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GameStop Rises to Round off Ugly Week; President Biden Defends Price of Relief Plan amid Sluggish Jobs Report; Smartmatic Sues FOX News over Alleged Disinformation Campaign. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 05, 2021 - 15:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: About 80 points or so, despite the disappointing jobs numbers we got. Jobs numbers for January coming in at


The market clearly ignoring that. The Dow in fact has been up every single day this week so far.

Those are the markets and these are the main events. Joe Biden warns it could be years before the job market recovers unless Congress takes action.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron on defending Europe's vaccine rollout.

And it has been a week to forget for GameStop. Now, the shares are trying to bounce back.

Coming to you live from New York, it is Friday, the 5th of February. I am Zain Asher and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening. Tonight, U.S. President Joe Biden is seizing on grim job numbers to push the massive economic relief for millions of Americans. The

U.S. economy added only 49,000 jobs in January. Though slightly, it is a positive number, it is not nearly enough to get the economy back on track

anytime soon. The country is still down nearly 10 million jobs since the pandemic started almost a year ago.

During an overnight session in the U.S. Senate, Democrats paved the way for Biden's $1.9 trillion plan. They needed Vice President Kamala Harris to

break a 50/50 tie to move it forward.

Speaking today at the White House, Joe Biden says he preferred to pass it with bipartisan support but won't back down on its size.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've told both Republicans and Democrats that it is my preference to work together, but if I had to choose

between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting bogged down in a lengthy negotiation or compromising on a bill

that's up to the crisis, that's an easy choice.


ASHER: It's an easy choice. That's what Joe Biden is saying. Jeff Zeleny is joining us live now in Washington. So, Jeff, Biden clearly wants to have

bipartisan support. He has always wanted to be the President that sort of reaches across the aisle, but when it comes to this, when it comes to this

$1.9 trillion stimulus package, given what's at stake in terms of the economy, he is no doubt prepared to go it alone if that's what it takes.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And that is exactly, Zain, what we heard from the President Biden really in the most direct way

we have heard him say yet since taking office and certainly, since he was President-elect first talking about this $1.9 trillion plan.

He said today, look it is more important for me to get this urgent need to the American people fast rather than have some long drawn out debate here

in Washington trying to get Republican support.

And this is really propelled by a couple of things. One, he has been talking to Republicans all week long here. The week started with him

meeting with 10 Republican senators in the Oval Office, certainly a sign of bipartisanship, but the reality is they simply wanted too small of a plan

in his view.

So as this week wore along you know, and certainly this jobs report number out today underscored the need to, you know, really jump start some type of

a quick economic relief plan, so that is why he decided it was time to move forward with this.

Now, one change that we do expect to be made, he said he was nonnegotiable on this sending a check to $1,400.00 to all Americans in need, but one that

is going to be negotiable is who is going to get those checks.

Top income earners, say you're a family that makes $300,000.00, you're not going to get one of those checks most likely, but other income earners

certainly are. So that is you know, a few negotiating factors here. There is likely not going to be a minimum wage component in this bill because now

it is simply going to be visibly part of the budget process.

But he made clear today, he is going straight forward. The question is: what does this do to the rest of his agenda and his presidency going

forward? Was this his one last shot at bipartisanship or he believes there are other shots down the road?

But he believes it is more clearly important to do this and the biggest reason why? About two-thirds of all Americans in surveys say they support

this plan, so he is essentially going around Republicans in Washington, Zain and taking this right to the people -- Zain.

ASHER: And Jeff, you were sort of touching on this, but what will be the sort of the long-term ramifications of deciding to pass this first piece of

major legislation in the Biden administration without any sort of Republican support? Are there any long-term political consequences in terms

of the rest of his agenda?

ZELENY: There could be, certainly. I mean, if this is how things start out, there's no necessarily any impetus for there to be bipartisanship in the

future except the fact that there are a lot of Republicans here in this town who want to get something done.

So this is -- certainly, he is doing it in a Democratic only way at this point. Still inviting Republicans to come along, it's a possibility, a few

could potentially support this; likely not.

But on things like infrastructure and school funding and other matters, there is still a chance for some Republican support down the road. But he

is essentially doubling down and, look, saying Democrats won the majority in the House. It's a narrow majority, and they have a tied Senate, which

the Democrats break the tie on that as we saw Vice President Kamala Harris doing overnight.

So he is taking a bit of a gamble here, but he believes it would be a far bigger gamble to short the American people and not try to jump start this



ASHER: Yes, he certainly made that very clear multiple times. Jeff Zeleny live for there for us. Thank you so much.

The charts of U.S. job growth tell the story after a large swath of jobs were added back in May, June and July. The economy has clearly stalled.

Unemployment hit 15 percent back in April, and now is hovering at about six percent, 6.3 percent to be exact.

Back during the depths of the Great Financial crisis, unemployment only hit a high of 10 percent. It then took about seven years for the U.S. to gain

full employment again.

As Vice President Joe Biden was in charge of the recovery plan at the time, he openly admits the response was too small. This time, he says, failure to

provide enough stimulus could delay full employment for the next decade.


BIDEN: At that rate, it's going to take 10 years before we get to full employment. That's not hyperbole. That's a fact. We're going to be in a

situation where it would take a long, long time.


ASHER: Austan Goolsbee is a former Chairman of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers. He is now an Economics Professor at the University of Chicago

Business School.

Austan, thank you so much for being with us. So there has been obviously so much emphasis of this administration on this $1.9 trillion package. How

much do you think this package can actually do to jump start the economy? Obviously, it will buy this economy some time, but clearly, in the day,

surely it must just come down to vaccinations.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE U.S. COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: I think it comes down to vaccinations. I guess in a way it's just a point

about the definition of words, but I don't think of this $1.9 trillion as being stimulus or as even primarily being about jump starting the economy.

It's something different than that. It is money to get the virus slowed and it's relief money. It is disaster relief to try to prevent permanent damage

while we're getting the furnace back on.

And when thought of that way, I think the total size -- we can argue about what the total size should be, but we should be able to agree that who

we've got to make sure gets the money are the people who are at risk of some permanent problem.

ASHER: Just because you touched on total size, I want to play a sound bite of what President Joe Biden actually said earlier about the size of this

package. Let's roll that.


BIDEN: President Obama put me in charge of the Recovery Act, and it was hard as hell to get the votes for it to begin with and then, it was hard as

hell to get even the number we got. But one thing we learned is, you know, we can't do too much here. We can do too little. We can do too little and



ASHER: So Austan, do you agree that it is impossible at a time like this to do too much? That this bill can't possibly be too big as the Republicans


GOOLSBEE: I've been publicly saying that by far, the bigger risk, and the way I put it is, the worst strategy you can take in a pandemic is the

"Let's wait and see if we need it." That is what happened in the summer and fall this past year as the Democrats were pressing that we were going to

need more because the virus wasn't under control.

The Trump administration and the Republicans in Congress said, no, let's wait and see, and now we've waited and we've seen what happens.

We've had three months of really job stinkered job numbers, and we've clearly stalled out. And you don't want to repeat that mistake. That was a

mistake, so I that if you were to be too big, if the economy came roaring back, the Fed is clearly positioned to prevent that from turning into

inflation, so I think there's a far greater risk.

As we learned in 2009 and 2010 and as we have seen just in the past year that you do too little, you wait to see, it's like a sunburn by the time

you see it, it's too late. It's an infectious disease. The damage is already done, so I think you want to be big, you want to be quick, and you

want to try to get after the virus.

ASHER: The Stanford analogy is a really good one, actually. One of the numbers that scares me the most out of all of this is the fact 40 percent

of Americans have been jobless for six months or more. What sort of permanent damage, permanent scarring do you think that can cause to the

labor market? And how long do you think it takes to recover from something like that?

Are we looking at five? Ten years? Longer perhaps?

GOOLSBEE: Look, let's hope not. You're absolutely right to highlight that. That's such a large percentage of the unemployed are now -- it is not a

temporary thing. They've been out of work for months and could be out of work for months or years further.


GOOLSBEE: If we have to follow the normal rules of a recession and recovery, then I think it literally would be five to 10 years before we

would address that problem. There is one silver lining to this being a pandemic, which is it doesn't follow the normal rules of the business


If you could get the vaccine distributed to everybody this month, I think there are large segments of the economy that could just literally go right

back to doing what they were doing before the pandemic began, and they are itching to get back into the -- back in the game, and that's not true in a

normal business cycle.

So hopefully, we could more rapidly than in the past address that long-term unemployment problem. But if we let this thing flounder, then I think

you're a hundred percent right that is going to haunt us for a very long time.

ASHER: And finally, you know, whatever happens, whatever sort of hold the economy is in, naturally at the end of the day, Joe Biden is either going

to be blamed for it or given credit.

But the truth is how much -- how much power does the President really have at a time like this, do you think?

GOOLSBEE: Modest, you know, most -- everything that happens in the economy has nothing to do with Washington. It is what is happening in the private


I will say that there is one thing that makes right now different than normal times, which is, it is clear this virus is the thing that is

crushing the economy and that if you look at countries like Australia, New Zealand, China, and Korea where they have gotten control of the virus,

which is something that has to be done by the government.

Where they have gotten control of it, their economies are going almost back to normal, almost back to what they were before. And when the Trump

administration was there and was kind of actively not having a national strategy, just saying the state should figure it out, that was an economic


So I do think at this moment, the President has bigger impact on how the economy does maybe than at normal times.

ASHER: All right, we'll see what happens with those vaccines. Austan Goolsbee, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you so much.

History is set to be made at the World Trade Organization. The path has been cleared for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to lead the organization after South

Korea's candidate withdrew from the race.

She will be the first woman and the first African to hold that position. Richard spoke to the former Nigerian Finance Minister in October about her

goals for the organization. Take a listen.


NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION: The W.T.O. has not been able to complete a multilateral negotiations for some time.

The dispute settlement system which underpins it has been paralyzed and its rules need to be updated to take account of modern 21st Century challenges

like the digital economy and the green economy.

It also needs to work to be more inclusive, to take account of micro-medium and small enterprises and women. And finally in COVID -- we're in the

middle of COVID-19. The W.T.O. has rules that could actually help smaller and poorer countries access vaccines and medical equipment.


ASHER: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala there. All week on the markets, slow and steady wins the race. Major indices enjoy a five-day run while the GameStop frenzy

fizzles out. We'll sort through the investing outlook next.



ASHER: Let's take a look at the markets now. The U.S. markets are actually up slightly to finish a strong week of trading. The Dow has gained every

single day this week, five for five.

Take a look here, it is 84 points or so. It's closing in, but still off its record high of about two weeks ago.

Turn now to GameStop, shares are rebounding after Robinhood lifted its restrictions on buying the stock. Retail investors drove GameStop up

$483.00 a share last week. Let's take a look at it now, it is up about 15 percent or so. They tried to put a squeeze last week on short sellers. The

volatility let Robinhood and other brokers to restrict trading. That brought its price back down to Earth even counting today's gains.

Jim Bianco is President and Micro Strategist at Bianco Research. Jim, thank you so much for being with us. So when it comes to sort of the wild swings

that we've seen in GameStop, you are saying that Wall Street really should have seen this coming. Why? What were the warning signs?

JIM BIANCO, PRESIDENT AND MICRO STRATEGIST, BIANCO RESEARCH: There was a lot of speculation in GameStop on the short side, otherwise bets that

GameStop would fall in price.

As a matter of fact, it might have been the single largest bet on a stock price falling of any stock in the last 15 years. And it was -- it was not

prudent to have that big a short on the market, and the market was susceptible to some kind of a short squeeze like we saw.

So what happened on Reddit and what happened with a lot of the investors on Robinhood is they just recognized an error that Wall Street made and that

they took advantage of it; and this is not the first time we've seen this happen.

All throughout the summer and in the fall, we have seen these individual investors kind of going off on their own whether it was buying Tesla,

watching it go up 600 percent, buying the airlines after Warren Buffet sold them or buying a lot of technology stocks that are kind of their nascent

startup phase and watching those go up 100 percent.

They've been successful at doing this over and over again, and yet somehow, Wall Street ignored them, took too much risk and it paid a price.

ASHER: So how much has short selling overall been damaged by all of this do you think?

BIANCO: Well, I think it's been damaged. First, short selling is an important aspect of the markets. We should always have it. It is a

stabilizing force for the market. It helps to correct errors in the market, and if we get rid of it, it's bad.

But I think what's happened is reputationally, it's taken a big hit. A lot of professional short sellers are saying it's going to be hard to raise

money. No one wants to give money to a short seller and then have to explain themselves afterwards.

Short selling is also going to become more difficult as we go forward from here because of the people that are going to be on the prowl to try and

take advantage of them as well.

So for the time being, maybe several months or a year, it's been damaged, and it's going to stay that way.

ASHER: So, I mean, yes it's been damaged, but will it be just sort of a blip on the radar, or do you think there's a now long-term change in

trading and investing going forward because of what's happened in the GameStop?

BIANCO: No, I think there is a going to be a long-term change. But right now, if you look at the big rally in the market, I am one that subscribes

to the theory that if you've chased all the short sellers out of the market, no one wants to sell this market, you've removed a pressure point

for it to go lower.

And I'm not surprised that we've seen it go up every day this week, the S&P 500 to go to a new all-time high, the Dow is very close to it as well, too,

and the market will probably continue going that way as well.

You know, not every cycle lasts forever. The short sellers will eventually come back, but not anytime, you know, in the next period in front of us. I

don't know if that's going to be months or quarters or a couple of years, and so the market is going to enjoy not having those pressure points, and

at the same time, it's going to have a risk that it can get wildly overvalued, too.


ASHER: So at least in the medium term, there is going to be a difference, so overall, though, just in terms of, you know, ordinary retail investors,

what has the pandemic meant for retail investing just in terms of people sitting at home, you know, they have their stimulus checks. You have got

outlets like Robinhood which naturally appeal to everyday people.

What do you think the pandemic has made -- has meant and what sort of difference has it made, do you think, in terms of retail investing?

BIANCO: Oh, it's made one of the biggest differences we've seen in the history of retail investing. You know, you start with technology that's

made it easy to find information, and then you add in the 2019 zero commission, so it doesn't cost you anything to trade.

And then you add in -- you can buy fractional shares. If you like Amazon at $3,300.00 and you don't have $3,300.00, you can buy one-tenth of it at

$330.00 for no commission as well, too. If you don't have money to get started, we've been sending out stimulus checks. You're worried about the

risk, the Federal Reserve has been back stopping the market.

So you're seeing this unprecedented flow of retail investors in the markets. You're not sure what to do, there's plenty of social networks that

you can join like Reddit and discuss ideas with people and they sort of, in the network effect, banded together so each individual investor is very

small, but collectively, they are now wielding huge influence on Wall Street.

And I might add, a lot of Wall Street professionals are having a hard time getting their head around this, and it threatens them, and that's why

you're hearing a lot of them wag their fingers at them and saying that it is going to end badly.

It might, but for right now, the only person that I think badly for is the Wall Street professional because there has been a disruption and they have

been slow to understand it.

ASHER: Yes, there has certainly been a disruption and as you said, it could change things and shake things for the next few months or even years


All right, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

BIANCO: Yes. Thank you.

ASHER: TikTok rival Kuaishou is having the world's biggest IPO since 2019. Shares in the short video app more than doubled in their first day of

trading in Hong Kong. Selina Wang has more.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A strong public debut for Chinese company, Kuaishou, the TikTok like video app scored the world's biggest IPO since

the pandemic began. Shares jumped to 161 percent to more than $38.00 per share, raising more than $5 billion in its offering.

The Tencent-backed company runs a short video and live streaming app. Its platforms have more than 300 million daily active users. It faces stiff

competition from ByteDance's Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

Douyin has around twice this many daily active users as Kuaishou, Kuaishou's engagement numbers are strong. Its users spend more than 80

minutes per day on the app opening it more than 10 times a day.

I spoke to Hurst Lin, a general partner at DCM Ventures, one of the earliest investors in Kuaishou. Take a listen to what he had to say about

what initially attracted him to the company.


HURST LIN, GENERAL PARTNER, DCM VENTURES: The thing that I noticed is that the community element of Kuaishou is very, very strong relative to all of

the other short video programs or apps at the time that the users actually were very sticky to one another.


WANG: Nearly a quarter of the app's 769 million monthly active users are creators themselves. The app now has users across China, but it was

initially known for rural users in China posting quirky videos about life.

The investor, Hurst Lin said that the company focuses on every day people in China compared to other video apps that tend to focus on, quote, "The

most popular, best looking or most outrageous acts."

But in addition to tough competition, Kuaishou also faces regulatory challenges. This IPO comes as China increasingly cracks down on its tech


Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.

ASHER: Rupert Murdoch is reportedly taking a more active role at FOX News as it faces a one-two punch of falling ratings and fresh legal troubles as


The network, several hosts and two pro-Trump attorneys are being sued for - - get this -- $2.7 billion. The voting company, or the voting tech company, rat her, Smartmatic claims that the defendants waged a disinformation

campaign around the company's role in the 2020 election. FOX News says it will, quote, "vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court."

Elie Honig is here to break this down for us. So, Elie, surely, FOX News gets hit by lawsuits all the time. Why is this time different do you think?


ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, a couple of things, Zain. So first of all, the size of the demand here. Now, look, the numbers that plaintiffs

put in their lawsuits when they sue are always the top possible number they believe they can prove. It doesn't usually end up being that significant.

But still, when you're talking about a starting point in the multiple billions of dollars, you're talking about very serious -- excuse me, civil

exposure for FOX News.

Now, the other part of it is, this looks like a fairly down the middle defamation claim being made by Smartmatic. Basically they just have to

prove that FOX's statements were false. It's pretty clear they were, the statements about election fraud and that FOX or the other defendants knew

they were false or were reckless as to falsity, meaning even if they believed it, that's not enough to defend.

The plaintiffs will prevail if they can show the defendants should have known or sort of turned a blind eye towards what was obvious.

ASHER: So it's about the fact the claims were false and basically the intent behind it.


ASHER: But does Smartmatic actually have to prove as well that the claims perhaps hurt their business in any way or really significantly caused

damage to their reputation?

HONIG: Yes, so they would have to prove damages. They would have to prove the specific amount of the damages. They can prove that by showing that

they lost specific business or that they suffered reputational harm and reputational injury.

The key thing to keep in mind here is, this lawsuit goes to basically the heart of Smartmatic's business. They are a voting technology company, a

voting systems company. That's exactly what FOX's claims went to. So it's not some peripheral issue. It's really the core of their business model.

ASHER: So a company like FOX News that gets sued all the time, I'm sure, for defamation or all sorts of other things, there must be some kind of

contingency plan in place for something like this. They must sort of have a way of dealing with it, be it money set aside or just a way that they know

how to fight this type of thing because it happens so often.

HONIG: Yes, big corporations like FOX News and others have, you know, experienced in the legal world, in the courts the difficult decision here

that FOX News is going to have to make is do you, A, settle the case which will probably come with a significant price tag. There's precedent. ABC

News settled a similar claim a few years ago for $177 million back in 2017.

Do you settle the case or do you go to trial? If you go to trial, then your risk is really not capped. I mean, you could lose if you're FOX News. And

if you lose, that damages amount could be several multiples of the example I gave you from ABC News.

So, it is a risk benefit and sort of a risk management decision that has to happen within the company that gets sued here, FOX News.

ASHER: That number, $2.7 billion, how do Smartmatic's lawyers come up with that number? And what is realistic? Is it probably going to be, let's say

10 percent of that? $200 million? Is it going to be $500 million? Is it going to be less than that?

HONIG: So it's hard to know exactly how aggressive they were. Just know those numbers that get put in initial complaints really consist of the

plaintiff's lawyers sitting down and saying what is the absolute maximum number we can reasonably go into a court and have some chance of


You don't get to just make up any number that you want. You have to have some way to prove it, but that's basically if they win a verdict from a

trial jury and if they win every little last aspect of their damages claim.

I think it's likely even if they win a verdict at trial, it's not going to be $2.7 billion. It'll be some fraction of that. Hard to say. Would it be

half? Would it be one-third? Would it be two-thirds? There's just no way to know. It depends how aggressive those plaintiff's lawyers are.

ASHER: All right, we'll keep an eye on it. Elie Honig live for us there. Thank you so much.

HONIG: Thanks, Zain.

ASHER: Better together than going it alone. That's the message from the leaders of Germany and France as they defend the E.U.'s decision to

collectively rollout the coronavirus vaccine. That story next.



ASHER: Hello, everyone. I'm Zain Asher. Coming up in the next half hour of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

We'll be live at New York's Yankee Stadium as it's transformed into a mass vaccination center.

And the president of Colombia tells us why he's optimistic about relations with the U.S. in the Biden era.

Before that, though, this is CNN and on this network the facts always come first.

The Joe Biden Administration says it will deploy more than 1,000 troops to help with the coronavirus vaccination efforts. The Pentagon says they will

travel to five federal vaccination sites across the U.S. beginning in California within the next 10 days.

New data suggests the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine works against the highly contagious U.K. variant. The preliminary findings were published online by

Oxford University researchers who helped develop the shot.

They say it has the potential to slow transmission of the virus.

And Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was back in a courtroom today, this time not pleading guilty to charges he defamed a World War II veteran.

Navalny accused prosecutors of pursuing fabricated cases against him saying the truth is on his side.

Oscar-winning actor, Christopher Plummer, has died at the age of 91. Plummer's decorated career spanned seven decades. His most memorable role

came in "The Sound of Music" as Captain Von Trapp.

The leaders of Germany and France are defending Europe's troubled rollout of the coronavirus vaccine.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged the challenges in production capacity but say it's still better for the E.U. to

tackle them together instead of individual member states going it alone.


ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (Through Translator): The decision to order vaccines together as the European Union is and was right.

Second, we can be proud that important steps of the vaccine production have been accomplished in the European Union.

Third, we realize that the production capacities we have in the European Union are not as big as we had imagined. Enough vaccines were ordered but

people now are asking how much do we get now and not how much we ordered in total.


ASHER: Melissa Bell is live for us in Paris. So, Melissa, what's going to change, if anything, going forward in terms of the coronavirus vaccine

rollout in Europe?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly they decided to put a brave united front on it. It has been such in shambles, Zain.

These last few days, we've seen Ursula von der Leyen, in particular, greatly criticized for what's happened over the course of the last few


And if you cast your mind back to the beginning of all this , it had been the case -- and Emmanuel Macron reminded us of that in his press conference

today, alongside Angela Merkel in that press conference -- that it just --


when it began a year ago, things in the European Union when it came to health had been organized at member state level.

So the European Union decided to organize everything together, contracts were signed later than they were, for instance, by the United Kingdom and

the delays that followed followed.

There's been a lot of criticism in the last few days. This was really Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron trying to say, look, the French president

-- we're in the middle of a fight over the vaccine, and fight we now must.

So all eyes very much now, Zain, on the next vaccine to get approval from the European Medicines Agency in order that the rollout in all these

countries can be improved on what's been going on the last few days.

ASHER: And, Melissa, are Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron optimistic at all about when they can get everybody in their individual countries

vaccinated? Your thoughts on that.

BELL: Well, there are sign, I think, Zain, that things will approve. Just today, Germany announced that 80 percent of residents in care homes had

been vaccinated.

All of these countries had now fixed themselves ambitious targets, and we'll have to see if they're able to meet them.

But clearly that creaking to a halt that we saw in some parts of the vaccination programs as a result of poor supplies, a huge embarrassment for

the European Commission that had really hoped through this effort of coordinating this for Europe to mark a point for the European Union.

And that's been very difficult, I think, to maintain given what happened.

But some sense that things might be beginning to improve. They're looking to other vaccines, more being able to diversify their supply now that the

AstraZeneca vaccine not only is going to come in in short supply but is also not going to apply in so many European countries to people over 65.

So they need to fix those shortfalls and really look to what might be approved next.

But also, I think it's important to note that there are signs of hope as well in the figures front, Zain.

Here in Europe, several countries seeing it stabilizing at fairly high levels of the COVID-19 figures and some hints that some countries might be

able to look towards a lightening of those.

ASHER: And overall, just how much pressure are European leaders under just to get this under control? Obviously, you mentioned one possible solution

is diversifying the vaccines but beyond that, though, what is the level of pressure they're feeling right now?

BELL: I think a huge amount of pressure when you consider the state of their economies, when you consider the state of the progression of the

pandemic these last few weeks.

I think for so many of these European countries, the restrictions have been very harsh, the progression has been fairly fierce and all that pressure

has of course built-up.

And I think it wouldn't be quite as bad as it's been, Zain, frankly if things hadn't been going far better in the United Kingdom. Which, of

course, chose to go it alone when the united -- the European Union was banding together, could still have joined, chose to go down its own route.

The fact that their vaccine rollout has proved as efficient and as fast, I think, is also the source of some pressure on European leaders now.

ASHER: All right. Melissa Bell, live for us there. Thank you so much.

COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. are picking up pace outnumbering new cases by a 10 to 1 ratio.

Over the past week, more than 9 million doses were administered; during the same seven-day period fewer than 960,000 cases were reported. That number

is down 15 percent from last week.

And Yankee Stadium is just one of the mass vaccination sites that opened today.

CNN's Erica Hill is there. She's joining us live now.

So, Erica, from what we understand there are still thousands of time slots, though, that are still open. What went wrong?

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So as of early this morning -- so here's what we know, Zain. This facility opened at 8:00 a.m. local time,

all appointments must be made in advance -- this is for Bronx residents.

The Bronx, of course, is one of the five boroughs in New York City and that's where Yankee Stadium is located. It also has one of the highest

positivity rates in the city. This area has been hit particularly hard by the virus; 1,000 appointments

today. Those were all filled up. 15,000 in all were made available for the first week. As of this morning about 2,000 were left.

We're going to check in and see if some of those have filled up for the rest of the week.

But I can tell you based on what CNN has learned from folks here today for their appointments, they are very excited about it. One young man said he

signed up as soon as he knew the option was available.

More Pfizer vaccine could be coming soon with some help from the Defense Production Act.

TIM MANNING, DPA WHITE HOUSE SUPPLY COORDINATOR: We told you that when we heard of a bottleneck on needed equipment, supplies or technology related

to vaccine supply that we would step in and help.

HILL: And a third vaccine now in line for FDA emergency use authorization.


HILL: The FDA will consider Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine on February 26th.

JHA: Certainly by April it'll become a real player in terms of expanding vaccine access.

HILL: More mass vaccination sites coming online today.

JAHQYAD AUSTIN, RECEIVED FIRST DOSES AT YANKEE STADIUM: As soon as I heard it on the news, I signed up right away.


HILL: Yankee Stadium offering 15,000 appointments in the first week.

RANDY LEVINE, PRESIDENT, NEW YORK YANKEES: We will do whatever it takes.

HILL: Mega sites also opening in San Francisco and Maryland as states and cities push for more equitable distribution.

KATHERINE GILMORE, PHILADELPHIA CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: How we prioritize communities of color with the continued vaccine distribution and rollout

will be vitally important to ensuring that we can close that inequitable gap.

HILL: Teachers and some school staff now eligible for the vaccine in 24 states and D.C. The CDC working on new guidance after prompting confusion

earlier this week.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Schools and parents and teachers and staff have been waiting for this type of guidance for months now.

HILL: Nationwide, more than 9 million shots administered last week. That's ten times the number of new cases added in the U.S. Two very different

metrics marking important gains.


really do think that we will get on top of this by summer or late summer. Because I think everything is now moving in the right direction.

HILL: New cases are down nearly 20 percent in the last week. COVID hospitalizations falling below 90,000 for the first time since November.

The federal government considering a plan to send masks to all Americans.

RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I hope in the next few days or next week we may be able to announce some progress on this.

HILL: Experts stressing masks, physical distance and hand washing are the key to keeping fast-spreading variants at bay while waiting for your


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Viruses will not evolve and mutate if you do not give them an

open playing field.

HILL: We've also just learned that the commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell has told President Biden in a letter the stadiums for all 32

football teams here in the United States will be made available as mass vaccination sites, some of them already up and running. A lot of them also

have experience in -- as mass testing sites.


ASHER: Erica Hill, live for us there. Thank you so much.

When we come back. President Joe Biden's hoping to repair American alliances damaged during the Trump era.

After the break we'll hear from the president of Colombia about his hopes for the future of U.S-Colombian relations.

That's next.


ASHER: Joe Biden is telling the "world" America is back" in his first major foreign policy speech.

Colombia's president told Richard Quest he's optimistic about relations with the U.S. in the Biden era.


Ivan Duque Marquez says he expects more cooperation on issues like climate change and hopes the world can unite to solve the crisis in Venezuela.

IVAN DUQUE MARQUEZ, PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA: Well, we have a bilateral, bicameral and long-lasting relationship with the United States. Actually,

in 2022 we'll celebrate 200 years of diplomatic relationships between Colombia and the United States of America.

In the last 20 years that relationship has been strengthen administration by administration. If you look at (inaudible) Colombia in the Clinton

years, it was very important for us. When you look then at the Bush era where we signed a free trade agreement, it also opened up opportunities for


In the Obama era, there were a lot of technical cooperation issues and even with the Trump Administration while being president myself, what we have

done is to strengthen not only technical cooperation but investment.

And something that is important, Colombia is seen as one of the places with a nearshoring strategy, so that we'll be connected to the United States.

With the Biden Administration, I am very optimistic because President Biden has been a good friend of Colombia, he was one of the architects of

(inaudible) Colombia in the Senate, we have a close relationship with him and members of his team (ph).

And I think we're going to broaden even more the bilateral cooperation. And we're going to get into issues like climate change, we're going to get into

issues as creative industries for the industrial revolution beside the issues that we continually work.

So I see this as a great opportunity for Colombia and for the United States.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, HOST OF QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Finally, on to Maduro, what happens there? Four years, arguably, lost by the Trump

Administration, an opportunity for change that was lost and missed at the last hurdle. Maduro stays; what happens?

DUQUE MARQUEZ: Richard, Maduro has been in power since 2012. And I've always denounced that what we have seen in Venezuela started as a

dictocracy, it was a dictatorship that started to expand through the speech of democracy.

But they have destroyed independent powers. They --

QUEST: But what needs to happen, what needs to happen next?

DUQUE MARQUEZ: In my opinion, in my opinion, four things need to happen -- and let me just mention why this is urgent, Richard.

We're facing now the biggest migration crisis in the world that has surpassed the Syria crisis. More than 6 million Venezuelans have left the

country, and we need to do something fast.

Four things have to be met. The end of the dictatorship, have the possibility to call for a transitionary government with broad

participation. Have free elections and put in place an economic recovery plan for Venezuela.

Obviously, the number one issue is the most complicated. But I think this is the moment where the whole international community needs to put all the


Because I have said this and I will say it once again. Maduro represents a Latin-American equivalent of Slobodan Milosevic. The whole world cannot

simply keep on staring at things as they happen by the minute destroying the life and well-being of many people.

This is the moment where all the diplomatic efforts need to consolidate in one purpose; Maduro out of power.


ASHER: The CEO of Barclays says Brexit is likely to benefit the city of London. Yesterday, he told the BBC the city should focus on competing with

the U.S. and Asia rather than Europe.

But the trade deal negotiated just a few weeks ago did little to help the U.K.'s financial sector trade in the E.U. Putting the city's position as a

global finance center into question.

CNN's Anna Stewart has more.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The city of London has been a ghost town for much of the pandemic. Lockdown after lockdown means many office workers

are now home workers.

There are fears that Europe's unofficial capital of finance could remain quieter beyond the pandemic due to Brexit.


STEWART: The E.U. and the U.K. finally reached a trade agreement last year in the eleventh hour of negotiations. But it barely mentioned financial

services which accounts for nearly seven percent of the U.K. economy.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There's some good language about equivalents for financial services, perhaps not as much as we would have


STEWART: Leaving the single market means financial services' firms in the U.K. have lost easy access to the European clients, known as passporting.

EMMA REYNOLDS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE CITY U.K.: Passporting, in simple terms, meant that a U.K. based bank or other financial services provider

could provide those services across the E.U. whilst only having a base in the U.K.

We have lost that advantage. And that was very much part of the European single market.

So that is why you've seen banks and other financial services firms set up subsidiaries in other member states so they can serve E.U. clients from

those subsidiaries.


STEWART: Setting up subsidiaries in Europe is why some financial jobs have already shifted from the city of London to other European cities.

Consultancy firm, EY, put that number at around 7,500 jobs as of late September although that's a fraction of the U.K.'s 1.1 million financial


It's not just jobs that have gone, so has E.U. jurisdiction. And that means the U.K. can make its own financial rules and regulations. One key reason,

the E.U. has only granted the U.K. limited market access, equivalence only in some areas.

SIMON GLEESON, PARTNER, CLIFFORD CHANCE: So the move they've done is is basically to use European regulation as a sort of trade war tool, with the

aim of trying to force as much business as possible out of London and into Europe.

STEWART (Voice Over): What emerges from ongoing talks between the E.U. and the U.K. is uncertain.

One thing is for sure. Brexit will linger here for years to come.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


ASHER: Melbourne is ready to host the first major global sporting event of the year.

Thousands of unmasked fans are expected to attend the Australian Open. How organizers plan to keep them safe, even though they're not wearing masks.

We'll have that and more ahead.


ASHER: The director of the Australian Open says stringent COVID protocols are paying off.

He says the tournament will actually be one of the safest places in Melbourne for the next two weeks.

The tennis championship kicks off on Monday. And as Will Ripley reports, it could provide a model of how to keep spectators safe during a pandemic.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At this year's Australian Open, huge crowds, unimaginable in places like the U.S.

Nearly 400,000 fans will pack Melbourne's tennis center over the next two weeks.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC, MEN'S WORLD NO. 1 TENNIS PLAYER: I had goose bumps coming into the court playing in front of the fans again.

RIPLEY: Australia won't even begin vaccinations until later this month. How are they packing stadiums in the middle of a pandemic?

Every player arriving in Melbourne had to quarantine for two weeks in a state-monitored hotel.


If anyone on their plane tested positive, the rules got even tougher. A possible exposure meant 14 days stuck in a room, no fresh air, no outdoor

practice for dozens of players.

CRAIG TILEY, TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR, AUSTRALIAN OPEN: We're in a pandemic, this is not going away tomorrow. In fact, I think we're going to be doing

this again next year and potentially the year after.

And we're going to have to manage through it, we've got to find ways to do it. But we have to get going and this is the way to show you can do it.

RIPLEY: The uncertainty of the pandemic is forcing organizers to be nimble.

A new case connected to a hotel hosting athletes suspended play on Thursday. More than 500 people had to get tested.

Melbourne is a city that knows how to handle an outbreak.

As huge American crowds celebrated the 4th of July, Melbourne endured one of the world's toughest and longest lockdowns; 111 days, masks mandatory

for everyone.

In phase one, a strict curfew at night, by day only essential travel within three miles of home. Breaking the rules meant hefty fines.

The harsh lockdown worked. Cases dropped for more than 700 per day to zero.

SHARON LEWIN, DIRECTOR, DOHERTY INSTITUTE FOR INFECTION & IMMUNITY: I think we got to eradication by default. We always talked about aggressive

suppression but we actually got to eradication. And, I can tell you, living with eradication, it's pretty nice.

RIPLEY: Pretty nice may be an understatement for many around the world wondering when they can hug their families again let alone pack a stadium.

Australian experts say other nations can do it too with the right mix of restrictions and now vaccines. A possible test run for the postponed Tokyo

2020 Olympics in July.

TILEY: You can take the small sample we have here which would probably be about 12, 15 percent of what it is over there, and you can just replicate

it. And I believe if you do, it'll be a success.

RIPLEY: Success in Melbourne meant short-term pain for long-term gain. Giving hope to others around the world waiting for life to get back to



ASHER: Will Ripley reporting there. There are just moments left to trade on Wall Street.

We'll have the final numbers and the closing bell right after this quick break.


ASHER: Well, just moments left to trade on Wall Street. The Dow is heading for its fifth straight day of gains, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are at records.

And that is the bell. That is, of course, as well QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Zain Asher in New York.