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Quest Means Business
U.K. Presents Budget For Post-Pandemic Recovery; NASDAQ Falls Sharply As Tech Stocks Falter; GAVI CEO On Getting Vaccines To Poorer Nations; U.N.: 38 People Killed By Military In Crackdown; Blinken's Tough But Measured Words For China; Marriott's New CEO: Global Reopenings, Virus Containment And Getting People Excited About Travel; Candidate For New York Mayor Talks Finance. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired March 03, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Now, don't be fooled when you look at the numbers today. I'll show you the Dow and you'd think that's not
doing too badly, but it's really very misleading picture because the NASDAQ is having a terrible session as a rotation appears to be under way.
The triple stack showing we're off two percent on the NASDAQ, and even the broader market, the S&P 500, the reason the Dow is up because of Boeing and
I'll explain in just a moment.
The markets as they are and the main events of the day: Britain wants its biggest companies to pay more tax as it ekes out from the pandemic.
Vaccines from COVAX arrive in more African countries. The chief executive of the alliance is responsible and delivering them.
America's top diplomat says China is the biggest foreign policy headache he faces. We'll talk more about that with the former British Ambassador to
We are live in New York on Wednesday, it is the 3rd of March. I'm Richard Quest and of course, I mean business.
Good evening. Tonight, the United Kingdom is setting out its most ambitious recovery plan since World War II. In doing so, it is offering the rest of
the world a glimpse of what fiscal policy could look like after the pandemic.
Here is British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, he is Finance Minister and in the red box always holds it up, and it is the budget. It's
the red briefing box that the ministers all have, and for the Chancellor, it is tradition to have the budget within it.
Now, in that box: more stimulus, the program where the government is paying the wages of furloughed workers, the job retention scheme, the RTS, will
now last until September, over a year. The government has been paying up to 80 percent of workers' pay.
Britain has borrowed nearly half a billion dollars this year, the highest level of borrowing since World War II, and the repayment, well, we are
getting a glimpse of that, higher corporate taxes.
The U.K. corporation taxes going up to 25 percent in 2023. The Chancellor says that only affects those businesses with greater revenues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER: Seven in 10 businesses will see no tax increase at all. Only the largest, most successful companies will pay
the new higher rate, and they can now plan with certainty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Scott McLean is outside Parliament at the moment. This is an interesting budget.
The base rates of tax and all the usual stuff were left alone. This corporation tax going up in 2023 is an interesting idea. But the economy --
there's a consensus, Scott, that the economy is set for recovery.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And earlier than expected, Richard. And so the Chancellor there saying, look, right now in
the short-term we're going to have to continue to stimulate the economy right through until September as you mentioned, and so all of those sort of
tax perks, all of those furlough schemes and things like that are going to be extended until then.
Why the fall, though, and not June? It's a great question. It's because that's the most pessimistic outlook that all of the lockdown restrictions
could be possibly be lifted.
The June 21st date right now, that's a best case scenario, Richard.
And so right now, taxes are going to be cut or they are going to least, the holidays are going to be extended before they go up, and that won't come
for two years.
Now, Rishi Sunak, actually saying that the business tax rate going up to 25 percent from 19 percent only on the Big Businesses as you heard there in
But for the next two years, he is bringing in something called a super deduction, which means if a company is investing in the U.K., they can
deduct 130 percent of that investment against their tax bill.
MCLEAN: And so, they are calling that the biggest tax cut -- corporate tax cut in British history, only after that with the actual pain start to come
for some of these corporations -- Richard.
QUEST: Scott, we're going to hear from the Economic Secretary in just a second. Give me a political view, if you like, or a view on the politics of
it that of all Boris Johnson's Cabinet members, Rishi Sunak, a surprise choice when he was elevated to the Treasury, but is widely regarded to have
been an exceptionally capable pair of hands.
MCLEAN: It's actually quite remarkable when you think about it, Richard. This was a guy who was thrown into the role just three weeks before he
delivered his last budget last year and has basically been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting financial disaster ever since.
And so, he has had his work cut out for him here, and obviously he is trying to set this country back on the right footing. He says, look, these
companies that have gotten $100 billion or so in support, and so it's right to make sure that they are the ones, they are the biggest, most profitable
companies to actually pay the largest bill.
But he is also dealing with the simple fact that people don't like to pay taxes, Richard, and that was something that he was acutely aware of.
Most notably, when it comes to a new fuel tax, it isn't coming in. There's not going to be an extra tax on booze or anything like that, and on income
taxes, people won't actually notice an increase in their income taxes, but what the government is doing is sort of what some are calling a stealth
tax, which is freezing the brackets in place -- the tax brackets in place rather than having them rise with inflation, which will mean that as people
wages go up, the amount of tax that the government can collect, that'll also go up.
QUEST: Good to see you. Thank you. Scott McLean there, the old all three taxes that they use to put up always on budget usually at 6:00 in the
evening. Thank you, Scott. Scott McLean there.
Booze, betting and backy -- we used to call it when the Chancellor had sat down.
Now, the British Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen worked with Rishi Sunak on the budget and is responsible for large swathes of the
economy. He told me earlier, it was a balancing act between helping people and businesses and keeping the ballooning deficit in check.
JOHN GLEN, BRITISH ECONOMIC SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY: The first part of the budget set out all of the continuation of support measures. The second
part was to level and be honest with the British public and the changes that we've said today with respect to corporation tax increasing it to 25
percent for businesses with turnovers over a quarter million, that's one in 10 businesses.
They will come in -- and that change will come in April '23. And that, again, is designed to give businesses clarity over the journey forward.
But we've maintained significant reliefs to the existing rate from smaller businesses, those that have had profits up to 50,000, and then a taper for
those in the middle.
QUEST: But the increase that you are proposing from 19 percent to 25 percent is a sizable one. Now, I am sure you'll tell me that this is
competitive with other leading similar economies.
Yes, I figured that. But it is a sizable one, and it seems to suggest that you're going to be looking to corporations initially -- well, it doesn't
seem to suggest, it does say you're going to be looking to corporations initially to help fill the hole of the deficit created by the pandemic.
GLEN: That's largely right. We've also set out a series of changes today to the actual thresholds, depending on the taxes, we haven't increased the
rates, but we are asking government intervention.
But the third of three parts of the budget today was also looking at what interventions we can make to stimulate investment, and the Chancellor set
out a significant new intervention in terms of a super deduction to help businesses, if they want to invest in capital over the next two years to be
able to put back to the value of 130 percent of that investment against their tax bill, reducing their tax bill.
So that is something that is unprecedented. It will take us to the top of the lead table within the O.E.C.D. countries. I think it's a reflection the
chance that we've always had in this country to increase capital investments. So that's another part of the story, which is really important
as we try and actually get the economy growing to the optimum level before those tax changes come in place from there.
QUEST: And that optimum level both which both the O.B.R. and the O.E.C.D. all come up with a variety of numbers on what they believe is it. You've
got seven percent and more next year, but I question, does anybody really know what we can expect by way of growth bearing in mind the future of the
pandemic can be uncertain.
GLEN: Well, I've worked in the Treasury a number of different roles over the last five years and every O.B.R. forecast will change and every
economist's views is usually different, but what we see today as is, is the norm, a profile of great expectations over the next five years and be over
until four and seven percent, and then settling around this 1.5 percent to two percent in the last three years.
But our job as government ministers is to try and set conditions to beat those figures and make interventions that stimulate growth in the economy
and allow us to get into a stronger position. That's what we, in business, do in government and that's why we have a range of interventions today that
try and lead us into that state.
QUEST: Are you able to strip out of this what you believe the negative effect of Brexit has been in year one, year two and in the short
forecasting policy? Because if we look at the reports that we are seeing, you know, fish, seafood rotting, et cetera, the extra cost of paperwork,
the extra cost of the Customs' duties for consumers paying in, can you quantify what that cost has been to the economy?
GLEN: You know, I think that the country understand that we made a choice five years ago. It took a long time to deliver, but we've delivered on that
outcome. Now, we've got to look positively at the future and there will be adjustments and that's why we've intervened to try and support businesses
through the new process of Customs and dealing with trading with other countries.
But what we ask today, for example, free ports -- a free port in each of the eight regions of the United Kingdom, something that we couldn't have
done, couldn't have done under the situation that we were in as members of the European Union, you know, it is a positive step forward.
So I'm not in the business of trying to quantify all of that. What I'm trying do is look possibly at what interventions we can make to set the
U.K. economy on the best course possible out of this pandemic.
QUEST: That's the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in the U.K.
Tech stocks pummeled on Wall Street. Look at the triple stacks. Down two percent, when the Dow is up, but the Dow is up because of Boeing. That's
pure and simple.
Boeing is up something like five percent or six percent where it was a short time ago, and that's dragged the Dow up against the downward winds of
Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, all down sharply and because it's broad-based, I suggest, Paul La Monica that it is a rotation, but I'm not sure I
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Okay, well, let's try and break it down, Richard. I think you're right obviously to point out that Boeing is
hoping to lift the Dow. But when you look at the S&P 500, which is market cap weighted and not price weighted, because the S&P 500 is dominated by
those Big Tech stocks, which will include Microsoft and even Tesla now, that's why you're seeing it falling even though the Dow is in positive
But if you dig deeper -- before I came on air, I looked at what's going on with the S&P 500. It was about a 50/50 split with actually more stocks in
the index higher today than lower. So you are seeing strength in sectors like energy. Oil prices are going up. That's good for the big oil stocks.
Rates are creeping higher on the 10-year bond yield. That's good for bank stocks. Financials are another sector in green. Consumer staples, your
Cokes and Pepsis of the world that are big dividend yielding companies, they're also in green.
So this to me doesn't look like a broad market selloff time to panic, it is really more of a rotation, and we've been talking for years about how you
can't just be in the FAANGs, you need to be diversified and you're seeing today why that's the case.
QUEST: Is there a reason? I mean, did something fire the starting gun on this.
LA MONICA: I'm not so sure that there is a firm catalyst per se. I think probably it's the spike in bond yields. But then again, we have to wonder
why are bond yields rising? Is there a certain catalyst that is juicing, you know, that particular side of the market?
I think we've just been basically been in an environment where you've had leadership in one narrow sliver of the market for so long and that
historically can't last forever.
We had it with the nifty fifty stocks of legend. We had it when energy stocks used to be the big leaders in the market before they pulled back
because of what's happened to the fundamentals of the oil business around the globe.
Bank stocks had their day in the sun, so we always had this sector rotation and leadership. This isn't to say that those big tech stocks are all going
to crash like the dot-coms did in 2000, we just need to pull back a little bit.
I mean, things like Apple and Microsoft are great companies, but they can't go up forever at this type at pace.
QUEST: That's the point. This idea that we mustn't propagate this idea. It's all going to the hell in a hand basket, it's just froth off the top.
Paul La Monica, the Guru there making sense as always on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Now, as Western countries are racing to inoculate most people by the summer, the poorer nations are struggling to come anywhere close. The CEO
of the Vaccine Alliance, GAVI, has good news. More of the COVAX vaccine is being distributed even as we speak.
It's not enough to be sure, but we'll find out where we're going next, after the break.
QUEST: COVID vaccinations begin this week in Rwanda now that the country has received its first doses. The COVAX initiative has sent a quarter of a
million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, and more than a hundred thousand of Pfizer.
Kenya and Nigeria are receiving their first shipments on Tuesday and the initiative aims to supply two billion to low income countries by the end of
the year. It's backed by the World Health Organization and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance.
The President of Rwanda told me his country is welcoming all the help it can get.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL KAGAME, RWANDAN PRESIDENT: We see the rest of the world vaccinated, we haven't. We haven't had so many, if at all, in Africa. So that means we are
still far behind in the queue, and as I kind of see it, some people are not on the queue at all.
So we are on the queue. We are waiting. So we will take any vaccines that come that we are told actually works. So whether it is Pfizer, it is
Moderna, we want to have any of those as fast as we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Dr. Seth Berkley is the CEO of GAVI. He joins me now from Geneva. Doctor, it is always good to see you.
You're getting on with it really, aren't you? I mean, more countries are getting their first and second shipments. The numbers remain low
relatively, and I wonder when you think that will accelerate.
DR. SETH BERKLEY, CEO, GAVI, THE VACCINE ALLIANCE: So Richard, very good to see you again, and last time we talked, we hadn't started yet. We had the
concept and now, we're in implementation.
So the idea of course is to try to get these doses out as quickly as possible across all countries because we're worried about the new variants.
We're worried about continuing spread, so the idea is to get to healthcare workers and to get to people at risk across all countries.
And so only two weeks ago was the W.H.O. approval, the regulatory approval, and that kicked us into gear.
We've delivered 10 million doses in 14 countries so far, and we will now be doing at least another 10 million in the next week and scaling up from
So, yes, not enough doses and not as quick as we would like it. It took us 83 days from the first jab in the U.K. to the first jab in Africa, but now
we're off to try to get as much of this out as we can.
QUEST: Right, now this could be interesting because the dynamic is shifting. For instance, President Biden says the U.S. will have enough
COVID vaccine doses for every adult in the U.S. in less than three months. It is one of the most ambitious vaccine time lines.
The U.K. has a target for every adult by the end of July. Israel, as you know, has given shots to more of its population than any other country.
So as more of these countries vaccinate and I use the phrase "surplus" advisedly. Do you believe you can get your hands on more of that surplus?
BERKLEY: Well, of course the original challenge was that initially large orders were put in place that locked up lots of doses. So we've been able
to get about 2.5 billion doses, but a fair amount of those are going to be in the second half of the year.
So we are looking for early doses. It's estimated that there are about 800 million more doses bought by countries than they need based on their
population and another 1.4 billion in options.
So our hope is, is that some of those will either be donated or they will release their place in the queue so we can make sure we make vaccines
available to everyone else.
QUEST: Do you have the money, the donor pledges -- do you have the money necessary, not whether it's efficient or not, but do you have the money
BERKLEY: So we had a really wonderful G-7 meeting where the U.S. stepped forward and committed two out of their four billion for this year. We also
had Germany step up, 980 million euros. We had continued support from the EC, additional support.
And so we have reached now 6.3 billion out of our seven billion total for the two billion doses and so we're getting close now.
QUEST: Is there any requirement -- there's 90 odd countries on the other side of the equation, of course, who will be receiving this. I'm not
suggesting you use vaccines for policy, but is there -- what requirements do the countries have to provide?
I'm thinking in some cases, some of these countries spend quite a hefty amount on defense, armaments, money that could be spent on helping their
own people get vaccinated.
BERKLEY: Well, of course, the challenge that these countries would have is partially financial. But a big part of it is the ability to purchase
vaccines in a really, you know, over demanded market.
And so what was really important is the ability to go out and make large orders for large amounts of doses.
We, of course, will have a lot of requirements for our countries. They have to have regulatory approval, indemnification and liability, a working cold
chain, prepare their health workers. They have to have a strategy for how to use these vaccines, export permits, import permits, et cetera.
So a lot of work is going to get all of these countries ready. But at the moment we don't get involved with the politics. We're about trying to save
QUEST: Let's listen to your former Chair, Ngozi Iweala, who of course is now head of the World Trade Organization. Speaking on this program
exclusively, she made it clear that opening up real trade was also a vaccination issue.
But she put into context the number of vaccines required. Have a listen to Ngozi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION: There is a huge supply constraint in the whole world. Normally, the world manufactures
3.5 billion doses of vaccines a year. Now we're looking for 10 billion, so three times the number. And that's why supply is so scarce.
So my focus is whilst we are discussing the issue of a waiver of TRIPS intellectual property for developing countries, can we work with
manufacturers to find many more sites within emerging markets and developing countries that have the capacity to manufacture more vaccines?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: I can see the jigsaw, Doctor, coming together of all the different parts adding their bit to create the whole.
But I worry, Ngozi talked about 10 billion of doses, nearly. If the variants require almost annual updates, boosters like the flu, then you're
in deep trouble.
BERKLEY: Well, not necessarily. The real challenge is this year and next year, the world can scale up and Ngozi is absolutely right, it's the speed
of the slope that is the challenge.
But at the moment, if we were to have to switch vaccines or to add a booster this year, then of course that really, really is a problem given
the limited capacity. So what we're doing is technology transfer to as many companies as we can.
And so we're also happy to see things like President Biden's new effort where he took J&J and brought it together with Merck with the idea being
that even though they're normally competitors, they could work together to increase the volume of production of vaccine. That's the type of
cooperation we need to have with every company anywhere in the world who has the ability to do this production.
QUEST: And that's a valid point as we move forward looking at that. Thank you, sir. As always, it is always good to talk to you, Doctor. I appreciate
your time tonight. Appreciate it.
Now, the U.S. Secretary of State has called China the biggest geopolitical challenge of the 21st Century. The details of Antony Blinken's first major
policy speech in just a moment.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. A lot more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment.
A New York mayoral candidate, I know we are talking elections already, this time it's in New York and it is Shaun Donovan and it is his plan to repair
the city's battered finances. He'll be on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
And part two of our interview with Marriott's new chief executive. We discuss now his vision for Marriott and the legacy of the late Arne
Sorenson, his predecessor.
Put it all together, it comes next after the news headlines. Because this is CNN, and on this network the news always comes first.
The U.N. special envoy says at least 38 people were killed in Myanmar today as security forces escalate a crackdown on protesters.
It noted the deadliest day since the military coup a month ago. The U.N. is urging the world to take very strong measures to help restore democratic
At least four people have been injured in a knife attack in southern Sweden. Police say it's being investigated as a possible terrorist crime.
One suspect's in custody and is being treated at the hospital. The motive is not yet clear.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will not resign over allegations of sexual harassment.
He is vowing to fully cooperate with an independent investigation saying he's embarrassed by the accusations whilst insisting he never meant to hurt
or offend anyone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-N.Y.): I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional, and I truly and
deeply apologize for it. And I want you to know this from me directly. I never touched anyone inappropriately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Buckingham Palace says it's to investigate allegations the Duchess of Sussex bullied members of staff. A British media report says a complaint
was made in 2018 citing unnamed royal aides.
A royal spokesman for the Sussexes called it a calculated smear campaign ahead of the couple's interview with Oprah Winfrey.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Biden Administration will turn around the economic crisis and build a more stable, inclusive global
Giving his first major speech today, there were especially tough words for China. He called it the biggest geopolitical challenge of the 21st Century
and he vowed to work with allies to advance American interests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We will use every tool to stop countries from stealing our intellectual property or manipulating their
currencies to get an unfair advantage.
We will fight corruption which stacks the deck against us.
In our trade policies we'll need to answer very clearly how they will grow the American middle class, create new and better jobs and benefit all
Americans not only those for whom the economy is already working.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Mr. Peter Westmacott, he's the former British ambassador to the U.S., France and Turkey. He's just written a book about his four decades as
a diplomat, titled "They call Diplomacy."
So, Peter, I listen to Blinken and I hear there's going to be a change. But I wonder if the Chinese are just sitting there laughing saying, oh, here we
go, America's back to business as usual. Put it all away, Trump's gone.
PETER WESTMACOTT, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO U.S. FRANCE & TURKEY: Well, we don't know yet how the Chinese are going to react to Secretary Blinken's
But as I heard him it seemed to be a calibrated response; we'll work with them where we can, we'll compete with them where we have to. And if we've
really got to because things get out of hand then we will -- I'm sure he didn't use that word, but I'll say it anyway -- confront.
So I think there's a road map, it seems to me. And there's a clear plan also to work with allies.
Because one of the complaints that everybody else has had about the Trump Administration was although they were -- they served a real purpose,
actually, in making everybody wake up to the threat that was China and the fact they were eating our lunch in many respects -- it was a pretty
unilateral approach to dealing with China.
Whereas the Biden Administration does want to sit down with allies and partners and see if we can work out a collective way of addressing the
challenge that is China.
So I don't think they'll be laughing. I think they'll be saying, OK, here's a serious administration with a plan and they're going to try to engage in
Maybe it's in our own interests to see if we can engage with them rather than just to keep pushing and hoping that the whole Western system is going
to fall down.
QUEST: How do you view the U.S. and the U.K. now in a post-Brexit world?
WESTMACOTT: I think the United Kingdom is now scrambling a bit with the consequences of Brexit. We've got all sorts of bumps in the road in terms
of trade and customs and non-tariff barriers and all the muddle that a lot of people predicted.
We just have to hope that the bumps in the road for our trade with the European Union don't become root canal treatment for the molars.
But the United States, I have never believed that free-trade agreements were the answer to all our prayers, were going to compensate for the loss
of business with the European Union.
And now that we've got Janet Yellen saying, you know what, domestic economy is our priority and free trade agreements are going to be second order for
us, I think -- and you've also got fast track authority in Congress expiring in July -- I'm not holding my breath for a free trade agreement
with the United States.
But I do think that in terms of foreign policy and climate change and dealing with terrorism and cyber and a lot of other world threats, that
there's plenty of potential for post-Brexit Britain to engage with the United States.
I just don't think the economic side is going to be transformed anytime soon.
QUEST: I'm saving your book, "They Call it Diplomacy" to read on my holidays coming up. Because from an early look it looks like an extremely
good read. And we'll talk more about that in future occasions.
But, Peter, I just want to know what was your most undiplomatic moment? We're all familiar with that "With respect, Ambassador," "Yes, Minister"
and all the sort of -- meaning the opposite.
But if you look back at 40 years, what's the one moment when you were truly undiplomatic?
WESTMACOTT: It was the moments when I was very embarrassed by my own mistakes, whether that was undiplomatic, I don't know.
I guess there was a moment which is in the book when I took the then foreign secretary to see the chairman of the foreign relations committee on
Capitol Hill and being more or less yelled at for daring to lobby on behalf of the nuclear deal with Iran which we were told was going to cause grave
offense because it was interference in domestic American politics.
And I had to say, you know what, we are co-signatories of this and we have every right to explain why this is a good thing, not least because the
prime minister of Israel is calling every single day every member of the United States Senate and he's not even a signatory of this deal.
So we had a bit of a shouting match, which rather shocked me. Because Bob Corker is -- was a good friend of mine. And I was puzzled.
QUEST: But there's a million and one ways as a diplomat that you can be rude to people, isn't there? And they know you've been rude to them but
they can't put their finger on it. You've done it in that diplomatic way.
WESTMACOTT: Well, I might have been a little less diplomatic when I was once trapped by one of your colleagues into describing President Putin's
behavior in three words -- I should never do anything in three words.
And I think I called him "reckless, dishonest and thuggish" -- this was shortly after Russian missiles had shot down an airliner over Ukraine and
the Russians were busy fabricating evidence to try to suggest they hadn't done it.
And there was a formal complaint about my undiplomatic language from a Russian embassy in London. But I was pretty unrepentant and I have to say
to you, Richard, that my head office did not complain at all about the language I'd used.
QUEST: And you've never been persona non grata?
WESTMACOTT: Well, I haven't often been in Russia. Oh -- no, I have not been persona non grata. I'm sure one or two governments have wondered for a
moment whether they really wanted to have me there.
QUEST: All right.
WESTMACOTT: But no, I've never been kicked out.
QUEST: And you'll never be persona non grata on "Quest means business." With respect, Ambassador, thank you.
WESTMACOTT: Thank you.
QUEST: After the break, part two of my interview with Marriott's new chief executive, Tony Capuano.
We'll talk about Tony's vision for the travel recovery and pay tribute to his late predecessor, Arne Sorenson. In a moment.
QUEST: Britain's aviation minister says that countries must work together to restart global travel.
No hospitality company stands to benefit more and perhaps have to do more to open borders than Marriott International, the largest hotel chain in the
world. There are properties in more than 130 countries.
Speaking to me, Marriott's new chief executive said it's the sector's job to make guests feel safe.
TONY CAPUANO, CEO, MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL: I think the most immediate priority really covers all travel companies.
It's to inspire confidence in travelers that they're safe, get them enthusiastic about getting back on the road. Make sure that our associates
are given all the tools they need to safely and warmly welcome our guests. And do everything we can to support our owners and franchisees who have
borne a disproportionate impact from the challenges of the pandemic.
QUEST: I look at your wide spread of properties. We're heading to a have and have-nots, the vaccinated world and the developing world which is going
to not be vaccinated for many months, if not several years. How difficult will that be to negotiate for you?
CAPUANO: Well, it'll be challenging. We're operating in 133 countries --
CAPUANO: -- as we're sit here today. Got another 20 or 30 in the pipeline soon to come. I think we've got to look at those jurisdictions that have
started to get solid containment of the virus.
You look at a market like China that I think has been quite effective, all of our hotels have reopened in Greater China. Occupancy levels are
essentially back at pre-pandemic levels.
And I think we look at markets like that as a real road map for the way other markets around the world might recover.
QUEST: But if you take, for example, the growth of Airbnb on one side -- and we'll come to that in a second -- and you look at the sheer number of
brands; Western versus Renaissance, Marriott versus Sheraton -- I start to ask the commoditization of the hotel product that this suggests. Does it
leave room for excellence?
CAPUANO: I think it absolutely does. It's interesting to watch the way the industry has evolved. Not all of the big global brand companies have
embraced luxury, for instance, the way Marriott has embraced luxury.
But I think all through the quality tiers, our focus is on service excellence. And again, we've got to make sure a customer understands what
brand within our portfolio is ideal for which trip type.
You talked about Airbnb for instance. You know we've rolled out Marriott Homes & Villas. And we've done that because for certain very specific trip
types our loyal Bonvoy guests want a whole home experience. And we'd like to keep them within that Marriott family.
QUEST: It is good to see you although sad circumstances under which you are elevated. I guess not an easy time all round for you.
CAPUANO: No, certainly not. Richard, I know you had the good fortune to spend lots of time with Arne. Really a remarkable person, a generational
And I think one of the things -- I'm sure you've read many of the tributes that I've had the good fortune to read -- what's so interesting to me, very
few of those tributes talk about business.
They really talked about him as a person, the way he connected with folks across our company, across our industry, across the business world really
And just a devastatingly sad loss, of course, of family, but for all of us.
QUEST: And I think I -- the last time we were on a panel together I was moderating, it was about human trafficking. And even though -- it was a
busy day but he not only knew it was an important panel but he wanted to do it.
He recognized that the hospitality industry has things it needs to do in relation to trafficking and those issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNE SORENSON, LATE, PREDECESSOR CEO OF MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL: For those who somehow are engaged in saving somebody, they'll take pride in that for
the rest of their careers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: And that was the nature of the man. He knew what -- wanted to make a difference.
CAPUANO: He did. He knew the power of this industry, he knew the power of the platform that he enjoyed. And he should really be applauded and admired
for the stances he took on issues that are important, even beyond business. Really for humanity.
QUEST: I know people always say well, I never expected to get the top job and the way you got the top job is under very, very difficult and sad
But you have now got it. Do you -- and, of course, you feel the weight of the Marriott name, the second CEO who's not been at Marriott, but do you
feel that weight?
CAPUANO: I would feel that way if somebody had tasked me with leading this company by myself.
I think the thing that gives me great confidence and great enthusiasm is the thousands and thousands of people that put on a Marriott name badge
every day, the extraordinarily talented and long-tenured leadership team that I'll work with every day to try to help the company realize its
And when I think about it in those terms, while it is a challenging task, it is a tremendously energizing task.
QUEST: The CEO of Marriott talking to me.
When is the right time to reopen the economy? The Texas governor says it's right now, President Biden strongly disagrees.
I'll ask a New York City mayoral candidate what his thoughts are in a moment.
QUEST: President Biden is slamming the governors of Texas and Mississippi a day after the CDC warned against COVID-19 complacency.
QUEST: The two governors announced they're lifting mask mandates and letting businesses reopen completely, 100 percent, the lot. They say it's
time to get the economy moving again.
The president says they're making a big mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in
which we're able to vaccines in people's arms.
We've been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough for every American to get -- every adult American -- to get a shot.
And the last thing, the last thing we need is neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything's fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: And the pressure's mounting on other states to reopen.
As the vaccine rollout gathers steam, it's a major issue here in New York City as it chooses a new mayor.
The City is facing a dire financial situation. The outstanding debt grew to $125 billion last year because of the pandemic and it lost more than half a
million private sector jobs and an estimated $34 billion in personal income.
Shawn Donovan is a former budget chief. He's running to become the next New York City mayor.
Shaun, it is good to have you. I appreciate your time.
Before we talk budgets, I obviously do need to talk about what the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said today. He said he's not resigning, a long
apology, very sorry but he's not resigning.
So do you think he should resign?
SHAUN DONOVAN, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR CANDIDATE: First of all, Richard, thank you for having me.
And we have to focus on the fact that this is deeply, deeply troubling contact that's been -- he's been accused of.
And it's something that we absolutely need a full investigation of starting right now. And we should see if, in fact, that investigation shows these
allegations are true, he should resign.
QUEST: So you're in the camp that's waiting for the attorney general to provide a report that gives direction?
DONOVAN: I do believe that we need to see if these --
DONOVAN: -- allegations are proven.
QUEST: Right. Let's turn to the state -- well, to the city. People are fleeing New York. The numbers of people who have left is down, I'm sure
some will come back.
But the number of restaurants that have closed, businesses out of business. You can't load any more on the tax burden of those who are here. You've got
a mess on your hands, if you get elected.
DONOVAN: Well, Richard, I know something about dealing with messes. I was asked by President Obama to be housing secretary in the midst of the worst
housing crisis of our lifetimes. When Sandy hit New York, he asked me to lead the entire federal recovery effort.
And then three weeks into my time as budget direct over the $4 trillion federal budget, Ebola hit. And I was working side by side with Dr. Fauci
and President Biden -- President Obama to solve those crises.
And so I know something of crisis that we're facing in New York.
And I believe with the right leadership, we can not only recover but actually grow this city again and make it the leading city in the world
from an economic point of view.
QUEST: But how are you going to do it? I live in the city, I'm a taxpayer here. The taxes are already -- if I add the state and city on top of the
federal, it's a lot of money.
And I look down where I live in Downtown and businesses are closing. How are you going to do it?
DONOVAN: Well, Richard, I agree we're not going to tax our way to recovery. First, what we have to do -- and this goes exactly to what you were
pointing to before -- I agree with President Biden, we have to get the virus under control.
We still have very high rates of spread here in New York City. We need a much more coordinated effective vaccination effort in the city, we've been
falling down on that.
And we need to make sure not just that we're the safest city in the world by using leading technology, by aggressively vaccinating but also we have
to let them know -- the world know -- as we're recovering, that we are the safest city in the world.
And so that would bring New Yorkers back but it would also bring tourists back to the city. As you know, tourism is one of the most important
industries that will drive our restaurants, our theaters, all of our recovery to bring us back.
So all of those are critical pieces of what we have to do right now.
QUEST: Shaun, I always remember Ed Koch, of course, the famous mayor in New York, he was larger than life. Always had a quote, always this, this, this.
And you think of Mike Bloomberg.
New York requires a loud, large , metaphorically speaking, leader -- where you've got X million extremely loquacious, very articulate, highly
opinionated, often bigoted views. Are you that person who's got the character big enough to lead it?
DONOVAN: Absolutely. And look, if I have trusted by Barack Obama, Joe Biden and New Yorkers to lead in crisis after crisis, there is no one not only
better prepared but who better understands what it means to lead through these moments of crises than I do.
I grew up in this city. My father's an immigrant who came from Costa Rica in Lima, Peru, built a business in the worst crisis of my lifetime. And I
was part of rebuilding the very same neighborhoods I'd seen burning as a kid in the South Bronx across New York.
We rebuilt from that. With the right leadership we absolutely cannot just rebuild but reimagine New York as a city that actually works for everyone.
QUEST: And when we can get together and talk face-to-face over a pastrami sandwich, that we shall do, Shaun. I'm grateful to you.
QUEST: Somebody told you about my love of pastrami, hey?
QUEST: Well, it's well-known, it's well known. I'll pay the bill, don't worry. For both of us and friends. Thank you. Just don't tax me on it.
Thank you, Shaun Donovan, joining us.
DONOVAN: Thank you.
QUEST: We'll take a "Profitable Moment" and talk more after the break. It's "Quest means business." Good evening to you.
QUEST: We spent some time tonight talking about the vaccine with Gavi and the way in which vaccines are now being delivered. But he made it clear --
which I think is really significant -- that it's not an either/or.
It's not a question of if the rich do well then the poor must do badly; at the end of the day both sides have to be vaccinated.
And, as President Biden said yesterday, if the U.S. does get to a point where anybody who wants a vaccine can have one and there are 800 million
vaccines spare in terms of bought more than can be used, well, that's more that can go to the 90-odd countries that are part of the COVAX alliance,
part of Gavi, if you like.
We've really got to stop thinking of it as either/or but rather as both.
And only that way can both sides -- because I promise you this. If one side fails it won't be long before the other side suffers. We're as
interconnected, like it or not, as that.
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 NASDAQ's down, some form of rotation's under way, and now they're all down. There you go.