering reminder possible of why we have to end

these crossings.


SOARES: Well, here with me is CNN correspondent, Nina dos Santos. And Nina, a pretty somber moment we saw there in the House of Commons given the

tragic accident -- incident that occurred. What is the U.K. government doing about this?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this comes just a day or so after the government announced a big grand plan to try and stop these so-

called small boats from making these treacherous journeys across the English Channel. And perilous conditions often at the dead of night.

And so, this really has shown a light onto the difficult situation that authorities on both sides of the coast, both in France and in the U.K.

having to deal with it, try and stop people taking such a dangerous journey. However, there was confusion just even yesterday about this

particular plan that was unveiled because many experts said, well, look, there are already drones that are up in the air to try and stop these types

of boats.

There are already special operational commands to try and stop these boats from setting off in France as well. The backdrop is also the fact that the

U.K. over successive years --

SOARES: Yes --

SANTOS: Since Brexit took place has had a more fractious relationship, let's face it with France. Just a few weeks ago, we had an announcement of

another multi-million dollar deal to try and stop these boats set off, essentially the U.K. paying France money to police their side of the coast.

Before people -- smugglers compact too many people into these perilous, very flimsy little dinghy ships.

And -- but that obviously so far as we can see tragically hasn't worked and four people have lost their lives. What we saw in the operation last night

was both the French Navy helicopters to U.K. coast guard helicopters, the Royal Life Guard Brigade, and even local fishermen's ships having to help

get about 40 old people out of the water and four sadly, perished.

SOARES: And unfortunately, as you and I have reported this before, no one puts their lives at risk in these bitterly cold conditions --

SANTOS: Right --

SOARES: And treacherous conditions, unless they feel they have no other option. So, are there any other safe and legal routes for these migrants

now, Nina?

SANTOS: This is the crucial argument that the government is coming under increasing pressure from. Now, remember that we're on a -- is a country,

the U.K. is on its second rather hard-line Home Secretary Priti Patel. Remember, the previous Home Secretary actually tried to devise a plan to

try and push some of these boats --

SOARES: Yes --

SANTOS: But even though she'd been warned that some of these boats would likely capsize and people would die. Now, we have another Home Secretary,

Suella Braverman who again is taking a hard stance on immigration, she's been accused of overcrowding immigration --

SOARES: Yes --

SANTOS: Asylum processing centers in Kent, the area that these people were trying to get to and one person is alleged to have died as a result of

infectious diseases contracted inside those facilities. So, the government is coming under pressure. They continue to say, the best way of tackling

the issue of illegal migration is to stop the people smuggling networks in the first place.

SOARES: How big --

SANTOS: Even members of her --

SOARES: Yes --

SANTOS: Own party is saying, A, that's really complex, and B, it doesn't answer the fact that there aren't safe routes for some --

SOARES: Yes --

SANTOS: People coming from --


Some parts of the world. Yes, there are schemes, so people coming from war- torn parts of the world like for instance, Syria, also Hong Kong as well where the pro-democracy movement is very much under siege. But it doesn't

help everyone. And that's why you're seeing people head on to these boats because there is no other route.

SOARES: Nina dos Santos, thanks very much, Nina, appreciate it. Well, still to come, we are watching, of course, the World Cup semifinal between

Morocco and France happening in this hour. But a tragic story from the tournament is also making headlines. Up next, how a security guard fell to

his death in Doha.



SOARES: There are demands for answers after another death of a migrant worker at the World Cup in Qatar, 24-year-old John Njua Kibue from Kenya

reportedly fell from the eighth floor of the Lusail Stadium while on duty. Qatar officials say they are investigating the circumstances surrounding

Kibue's death. But his family says they are being kept in the dark.

CNN correspondent Larry Madowo joins me now from Doha with the latest. So, Larry, do we know anymore to what happened? The circumstances around the

fall here?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't, Isa. And that's why the family is so distraught, because one, they lost a 24-year-old who just moved to

Qatar a year ago to change his life. He's been sending some money back home, and he was very excited to be here to actually finally have a job.

And then they were told on Saturday that he fell from the eighth floor of Lusail Stadium, that's where yesterday's Argentina-Croatia game was.

And he had been in intensive care unit at the Hamad Hospital here in Doha until Monday when they were notified that he had died. And they don't have

any more information beyond that. They haven't heard from the organizers of the World Cup or from his employer at the security company where he was

working, and they are just in need of information.

They say they are not wealthy enough to push for justice for him, but they want to know what happened. We spoke to his mother and his family in

Nairobi today. This is what she told CNN.


GRACE NYAMBURA KIBUE, JOHN NJAU KIBUE'S MOTHER (through translator): He used to tell me, mom, you helped me when I was jobless. I will never leave

you and I never want you to suffer. I know you pray for me and I want to help you as much as I can.


MADOWO: The family say that their son's life mattered. That he was loved, and that's why they want to know what happened here. The Kenyan embassy in

Qatar say they are offering considered assistance and waiting for official communication from authorities here. But he is the second migrant worker to

die since the World Cup began.

And it raises up more questions about the conditions that migrant workers operate in here in Qatar, even during the World Cup. We've been hearing

from migrant workers who say they have not been paid for months. They're working sometimes 14, 16-hour days without overtime, without regular

breaks. And some migrant workers tell me, for instance, they've been just exhausted after working that long.

And so far, FIFA and the Qatar World Cup organizers say they're investigating the circumstances that led to the death of this migrant

worker. But it really will raise more questions about what happened, because only recently did the World Cup chief here in Qatar acknowledged

that between 400 to 500 migrants could have died on projects connected to the World Cup, and they say they've made a lot of changes to the labor laws

here. But still, these questions keep coming up, Isa.

SOARES: And I know you'll stay on top of this looking for answers for that family. Thank you very much Larry Madowo for us there in Doha, Qatar. And

do stay with us, we will continue of course, to bring you the latest updates from the World Cup and more on the highly-anticipated France-

Morocco match, that'll be later this hour right here on CNN.


Almost 50 African leaders meanwhile are gathered in Washington D.C. at this hour for a U.S.-African Leaders Summit. President Biden and Secretary of

State Antony Blinken, are among the U.S. dignitaries addressing the group. But this isn't a social event, it's about trade, investment, yes, global


The U.S. hopes to rebuild its relations with African nations in commerce, technology as well as other areas. Even as China, of course, and Russia

deepen their influence across the continent.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This forum is about building connections. It's about closing deals. And above all, it's about the

future. Our shared future. We've known for a long time that Africa's success and prosperity is essential to ensuring a better future for all of

us, not just for Africa.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: Earlier this year in South Africa, I had an opportunity to set out our administration's strategy

for the region. And at its core, the strategy can be distilled in one word. You've already heard it spoken tonight, partnership.


SOARES: Well, CNN's David McKenzie is in Johannesburg with a unique perspective on southern Africa's future. But let's turn first to chief

White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly joins us now from the White House. And Phil, what can we expect to come out of this summit, because for

some leaders and some ambassadors, and I saw one quoted today, said that Africa has always been bottom of the U.S. foreign policy priority list. Is

that going to change?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think your framing of this being an effort to reboot the relationship is probably too

kind. To some degree, it's resuscitate. And I think when you talk to White House officials, when you talk to administration officials, they

acknowledge the reality on the ground, the reality in the region, where the U.S. has just simply not been a central player or more often than that

even, has made a lot of commitments.

Made a lot of big promises, perhaps had symbolic events, and then largely disappear or cut funding on foreign aid, not really come through,

particularly in the way that others -- other countries, other leaders, more specifically, China, but others as well, have over the course of the last


The primary element you've seen from White House officials here is to make clear that this is not just symbolic. This is not just three days and then

move on. This is something that's going to be maintained over series of years. Part of that, $55 billion in committed investment over the course of

three years, backing the African Union joining the G20.

Likely, we are told, President Biden will announce a visit to the continent of several countries swing at some point in 2023. Trade, investment,

leveraging the private sector, all of those really key elements here as well. But there's no doubt that underneath kind of this entire process

here, is a recognition that there is a real geopolitical competition underway.

China is significantly ahead when it comes to the continent, and the U.S. needs to change how it operates. That is a large part of what's happening,

even, I would note, as White House officials claim that is not the entire reason of what's happening over the course of the next three days.

Implicitly, it most certainly is a critical factor.

SOARES: Phil Mattingly for us there in Washington. Thanks very much, Phil. So David, as we head from Phil there, not just symbolic, but the reality is

that President Biden may have his work cut out here if he is really to woo African leaders away from China. What did the African leaders that you've

been speaking to, from the continent, what do they want to see from the U.S. here, David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they want is something similar to what President Biden just said in his remarks. Which

is an equal kind of partnership, particularly on trade. It must be said the U.S. has had deep ties with the continent, particularly when it comes to

critical life-saving initiatives like PEPFAR.

Which in the worst days of the AIDS pandemic, was really a game-changer for many millions of people on this continent. But times have changed, and

there's been a shift in the way that the U.S. and other nations deal with countries in Africa. And that is largely moving away from a focus on aid

and towards trade and investment.

President Biden said they're going to invest in infrastructure and technology, in other entrepreneurial efforts on the country. But as Phil

said, they are way behind, in many ways, China, which has been the biggest payer on this continent. We went to a very special place here in southern

Africa to find out just what that means.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): This city's brand-new prime minister knows how to make an entrance. And millionaire diamond magnet Sam Matekane entered

politics just six months before the election. Now he's here to celebrate his win, and meet us at his mountainside mansion.

(on camera): Good afternoon, how are you, prime minister?


MCKENZIE: Very nice to have us --

MATEKANE: Thank you very much, thank you. Our country was gone. This is reality. Lesotho was gone because it could not do anything for itself. You

know, with the debt that we have, with many other things that were happening, we were not happy. Because we can see, this is now the end of



MCKENZIE (voice-over): This tiny mountain kingdom entirely surrounded by South Africa has struggled for years with external debt, poverty and

unemployment. Past leaders often turning to one country for help. Lesotho's parliament, the state library, the Convention Center are all built by the

Chinese, even their state house, a gift from the Peoples Republic.

(on camera): Were those smart deals to make?

MATEKANE: Well, what happened in the past is the past. I am focusing on the future now because the debt is there.

MARIA BREWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO LESOTHO: I will often caution my African partners that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): In a new era of great power competition, the U.S. government has recently taken a far more assertive line on China in Africa.

BREWER: We want this trade investment to be on an even playing field, and that's something that again is very important to us.

MCKENZIE (on camera): What do you mean by that specifically?

BREWER: That laws are fairly enacted, that development opportunities are open.

MCKENZIE: That would indicate that China's investment has been opaque in your mind.

BREWER: I think that we're always looking for more transparency.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Unlike China's no strings attached policy, the U.S. explicitly ties trade deals like the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act to

measures like democracy and freedom. Argoa Ala(ph) companies like precious garments in Maseru to export these great Norman golf shirts quota and

tariff free. And employ thousands of mostly female workers like Matope Masakane(ph) who makes just under $150 a month.

"It's not enough to survive", she says. "But it still makes a difference and it's better than sitting at home." In a country with so few

opportunities, even these conditions and this work can provide a life-line for Lesotho's women. But this month, China announced it will allow tariff

free imports from Lesotho and a host of the world's poorest countries.

And China recently forgave some of Lesotho's debt. It's donating a brand- new hospital in Maseru, likely wary of its reputation for trapping countries in debt.

(on camera): If you look at the overarching trade, the Chinese have outstripped the U.S. significantly in Africa. So can you compete at this


BREWER: We are what people aspire to be. America is what people aspire to become more and more like. We are not a perfect country and we don't claim

to be, but our model of development, our sense of individual freedom, those are things that I think people here on the continent still very much value

and want to emulate.

MATEKANE: Competition will always be there, whether we like it or not. It doesn't matter who is in competition with who. But it will always be there.

MCKENZIE: If you got the same offer from the U.S. or China, which one would you take?


MATEKANE: I would take both.


MCKENZIE: A savvy politician there, Isa. You know, we put the question to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs about these accusations of a debt

trap. They responded, robustly, saying that is complete lies and quote, "frame ups". They also say that "it's important that people work together

for the good of Africa, and that they shouldn't be spreading rumors, smearing and maliciously attacking other countries." Quote.

So certainly these -- this talk rubs China the wrong way. And you should see more competition, I think on the African continent between the U.S. and

China, even if both sides never really use each other's name. Isa?

SOARES: Fascinating reporting, thanks very much. Appreciate it. Now, still to come tonight, the U.S. Federal Reserve announces another interest rate

hike. Fed Chair Jerome Powell will be holding a press conference just minutes from now. You're looking at the live shot there from Washington.

And we'll bring that to you, next.




SOARES: I want to take you to Washington D.C., where Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, is speaking. Let's listen in.

JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: Before I go into the details of today's meeting, I would like to underscore for the American people that we

understand the hardship that high inflation is causing and that we are strongly committed to bringing inflation back down to our 2 percent goal.

Over the course of the year, we have taken forceful actions to tighten the stance of monetary policy. We have covered a lot of ground. And the full

effects of our rapid tightening, so far, are yet to be felt.

Even so, we have more work to do. Price stability is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve and serves as the bedrock of our economy. Without price

stability, the economy does not work for anyone. In particular, without priceability, we will not achieve a sustained period of strong labor market

conditions that benefit all.

Today the FOMC raised our policy interest rate by a half percentage point. We continue to anticipate that ongoing increases will be appropriate in

order to attain a stance of monetary policy that is sufficiently restrictive to return inflation to 2 percent over time.

In addition, we're continuing the process of significantly reducing the size of our balance sheet. Restoring price stability will likely require

maintaining a restrictive policy stance for some time. I will have more to say about today's monetary actions after briefly reviewing economic


The U.S. economy has slowed significantly from last year's rapid pace; although real GDP rose at a pace of 2.9 percent last quarter, it is roughly

unchanged through the first three quarters of this year. Recent indicators point to modest growth of spending and production this quarter.

Growth in consumer spending has slowed from last year's rapid pace in part reflecting lower, real disposable income and tighter financial conditions.

Activity in the housing sector has weakened significantly, largely reflecting higher mortgage rates.

Higher interest rates and slower output growth also appear to be weighing on business fixed investment. As shown in our summary of economic

projections, the median projection for real GDP growth stands at just 0.5 percent this year and next, well below the median estimate of the longer-

run normal growth rate.

Despite the slowdown in growth, the labor market remains extremely tight, with the unemployment rate near a 50-year low, job vacancies still very

high and wage growth elevated. Job gains have been robust, with employment rising by an average of 272,000 jobs per month over the last three months.

Although job vacancies have moved below their highs and the pace of job gains has slowed from earlier in the year, the labor market continues to be

out of balance, with demand substantially exceeding the supply of available workers. The labor force participation rate is little changed since the

beginning of the year.

FOMC participants expect supply and demand conditions in the labor market to come into better balance over time, easing upward pressures on wages and

prices. The median projection in the SEP for the unemployment rate rises to 4.6 percent at the end of next year. Inflation remains well above our

longer-run goal of 2 percent.

Over the 12 months ending in October, total PCE prices rose 6 percent; excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core PCE prices rose 5

percent. In November, the 12-month change in the CPI was 7.1 percent and the change in the core CPI was 6 percent.


POWELL: Inflation data received so far for October and November show a welcome reduction in the monthly pace of price increases. But it will take

substantially more evidence to give confidence that inflation is on a sustained downward path.

Price pressures remain evident across a broad range of goods and services. Russia's war against Ukraine has boosted prices for energy and food and has

contributed to upward pressure on inflation.

The median projection in the SEP for total PCE inflation is 5.6 percent this year and falls to 3.1 percent next year, 2.5 percent in 2024 and 2.1

percent in 2025; participants continue to see risks to inflation as weighted to the upside.

Despite elevated inflation, longer-term inflation expectations appear to remain well anchored, as reflected in a broad range of surveys of

households, businesses and forecasters, as well as measures from financial markets.

But that is not grounds for complacency; the longer the current bout of high inflation continues, the greater the chance that expectations of --

SOARES: You have been listening to Fed chairman Jerome Powell there who for the last 35 minutes, lifting rates by half a percentage point, a

smaller increase than we have seen in several months.

It is a shift, of course, from the Federal Reserve, where we have seen four months of consecutive rate hikes at 0.75 percent. It's the seventh straight

rate hikes as they try to, of course, keep a lid on inflation, the highest inflation the U.S. has seen since the 1980s.

It is important to listen to him to get a sign of how the Fed is going to react, how it will move come the new year, come 2023. The next Fed meeting

is not until February 11th, 2023. The stock markets, of course, will be looking for some signs of how exactly next year the Fed may move to try to

keep a lid on inflation.

What we heard from Jerome Powell, he says he understands the hardship that inflation is doing to many Americans around the country. Their action is to

keep, of course, to get to that 2 percent goal of inflation.

He said he has seen ongoing increases appropriate to returning inflation to 2 percent. He said the U.S. economy has slowed significantly since last

year's rapid pace. But there is modest growth of spending.

But a key line from him, I would say, is that there is substantially more evidence, though. He's saying they need substantial more evidence that

inflation is on a downward path before, of course, they can pull back on these rate hikes.

You are seeing the stock markets reacting there to what Jerome Powell has said. It's moved almost a percentage point, as you see the Dow Jones, as

the Fed chairman continues to talk.

Clearly, the Fed not done yet as it tries to keep a tap on that inflation. We will have much more on this story at the top of the hour on "QUEST MEANS

BUSINESS" and Richard Quest. We'll be back after this short break.





SOARES: In an exclusive CNN "As Equals" investigation revealed how Western aid donors who pledged to support LGBTQ+ rights have also funded supporters

of a controversial anti LGBTQ+ bill in Ghana.

In the five years up to 2021, at least $5 million in aid from Europe and U.S. went to projects run by or benefiting churches in Ghana, whose leaders

not only backed the bill but also have a long track record of hateful anti LGBTQ+ rhetoric.

Nima Elbagir and her team traveled to Ghana to see the human cost of the rhetoric. The following part of "As Equals," CNN's ongoing series on gender



NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: The Jamestown lighthouse in the capital Accra overlooks the Atlantic. The

historic Gold Coast inextricably tied by the slave trade and Christian missionaries to the American shoreline an ocean away, ties that remain to

this day.

Today, the nearby market is busy and vibrant.

This is the beating heart of Accra. You can buy pretty much anything here. And here, like much of the capital, the spirit of God, the word of God is


And you can see, its influence in all corners in this religiously conservative society.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The essence of the LGBTQI plus movement are completely at variance with the laws and principles of the almighty God.

ELBAGIR: A national prayer rally entitled, "Homosexuality, a detestable sin to God."

But it is also across mainstream TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this country, I'm going to say it, they will say it's hate speech. If you find any gay person in your neighborhood, stone

them to death.

ELBAGIR: The guest, a leading opposition party member and the presenter are discussing a draft bill being debated in parliament that further

criminalizes the LGBTQ+ community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Ghanaian pastors who are gay --

ELBAGIR: It is often disguised as family values but if passed without amendment. U.N. experts warn it will be a recipe for conflict and violence

across Ghana. A CNN "As Equals Investigation" has shown these same churches backing the anti LGBTQ+ bill received funding from U.S. and European


Over $4 million to the Catholic Church and over $1 million between other protestant churches, taxpayers' money even as they for years preached to

further criminalize being gay in Ghana. Their position has been no secret.

In press releases, churches were publicly vilifying homosexuality. In one instance, calling to stop those who propagate this evil agenda of those

with abnormal sexual orientations.

And in another stating that "Homosexuality is an affront to human dignity." This rhetoric and the bill it spawned has real life consequences.

This is like the rock star, the more come to the area. Assidi, not her real name, wants to take us back to her small neighborhood in Accra. She

identified as queer. For a long time, no one knew but she believes she always stood out.

ASSIDI: I didn't really get along with anyone generally. Because I had this label of a threat -- which are geared like from the tender age of

seven people though like I was a slut because I like to hang with the boys.

ELBAGIER: Assidi was outed when this video of her helping to clean up a local LGBTQ+ center was broadcast on various national TV stations. The

center was shut down, following calls from religious leaders. The videos from the community center went viral. And exposed Assidi to her community

and family.

ASSIDI: All of a sudden, I became this devious, devilish, bad person. And all kinds of stories were concocted about me.

ELBAGIR: At this point, Assidi says she could still live in her home. It wasn't until her neighbor said a man who looked like a relative was outside

her house with a group of male friends, that she felt in danger.

ASSIDI: they would have probably kidnapped me. Help me out somewhere. Probably at the family house. And tried various tactics to cure me. Things

could have gone anywhere from physical assault to corrective rape.

ELBAGIR: Corrective rape, the mistaken belief that the victims sexuality can be changed by being forced to have sex with the opposite gender.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): Assidi had to leave the country for a number of months. She had no choice. The police are not here to protect the LGBTQ+

community. It is already illegal to be gay.

SAM GEORGE, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: It's already a criminal offense. So you must be minded if you are committing a criminal offense that you cannot

seek rights in the committing of an offense.

ELBAGIR: This is Sam George, a key proponent of the draft bill called the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values.

The new bill criminalizes not only same-sex relationships and marriages but also identifying as LGBTQ+, promoting and funding of LGBTQ+ groups and

public debate or education on sexual orientation and gender identity.

GEORGE: Let's be also very clear here. That there is no evidence whatsoever that the inception of this bill or introduction of this bill

into parliament has increased the wave of violence against practitioners of LGBTQ activities.

ELBAGIR: And yet, LGBTQ+ Ghanaians are increasingly targeted.

Some of these are forced confessions?

ALEX DONKOR, DIRECTOR, LGBTQ+ RIGHTS: Yes. Some of these are forced confessions. Some of these are even posted on social media by the

perpetrators themselves.

ELBAGIR: Alex Donkor says he receives these videos almost daily now.

What you are about to see is disturbing.

Video seen by CNN show attackers growing increasingly brazen, filming their violent abuse of people they allege are gay. Forcing them to confess. And

in some cases, name other people who are also gay.

ELBAGIR: It is not just the capital, Accra. Violence is permeating across this country. People are really afraid. Friends and neighbors are turning

on each other. For the safety of the people we're meeting, we've agreed not to disclose their location.

A worrying trend is that people need only to be accused of being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Mobs take it upon themselves to dole out what they

perceive as vigilante justice. In effect, a witch hunt.

These men after being beaten, falsely accused a woman of being a pimp. Her life as she knew it was destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They said I was selling gay men and women for sex.

ELBAGIR: But your case was dismissed?


ELBAGIR: And nobody believes that you are innocent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, until this day no one believes me. No one believes I did not do it. So I lost everybody. And I was also four months

pregnant and I lost my baby. And it was one of the most painful things. I cannot forget that.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): The church's place in Ghana is indisputable. The church's position toward the LGBTQ+ community, undeniable. The position of

some Western donors like the U.S., who say they stopped donations before the new legislation but refused to clarify whether they still support

church projects, unconscionable -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, Accra, Ghana.


SOARES: None of the churches in this story responded to CNN's multiple requests for comment. The Italian government told CNN it is not responsible

for the use of these identified funds.

The United States blamed the previous administration, saying it would not have prohibited funding based on the statement of anti LGBTQ+ rhetoric by

churches but would not clarify if it continues to support church projects in Ghana.

A German government spokesperson stated that they do not support any projects which endanger the rights of LGBTQ+ communities.

However, CNN reached out to organizations acting for Germany in Ghana, who confirmed they continue to support projects run by or benefiting the

Catholic Church and a number of protestant churches as well.

We will stay on top of that story. We are back after this short break.






SOARES: Thank you for watching tonight. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Richard Quest is up next. We will have more on that Fed