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Quest Means Business
Europe Joins Debate over Waiving Vaccine Patents; Post-Pandemic Lessons from the 1920s; India Reports New Daily Highs In Cases And Deaths; Out-Of-Control Rocket Heading For Earth; France, U.K. Trade Threats Over Disputed Jersey Waters. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired May 06, 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 BUSINESS HOST: With an hour to go of trading, 60 minutes left, and the Dow has shrugged off early losses and is solidly higher.
That's not the same across the whole market though. Individual stocks are lower, which is pushing individual portfolios in some directions.
But those -- that's the general trend for blue chips, they are higher, over 34,000 for the Dow, and the main events of the day.
First came the White House, now the E.U. says it will look at waiving vaccine patents.
Britain pulls back its Navy saying that tensions with France are resolved for now.
And a cocktail of stimulus and speculation fit for prohibition. Niall Ferguson with me tonight about the new roaring twenties.
We are live in New York, it is Thursday, it is the 6th of May. I'm Richard Quest, and of course, I mean business.
Good evening. Tonight, more countries are following the U.S. lead and backing a waiver of COVID vaccine patents. It's a debate that's pitting
governments across drug companies and could change the global rollout. Pharmaceutical stocks on one side of the equation are down, some sharply
like CureVac, even Novavax which had been up has now reversed the trend.
The seeds for this were sown yesterday when President Biden announced the administration's support for overriding the drug company's patents. It's
not his decision, of course, although it's highly influential.
The World Trade Organization, the W.T.O. must unanimously, all 164 members, must decide to lift the waiver. The French President Emmanuel Macron says
he is absolutely in favor of it. Germany remains somewhat resistant, and the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says she is open to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: The European Union is also ready to discuss any proposal that address the crisis in an effective
and pragmatic manner and that's why we are ready to discuss how the U.S. proposal for waiver on intellectual property protection for COVID vaccines
could help achieve that objective.
In the short run, however, we call upon all vaccine-producing countries to allow exports and to avoid measures that disrupt supply chains.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now, making this decision involves weighing the various side effects. Right now, companies stand to make billions of dollars for
manufacturing the vaccine after the first pandemic of course, has subsided.
Moderna just posted its first quarterly profits ever. Put aside the money though, and the company says this still isn't a good idea. The core of
their argument is patents aren't the issue, it is access to raw materials, technologies, and, for instance, the ability to get precedence.
Listen to BioNTech's Chief Medical Officer speaking to CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. OZLEM TURECI, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, BIONTECH: Patents are not the limiting factor for the production of, for example, our vaccine. There are
a number of important factors in producing vaccines.
For example, our manufacturing process involves more than 50,000 steps, all of which have to be executed accurately in order to ensure efficacy and
Patent waivers will not address this. We think that it's even more important to ensure legal, administrative and organizational solutions for
vaccine manufacture --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Thomas Cueni is the Director General of the International Federation Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Association. He joins me from Basil in
Switzerland. He joins me via Skype.
I'm not surprised, of course that you are, and your organization is against this, believing that it doesn't -- it won't actually increase production of
vaccine, that there are other areas, but as the U.S. Trade representative says, extraordinary times means extraordinary measures.
So even if this is just a possibility, isn't it worth doing?
THOMAS CUENI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION PHARMACEUTICAL MANUFACTURERS AND ASSOCIATION: No, it isn't, because it is, as so often
when you have a complex problem, you get a simple answer, but that answer is quite often wrong and that's exactly the case here.
CUENI: Because waiving the patent wouldn't give you a single more dose during this pandemic. What we need right now is short term, and we heard it
from Ursula von der Leyen is we do need dose sharing, we do need rich countries to start sharing their doses with poorer countries because we do
have a crisis situation in terms of vaccine equity, not least because of traumatic situation in India and the exports from India triggered very much
through COVAX, which is traumatic for Africa.
What we need is we can't afford to have all the rich countries vaccinating 20-year-old healthy kids and on the other hand you don't allow anything to
go to Africa.
QUEST: So, these vaccines, in many cases, most cases were developed using the investment seed corn and the investment of government money, both in
the U.S., the E.U., and the U.K. and elsewhere, largely even if it was in the case of -- through future purchases.
So, that is one side of it. And I understand that the vaccine companies are selling at cost at the moment, but if you don't waive the patent, aren't
you at risk of being accused of putting profits before lives?
CUENI: Yes, we are deeply sensitive of that accusation. But, at the same time, the fact of the matter is that the patent -- taking away the patent
forcefully wouldn't give you the tools to get the vaccines manufactured, because to know how you scale up at mass high volume, the vaccine
manufacturing, you need know-how, you need knowledge-sharing, you need expertise often acquired over 20 years and you need joint training of
skilled workforce, which, quite often is the bottleneck in vaccine manufacturing.
And it is speaking on a large scale, Richard. We have more than 200 tech transfer agreements between Big Pharma and developing country
manufacturers, biotech and Big Pharma, universities and Big Pharma, and that has been made possible because the companies know that they can rely
on a stable legal framework such as the Intellectual Property Protection.
QUEST: Would you be in favor of a limited waiver? Or is that sort of a case of once the horse is out of the stable?
CUENI: Basically, the assumption that the waiver, whether it is limited, or longer term would relieve the situation now is simply incorrect because if
you would waive the patent, it would take at least 12 months to set up the new plants, and literally everyone who can is now already in the game.
You have companies like Novartis, for example, or Bayer, they were no longer in the vaccine business, they are now coming in in partnership.
QUEST: Okay, Thomas, finally, even Prince Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex are involved as Vax Live Campaign Chair, they say today,
we call upon -- every possible measure must to be taken including the temporary suspension of intellectual property in extraordinary global
public/private collaboration. They have just put out this, particularly.
I hear your argument. I see where you're going with this. But essentially, you are saying you are prepared to lose the public relations aspects if it
means you win the wider, in your view, more -- the wider point on actually protecting of the patent.
CUENI: You know, what we are doing right now is leaving no stone unturned to scale up manufacturing, to make sure that we get the vaccines as fast to
the people as possible.
You have to take into account we really literally overnight expanded COVID- 19 vaccines from zero to 10 billion doses for this year. This is an incredible challenge. Taking away the patents wouldn't add a single dose,
but the problem is, it would risk the incentives, which have allowed us to respond so fast to the current pandemic because what would you tell
You want to invest for future pandemic preparedness if they know in advance that if that happens you will not have an intellectual property protection,
you will not have to reward which Moderna for example or Curevac are now harvesting because they were lucky, much more successful than other
companies who risked investments, but their vaccines did not materialize.
QUEST: Thomas, good to have you with us. Thank you, sir, for talking us through that.
This patent waiver was proposed to the W.T.O. back in October by India and South Africa, remember, of course, India is a major manufacturer of
QUEST: Now, those two countries on the other side of the scale that we've been showing you, they argue it could offset vaccine nationalism and
improve supply to the developing world. You've heard the argument against that from Thomas.
But now listen to David McKenzie's support. India's COVID crisis has upped the pressure as David McKenzie reports. The ripple effects on how they are
being felt miles away across Africa.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, the pharmaceutical industry may be pushing back on this decision by the Biden
administration to lend its voice to the temporary waiver of vaccine patents. But certainly, here in South Africa and India, there is
celebration. Those two countries in October were the first ones to bring this to the W.T.O. and there is a history of agitation to loosen those
patent restrictions to try and get life-saving drugs to people.
The problem is, is that vaccine manufacturing won't ramp up because of this for some time, even in the best-case scenario. And in the meantime, there's
a perfect storm.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): The awful consequence of a COVID-19 scenario. It's forcing the Indian government to ban all vaccine exports to COVAX, the
Global Vaccine Alliance so it can give precious doses to its own people. Immediately impacting at least 90 million COVAX doses.
The crisis in India is causing a crisis here. Kenyan and other African nations where lives depend on COVAX are running out of vaccines. And tour
guide, Martin Mutisya is one of the very last Kenyans to get his first AstraZeneca shot.
MARTIN MUTISYA, TOUR GUIDE: It is a big moment. I am feeling excited. I think I just have to wait and see what happens.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): Kenya got around a million doses from COVAX produced by India's Serum Institute. Kenya's supply dries up in days.
MUTISYA: I am concerned because there are supposed to be two shots. I am concerned. But if it doesn't happen, what is the worst scenario?
UHURU KENYATTA, KENYAN PRESIDENT: I want to assure you that nobody who has taken their first dose is going to miss out on their second dose.
MCKENZIE (on camera): Does this worry you? Because it seems that it could be a scenario that the second doses don't come in time.
RUDI EGGERS, W.H.O. REPRESENTATIVE, KENYA: So very clearly it worries me, and very clearly the second doses will not come in time.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): A senior humanitarian official familiar with COVAX's plan told CNN that the Indian vaccine supply isn't expected to resume until
June, at best or even later.
And the millions of AstraZeneca doses promised by the Biden administration won't be enough or come soon enough. Neither will Moderna's vaccine.
Up to a half billion doses will be supplied to low and middle-income countries, but not until later this year.
MCKENZIE (on camera): Right now, there isn't equal access. So what is the impact of that?
DR. WILLIS AKHWALE, CHIEF KENYAN VACCINE TASKFORCE: The impact is that maybe we are going to prolong this pandemic much longer than it would have
happened if there was equal access.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): Researchers at Duke University tracking dose availability say the vaccine freeze could have catastrophic consequences,
with some African countries facing yet another wave of the virus.
ANDREA TAYLOR, DUKE GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: they did put a lot of eggs in the Serum Institute basket and that was a strategic error, given what has
happened in India was entirely predictable. It should not have caught any of us by surprise.
MCKENZIE (on camera): Researchers say there really is no fix in the very short term for this issue, but they do hope that rich countries will be
able to donate their excess supply in the coming months.
They also say there will be a point where supply really outstrips demand, especially in the U.S., and then, they say, this could be a way to get out
of this pandemic -- Richard.
QUEST: David McKenzie, thank you.
Now, coming up on this program, high drama winds down on the High Seas. Britain and France ease their dispute over fishing rights in the English
And back to the last post, pandemic boom and some lessons on what not to do this time around.
QUEST: And so the Dow is on track for a record close. A look at the numbers. It's up nearly a hundred points, over a hundred fifty points, 161
to be more precise with 34,391, so will be watching that closely.
The post-pandemic optimism that is now existing, it's a Wall Street boom, and it's giving rise to new tycoons. So, it's not surprising people are
saying it is the roaring 20s all over again. The 1920s in that case.
Clare Sebastian looks at the last time we had our once-in-a-century moment, like the one that people say we are about to enjoy or are enjoying now.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A time of post- pandemic euphoria, excessive drinking, and stock market speculation.
DONALD MILLER, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, LAFAYETTE UNIVERSITY: Low inflation, easy money from the Federal Reserve, there is a surging sense that the
model is going to be better than yesterday.
ROBERT SHILLER, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, YALE UNIVERSITY: One step down, two steps up was the mantra in the 1920s.
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Between August 1921, the start of the 1920s bull market and its peak in September 1929, the Dow Jones Industrial average
grew more than 500 percent, compare that to today's 20s, the Dow already up more than 80 percent since the pandemic fueled panic last March.
And behind those numbers are ordinary people. Today, amateur traders attracted by free trading platforms and social media stars.
DAVE PORTNOY, FOUNDER, BARSTOOL SPORTS: Stocks always go up.
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): A century ago by another form of entertainment.
SHILLER: Your broker would have a customer's room with a trans-lux stock ticker, which is a big thing that every -- a whole crowd could observe. It
was like watching a movie.
SEBASTIAN (on camera): As the illegal drinks flowed in the underground speakeasies of the 1920s, few, it seems were even aware that the boom years
could come to an end.
But a cocktail of risks were taking shape, and some of that cocktail we are still drinking today.
MILLER: People began to have the opportunity to buy stocks in the 1920s on the margin -- only pay 10 percent.
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Trading with borrowed money or margin trading became popular in the 1920s AND the risks were not widely known.
Today, while margin trading is better regulated, it is still causing major volatility in some assets.
SHILLER: I think the GameStop phenomenon sobered a lot of people and also the Bitcoin phenomenon, the up and down and up. But again, what they take
from it, so far hasn't been much discouragement about the stock market.
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): And beyond the stock market, there is another historical risk in the mix.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Twenty million Americans lost their job in the pandemic, working and middle class Americans. At the
same time, roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion.
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Income inequality which hit a 20th Century peak in the U.S. in 1929 now rising again, and history shows us that makes the
economy less resilient to shocks.
MILLER: The rich, of course, when a recession or depression hits, they have a lot of disposable income and they can withdraw it and pull it out and the
middle class can't.
So with them unemployed, there's no money being infused into the economy and the recession really turns into a depression with remarkable speed.
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Today, the U.S. has a much more proactive Central Bank and the government already spending on social programs. The lesson of
the last roaring 20s: always be ready for the music to stop.
Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.
QUEST: Niall Ferguson is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
While I was baking banana bread and learning how to repot my orchids during pandemic lockdown, he was writing a new book. "Doom: The Politics of
Catastrophe." He joins me from Palo Alto in California.
I also want to know, besides your book, what else you learned to do during the pandemic. But first let's talk about the roaring 20s. Do you see those
parallels in -- I mean, obviously we're better controlled and we have better safeguards, in a sense, and circuit breakers?
But is there that unbridled optimism in financial markets that we should be aware of?
NIALL FERGUSON, SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, yes, Richard. I think there are some similarities, though I certainly
don't expect our roaring period to last a decade. And I think it's a mistake to assume that the situation is exactly the same.
Remember, people were coming out of a world war as well as a really far, far worse pandemic in 1918 and 1919, the Spanish Influenza.
The other thing that is very different is the way that government interact with the economy, the government plays a much, much larger role a hundred
years later and we've seen this enormous expansion in both fiscal and monetary terms to offset the lockdowns that were inflicted last year.
So I think the situation is different and the key point I would make is that this is going to last a much shorter time.
I mean, I think the party is going to be over some time next year when it becomes clear that the economy has been overheated and the Fed has to break
the bad news that it's going to tighten.
QUEST: Your book, "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe." You look at the various disasters and catastrophes and draw parallels and lessons to be
learned. But I think there's one thing that comes across reading it and that is finding those connections is not easy because the nature, as you
say in the book, the nature of them, no two are exactly the same and some predicate much bigger reactions than others.
What do we learn then from it?
FERGUSON: Well, we certainly can't predict disasters because they are just not distributed in a predictable way. You can't even attach a probability
to the next massive earthquake on the San Andreas Fault, which I'm sitting right next to. Let's hope it doesn't happen today.
But the kind of disasters that can befall us are very numerous and unpredictable and that means that we've got to be generally paranoid
watching out for a wide range of adverse scenarios and ready to react rapidly rather than being very meticulously prepared for the wrong crisis.
And I think the contrast to draw here is between Taiwan last year, which was really quick to see that there was a risk in January 2020 from this new
pathogen out of Wuhan and rolled out testing and tracing and isolating of the infected really rapidly.
The result, 12 people, that's right, 12 have died of COVID in Taiwan.
Meanwhile in the United States, which have enormous numbers of pandemic preparedness plans and PowerPoint decks and a dedicated Deputy Secretary
for Pandemic Preparedness, we were prepared on paper, but in practice we were completely unprepared, and the preparations turned out to be pretty
worthless when the real thing happened.
QUEST: But you talk for example in the book, you've got the Hindenburg and you've got Chernobyl and talk about those events which, you know, I suppose
arguably could have been foreseen, but nobody in their right minds would have sort of said we have to -- you put things in place, safety measures,
but nobody would have been paranoid to that extent.
And I just wonder, are we destined to always get these things wrong?
FERGUSON: I don't think we're destined to get them wrong. We're not going to avoid disasters. They're going to keep happening, natural ones, man-made
ones will happen. The question is can we handle them better?
And I think the lesson of 2020-2021 is that we really can. COVID did not need to be this disastrous, but a whole range of mistakes were made by most
western countries and some South Asian countries that we can see were avoidable.
The Taiwanese, the South Koreans and I should also mention the Israelis who did a pretty good job have reasons to be paranoid and reasons to expect
trouble from the neighbors in all kinds of different forms from cyberattack to outright invasion.
And I think that explains why they were so quick off the mark and responded so much more efficiently. Whereas, although it was easy to blame everything
on Donald Trump or Boris Johnson last year, in truth, the public health bureaucracies in the U.S. and the U.K. just bungled it.
FERGUSON: The C.D.C. bungled, for example, testing. And that's the other thing that I am talking about. Often, it is the mid-level bureaucrats who
are really to blame when things go wrong, and a good example of this was the famous disaster, the space shuttle, Challenger, which blew up shortly
after launch, one of the most famous disasters in modern American history, though not many people were killed and it turned out that the bureaucrats
at NASA had quietly downplayed the risk.
The engineers knew there was a one in a hundred chance the thing would blow up, one in a hundred, but that became one and a hundred thousand when it
went through the NASA bureaucracy because they really didn't want to concede how risky the whole thing was.
QUEST: Niall, as one the world's leading historians and political economic historians, I just want to get your take quickly, this idea of waiving the
patent on pharmaceuticals, it's a straightforward argument we've heard a million times.
If you do it, it will reduce the incentive for profit and the incentive to innovate. If you don't, it will cost lives. But, anyway, not an extra
vaccine would be made if you do it. What's the middle ground here? What's the truth?
FERGUSON: I think in truth it's very, very hard to do what Moderna and Pfizer do even if you waive the patent protection and I thought the Biden
administration is doing while subtly here is saying to the pharmaceutical companies: watch drug prices, otherwise we could really do something nasty
I think if this was a really major problem for Moderna, the stock would have been done a great deal more yesterday. My sense is that this has not
being properly interpreted. It's a signal by the Biden administration. It's not the end of property rights in the pharma space.
QUEST: Niall, you've spent your pandemic time much more usefully than I did. All I've got for it is banana bread and some flowering orchids. You've
got a great book.
FERGUSON: But I haven't tasted your banana bread. It might be amazing, Richard. Send me some.
QUEST: Well, that is something that we have to look forward to, and the orchids are blooming beautifully now I've repotted them.
"Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe." Thank you, sir. Be well. Thank you.
FERGUSON: Thanks, Richard.
QUEST: Now, speaking of history, the Spirit of Agincourt was revived -- where it is it -- Agincourt today amongst them. France faced off with
Britain over fishing rights. It is the flags and the furor, and it's coming up next.
QUEST: Good day to you. I'm Richard Quest. A lot more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS of course. We're talking about anger in the English Channel, gunboats on
one side and a threat to cut electricity on the other. We are on both shores, of course, even handed. And it's Google versus Goldman in the
battle for the future of the workplace. The real estate CBRE CEO will be with us now.
Now all of that is still to come and not a moment before we have the news headlines because this is CNN and here on this network the news (INAUDIBLE)
the news always comes first.
India's coronavirus catastrophe is spiraling even further out of control as the countries reported its worst day yet. 412,000 new cases and nearly 4000
deaths. And experts say warning as a third COVID wave is inevitable.
Money that could be spent on India's crumbling healthcare system is being set aside to renovate Parliament and build a new residence for the Prime
Minister. Narendra Modi has given a green light to the plans, the projects and it costs $1.8 billion.
Columbia's interior minister says the government doesn't condone excessive force against protesters and says 25 people mostly demonstrators have been
killed in ongoing protests against police brutality and economic inequality. The minister said arrest warrants have been issued for three
police officers so far.
The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the U.S. is looking to provide further security assistance to Ukraine. Given what he's calling
significant presence of Russian troops and its border. The Secretary of State met with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and other top
officials today in Kiev.
The Pentagon's tracking a large out of control Chinese rocket that's hurtling towards Earth. The scientists say the risk of anyone being hurt by
the 22-ton rocket launch last week is pretty small. It's most likely to come down somewhere in the ocean this weekend.
Now, Britain versus France. Well, the two haven't come to armed conflict for centuries. But now they are backing off over a fight over fishing
rights that lead to saber rattling on both sides of the English Channel. Both countries say they're withdrawing the patrol boats from the disputed
waters of the island of Jersey. There it is right in the middle of the English Channel, just off the coast of France but a protectorate of the --
of Great Britain.
French fishermen set off the tensions when they sent a flotilla to the islands main harbor in St. Peters -- in Guernsey (INAUDIBLE) against post-
Brexit (INAUDIBLE) I should say. St. Peter Port of course is in Guernsey. Nic Robertson, I know you were just waiting to start your grimacing as I
got my capitals of the Channel Islands mixed up. I know you're in Guernsey on the other side of the Channel. Saskya Vandoorne is across the water in
Banville cafe in France.
I'm sure you could see each other on wave if you had flashlights. And so, let's start with you, Nic. The idea that they're backing off, is this over?
Is it all a storm and a channel?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes and no. Look, the rhetoric slightly improved. The warships are being pulled back. But however
London says that, you know, the E.U.-U.K. Brexit deal changed fundamentally. The fishing arrangements and they support Jersey and say
that Jersey is correct to make new arrangements that the way that they're doing it there's nothing wrong with that.
So, at the moment, that position, the Jersey-U.K. position is they've got it right. And the French position remains, they haven't got it right. They
are that they are putting in new barriers into the licensing agreements.
ROBERTSON: So, in that way you get the impression that the differences remain. However, the jersey authorities today met with the French fishermen
and the conclusions that seem to have come out of that. One, that the French are putting too much pressure on Jersey authorities by threatening
to cut off electricity to the island. But secondly, that Jersey feels it perhaps wasn't fully up to speed with what the U.K. and the E.U. arranged
that there were perhaps things that they hadn't got quite right in their information for French fishermen.
And they'd have now their first conversation with the French fishermen. And so, a little case of some misunderstanding, but this is not an agreement
QUEST: OK. Saskya in France, and was the French minister out of order in suggesting will cut off the electricity to Jersey?
SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: I mean, the French fishermen here would say not at all. We were speaking to some of them earlier as they made
their way back from Jersey. In fact, you may be able to see the boats just behind me. They arrived back here several hours ago. And we were able to
speak to a young fisherman who had taken part in the protests. Now he said he wanted the protest to be peaceful.
But he said that, you know, this is something that had their livelihoods depended on. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGO MUZARD, FRENCH FISHERMAN (through translator): In any case, we'll do everything in our power. We will fight until the end. We cannot give up. We
all have boats to pay for. Families houses, this is about our lives, we will fight until the end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANDOORNE: So the French fishermen say that they just want to be able to do their jobs and that these restrictions prevent them from doing that. For
example, they now need to prove that they've historically fished in the waters. There are certain size boats that are no longer allowed to fish at
certain times. One fisherman said that he was allowed to fish for 170 days another for seven days. They said that it's just very arbitrary, Richard.
QUEST: OK. Any word of yes or no? Nic Robertson first. Is this over?
VANDOORNE: No. And they said they that they wouldn't go back to -- they said earlier tomorrow. But the protests would go on if the restrictions
QUEST: Saskya has a very generous interpretation of a word. Thank you both, France and Jersey. And by the way, my mistake over of course was, I was a
trainee in Guernsey, so St. Peters Port is why I know that so well.
Joe Biden is pitching his jobs plan for America. He's calling it a once in a generation investment. That's in the future of work in the United States
next. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Delighted you're on board.
QUEST: In the last hour, President Biden has been promoting his American Jobs Plan in Louisiana speaking a few moments ago, he said it will provide
solid jobs for people who never graduated from college.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You feel left out and forgotten in a rapidly changing economy. Let me speak directly new. Nearly 90 percent
of all the infrastructure jobs that this is going to create won't require a college degree. 75 percent it won't even require an associate's degree.
These are jobs that can't be outsourced, can't be outsourced. They just require something we've got in good supply here in Louisiana -- in
Louisiana. Hard work, grit, and sweat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: And that involves also returning to work. U.S. businesses are at a crossroads when it comes to the future of work.
Wall Street and Silicon Valley are taking to very different routes. Google is telling its staff they can keep working remotely at home, wherever to
work (INAUDIBLE) until September. And then they can either return to old offices, choose a new office in a different location, all work remotely if
their role allows it.
Goldman Sachs wants its U.S. workers back in the office next month. Its executives say they're encouraged by the vaccine rollout, and that they
have effective safety measures in place. Stay at home, work from home, back in the office.
A question for real estate companies CBRE is also facing. It's CEO Bob Sulentic is with me now from Dallas. You've got a lot of property that's
empty. A lot of property that's available. And this restructuring that's taking place in the workplace. How are you handling it?
BOB SULENTIC, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, CBRE: Well, Richard, you outlined a circumstance where some companies are talking about aggressively getting
back to the workplace. Others less aggressively so. I will tell you that those points of view merge as you get later into 2021. In other words, we
think most companies within most industries are going to want their people back in the office as we get later in this year.
Yes, there will be some flexibility, some hybrid working, some opportunity to work from home maybe a day a week. But for the most part, the clients we
work with the large companies CBRE works with around the world and certainly across the U.S. are going to be more back in the office than not
as we get later into 2021.
QUEST: Now, Bob, let's take a look. CBRE, the offices and things, some things you've got an offer in Manhattan. Admittedly, it's a sort of a bit
of a bubble here at the moment. And as the New York Times building on West 43rd Street, lovely, beautiful renovation you've done. And it's an art of
Time Square. The Coca-Cola building in Midtown on Fifth Avenue, entire floors are available there.
And downtown 14 Wall Street across the street from the New York Stock Exchange, I believe, highly desirable. So the -- so these are all -- I
mean, those are available. Are you going to get -- when do you expect premium prices again to be able to be get -- to get to receive for rentals?
Because the pressure is downward or is it still?
SULENTIC: Well, certainly we're still in the COVID era. We're still in a circumstance where people aren't as far along with vaccinations as they're
going to be later in this year, where people that use mass transit haven't gotten toward coming back into the office yet the way they're going to be
coming in later this year. And yes, some prime real estate is sitting empty. It may be fully leased and sitting empty, by the way.
And it's going to fill back up as the year unfolds. But what we think is Manhattan because it's so dense, it's going to be a little slower to come
back. But we really do expect in the two companies that have been mentioned a lot, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs prime, prime companies headquartered in
New York, you're going to see their people coming back to the office, you're going to see our people at CBRE coming back to the office. And
you're going to see most companies having their people in New York come back.
QUEST: But as a CEO of a large company that has to negotiate this very issue. Where do you stand on this when somebody says, look, I've enjoyed
working from home, my work life balance is better. I would like CBRE to affect a policy that allows me to have a hybrid work balance.
SULENTIC: We in most other companies will have some hybrid level of work from home, right? So what we're thinking is maybe on average, people will
work a day more a week from home than they were before and companies will accommodate that.
SULENTIC: And Richard, every company you mentioned, including us will start with the health and well-being of their people. That's where we'll start.
But a lot of the health of the world and well-being of those people has it has to do with getting them back together. And working through problems
together and collaborating together. We know, for instance, a lot of our young people that live alone, really want to get back to the office.
And that's a mental health thing. We have a Women's Network in CBRE with 4000 women. I talked to the leader of the Women's Network, she says a lot
of our women who are mothers working from home are really suffering in this circumstance. So yes, there's a desire to work some from home. But the
overwhelming desire is to work some from home, and to get back together a lot and that's what you're going to see with the health of the people in
QUEST: Bob, so, yes, it moves on and the ground shifted. May I give you an open invitation to come back on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS so we can talk more
about this because you're at the heart of the real estate and of these issues. Thank you, sir.
SULENTIC: Love to do that. Thanks, Richard.
QUEST: I want to hear what you think. We haven't opened up Twitter up for a while. Go on. Send me a tweet @richardrequest. Do you feel that you want to
work from home or you want to get back in the office? Or do you want to hybrid? And are you going to get what you want? That's really the big
question. @richardquest is where we can discuss that.
In a world where live performances are banned. Streaming is the name of the game. Apologies, the puns are everywhere. Now beyond from ABBA, ABBA is
taking on the tech companies to make sure that songwriters get their fair share. Beyond from ABBA after the break.
QUEST: It's been announced, one of Europe's largest music festivals has been postponed for the second time. Sziget festival in Hungary had already
called off last year's event because of the pandemic. Now it's postponed until summer 2022. Music fans, it's a disappointment for the musicians and
songwriters. It's devastating and financially very painful. Tonight beyond from ABBA, tells me it's time that artists got a better deal from streaming
Web sites while the pandemic rages on.
ABBA of course, needs no introduction but for those of you of a certain age I will. The group plans to release new material this year. Yey.
QUEST: In the meantime, Bjorn is backing a new study that says songwriters need more support. And for Bjorn it all comes down to one thing. If you
know your ABBA songs, the rest of the intro writes itself. Hear the music.
BJORN ULVAEUS, ABBA MEMBER: Those who are mega streamers get a lot of money but there's a lay underneath of songwriters that who used to be able to
live up their songwriting in the old days and the physical days. But now that streaming income is so low that they can't live off it and they have
to drive overs.
QUEST: Why has the income gone down? Or why is the income so low if streaming has gone up?
ULVAEUS: Well, one of the reason is the way that royalties are calculated. You have, in one DSP, one streaming service, you have a big pot at the end
of the month of money, that's the total income that month. That is then divided by the total number of clicks that month. Meaning that the mega --
those who get mega click get a much larger portion of that money than those who may have 10,000 followers and who have been clicked.
And if their subscriptions would have gone to those niche artists, they could have lived off it. But as it is now they only get a fraction of the
QUEST: imagine that bearing in mind your discography, you're one of those who get lots and lots of clicks. You're one of those who sort of -- I
hesitate to use your word mega streamers in that sense. So your decision to speak and work on this is born out of concern for an industry or for -- is
born out for those struggling rather than your own personal fortune, if you will.
ULVAEUS: Oh, absolutely. I would like -- it's an ecosystem that's a dysfunctional. I mean, the songwriter --the song is in the middle. Everyone
agrees on that. That song is that what makes everything work. But the songwriter is in the periphery and it can't stay that way. And the reason I
am -- most of all that I am daring to speak up is because I've gone through this.
Before ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, Benny and I used to be in such a rat race as songwriters are now.
We used to produce for other people, write for other people. Even go on tour just to pay the rent. And then suddenly, with Waterloo, the copyright
money came pouring in. And we could say no to everything else. Meaning that we could afford to spend all our time on songwriting, and become good at it
and hone our craft. Because you need to do that too. And that's what I wish for many more songwriters in the world than is possible today.
QUEST: You're putting your weight behind this call. It's an interesting idea that this idea, it's one that we've known about for some time, the
inequality or the inequity, I should say, for songwriters. Do you have hope that anything will change?
ULVAEUS: I had hope. I think that -- I mean, the general public, the more they get to know about this, the more they get to know that their
subscription doesn't go to who they play, but to someone else. Maybe they want to change that. And there was a poll recently where they asked whether
they think -- that people think that songwriters should be better remunerated and 71 percent said yes, definitely.
QUEST: I can hear people saying in the great scheme of pandemic the worries of songwriters is not high on the agenda.
ULVAEUS: Yes. I agree with that of course. That is definitely true. But, you know, it's what I do, it's -- my heart is in songwriting. So what
little I can do.
QUEST: You're aging extremely well, but you age both of us when you talk about Waterloo in 1974 which of course I remember.
QUEST: And when you look --
ULVAEUS: Oh, you do.
QUEST: When you look -- when you look back at those -- not just Waterloo but all of that upper period. When you look back, does it seem a lifetime
ago or does it seem like yesterday?
ULVAEUS: You know, it -- in a way, it seems like yesterday and this is because some time ago, the four of us met in the studio again, in the
recording studio and recorded some new music will -- which will be out this year, later this year. And -- I mean, that was amazing because we just
looked at each other and he was like yesterday. It all came rushing back in second. So in that respect, now, I cannot imagine that it's four decades
since we stood on stage together.
QUEST: Four decades. We'll have a profitable moment after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's profitable moment. It's disappointing. The Goldman and JPMorgan and others have said to people come back to the office, we want
you back in the office by this date or that date. When so many people have expressed a preference for a hybrid working environment, the sort of thing
that Google and Facebook and all the Silicon Valleys have offered. I've got news for you.
Are you ready for this? We've all been sold a bill of goods here. The reality is most companies are going to want us back in the office pretty
much full time. That's the way it's going to be, oh, it'll be dressed up. There'll be a few people who'll be allowed to work from home here. And
they'll be one or two clear shining examples of hybrid working. But the reality is, most of us will be back in the office pretty much five days a
Why do I say that? Because that's just the way it's going to be. We work better in the office, there's more productivity, there's more
collaboration. And truth be told, it's the junior members of staff that have found it most difficult. They don't get face time with the boss. They
don't know what's going on with projects and other things and they're not part of the watercooler conversations.
So, by all means, enjoy your hybridization for the time being. My guess is that by Christmas or New Year, you may get one day off at home but the rest
of the time back in the office. And that sad to say perhaps. That's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest. Whatever you're up to in the
hours ahead the closing bell is ringing. The Dow is up. Solid day in the market.