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Quest Means Business
British Prime Minister Hopes for End to Social Distancing in June; Airlines Ground Dozens of Boeing 777 Planes after Engine Failure; Biden's Lifeline To Small Businesses; The COVID Stimulus Plan, Is It Too Big?; Going Back To The Office; The New Normal's Already In Demand; Super Apps, One Stop Shopping For One Stop Everything; U.K. Lays Out Road Map From Lockdown. Aired 3-4p ET.
Aired February 22, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNNI ANCHOR: Start of a new week and the Dow on course for a record close. Strong, bullish session started off badly, but as the news
got better and the day went on, so the Dow is now up nearly half a percent records. Let's see if it holds up before the close.
The markets, that is the way they are and the event that made the day.
An end to social distancing as soon as June. The British Prime Minister lays out his roadmap for England's reopening.
The United States is on the verge of half a million coronavirus deaths.
And airlines are suspending flights of some Boeing 777s after a shocking engine explosion over the weekend.
We are live in New York. It is Monday, the 22nd of February. I'm Richard Quest and I mean business.
Good evening. Tonight, two of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic are marking very different milestones. The United Kingdom is looking forward to
life after lockdown, laying out a comprehensive road map to reopening England.
Meanwhile the U.S. has just about surpassed half a million lives lost through COVID, it is a staggering toll that was once unthinkable.
Both countries have been roundly criticized over the last year for their response to the crisis. Right now, the turns they are striking could
tersely be more different.
England is aiming to lift nearly all of its COVID restrictions as soon as June the 21st if the data allows. It is on the assumption vaccines will be
offered to all adults by the end of July. The dates of course are not set in stone and depend on the case numbers as the Prime Minister Boris Johnson
continued to say. However, the country is making enough progress to plan ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: With every day that goes by, this program of vaccination is creating a shield around the entire population
which means we're now traveling on a one way road to freedom and we can begin safely to restart our lives and do it with confidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Nic Robertson is outside 10 Downing Street. Nic, all the caveats that go into this question if the numbers show, et cetera, et cetera, et
cetera, but bearing in mind the vaccination status in the U.K. to put a date on this must be extremely rewarding in Britain tonight.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is, and that's the way it is going to be. The Chief Medical Officer, when he said, we've got a
headroom that we can use right now for the next thing in the line if you will to be -- come out of lockdown which is children going back to school,
that gives you the idea there that there are margins that the government can work with in the interim, the infection rate is at a point where
they've got a little bit of headroom so they can do these steps, go cautiously, make sure the data is all correct.
But, yes. For the country to know that the 21st of June is the day that they will no longer be regulated on how many people can meet and what they
can do together that is going to be hugely significant.
Think about it this way, Richard. Right now, today, you cannot go to a park and sit on a bench and have a coffee with one friend. That is off limits.
So that is going to be a huge change across the course of the next four months.
QUEST: What I find interesting, is though, I mean, the reopening is going to happen, but it is still weeks and months as part of the process.
Why is it going to take so long if the vaccination plan is already so far advanced?
ROBERTSON: The plan is advanced. The aspiration is big. The desire is big. But the reality is, you still have to get the shots into people's arms and
the early evidence is that this will save them from hospitalizations to a good degree, deaths it still takes time to get it in the arms of everyone.
Even the most vulnerable won't be completed until the middle of April. So by the end of July, everyone will have had one shot. Three weeks after
that, there will be -- all adults will have that level of protection.
But it doesn't mean that you can immediately spring people right now back out into mixing the way that they were before. That's the message.
And the reason is, despite that headroom, it takes about four weeks for each of these little steps that the government is introducing, these sort
of lifting of bits of the lockdown like hair dressers opening in early April and you have to measure and see what happens.
And it takes four weeks for that data to come in and the government wants to take another extra week so it can make whatever adjustments.
ROBERTSON: So, yes, everyone will have these vaccinations, but they are not all going to be effective quickly enough to do everything so you have
to stop and check as you go along. That is the rationale here.
QUEST: Are all the other national countries, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, are they all going to follow on with this time scale?
ROBERTSON: They will have different steps. Scotland, they announced they are coming out of lockdown measures. That is expected tomorrow. Ireland,
Northern Ireland has announced you know, it is going to keep its lockdown measures in place for some time to come, longer than Mainland England if
you will at the moment.
So there is a desire to have the whole country pretty much go along together. Boris Johnson has announced the steps in England will happen
across the whole of England, but obviously there is a need to keep the regions in step together. But that hasn't been the way that it has been
handled so far.
So they will be in close approximation but not identical. Scottish schools, back this week; English schools not back for another couple of weeks.
QUEST: Nic Robertson, thank you. Nic, thank you. We'll talk more about those different dates that Nic was talking to there.
There are four major steps that will happen in England and the reason we are going into such detail, of course, is this. It will be replicated in
many other countries as lockdowns are lifted.
So, in the case of England, the first date, that solid date, is March 8th where schools will be reopened in some cases and there will be limited
social interaction. Then you go to April 12th, nonessential. You've got gyms, museums, hair dressers and the like.
Now, the 17th of May is interesting, that's the earliest the government says it could permit nonessential international travel. So in time for
summer holidays, after the Easter break, but still some months off. And then really, by the time you get to June 21st, nearly all restrictions are
expected to have been lifted.
That includes night clubs, yay, and weddings -- full weddings with full numbers.
Dr. Kamran Abbasi is the Executive Editor of the BMJ, the "British Medical Journal," the Doctor joins me now. Doctor, how realistic is this? Is the
Prime Minister inadvertently setting the country up for disappointment when there is a resurgent in numbers and he can't keep those dates?
DR. KAMRAN ABBASI, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL": First of all, good evening. I think it is a big moment, it is a good moment, an
But when we're optimistic, we also need to be cautious and I think the caution is reflected particularly in this five-week gap between each step
and I think that is where the scientists have won, and have imposed some caution on Boris Johnson and the argument that we rely on data rather than
dates to decide what the next step in the de-escalation of measures is.
So it is realistic, provided that we stick to the data, that we take it cautiously. I think where he has got it wrong is by calling it
irreversible. Now, that is a highly risky thing to say, because the virus is a clever thing. It can mutate. We can have a new variant that arrives,
that escapes the vaccine.
There are things that can happen that will -- that might make him eat his words at a future point.
But at the moment, as things stand, everything is optimistic, provided that those measures are not released too early and too -- and that's a mistake
that has been made in the past.
QUEST: Okay, but the scientific -- the government's scientific advisors, SAGE, are also saying, well hang on a second. At each step, in the four-
week -- in the four stages, there will be an increase in cases and hospitalizations.
ABBASI: Yes. I mean, this is part of their modeling. So the more you open up a society, the more freedom there is, of course there are more cases and
there is more hospitalization.
Now, the major point of disagreement between government policy and what the critics have been saying is that the government has always wanted to manage
the case load of cases and hospital admissions, whereas its main critics have said, you need to take a much more aggressive approach and drive down
those cases almost to eradication.
And it seems that once again that isn't what the government is aiming for, it is aiming to live with a level of cases within the community and that is
a risk in the calculation they are making is that they won't lead to deaths, but it will lead to illness even in young people.
ABBASI: So, that is why we need caution. That's why the numbers need to be monitored regularly. That's why saying irreversible is a dangerous thing.
QUEST: It is a lives versus livelihoods argument, isn't it? And although there is the sophisticated argument that if you don't deal with the virus,
you're going to lose anyway. But I suppose, government does have that responsibility that others don't have, which is to balance the necessity of
the economy and people's livelihoods.
ABBASI: Yes. Absolutely. It is a very complex calculation to me, but if we look at the evidence from around the world, the countries that have said,
right, we are going to invest in lives and protect lives, they are the ones that have been also protected livelihoods.
If you look at New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, China, these are the places that have economically ended up being robust and that is because
they've been very, very aggressive and proactive in terms of reacting to coronavirus; whereas, the countries that have settled as a kind of halfway
house which the U.K. has done, which the U.S. has done, they are the ones who have taken the double hit of, it has affected both lives and
And this is the chance now to get it right, to make sure this is the last lockdown, to make sure the measures are not eased too quickly so there are
no more lockdowns after this.
The most damaging effect of last year has been from the repeated cycle of lockdowns. We can't have that. Nobody wants lockdowns.
QUEST: Right. So to wrap it -- to full circle, the nature of the way forward in a sense, the U.K. is what -- it is 25 percent single shot
vaccinated. Heading towards full vaccination to anybody who wants it by summer, but with your experience and you've looked into this in a lot more
detail, are we still looking at, in all countries, the necessity for social distancing, mask wearing, for the foreseeable future?
ABBASI: I think we are. I mean, I think if we look at the countries that have stayed on top of the virus, I mean, let's take China for example.
China's control of the virus really was aggressive initially. They got it under control by March. But they still have social distancing, mask wearing
is still everywhere, and also, they are controlling their borders.
They are controlling the spread of the virus within their population. They're controlling how -- limiting the virus getting into the country.
There are quarantine measures and they are being very aggressive.
Australia has done this, New Zealand as well when there have been even very small outbreaks. So, I think the reality is the vaccine alone is not the
All the non-pharmaceutical interventions, public health measures that W.H.O. and others have recommended right from the beginning, they will need
to be continued for a good while yet, possibly for another year, if we are really to stay on top of this infection and get back to normality and to
ensure that there is economic recovery alongside protecting people's health.
QUEST: Sir, Doctor, thank you. Good to have you with us. I appreciate it. Thank you.
A year ago, the numbers seemed unthinkable. Now, today, the United States is to surpass a gut wrenching milestone, 500,000 coronavirus deaths.
President Biden's COVID response team is delivering an update in Washington at this moment. That is the head of the C.D.C.
A half million lives lost, ravaged economy and hundreds of thousands of shattered families left in the wake. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. has
done much worse than most any other country and the situation didn't have to be this bad.
He told CNN's Dana Bash while things will get better eventually, there is no quick nor easy solution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What does normal mean? Do you think Americans will still be wearing masks for example in 2022?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You know, I think it is possible that that's the case.
As we get into the fall and the winter by the end of the year, I agree with the President completely that we will be approaching a degree of normality.
It may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019, but it'll be much, much better than what we're doing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: New COVID cases, and deaths in the hospital in the U.S. are down significantly. Dr. Julie Morita who served on the transition team's COVID-
19 advisory board is with me.
Doctor, I appreciate your time. So there is a noticeable -- I mean, I live here in New York and there was a noticeable difference. There feels to be
more energy to the whole campaign, to the vaccination, and this, that and the other, and the numbers have come down.
But you just heard me talking about the United Kingdom. There is a real risk in the U.S. isn't there, that the complacency sends the numbers back
DR. JULIE MORITA, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION: Hi, Richard. Thanks for having me. I think you pointed out, clearly, that
we are achieving a grim milestone here with 500,000 deaths because of COVID. And I think what we all have suffered throughout the past year and
are ready for a change and ready for hope, but I think it is a little premature to be celebrating just yet.
There is a reason to be hopeful because we have two excellent vaccines that are available; a third that is being evaluated by the F.D.A. this week. And
there's reason to believe -- and our rates are coming down.
But even though our rates are coming down with COVID, we still have higher levels than we'd like to see and higher levels than we had in the fall. So
I think, really, we need to continue to do the things that we've been doing in the past while we are waiting to get vaccinated and that means the mask
wearing, the social distancing, washing hands, and avoiding crowds. Those things are all critical still.
QUEST: This is a complex question seeking a simple answer. Is there one thing that the U.S. did wrong? Go back to the last year.
I mean, we could talk about the opening up for Christmas and we can talk about opening up for Thanksgiving and all of these other things. But if you
go back to last spring, early summer, is there one thing that the U.S. did not do that it should have done?
MORITA: So I guess my -- you know, as a former Health Commissioner in Chicago, I was there for 20 years, and lived through many public health
emergencies and many at a national level, so things like Ebola, or H1N1, or Zika and the strongest responses that the U.S. government had were one,
there was strong Federal leadership and clear and consistent communication regarding what the public health measures are.
And I think we knew early on with the public health interventions that would likely help us decrease spread and that meant the mask wearing, the
social distancing, the avoiding crowds, and hand washing -- those kinds of things could really make a difference.
What I think we are seeing now is more consistent and clear guidance about the importance of doing those things.
I am really pleased we have actually had such a great vaccine response, that there are these two strong vaccines available already in less than a
year's time and we're already vaccinating people, but we still have a lot of work to do.
And so when I look back over what could have been done better, I really feel like a strong, coordinated Federal response with clear and consistent
messaging really does lead to a better and stronger response for any public health emergency.
QUEST: Do you think we're getting ourselves tied up in our own data? I will give you an example, you have got the AstraZeneca, which is not being
used in over 65s in certain European countries because there wasn't enough of the over 65s in the third stage.
You've got in this country -- you've got a variety of different questions over whether the first vaccine gives sufficient, should the gap be longer,
even though the latest Pfizer data shows 85 percent efficacy. Do you think we've tied ourselves up in knots on this?
MORITA: I think the data are essential for us to make sure that we are doing the right thing and protecting people as effectively as possible, and
so we are reliant on data.
I think, what I like to do is I look at what is currently recommended by the F.D.A. -- what's been approved by the F.D.A. and the United States and
also then recommended by the C.D.C. I follow those guidance and those recommendations while other studies are being done.
It is so important to have additional work done and additional studies being done to make sure that the vaccines are safe and effective as we
thought they were. And also to make sure that they work in the real world circumstances like they did in the clinical trials and also to see if there
are ways that we can actually improve the vaccine.
So can they be stored in warmer temperatures or can they -- only one dose given? But it is premature to make changes with the vaccine schedule until
we have full data available.
So, I don't think that we are tying ourselves up in knots. I think it is really important to focus on what is being recommended and following
through with those things while these additional studies are actually going on.
QUEST: Doctor, good to have you. I appreciate your time. Thank you, ma'am.
MORITA: Thank you.
QUEST: Now, if you're on board the Boeing 777 on Saturday, this is what you saw when one of the engines suddenly caught fire. It exploded.
Imagine seeing that and knowing you have got at least five minutes worth of flying hoping that doesn't blow up and take the wing with it.
The plane landed safely. That much we know and Boeing is dealing with the fall out, after the break.
QUEST: Airlines in the United States, South Korea and Japan have grounded dozens of 777 aircrafts after one jets suffered an engine failure. Now,
this is the 777 that we are talking about, one of it -- this is the model. It is the 777-200.
And the engine that we are talking about was engine number two and this is it here. Now, if you look at the video of United Airlines flight 328, so
you see there that this video that has just been taken from in front of the engine just by roughly say near door to right.
The debris began raining down on homes and gardens and thankfully, the plane was able to land. No reports of injury on the ground or in the air.
The engine is made Pratt & Whitney. It is part of the 4000 series and both companies say they are cooperating with investigators into what happened.
United is one of the few airlines that has 777s with the Pratt & Whitney. You can see the rest of them there.
Most of the 777-200s in the air are powered by GE 90s or Trent -- Rolls Royce Trent engines. So there are not that many with the Pratt & Whitney.
Now, as viewers this of program know, it is hardly the first time Boeing has had to confront a crisis. Two fatal 737 MAX crashes and the models
grounding for nearly two years.
Also, you've got the 787 Dreamliner which has now halted deliveries and production while they sort out a quality control issue with the fuselage
and the 777X has been delayed by several years.
Peter Goelz is the former Managing Director at the N.T.S.B. He joins me from Virginia via Skype.
Peter, well, I mean, the good part -- there was nothing really good except that having seen -- having learned a lesson from 787 and not acting fast
enough and not acting fast enough after MAX, they have done it this time and moved quite quickly.
PETER GOELZ, FORMER MANAGING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: I think they have. I think both the air carriers and Boeing have
moved pretty quickly to get these planes on the ground and get the inspections going.
I think it does indicate that the F.A.A. has kind of lost their worldwide leadership position. The Japanese air nautical group grounded the plane
before the F.A.A. did, but that is understandable.
The F.A.A. is going to -- has had some hard years and they're going to take some time to regain their stature. I do think they are moving quickly on
QUEST: But shouldn't the F.A.A., yesterday have been putting out the announcement that Boeing put out? I mean, as I look at it, as I look at the
cascading announcements yesterday, you had United Airlines first with the abundance of caution, Boeing kicks in afterwards saying, hey, we don't want
another MAX on our hands and the F.A.A. is just asking for greater inspections.
QUEST: Bearing in mind that the F.A.A. report on 20 -- or the report following the 2018 incident with United specifically talked about the
inspections of these fans?
GOELZ: Well, I think the F.A.A. was a little slow on moving this and that has been their problem for the past three or four years. They've been --
they have not taken the leadership.
And you're absolutely right, the 2018 incident, which was very similar, pointed out, and the N.T.S.B. confirmed it, that there really wasn't a very
good training program at Pratt & Whitney for their mechanics who test for these faults.
And of course, this raises the further question, does the F.A.A. have the expertise to monitor this kind of testing? This sophisticated, thermal
acoustic testing? They don't know much about it.
I think there is going to be a further look at whether the F.A.A. has got the skills to really oversee modern air carriers.
QUEST: Peter, I'm always wary of what one might say, shark bites bather stories. You hear one and then suddenly, there is another and before long,
there is an epidemic of them everywhere.
We had this incident and we also had the incident of the Longtail 747-400 out of Maastricht. Is there likely -- and they both are Pratt & Whitney
engines. One is a different type, but they are both 4000 engines. Am I drawing a line that shouldn't be drawn?
GOELZ: Well, I think we're looking at, you know, these engines are enormous. They're over 11 feet in diameter. The turbo fans themselves are
The faults when they develop, develop on the inside of a hollow turbo fan and propagate outwards. It is a very challenging issue to pick these things
I don't think you are. I think there are some serious problems. My guess is we're going to find that it is going to take a while to get these planes
back in the air and the inspection process is going to be enhanced.
QUEST: Peter, good to have you. We always love having you on these stories, helping us understand what is happening. It is kind of you, sir.
Thank you. Peter Goelz joining me.
Now, Joe Biden is announcing new measures to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. New rules roll out this week with a popular
government loan program. We'll have the details.
It is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Start of a new week.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. There's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment.
I'll be speaking to the Nobel prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman, about Joe Biden's final push to get his stimulus plan through Congress.
And as Boris Johnson outlines England's road to reopening, the chief executive of workspace giant, IWG, on what returning to the office looks
That is all still to come. This is CNN, and here the facts and news always come first. That I promise you.
The U.S. Supreme Court has dealt a blow to Donald Trump's long-standing effort to conceal his tax returns. It's cleared the way for a New York
prosecutor to obtain his financial records as part of a closed door grand jury investigation into alleged hush money payments and other possible
U.S. attorney general nominee Merrick Garland says he will not give into political pressure. During his first day of the confirmation hearings,
Garland -- Judge Garland said his priority is to oversee the investigation into the Capitol riots.
It comes nearly five years after Republicans blocked the judge's nomination to the Supreme Court by refusing to hold a hearing.
A new study in the United Kingdom suggests that the first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine provides higher levels of protection than
Researchers found that one dose reduced the risk of infection by 72 percent after three weeks. British officials are hailing the data saying it
supports their strategy of prioritizing a wider distribution of first doses.
An announcement by Brazil's president has sent the shares of Petrobras tumbling more than 20 percent. President Bolsonaro's replacing the state-
owned oil company's CEO with a retired army general. Critics accuse the president of interfering to try to limit unpopular price hikes as he eyes a
re-election next year.
And the European Union says it will impose further sanctions on Russia over the jailing of the Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny. The agreement was
reached during a meeting in Brussels today.
The sanction will be imposed under a new framework that allows the E.U. to take measures against human rights violators worldwide.
President Biden is offering a new lifeline for certain small businesses who are struggling to survive the pandemic.
He says he's changing a government loan program in order to help more minority-owned and very small businesses get funding.
At a White House event, he said lawmakers must also do their part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need Congress to pass my American rescue plan. It deals with the immediate crisis facing our small
Now critics say the plan is too big. Let me ask the rhetorical question what would you have me cut? What would you leave out?
The American rescue plan targets $50 billion to support the hardest hit small businesses after this program expires at the end of March.
Would you not help invest in that? Would you let them continue to go under?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Paul Krugman is the Nobel prize-winning economist and opinion columnist for "The New York Times". Paul, how good to see you, sir. I hope
you're well, and family. Thank you for joining us.
I read your articles and I know that you -- the view on this stimulus package that it is too much, as the president says what would you have him
But we now have critics on both sides of the Atlantic who say -- some in Europe say the European Commission's plans are too much, now they say that
the U.S. $1.9 trillion is too much. What are they seeing that others are not?
PAUL KRUGMAN, NOBEL-PRIZE INNING ECONOMIST: Oh, first of all, this is -- after the past four years, this is a totally surreal debate. You actually
have intelligent, well-informed, honest people on both sides. And I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around that.
And so there are people like Larry Summers, Olivier Blanchard here who are saying oh, this is too big.
And then there's people like Goldman Sachs and the IMF and, of course, me and Janet Yellen saying, no, it isn't too big.
I think the point is that if we think of this purely as a stimulus plan then -- there's a whole bunch of things that if you think you could believe
in you might say, well, maybe we should have something smaller.
If you believe the Congressional Budget Office which doesn't think the economy is in that deep a hole then it looks like a pretty big plan given
that but that's a highly contentious view. And I'm on the side of the people who think the hole is a lot deeper than the CBO numbers say.
If you believe that we could come back for more if this turns out to be insufficient then you might say well, why don't we do something smaller and
see? But the lesson we learned from 2009 is that that's not how it works.
If this thing isn't a clear success right out the gate then we will not get a second chance.
And then there's the balance of risks. If the plan ends up -- no one, no one, really knows the numbers. I would make a pretty strong case that this
plan is about the right size but, of course, I could be wrong.
But the balance of risks if it turns out to be too big, well, the Fed can rein it in, we're not going to have an explosion of inflation. If it turns
out to be too small then we're really in big trouble.
QUEST: This idea of no inflation. There is no inflation at the moment, there is unlikely to be any inflation. But, still, the inflation bogey men
are there warning that there is -- you're tinkering with the tinder of a fire.
KRUGMAN: Yes. There is something weird about the way the 1970s is still dominating people's nightmares when it's a really long time ago. And a lot
of terrible things that had nothing to do with inflation have happened since then.
Let's put it this way. If you work at it hard enough, if we were going to spend 20 percent of GDP on debt finance to government spending even I would
say, oh, that's inflationary.
But the question is, given where we are, given that we now have a long history of stable crisis, the idea we're going to break out into a runaway
wage price spiral just overnight just doesn't make sense.
QUEST: I want to talk about electricity if I may, and Texas.
QUEST: Because here we have a fascinating, real life case of deregulation a few decades ago with unforeseen consequences today. What do you make of
that? As a free marketeer at the same time looking for sensible regulation, what did they get wrong in Texas?
KRUGMAN: Oh, it's not necessarily -- there is a role possibly for markets. There's something to be said for allowing multiple generators to compete to
supply electricity to the grid. So it's not that we have to have a government monopoly or that we have to necessarily have the tightly
regulated utility system of the past.
But what the Texans did not do is they did not do prudential regulation. They did not say you have to have some reserve capacity, they did not say
you have to make your capacity robust. There was nothing in there saying what about winterizing.
And it's not because deep freezes never happened. They had a smaller but similar episode in 2011. They had another episode about a dozen years
So they took no precautions. They said oh, the magic of the marketplace will solve the problem. And guess what, it doesn't.
And when the nightmare hits, suddenly you have Ted Cruz saying the regulators need to step in there and stop the profiteering. And if the
system is needing Ted Cruz to say oh, profiteering is bad and we need price controls then you really know that you've messed things up really badly.
QUEST: I continue to be worried, Paul, about Bitcoin which is pulling back from a record high. It's now down -- it sort of passed 58,000 at one point
and it's now down six percent, whatever -- and digital wallets. The whole thing with Bitcoin and then we had GameStop and all of these -- and the
I get the feeling that there's something wild happening in markets that is unsavory and going to end badly.
KRUGMAN: Well, GameStop was tiny. When all is said and done this was a little blip, and there are lots of things that happened. Bitcoin is not,
Bitcoin's a huge thing.
The weird thing about Bitcoin is it's been around for a dozen years now and still nobody has actually found any real use for it. We're not actually
using block chain for any significant amount of economic activity.
In a way, as some people have said, the funny thing -- the reason that Bitcoin is still chugging along whereas GameStop stopped, is that GameStop
has the big problem the there's a real business underlying it. And people could look at the real business and say well, that's not worth it.
And Bitcoin there is no real business. There's actually pretty much no real use and so it's completely untethered to reality, and it is whatever people
think it should be worth. I've given up entirely on trying to figure out where it's going to go.
QUEST: A good note for us to say, Paul Krugman, thank you, sir. I appreciate your time tonight. I appreciate it. Thank you.
KRUGMAN: You're welcome, (inaudible).
QUEST: As the U.K. lays out a plan to reopen, exactly what that will look like -- well, we've got an idea in terms of the deadlines but going back
into the office -- we discuss the new normal.
The CEO of the office company, IWG, is with me. It's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: Returning to our top story. The British prime minister has laid out a road map for lifting lockdown measures in England. It's a gradual plan
that will take at least four months to complete.
The possibility that international travel could return as soon as mid-May gave airline shares a real boost. Ryanair, easyJet, IAG all rocketed up --
look at that -- in the last final hour after it was announced.
The prospect of getting back into the office boosted the shares in the workplace company, IWG. With more than 3,000 flexible working locations
around the world, it said it might need to close more than 100 unprofitable ones as people worked from home.
Mark Dixon is the chief executive of IWG, he joins me from Monaco. Mark, it is good to have you, sir. Let's talk.
We know that people like working from home. And we know that there won't be the same -- look, our own CEO at CNN has basically said we will never be
back in the office like we used to be. What does that mean for you?
MARK DIXON, CEO, IWG: Well, essentially a good thing. A lot of companies are actually taking on new hybrid work strategies, having people working
close to home, at home, coming into the office some of the time. And this is a service platform we support.
So in this part of our business, hybrid working, we're doing quite well at the moment.
QUEST: So this new plan that you are putting out, this Napa (ph) idea of space. What's different about it?
DIXON: Well, this is the first center that we've opened in essentially a retail mall (inaudible) place one in downtown Napa. So it's a former
department store that we've converted into workplace.
It's very convenient to people that live in the area, it's great parking, great amenity. And it opened today and it's been very popular,
notwithstanding that the area is in a purple lockdown at the moment. So we're very happy with this.
But we've been doing more of these, not just in retail centers but in places near where people live. Some -- basically that's where people want
to work today and we believe into the future.
QUEST: And in terms of -- the commercial property sector, they tell me it's on the precipice. It's bad, it's disastrous in many cases but it could
get a great deal worse. Do you share that view?
DIXON: Well, its going to change. It depends which side of the fence you're on; like in all things in business, there are normally winners and
I think look, if you look at the winners, it's going to be companies that are going to become much more efficient, that is the people that normally
take space, workers who've become a lot more mobile from working in much more convenient locations with less commuting and companies that provide a
space where -- closer to where people live are going to do well.
All of our provincial and countryside locations have done well. Our problem -- I think there will be problems -- in CBDs for sometime to come. It will
take quite a time for people to come back to work there.
But industry adapts and I'm sure the property industry in downtown areas will adapt; we have. I'm sure others will as well.
QUEST: So who's your target, Mark? This is what I find fascinating. Is it the gig worker, the freelancer who decides I really am tired of working
just on my own. The sort of the We Work, I'm going to go get and get a desk at one of Dixon's places where they have nice free coffee?
Or is it a small company that says look we really don't want to have a floor in a very expensive building, I'll pay you by the desk?
DIXON: Look, our main customer base are very large companies and medium- sized companies. So we signed up five weeks ago, six weeks ago, the largest contract we've ever done which was a contract with Standard Chartered Bank
for 95,000 people.
And since then, we've signed up more of those. So this is unprecedented for us. So a lot of very large companies are changing, they're becoming much
more nimble, much more agile. I think medium-size companies --
QUEST: But if I can just --
QUEST: If I can just -- but those large companies, they're not -- I'm sitting here in Hudson Yards -- those large companies for their 95,000,
they're not saying I want five floors in a skyscraper --
DIXON: No, they're not.
QUEST: They're saying I want you to be able to provide office facilities and desks to my 95,000 wherever they are in the world. Is that how it
DIXON: That's exactly right. So it's all drop-in. So basically, companies will have less fixed space and want to provide space where people need to
be for the day.
Look, effectively, your office is now not a physical space anymore, it's in the Cloud, it's operated by Google or Microsoft. You just need a place to
sit down and work quietly and work productively, when you've got work to do or when you've got people to meet.
And so the office has changed, and digital changed it. And the real estate industry is just catching up with that at the moment.
And certainly, that is what companies want. Large, medium and small, they all want the same thing
a much more flexible and hybrid work space that they can use where and when they want it.
QUEST: Mark, it's good to have you, sir. Thank you. I appreciate your time tonight in Monaco. Thank you.
DIXON: Thank you.
QUEST: All you need is a desk, a space -- and somewhere to put the bell, of course.
Coming up next. A challenger aiming to take on Uber and WeChat in the Middle East.
Careem thinks it has the superpower needed to become the next super app. It's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: It's the next frontier in digital domination. It's called super app, the one-stop shop for everything could want. From booking a car to
ordering takeout and it's all at the touch of a button.
There's a new contender to have this Nirvana of appery. It's Careem which has launched its own super app in the Middle East.
Anna Stewart has more in today's edition of THINK BIG.
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a world where nearly 9 million mobile applications exist to populate our phones, a new kind of app is gaining
momentum. One offering many services to customers in a single place, the super app.
THOMAS SCHUMACHER, PARTNER & LEADER, MEDIA PRACTICE, MCKINSEY & COMPANY: Ride hailing, that is paying (inaudible) food, that is e-groceries. And
they facilitate payment and make transactions much more easily.
STEWART: Super apps could reach $500 billion in total revenues by 2025, according to McKinsey, the growth in Asia and emerging markets.
One company in Dubai is already tapping into that growth.
MUDASSIR SHEIKNA, CEO & CO-FOUNDER, CAREEM: We see Careem as the leading super app in all the countries in the Middle East.
STEWART: Established as a website-based ride hailing service in 2012 and acquired by Uber in 2020, Careem now offers restaurant and grocery
delivery, intercity travel and digital transactions to its customers across more than 100 cities.
SHEIKNA: We launched one service, we launched another service, we launched a third service on the super app and then very quickly, you create reasons
for people to use multiple services through you.
STEWART: The company started its super app services gradually as the COVID-19 pandemic hit its core business last spring. Since then Careem says
use has skyrocketed by 900 percent reaching 48 million.
While in Asia, the super app market is already mature with giants like WeChat, Alipay and Grab dominating the market, in the Middle East the
competition is still low. And Careem has seized that advantage to expand.
SCHUMACHER: They realized they have an opportunity around the wallet and around the payment facilities to enable more transactions.
STEWART: To be competitive globally, Schumacher says, super apps need to add more options like bill payment and digital banking to attract more
SCHUMACHER: Think through all the other services that you consume and at some point even your telecommunication bill might follow.
STEWART: It's by focusing on these services and on a higher user frequency that Careem aims to strengthen its position as one of the leading super
apps of the Middle East.
STEWART (Voice Over): Anna Stewart, CNN.
QUEST: Last few moments of trade on Wall Street. And the Dow -- well, it all looks -- look at that.
It goes up and then it sort of has a nice hill climb and then it just sort of evaporates towards the end of the day. So we've given back most of the
gains of the day, but we are still higher (inaudible) yields. Doesn't look like any records there.
It's all about bond yields have investors worried and it's optimism over the U.K. plan to re-open England's economy.
And the Dow 30, take a look at that. Disney's leading the components, it's Star service arrives on Disney Plus tomorrow.
Caterpillar and Chevron are making gains, Caterpillar absolutely on the back of an infrastructure move. Stimulus means infrastructure,
infrastructure means , building means Caterpillar. So there's good, solid reasons.
And even Boeing, Boeing's off 2 percent. It was up earlier in the day as well so Boeing's a bit all over the place on what's happening, of course,
as a result of the Triple 7s.
That's the Dow 30. I will have a "Profitable Moment" after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment." There was a certain amount of cheering in my sisters' homes back in England when Boris Johnson announced
the date when he hopes that all restrictions will be over.
Now Boris Johnson's always a bit of a chancer. And using the word that he's cautiously optimistic that these changes will be irreversible, I guess he's
hoping by herd immunity means that the virus won't mutate and all of that. So there's a certain element of risk in what he said.
But the trend is there. The U.K. is one of the first countries to have actually said this is the date we believe it'll all be over or at least
we'll be able to have back to normal life.
This is depressing for those countries in Africa that are only just now getting miniscule amounts of vaccine for large populations and will be
under COVID's thumb for many months if not years to come. It shows the equity of vaccination must be more equitably distributed over -- around the
But for the moment, it gives us a hope that we know where we're going, that there's a major economy that's basically said we think that by this date
things will be something back to normal.
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in New York.
Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. The Dow's ringing, the bell's going. The day is done.
Oh, dear. Those gains really did evaporate.