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Quest Means Business
U.S. Markets Hit Records As Congress Passes Relief Bill; Aid Groups Warn Of Deadly Gap In Global Vaccination Distribution; E.U. Backs Off Claims Of U.K. Vaccine Nationalism; Piers Morgan On Meghan Markle Comments: No Regrets; COVID Rescue Plan Approved; Dubai's New Intelligent Traffic System; U.S. And China Schedule Face-To-Face Talks; China's Ambitious Five- Year Plan; Markle Registers Complaint With ITV Network U.K.; Growing Workforce Still Needs Protection. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired March 10, 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 ANCHOR: All-time high for the Dow Jones after a historic moment in Washington. Look at the market on the day and
you'll see it's just been -- well, it's been a rising trend that was boosted after some key events that I'll tell you now.
The markets and those key events.
Stimulus from Main Street. Wall Street celebrates as Congress has passed $1.9 trillion COVID Relief Bill.
Booster charge. GameStop goes crazy returning to record levels and then falling back.
And shares fall in the British broadcaster ITV after a complaint over Piers Morgan from Meghan Markle herself.
A busy hour between us. We are live in New York. Middle of the week, Wednesday, March 10th, I'm Richard Quest. Yes, I mean business.
Good evening. We begin with the news that one of biggest economic packages in modern history is now headed to President Biden's desk after it cleared
its last hurdle on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): On this vote the yeas are 220, the nays are 211. The motion is adopted.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: And with that gaveling, the House of Representatives approved President Biden's flagship Coronavirus Relief Plan worth $1.9 trillion. The
Speaker Nancy Pelosi underscored its significance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: This legislation is one of the most transformative and historic bills any of us will ever have the opportunity to support. It's one of the
most transformative that I have seen in my over 30 years in the Congress. It is as consequential as the Affordable Care Act, which expanded
healthcare to more than 20 million people and made benefits much better for over 150 million families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: John Harwood is with us, our White House correspondent. So, John, the bill is now going to the President's desk where he will sign it and you
know, all in all, it came out relatively unscathed. Yes, they lost the minimum wage and they had to reduce the amount of unemployment pay by
$100.00 a week and there were other bits and bobs. But by and large it came out unscathed.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Richard, it's astonishing how close to President Biden's initial proposal has just passed this Congress
despite the fact that Democrats only have very narrow majorities in the House where they can only have lost four votes, they lost one. In the
Senate where they couldn't lose any votes and they didn't lose any in passing it.
So this was quite a testament both to the moment that America is in in this pandemic, the desire to get past it and also to the unity of the Democratic
Party around this common purpose with President Biden.
QUEST: Except, all right, of course, there is always a fly in the ointment, except, John, not one Republican went for it, and that does not bode well.
I mean, we know this was popular in the country and yet Republicans were determined they were not going to pass this regardless.
HARWOOD: Well, it doesn't bode well for the prospects of Republicans joining with President Biden and Democrats on major legislation. It does
bode well for the prospect of Democrats acting on their own, and the real question is going to be coming out of this experience: Do Democrats decide
to rally around the idea of curbing, altering, eliminating the Senate filibuster which has blocked so many pieces of legislation?
Just yesterday, for example, the House passed a pro-union piece of legislation to assist union organizing. Certain to die in the Senate unless
they get rid of the filibuster.
The same is true of voting rights. Republican legislators around the country are trying to curb the right to vote after an election, seventh in
the last eight when the Democratic presidential nominee drew more votes.
But there is legislation to safeguard voting registration and voting procedures that can only pass, again, if the Democrats unite, do it on
their own. And that's the real drama that comes out of this COVID package is: are Democrats going to be willing to take big, bold steps by acting on
their own? Or are they going to have a series of proposals that are much diluted from what their aspirations are to try to get some Republican
cooperation, and even that cooperation is not assured.
QUEST: And as they say in that that time-honored fashion, only time will tell. John Harwood, we will watch that in the days and weeks and months
ahead. Thank you, sir.
The markets, they certainly like what they are seeing. No worry about inflation and the stimulus and what it might do here, there and everywhere.
It was laid to rest, at least, for now. The latest U.S. consumer price numbers showed prices rose 0.4 tenths of a percent in February and 1.7
percent year-on-year in line with expectations.
Paul La Monica is there. The U.S. does its monthly numbers on a month by month differential basis as opposed to -- but then it sort of annualizes
The way -- there's no inflation. There's no inflation.
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, not no inflation, but very little. I mean, the annualized number only showed a gain of 1.7 percent
versus over the past 12 months which is within the Fed's comfort zone. They obviously only really start to worry if that number starts going north of
So I think right now, and the emphasis is on right now as in based on what we saw with these February numbers, there really isn't that much of an
inflation threat just yet. But as you've already pointed out, Richard, $1.9 trillion in stimulus is coming. President Biden is going to sign that bill.
It's going to go into law. People are going to start getting checks.
Will that with the other stimulus that came late last year finally start to create more wage pressure, more pressure on prices going up? And then
that's something the market might have to worry about again. Obviously, bond yields have been spiking. They pulled back and that is, you know, a
relief for the market.
But if they start creeping higher again, we could have another market tantrum where they start selling off stocks because of inflation wars.
QUEST: GameStop, it is getting a bit silly now, isn't it? It was halted seven times today in its trading, and if we look at the graph, it goes down
-- it went up and it goes down, and that's just the way it's looked today. What happened?
LA MONICA: It is hard to really put rhyme or reason to what's going on, on any given day. I mean, GameStop so much volatility because you continue to
have this battle between investors that like the long-term potential, the possibility of a rebound now that Ryan Cohen, the Chewy co-founder, is
taking more control at the company and is going to be helping GameStop come up with a realistic digital strategy to sell things online.
But then, obviously, many short sellers who think that this price stock surge much like the one back in January is pretty ridiculous to put it
QUEST: And the markets will have its way. Paul La Monica, thank you. Guru, thank you.
The United States is planning to buy a further 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine. President Biden is expected to make that
announcement anytime now, you can see there at the White House. The meeting will be with CEOs of Johnson & Johnson and Merck who, of course, as you are
aware, the competitors who have turned partners in the effort to speed vaccine production.
Meanwhile, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies have warned of this deadly gap in global vaccine distribution.
The world they believe should focus not only on getting vaccines to countries in need and making sure, though, those vaccines actually leave
the airports and reach people.
The I.F.R.C. urging more funding for comprehensive vaccine distribution. Dr. Gianrico Farrugia is the President and CEO of the Mayo Clinic in
Minnesota joins me now.
We'll come to the international situation. First of all let's just look at the U.S. and the distribution of vaccines. I was with someone last night as
they got their vaccine. It has turned into an extremely efficient, well- oiled machine where the only problem now seems to be lack or still be lack of vaccine.
DR. GIANRICO FARRUGIA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MAYO CLINIC-MINNESOTA: It is a logistic, impressive organization to be able to do what we really need to
do, provide a vaccine to everybody around the world.
In the U.S., as you said, it's become very efficient in the past weeks and will continue to do so as we transition with what you just said, which is
we still have a question of availability and that will soon change then into the question of dealing with vaccine hesitancy.
I will, however, want to point out that the fact we're talking about this, right, that in 12 months we now have at least 10 vaccines available across
the world, three in the United States really does highlight medical innovation at its finest and really does suggest that we need to continue
to invest heavily in biomedical research to make sure whatever the next pandemic is, we are ready for it and that we have the research ready for
QUEST: The haves and the have-nots as we're familiar with, we really are -- I mean, I hear you. The United States vaccinated 2.2 million people a day.
You've got the E.U. slowly but surely picking up although it is very slow.
But then you have developing nations getting a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, three hundred thousand doses donated either by COVAX or
by other organizations. This is not sustainable for a world that's aiming for greater equality.
FARRUGIA: Without a doubt, we have to do a better job of making sure that the people who most need the vaccine get the vaccine. I would put forward
that one way to do so is to continue to increase the supply so we get at the point where as quickly as possible, those who are at most risk from
suffering will have the vaccine available.
And I'm becoming increasingly confident that we are well on our way there.
QUEST: Listen to the head of Pfizer who recounted today how it was when he told Dr. Fauci that the vaccine appeared to work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERT BOURLA, CEO, PFIZER: Tony is a very measured individual as we can all see, it was the first time that I saw him so emotional. We ended up the
call by saying, Albert, this is a game changer, and then we hung up.
And I felt a joy. I was feeling actually happier about him than happier about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Doctor, the Mayo Clinic is one of the world's premier medical and research institutions. What did you think when you heard that the vaccines
were coming, they worked, and in a sense that was the start of the end?
FARRUGIA: I think joy is exactly the right word. It is an emotion that is deep inside you. We were, of course, like everybody else dealing with an
onslaught of patients that we needed to help and we have been fortunate that we've been able to have what is probably the lowest mortality for
patients in the Mayo Clinic and the world, but you still have to deal with a lot of suffering.
And to hear that you have a vaccine that is not only safe, but it is so effective, and I think we've been lulled by getting used to the numbers,
but the effectiveness of this vaccine and the vaccines that followed really did bring joy to myself, bring joy to every frontline provider and again
highlights how when academia, pharma, and governments come together, we can actually do great things. And this has to rank as a medical marvel, the
ability to have these vaccines available so quickly.
QUEST: So, the stimulus bill has been passed, and within that there are what are said to be improvements to the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare if
From your understanding of what's happening, does Obamacare still provide in your view this backbone of safety net to ensure, which frankly to those
of us from other parts of the world, it's almost inconceivable just how the U.S. has so many uninsured or people without medical coverage. Are you
pleased with what you see in this new bill?
FARRUGIA: I haven't read the new bill? So I will just say that for the Mayo Clinic, we have for many, many years been pushing that we need to do is
find ways to better treat people with complex and serious illness and that everybody has the opportunity to get and avail themselves of excellent
Any bill that allows us to do that would be very welcome.
QUEST: We'll talk more, sir, as the year moves on because I'm more so fascinated about the developments at the Mayo Clinic particularly your
international affiliates in the UAE and beyond, so we will talk again, sir. Thank you very much.
As we continue tonight, quarter past the hour, Britain and the European Union are trading barbs, vaccine nationalism.
Now, did Britain stop or ban exports of vaccines? Yes, says the E.U., no says Boris Johnson.
QUEST: The U.K. has responded to accusations of vaccine nationalism by summoning a top E.U. diplomat to the Foreign Office.
Now, the Council -- the E.U. Council President had claimed, the U.K. blocked the export of vaccines made in Britain and tweeted more
transparency following push back from London.
Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson told Parliament, he wants to set the record straight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I therefore wish to correct the suggestion from the European Council President that the U.K. has blocked
Let me be clear, we have not blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine components.
This pandemic has put us all on the same side in the battle for global health. We opposed vaccine nationalism in all of its forms.
I trust that all sides of the House will join me in rejecting this suggestion and calling on all our partners to work together to tackle this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: CNN's Cyril Vanier is with me now. Look, hang on, I know facts are facts and your facts might be different from his facts, and to quote
Buckingham Palace yesterday, recollections may differ. However -- however, either they did or they didn't.
The E.U. says that they, the U.K. -- banned or restricted exports. The Prime Minister says they didn't. Who is right?
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Richard, look, I knew you would ask me that question, and frankly it terrorized me because it's impossible at
this stage to know exactly who is telling the absolute truth.
The reason being that the E.U. which leveled the initial accusation against the U.K. has now walked back that accusation, but made a more cryptic one
that is flying under the radar, and that is why I have the Charles Michel tweets open for you.
After Boris Johnson, as you just played said, no, we are not blocking the export of E.U. vaccines -- of U.K.-made vaccine or vaccine components to
the E.U., Charles Michel answered that in a tweet. And he said this, we are glad, if at least, to more transparency and increased exports. This is the
part I want to highlight for you, "Different ways of imposing bans or restrictions on vaccines and medicines."
There's no further explanation. It is cryptic, but it looks like Charles Michel is saying, look, there are different ways of banning exports even if
you don't pass it into law or, even if you don't say it outright.
What exactly does that mean? What is the E.U. Council President implying? Well, he hasn't made it clear. I would hazard one guess that Britain didn't
need to ban exports of vaccines because a pharmaceutical giant did it for them.
VANIER: Remember, AstraZeneca and the CEO of vaccine maker AstraZeneca and what he said about a month and a half ago and the row began between the
E.U. and the U.K. He said, look, we signed the contract with the U.K. first and the U.K. naturally wants its contract honored and wants its doses for
its people. Therefore, we will not be diverting U.K.-made vaccines to Europe.
VANIER: So Boris Johnson can be -- can play the good role here and say no we didn't export because in the own words of the AstraZeneca CEO, he's been
doing it himself.
QUEST: So, let's get that Charles Michel tweet back up there again, please. So if that is right and basically this idea that different ways of imposing
bans or restrictions of vaccines, what you're saying is what the E.U. would have preferred is that the British say, no, we're not going to take it,
we're going to send it to you instead because your contract is also there.
VANIER: Pretty much. The E.U. deems that it has a contract with AstraZeneca and that that needs to be fulfilled and that AstraZeneca has an obligation
towards the E.U. to ship doses to wherever they are made including from U.K. factories.
And then it becomes a battle of contracts, and we went over that a month ago. The big defense by AstraZeneca was, well, hey, the U.K. signed its
contract before the E.U. did. We have since found out that is not true. In fact the U.K. contract was signed a day after the E.U.'s contract for
Another part of this answer and another indication, I dare say, Richard, is the U.K. has not been particularly generous. I'm not one to judge whether
they should have been. But when the Irish Prime Minister reached out to the U.K. to ask for vaccines because their rollout is going slowly and they had
a shortfall of AstraZeneca doses and this came out today, the answer he said on the part of Boris Johnson was no.
QUEST: With that, short and sweet, Cyril Vanier, thank you.
The organization for economic cooperation and development is warning that Europe's sluggish vaccine rollout is threatening its economic recovery.
The O.E.C.D. has upgraded its outlook for global growth, now said to be 5.6 percent this year, but predicting 3.9 percent for the Euro zone.
Oliver Bate is the CEO of Allianz, one of the largest insurance companies joins me from Munich in Germany. How worried are you, sir, that the way in
which this is moving forward whilst progress is being made arguably sclerotic and slow, there will be an economic cost to be paid.
OLIVER BATE, CEO, ALLIANZ: Yes, and there has been. We already had about a $90 billion billed from the delays relative to original plans, and because
of the further delays, it's now up to about to about $110 billion.
So to give you a perspective, Richard, this is about twice the amount of money that the European Recovery Fund is going to disburse this year. So
the economic cost of the delays is huge. But I think there's a higher cost and that the cost is over loss of confidence in investors and the public.
QUEST: Right. But what went wrong, do you think? I mean, you run a large -- you run the largest insurance company. I am once tempted to say that if you
run your company like they've run the vaccine rollout, you'll be out of business.
BATE: Well, I don't want to comment on what we would do and others, I'll get to that a little later, but one thing is for sure that in crises you
need different management methods even in government than you need in normal times so to speak.
And you can think about it as a major military operation, and this is why the U.S. and the U.K. have really worked really, really well. They have
organized it like a military campaign and that's why it's working. We're doing it completely de-centrally, very bureaucratically and that's why it's
QUEST: I want to talk about -- I am very keen on your views on the low interest rate environment that we're having and the way in which we exit
it. Now, if the numbers are right and there is going to be a roaring 20s ahead of us because growth picks up, particularly if you think about a $2
trillion stimulus going into the global economy via the U.S.
This management of an exit from interest rates has to be handled very carefully.
BATE: Yes, and we are quite worried about the exit from that because as our colleague, Mohamed El-Erian has said, you know, you cannot rely on Central
Banks, and we've been relying on Central Banks for far too long for many, many years.
And I'm not an expert in drug consumption, but I have been told it is like trying to get somebody out of a serious drug, it is very difficult to do
and it takes a long time and there can be lots of accidents.
So we are really worried about the exit and you've seen that the last few weeks with the turmoil on the Treasury markets, you're seeing it with
completely inflated equity evaluations from some tech stocks, so we need to be very careful.
QUEST: I noticed that you now offer -- many because I've got one of your travel policies -- you offer epidemic coverage.
It looks good. It looks good. It sounds good. Is it actually -- have you had many claims on it? Is it an expensive bit of coverage for you?
BATE: No, we're very careful in underwriting, but we want to offer real value. And obviously the question is who do you buy? What you need to
advice is adverse selection, i.e. you need to have a diversified customer base so frequency of claims are manageable. And I think we've done that
very well today, but we're very proud to have an offer for clients that was desperately needed.
QUEST: All right, so it comes along that. Finally, back to the global growth question. I look and see -- I don't see any inflation. Well, 1.6 --
1.4 percent, whatever in the U.S. We know they're prepared to allow more for the time being.
I foresee low interest rates for some time to come. The head of the Fed -- the Chair of the Fed, Powell, has told us that. What's your best feeling
for what happens next?
BATE: Well, first, interest levels while the U.S. is leading there, dynamics in Europe are totally different from the United States where we
have seen the gradual increase in rates and the steepening of the yield curve, and that's at a very low level, so we don't really fear inflation in
It's a little bit of a pickup but very, very helpful for our industry, by the way, and very helpful for our share price because interest rates have
been seeing curves that are great for us.
Europe will have longer rates and the Central Bank is continuously suppressing the real pricing of credit risk and interest rate risk, and I
think that will continue for a long time because everybody has an interest to keep rates low. Why? Because the public households are over indebted and
they cannot really afford for rates to go up.
QUEST: Oliver, it is always a treat to have you on the program to talk just commonsense on economics and insurance. Thank you, sir. Appreciate your
This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
It is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight, so I think we lost what Oliver was saying, but the former ITV anchor, Piers Morgan is doubling down on his
harsh remarks about Meghan Markle. We'll speak to a British journalist on the controversy and its implications.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. A lot more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment.
The U.K. media's under scrutiny after the Duchess of Sussex lodged a formal complaint over the coverage of her interview with Oprah.
And President Biden's stimulus plan gives support to millions of gig workers. We'll look at how their likelihoods have been upended by the
As you and I continue talking tonight, this is CNN and here the news always comes first.
A grim record for Brazil when it registered nearly 2,000 deaths from coronavirus in a single day. The health care system is overwhelmed, verging
In many cities ICUs are already at 90 percent capacity and hospitals are filling up with more and more COVID patients.
A top health expert says the United States could reach herd immunity by the end of the summer or early fall. Dr. Fauci estimates between 70 to 85
percent of the population would have to be vaccinated against the virus to reach that goal.
New research suggests the virus variant first identified in the U.K. is even more deadly than first thought, according to the medical journal, the
BMJ, "British Medical Journal." The variant's associated with an estimated 64 percent higher risk of dying than previously circulating COVID strains.
CNN's learned that Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has now made a formal complaint to the ITV network about the dismissive comments of Piers
Now Morgan said he doubted that she struggled with her mental health, a confession she made during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
His comments on Monday generated more than 41,000 complaints to Britain's media regulator, Ofcom.
Morgan himself stormed off the morning show on Tuesday following a heated exchange with a co-host. And hours later he left his job as anchor of "Good
Morning Britain." The former host says he has no regrets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERS MORGAN, FORMER HOST, "GOOD MORNING BRITAIN": If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly held opinion about Meghan Markle and that
diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Shares in the U.K. broadcaster down three percent following his departure. He was one of the network's biggest ratings drawers.
Jane Martinson is economist for "The Guardian" newspaper and joins me now.
This is a strange run, isn't it? You've now gone from a royal scandal to an Ofcom regulatory issue, a freedom of speech question concerning Piers
Morgan and ratings for Britain's morning television show. How did we get here?
JANE MARTINSON, COLUMNIST, THE GUARDIAN: I know. Well, I'm tempted to say that -- as so often with Piers Morgan and the British media -- it does end
up being about Piers.
But yes, two days or less than 48 hours after Meghan and Harry's incredible interview on CBS and then over here on ITV, the impact on the British media
has been incredible.
Piers left. The shares in ITV has fallen nearly five percent -- much of that has to do with his departure. He did make that show incredibly popular
and more people watched it than did BBC which wasn't the case when he joined. So for those sorts of reasons.
But it also brings to a head the whole issue of whether British broadcasters, public service broadcasters, can say those things. And
particularly, about somebody's mental health.
QUEST: Right. Now my colleague, Jake Tapper, has tweeted today that thank goodness the U.S. has the First Amendment, this would not be allowed in the
-- I don't happen to agree with Jake on that but that's a subject for a different day.
Ofcom has taken up the investigation. But is it your feeling as best we can gauge with the regulator they will find in favor of it?
MARTINSON: It's way too early to tell, as you can imagine, with a regulatory. There is something called the harm and offense guidance that
goes with the broadcasting code that all public service broadcasters have to be governed by here.
Unlike in the U.S. -- and I think the reason that Jake who's obviously a brilliant presenter -- but the reason he got into so much trouble on
Twitter which is where he said -- he called the Ofcom investigation insanity. And said this is -- which is why you don't -- places where you
don't have a First Amendment.
But the difference here is that our broadcasters, like the BBC, are held to account. So they cannot cause harm and offense.
MARTINSON: They cannot, for example, spread misinformation. And the issue here will be if it's an opinion to actually say that -- somebody's saying
they were suffering from such mental health issues that they contemplated suicide, for Piers Morgan, and I quote said "I don't believe a word she
says, I wouldn't believe her if she read me a weather report." Questioning somebody's mental health is a different category.
I can't presume to judge what Ofcom will decide.
QUEST: Bearing in mind what Meghan -- what the Duchess and the Prince said, the accusations about the tabloids and you now take this issue of freedom
of speech over Piers Morgan, is there anything that suggests some form of inquiry whether self-regulatory or otherwise?
A Leveson type inquiry which of course followed the phone hacking scandal which again Piers Morgan managed to be somewhat involved with when he was
at "The Daily Mirror"?
MARTINSON: I think if there's any inquiry, it will be over the issue of race which was particularly was directed at the tabloids. So the way -- on
the interview you saw some of those headlines and the different treatment of Meghan and Kate Middleton, for example, so Duchess of Sussex and of
Cambridge both married to the princes, the different tabloid treatment -- the idea this is based on bigotry and race.
The editors -- the (inaudible) which is trade body for all national and local papers in the U.K. came out on Monday with a really controversial
statement saying there is no racism in the British press.
And were immediately criticized for it including by -- with a letter signed by 167 journalists of color and also backed by the editor of "The Guardian"
MARTINSON: -- and editor of "The Financial Times," saying that they didn't agree with it.
QUEST: Professor Jane Martinson, please come back and help us understand a little bit more of this as this develops. We're very grateful to have you
to put some good sense into this discussion. Thank you.
Now as we continue tonight on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, Joe Biden's stimulus plan calls for more protections for millions of U.S. gig workers.
The CEO of Fiverr on support for freelancers during the pandemic. In a moment.
QUEST: Our top story tonight. A $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill is headed for President Biden's desk.
After clearing its final hurdle on Capitol Hill, welcome news to tens of millions of gig workers and independent contractors who stand to benefit
from the expanded financial support included in the plan.
Gig workers make up 40 percent of the American workforce now and many have taken jobs in pandemic times because of the flexible schedules or there
aren't other jobs. Still there's so much competition. They're working more hours for less pay.
Micha Kaufman is the founder and CEO of Fiverr, a digital marketplace for freelancers which incidentally I used for the first time in the last few
Now Micha joins me from Tel Aviv via Skype.
Micha, the gig economy has received more assistance during pandemics whether it's in the E.U. or U.K. or in the U.S. because gig workers are now
a larger part of the economy. Have the governments done enough in your view?
MICHA KAUFMAN, FOUNDER & CEO, FIVERR: Thanks for having me, Richard.
I think what's very optimistic about the new bill is the fact there's $50 billion aid for small businesses that are really in need for that aid. And
there's the community navigator that allows these businesses to actually understand how to take advantage of these benefits.
There's $1,400 for 90 percent of Americans and maybe very important for our topic is the fact that there's an extended unemployment benefits for
freelancers and independent workers that need that help so well.
QUEST: But I do worry that -- OK, so the dam has been plugged, if you like, they've dealt with this. But longer term the freelancers are still left
exposed from many from of the protections that otherwise would be given to employees.
And I do think -- this isn't a bashing of Fiverr about gig economy, I'm more interested to know what you think should be the right level of social
protection provided to gig workers?
KAUFMAN: I think the freelancing economy has been growing so fast that governments haven't been able to catch up and figure out how to really sort
the benefits that should come with it, the ability to have access to health insurance and unemployment benefits.
And I think that this is going to be a topic that we're going to be discussing in the next few years. And Fiverr wants to take a front seat in
helping governments figure out what's right way of actually addressing these issues.
QUEST: Because you don't want to end up in an Uber situation, really, to some extent. Although perhaps your relationship with your freelancers --
you see, if your new subscriptions plan comes along and is very successful that you announce, if subscriptions works then you can end up with
companies having ongoing relationships -- well, you will have companies having ongoing relationships with individual freelancers but without
protections either of a regular retainer, a decent retainer or employee status. How are you going to balance that?
KAUFMAN: I think when people are thinking about this new form of career which is freelancing, it's not only a career it's a lifestyle. It comes
with a lot of benefits, a lot of freedom to choose whatever you want to work on from wherever you want to work and whenever you want to work.
But that also comes with some risks. I think the benefits of using platforms such as Fiverr is that it does create this repeatable and
expectable regular stream that we've seen our freelancers 2020 growing their income almost twice as fast as this year compared to a typical year
KAUFMAN: So as they are getting into the rhythm of providing those services, it is becoming more expectable income. And the reality is that
more freelancers are making more money on the platform on their own terms, they set their own terms.
And I think that that freedom has a huge benefit.
It does come with some disadvantages because of the lack in care (ph) of governments but that will be sorted out in the next few years, I'm sure.
QUEST: Micha, thank you for staying up late tonight, 10:42 in Tel Aviv. Thank you. I appreciate your time.
QUEST: Thank you.
Now Dubai's Expo 2020 is set to open in October after a one-year pandemic delay.
In today's "ROAD TO EXPO" John Defterios takes us through the city's new intelligent traffic system.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, NARRATOR, "ROAD TO EXPO": With clear, concise message, the signs that direct Dubai's millions of drives look simple.
But the place that manages these alerts is one of most advanced traffic control centers.
SALAH AL MARZOUQI, DIRECTOR, DUBAI INTELLIGENT TRAFFIC SYSTEM, RTA: The uniqueness of this building and the system itself is like we customized the
platform which we call it, I-Traffic, Intelligent-Traffic, to fit the need of Dubai.
DEFTERIOS: From roads to rails, Dubai is spending over $6.8 billion on infrastructure in preparation for the COVID-19 postponed Expo 2020.
With tens of millions of visitors expected to attend, transit officials hope to make travel as easy as possible.
AL MARZOUQI: Expo is one of the major events that will affect not only Expo area, it will affect even the whole city.
DEFTERIOS: To ensure smooth journeys the Intelligent Traffic System Center opened in November.
Here about 60 employees monitor 60 percent of the city's roads. A network of 245 ITS traffic cameras feed back information to artificial intelligence
software which help engineers respond to traffic incidents in realtime.
AL MARZOUQI: The project is one of the main goals to safe and sustainable transport.
DEFTERIOS: Cars, however, won't be the only option for Expo attendees.
ABDULMUHSEN IBRAHIM YOUNES, CEO, RAIL AGENCY, RTA: We believe that more than 29 percent of the visitors daily will use Dubai Metro to reach Expo
DEFTERIOS: Anticipating this ridership, Dubai built an entirely new metro line fittingly called Route 2020.
In 2016, construction began on seven stations which today house smart gigs, wider platforms and bigger trains.
YOUNES: Currently on our Dubai Metro red and green line more than 800,000 passenger capacity in the network. Route 2020 will add to that by more than
250,000 passengers every day.
DEFTERIOS: Expo 2020 will only last six months. But transit leaders believe this infrastructure will serve Dubai for decades to come.
YOUNES: This line will stay active because it will be used by so many passengers who's living on the areas around the stations.
AL MARZOUQI: This scope of Expo is one of the scope that we really planned for. And not only that one, we are also ready for beyond Expo, with the
coverage that we planning for.
DEFTERIOS: That planned coverage includes monitoring 100 percent of Dubai's roads by 2023, meaning messages like these will long outlast a single
DEFTERIOS (Voice Over): John Defterios, CNN, Dubai.
QUEST: As you and I continue this midweek together, China's planning to make the country a high-tech power less reliant on U.S. technology.
In a moment, the five-year blueprint to more self-sufficiency.
QUEST: The U.S. and China have scheduled their first high level face-to- face talks since President Biden took over.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the national security advisor Jake Sullivan will meet their Chinese counterparts next week in Anchorage,
Ahead of the meeting, Blinken's to go to South Korea and Japan.
China's already taken steps to insulate itself from some of the pressures faced during the Trump Administration.
The National People's Congress is set to pass a five-year plan to reduce reliance on U.S. technology.
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is in Hong Kong with this report.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: China has big ambitions. The world's second largest economy expects to grow by more than 6 percent this year. If
China achieves that, it would be on track to match U.S. GDP by as early as 2028.
But China also has a big vulnerability. Its dependence on overseas technology like the parts that power smartphones, computers and next
generation gadgets. And China is determined to end that.
Its latest five-year plan gives new insight into how Chinese authorities plan to strengthen its hi-tech might.
On the first day of the National People's Congress, Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang emphasized the importance of innovation.
According to the 2021 work report -- "innovation remains at the heart of China's modernization drive. We will strengthen our science and technology
to provide strategic support for China's development."
Li added that China plans to increase spending on research and development by more than seven percent a year.
In recent years, Chinese tech firms like Huawei and SMIC have been targeted by punishing U.S. sanctions that cut off access to vital components.
So in its five-year plan, China's planning to boost its domestic expertise in a number of key areas including next generation artificial intelligence,
quantum computing and semiconductors.
China's ambition for hi-tech self-reliance is not a new one. Its recent ten-year plan called "Made in China 2025," was created to shed the
country's dependence on foreign technology.
It included goals for 40 percent of chips to be produced domestically by the year 2020. That share was supposed to increase to 70 percent by 2025.
But according to "IC Insights," in 2019 less than 16 percent of the chips China needed were produced at home.
YVETTE TO, PROFESSOR, CITY UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: When it comes to high- end advanced manufacturing of semiconductor chips, China is actually lagging quite significantly seven to ten years behind.
Even if China doubled down on its resources and commitment from this moment onwards, Chinese companies will find themselves chasing a moving target.
STOUT: Analysts point to another tech speed bump for China; regulation and government interference that could dampen innovation.
In November, Chinese regulators forced Alibaba's financial affiliate Ant Group to postpone its record-breaking IPO and ordered the company to
overhaul its business.
In a recent research report, Eurasia Group" analysts write this. Quote --
"As Xi pursues ambitions for China at the cutting edge of technology, Beijing recognizes that a top-down approach has limits.
But Beijing's willingness to leave more to the market will be challenged by Xi's sense of urgency and frequent preference for a strong hand for the
[Party] and state," unquote.
The fate of China's most famous entrepreneur revealed the risk of too much success and how a nation's declaration of tech dominance is easier said
STOUT (Voice Over): Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
QUEST: Before we go to a couple (inaudible) -- of U.S. carriers, United and others have said they will not now need to furlough tens of thousands of
workers as they were planning to do now that the stimulus package has been passed.
There is up to $50 billion in that package for the airlines to keep workers on, at least until September.
Take a look at the markets -- after the break. The Dow is about to close at an all-time high.
And a quick mention about our program tomorrow. Do join us for a special program as we mark one year since the lights went dark on Broadway. How the
performing arts have kept the show going during a year of COVID.
QUEST MEANS BROADWAY tomorrow, of course. On CNN.
We'll have a "Profitable Moment" after the break.
QUEST: And tonight's "Profitable Moment".
And so the great economic experiment begins. $1.9 trillion is to go into the U.S. economy, and that'll raise global growth by half to one percent as
well with the spill-over effects.
The range, the breadth, the depth, the extent of the changes from this stimulus recovery package which also has some ground-breaking changes that
will greatly alleviate poverty in the United States.
But it's not a one-side bet and there are those critics who say it's too much too soon and the equivalent of giving the drug addict another fix. It
will be very difficult to reverse many of the changes once they have taken hold.
Well, that is the nature of this experiment. Do you go big or not at all? Janet Yellen wanted to go big -- well, she's got it now.
And the money will be flowing into the economy, flowing into bank accounts even in the next couple of days.
Let's wait and see how the experiment works out.
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in New York.
Whatever you're up to the in the hours ahead I hope it's profitable.
Good day on the market. The bell is ringing, the day is down.