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Quest Means Business
Scholz Pledges Continuity After Narrow Election Win; Danish Central Bank Predicts Moderate Boom For Economy; Senate To Vote On Plan To Fund Government Through December 3; R. Kelly Convicted Of Racketeering And Sex Trafficking; U.K. Fuel Companies Pledge To Resupply Petrol Stations; German Stocks Rises As Scholz Secures Election Victory. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired September 27, 2021 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: The strong run continues with the Dow. It is up almost three percent over the past week and up again today. Those
are the markets and these are the main events.
Germany's Finance Minister is in line to be the next Chancellor. Now, he tells CNN he wants to build a stronger Europe.
British fuel companies insist there's plenty of fuel to go around after days of panic buying here in the U.K.
And Facebook calls a timeout on Instagram for kids after pressure from U.S. lawmakers.
Live from London, it is Monday, September the 27th. I'm Max Foster and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Good evening to you. Tonight, Germany's Finance Minister says he wants to build a stronger Europe in the wake of a razor thin election victory. Now,
he just has to form a government.
Olaf Scholz is in poll position to be the next German Chancellor after his center left Social Democratic Party won a quarter of Sunday's votes. He
said his top priority will be a stronger and more sovereign E.U., which could work closely with the United States. He'll need to build a coalition
to get there.
And while the talks are underway, it could take months to form a government at a time when Germany is still trying to rebuild its economy.
At a press conference earlier, Mr. Scholz told CNN's Fred Pleitgen that he could offer continuity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLAF SCHOLZ, LEADER, SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY: The first topic for German politics will be to form a stronger and more sovereign European Union and
make making this happen will have an influence on the international strategy and the foreign policy of Germany.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What sort of a partner will Germany be for the United States in NATO and on the
international stage, especially as the Biden administration continues to challenge China?
SCHOLZ: A transatlantic partnership is of essence for us in Germany, and for a government that will be led by me, and so you can rely on the
continuity in this question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Fred joins me now from Berlin. Continuity really has been the message of this election. It has made -- we're going to have Angela Merkel
still running things for now at least. But what are the subtle differences we'll see with the new administration, do you think?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you're absolutely right, Max. Continuity was one of the things that were
really a big issue, and also one of the reasons why Olaf Scholz, believe it or not, probably got the largest part of the vote because he essentially in
his election campaign said, look, I'm the candidate in this race, despite the fact that I'm from the Social Democrats and not from Angela Merkel's
party, who is the most like Angela Merkel.
He is not someone who is very loud when he speaks. He is not someone with catchy slogans, but he is someone who has at least made clear to voters
that he wants to work very hard and achieve things for Germany.
I think when you look at the continuity that he is talking about, obviously, a lot of it has to do with the fact that Germany has gone
through a period of great prosperity over the past 16 years that Angela Merkel has been in office. And obviously, that's something that needs to be
or that Germans would like to preserve.
And then of course, you have the continuity also in the foreign policy stage as well, where Germany obviously has been very strong in the European
Union. He said that he wants to expand that. It has obviously been very strong on the international stage as well.
But I think at the same time, what you have in Germany right now, and you really point this out correctly, is that Germany is an economy where people
realize that it is in need of reforms, and most pressing reforms that will make it a greener economy.
One of the biggest industrial nations in the world, obviously, with a giant auto sector, heavy industry sector that understands that it needs to become
more climate friendly, and essentially what Olaf Scholz is pitching, and that's what's one of the reasons of course, why he wants a governing
coalition that has heavy involvement with the Green is to try and make the economy greener, while not losing that prosperity and keeping the economy
up to speed -- Max.
FOSTER: And what's extraordinary is he has done incredibly well as a Finance Minister in incredibly difficult times running any of the Western
economies. So, there seems to be a lot of faith in him. He had a very tough job and now he's been voted up a level.
PLEITGEN: Well, he has had a very tough job. I mean, there, there have been a few things that obviously went wrong as long as he was -- while he was
Finance Minister, you had the bankruptcy of the payment service Wirecard, which is something where he did get some criticism.
So not everything went well, but by and large, Germany is in a financially fairly sound state. And of course, one of the things where he really did
appear to be very strong was during the coronavirus pandemic when Germany once again needed a very strong response to that, obviously, the economy
was very much under threat as that happened and really, really pulled out a lot of money, saved a lot of businesses from going bankrupt, a lot of very
large businesses as well.
PLEITGEN: And really made sure that there was not gigantic unemployment here in Germany as the coronavirus pandemic was going on.
Now, of course, Olaf Scholz is the Finance Minister in a grand coalition. That means obviously Angela Merkel's party is responsible for that as well,
but he did manage to portray himself in this election campaign, as someone who is able to tackle big problems, as someone who is able to lead in
administration, and also as someone to an extent who is trustworthy for the population.
And he certainly, he did manage to get the Social Democrats, which was really a party that many people believe had absolutely no chance of coming
in first in this election, only two months ago, he did get them out of that hole and brought them to the strongest position.
At the same time, of course, we also have to point out that this result was a disastrous one for Angela Merkel's party and their main candidate, he is
now saying he wants to also try and form a coalition, but there really seems no doubt here in Berlin that right now, Olaf Scholz certainly seems
to be in the driver's seat -- Max.
FOSTER: Okay, Fred, thank you.
Olaf Scholz's rise to power may have its roots in his response to the COVID pandemic as Finance Minister as were saying, he oversaw the government's
measures to keep the economy afloat. His compensation plans were popular, and they helped Germany avoid a deeper recession. Now, he is going to have
to build an international profile.
When Richard spoke to him last year, he said he would put Germany at the heart of Europe's relations with the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLAF SCHOLZ, THEN GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER: Germany, especially being right in the center of the European Union, having the most -- being the country
with the biggest population and the strongest economic power, it is our task to work for the European progress to form, as you say, a better union.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Well, you got where I was going, Minister, obviously. But if you were Bundes Chancellor Scholz, what would
your message be to your counterpart, President Biden?
SCHOLZ: Let's work intensely on the question of transatlantic partnership. Yes, there will be different views on certain questions between the
European Union and the United States. This is nothing new. The more important question is whether we always understand that the solution must
be the pragmatic search for compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Christian Schulz is the European Director at Citigroup. He joins us from Frankfurt. Thank you so much for joining us.
He doesn't have international profile, does he? But just describe what his profile is like within Germany.
CHRISTIAN SCHULZ, EUROPEAN DIRECTOR, CITIGROUP: Well, he has been Minister during two important crises. He was Labor Minister in Germany during the
Global Financial Crisis, and now Finance Minister during the pandemic. So, like Merkel, he can claim that he has managed crises, that he can protect
Germany against the worst fallout of financial or other crises.
But I think, you know, as Fred Pleitgen already said, he was kind of the last man standing as well. The candidates of the CDU-CSU was not good
enough, and the Greens candidate who was ahead in the polls as well wasn't good enough, so Olaf Scholz was in effect the last man standing as well.
FOSTER: That means we don't have this left-wing alliance. That's the one sort of grouping, that one sort of result that would have had a big impact
on German policy. So, we're not going to see a big shift, are we basically?
SCHULZ: Yes, I mean, talking to investors all day today, it's interesting. Outside Germany, many think what might have been. Had there been a left-
wing alliance, maybe Germany would have opened the purse strings, spent more to bring the economy, not just the German, but the European economy
out of this big slump of the COVID crisis, and perhaps alleviate the burden on the European Central Bank a little bit.
And inside Germany, many people are just happy, many investors are happy that it wasn't the left-wing alliance, which would have raised taxes,
regulated the labor market and brought all these other regulations for the environment and so on.
So, it's a bit of a divided picture on that left-wing alliance, in particular.
FOSTER: In recent years, recent decades, these smaller parties got more and more powerful and had a better showing, haven't they, in the elections? But
you note, interestingly, that the Grand Coalition is still very much alive. In a way, it has been strengthened by the fact that none of these smaller
groups have reached a critical mass really.
SCHULZ: Indeed. At times during this campaign, it felt like it was the end of the People's Parties as we call them, so the SPD and the CDU-CSU. At the
end, they came out easily number one and two, once again and they have a majority together.
They don't want to govern together. Of course, they would like to form either a left-wing or a right-wing version of a grand coalition,
effectively. But if all else fails, we may still end up with a Grand Condition, this time with an SPD led rather than with a CDU led one.
FOSTER: Fred talking about the economic challenges ahead. Stagnation is a real challenge, isn't it? Do you think this potential grouping coming out
of all of these negotiations in a few months' time have a hope of really resolving that economic crisis, which is still very much there?
SCHULZ: Well, as Fred noted, the country's had 16 pretty good years overall under Angela Merkel, so the people are not crying out for dramatic change,
but they do want change. And that is why the Greens did so well. People know that climate change is the biggest task of us all and that it needs
People also see that in various rankings, Germany is falling behind when it comes to new technologies, when it comes to digitalization and there is too
much red tape, planning laws are too difficult. Federalism needs to be reformed, and that's what the FDP stands for.
So in an ideal world, we get continuity, but with a smidgen of reform on climate change, and on digitalization. Of course, the problem is that all
these parties want a lot of other things as well. And ultimately, they may just neutralize each other and we might just get political stagnation for
another four years.
FOSTER: Okay, Christian Schulz, we'll see how these negotiations continue. Thank you very much indeed, for joining us, from Citigroup.
Now across the German border in Denmark, the Central Bank is predicting a moderate boom for the Danish economy. The country lifted all coronavirus
restrictions a few weeks ago. Now, the Central Bank says the government may have to tighten its policies as the economy bounces back, and raising
interest rates isn't an easy alternative.
Denmark has had negative rates for years to keep the Danish krone pegged to the euro. Richard spoke to the head of the Central Bank in an exclusive
interview last month who says Denmark's economy was swiftly recovering.
LARS ROHDE, GOVERNOR, DANMARKS NATIONALBANK: I see the economy is doing quite well. I think we were among the countries where the lockdown was not
that harsh. We had no curfews. We had only a small fall in GDP last year. And this year, we are coming up again.
And we, at the end of the year, we will be on pre-pandemic levels with unemployment, GDP, and so on. So, we are doing quite well.
QUEST: Your ability as a central banker to affect the economy here is highly restricted, because of the peg that you have to the euro, the stated
peg to the euro, but you also have this negative interest rate policy. You are one of the first -- one the first to go negative. How is negative
ROHDE: Well, our experiences, there are not that big difference between negative interest rates and low positive interest rates. It could seem like
a paradox, but in our experience, I think it is working quite well.
QUEST: Was there a lot of debate about going negative?
ROHDE: No, in fact not, because it was necessary to keep the peg. We started in 2012. So, we are maybe the Central Bank in the world with the
longest experience with negative interest rates. There were some technicalities in the beginning we have to be sure that for example, the
banking system could handle negative interest rates, but they changed their systems and now they have been for long have been able to cope with
negative interest rates.
QUEST: So for 10 years, Denmark has turned traditional banking on its head.
QUEST: The peg of the Danish krone to the euro.
QUEST: Which has been there for 20 to 30 years.
ROHDE: Thirty plus.
QUEST: Thirty plus years. And your main goal, the Fed has a twin goal -- price stability and full employment. The E.C.B. has an asymmetric now two
percent plus, Bank of England. What's your policy goal?
ROHDE: To keep the peg. It's very simple.
QUEST: That's it?
QUEST: To keep the peg.
ROHDE: Yes. And we are also quite busy telling the public and government and Parliament that if we have this mandate of keeping the peg, we can't
use interest rate weapon or interest rate instruments to anything else, but the peg.
QUEST: And if Denmark's economy is in sync with the E.U. or the Eurozone economies, and that all works really well because as the E.C.B. sets rates,
you will set rates to accommodate to keep the peg at whatever the range is -- the narrow range is.
But if it's not, you have no ability to stimulate or to slow down the economy in Denmark?
ROHDE: No, that's right. And everybody should be aware of that.
QUEST (voice over): The Central Bank's power may be limited by their peg to the euro, but its role in Denmark's financial system goes much deeper. It's
all about instilling confidence.
As if to prove the point, the Governor took me on a tour through the halls of the Central Bank. And in the austere grandeur of its vast lobby, I
immediately got the message.
This is the Danish physical version of don't fight the Fed.
QUEST (on camera): Explain this vast lobby in the Central Bank?
ROHDE: Well, it is one of the cornerstones of the building. It is -- I think its architecture of power. Don't mess with us. We are powerful, and
we are more powerful than you are.
QUEST: Why is that important?
ROHDE: Because central banking is all about trust. We should be trustworthy, we should be strong.
FOSTER: Don't mess. Now, it could be a make or break week for U.S. President Biden there are some key votes this week, including one to keep
the government fully open. We'll break it down for you.
And a little later, the U.K. government is blaming a lack of gasoline in some stations on a lack of tanker truck drivers. Why critics say the
government's move to fix the problem is doomed to fail.
FOSTER: Wall Street starting the last week of September on a muted note. The Dow is slightly higher. The Fed Chairman Jerome Powell set to testify
tomorrow before the U.S. Senate, as you see, it up 0.37 percent. Wall Street is keeping a close eye this week on Washington as lawmakers race to
avoid a partial government shutdown.
Within hours, the US Senate is set to vote on a measure to raise the country's debt limit and keep the government running, but it is expected to
fail. The funding deadline is midnight on Thursday. President Biden is also trying to rally his party behind a key part of his economic agenda.
Later this week, the House will vote on a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
CNN's Matt Egan joins me now, and when we talk about this government shutdown, it can be difficult for people around the world to understand,
but it means that government workers will be furloughed, including workers at the C.D.C. in the middle of this pandemic.
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Max. This is certainly a make or break week, you know, not only for President Biden's place in the
history books, but really for millions of Americans and their own personal finances.
You know, worst case, you have a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic, to your point, where you know, a whole bunch of government
workers are going to be furloughed, worried about their money, where their next paycheck is coming from.
You could also have a situation where there is no deal to raise the debt ceiling, and that could start to rattle markets at some point, although it
hasn't just yet. And there is also a risk that the Biden agenda, you know, crashes and burns.
You know, the optimistic take on this is maybe they will reach a deal, they can avert a chaotic government shutdown. Maybe the adults in the room are
going to end up doing the right thing in raising the debt ceiling, so we don't have to even think about what a default would mean.
And from the White House's perspective, you know, they're still hoping to sort of reach some sort of a deal here on the Biden agenda, a deal to pass
both the bipartisan infrastructure, the hard infrastructure legislation, but also on the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan.
Now, it seems clear that they're not going to get everything they want and they may have to have some sort of a compromise, a slimmed down version of
this legislation. But you know, that could still be very meaningful to American families.
This plan is calling for really big investments to try to make childcare cheaper, to invest more in workers, to address the climate change crisis.
And so all of those things really matter to everyday Americans.
I think from Wall Street's perspective, I think there's really two big questions. One is, you know, is the debt ceiling going to get done? Are
they going to reach a deal there? Or is that going to be something that investors have to start paying attention to?
And two, what happens to corporate taxes? Because whatever number they settle on, on the Build Back Better agenda, you know, they're promising to
offset that with revenue. And if that means higher corporate taxes, which is what the Democrats have been proposing, you know, that's not going to be
great news for corporate profits.
I think the question is going to be, how much higher? The corporate rate is 21 percent now, and I think investors want more details on just how much
higher it might go.
FOSTER: A very tough game for Nancy Pelosi having to balance all of these different factions really, within the party who have got very different
views on the spending bill.
EGAN: Yes, that's right. I mean, it's just -- it's amazing because on the one hand, Democrats have control of the White House, the House of
Representatives and the Senate, but you know, they don't really have big majorities at all. It's 50/50 in the Senate with the Vice President,
breaking that tie. So, it's the slimmest of majorities for Democrats there. So that means they can only really be as progressive as their most moderate
members, which in this case, you know, are Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.
And you know, both of them have signaled some real concern about raising taxes, about some of the really ambitious climate investments that the
White House is proposing. And you know, Joe Manchin was asked about this today and he sort of suggested that you know, it's not going to be easy for
them to reach a deal on a framework by Thursday around you know, what they should be including in this Build Back Better legislation.
So you know, a lot is going to get decided in just the next few days -- Max.
FOSTER: Okay, Matt, appreciate your insight on that. Thank you very much indeed. A very busy week for you guys.
Now, Instagram says it is pausing its work on a version of the app that's geared for children. The Instagram Kids platform would have given parents
the ability to monitor their children's online activity, but the plan is becoming under fire, especially on Capitol Hill.
The company now says: "Critics of 'Instagram Kids' will see this as an acknowledgment that the project is a bad idea. That's not the case. The
reality is that kids are already online. And we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better
for parents than where we are today."
Instagram is also facing scrutiny for the impact it has on teenage girls. Let's bring in Shelley Palmer, Chief Executive of the Palmer Group. He is a
business adviser and technology consultant.
Why, first of all, do you think that this new version of the app was pulled?
SHELLEY PALMER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THE PALMER GROUP: Look, "The Wall Street Journal" had a pretty damning article a week ago and they had Adam
Mosseri go out and tell everybody that hey, you know, we're just going to - - we're going to keep working on this. Make sure we get it right.
It was one of the strangest set of interviews I've ever seen. And to be fair, I think Facebook has really stepped in at this time.
PALMER: There is no version of the world where kids are going to use a for kids app on Instagram. Everybody wants to be on real Instagram. And if you
make it inaccessible, you'll just make it that much more exciting to be on it. So, that's never going to work.
But their solutions are so unfortunate that I really think Facebook needs to reevaluate where they are, because they have made some giant missteps
FOSTER: This is a good thing, presumably, though, that they pulled the app, maybe they are learning, maybe they are listening, which famously they
don't normally do to you guys.
PALMER: To be fair and frank, no, it doesn't matter, because no one was going to use that anyway. So that's just folly. The problem is they now
know, they have researched, they've known that this app is really bad for people who have already proclivities towards depression, or bad body image
or fat shaming, and they've known that this app has been really, really harmful to this group of young girls.
And their options are, hey, we're going to do a nudge tool. Well, what's that? We're going to have the AI model nudge you towards something that's a
little more positive. Well, that's actually scarier than the problem. You're now going to use AI to manipulate me to get me out of my depression?
What? You can do that? Then, why haven't you done it so far? They're working on it.
The next thing they said is, well, we're also going to have a take a break button. What's that? It's going to take a break, right? Where you on
Instagram, and then at a later date, when you feel like going back to being bullied again, or being fat shamed again, you can pick up right where you
left off. And where are these going to be available? They're working on it.
So what are they working on, exactly? I'm sorry. This was too little too late and the solutions are absolutely absurd on their face.
FOSTER: Instagram, also under major commercial pressure, right? Potentially. I'm looking at latest TikTok numbers, they've reached quite an
exclusive milestone for their industry, more than a billion monthly active users, and that's going to really echo through the corridors of Facebook,
PALMER: No question about it. TikTok, by the way, which is no better in any way algorithmically. In fact, it might actually be a more insidious
Look, a hundred percent of social media apps are based on keeping you engaged at all costs, because the longer you're engaged, the more likely
you are to click on something or tap on something where the social media company makes money.
This is true of every single social media network, and to be fair, we have to evaluate this in the context of our children. For adults, it's bad
enough. For kids, it is just unacceptable at this point.
FOSTER: Okay, Shelley Palmer, appreciate your insight on that one. There is a lot going on in that business. Thank you.
Now panic at the pumps. Fuel companies struggle to restock service stations across the U.K. Shortages intensify. These extraordinary scenes for you and
what's behind them, next.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: The Singer R. Kelly has been convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking. The jury in New York reached that verdict
just a few moments ago, he could face decades in prison. We'll bring you more on this story as we get it.
Meanwhile, here in the U.K. Fuel companies say they're working hard to restock petrol stations and insist there's plenty of fuel to go around. But
that's not easing any of the pain of the pumps. Britain is facing a massive fuel shortage due to a lack of truck drivers. Thousands of service stations
are running dry. And the government is urging people not to engage in panic buying. Nina dos Santos -- dos Santos has all the details here.
We talked about panic buying. Actually for a lot of people, it's just survival, isn't it? There's people trying to get to work, public sector
workers amongst them. Is it fair to call it panic buying?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. But that may not necessarily be the scene that we're seeing here in this central stroke.
West London petrol station where the delivery arrived at about 2:00 p.m. local time. That was several hours ago. And as you can see, the lines just
continue here, people keeping their engines idle, if you like. They're desperate not to miss a spot in the queue.
I've been speaking to a few of them who are pointing out that, you know, this is their livelihood. For taxi drivers across the capital, they can't
miss a day's worth of fares because they've got no fuel. And also delivery drivers are saying just they're missing every single slot because they had
to go to several petrol stations to try and find fuel. And then there's some who say, well, they have to go out of town or they're elderly.
And they're really bemoaning the fact that there are people in queues like this or lines like this, that might not necessarily need to fill up a small
amount in the tank. They really should wait until the end of the week when fuel suppliers say that they hope all of this will be over. The government
says there's no national shortage of fuel. Instead, it's all down to panic buying. But as you can hear here from some of the people I spoke to in this
line earlier today, they just say they need the fuel, come what way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously very concerned, extremely, it's my livelihood. And here, it's obviously a concern. The vast majority of our stations are
out of fuel when I try it. It's just lucky this -- there's a tanker I see. And I just pulled in here. But now it's a massive problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think everyone else has probably gone and (INAUDIBLE) and then the rest of us who need it are in a bit of a sticky
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been to maybe about the five metro stations, none of them are open.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Now ironically enough, Max, there's been a lot of reporting that suggests that actually, the queues are more evident in urban areas
like this, where remember, there's also the opportunity of public transport. So, I can see, we just pan out on my right you can see that
there's a bus that's been trying to get through for some time with all of its passengers who aren't taking cars, but are instead taking public
And they've been blocked by the line towards the petrol station. This is the scene that we're seeing right across London, right across the rest of
the U.K. But as I said, the government hoping that some of the messaging and the measures that they take in this week will alleviate this crisis by
the end of the week. What have they done? They've decided to try and alleviate that shortage of heavy goods -- drive -- vehicle drivers, truck
drivers freeing up the visa restrictions temporarily for the next three months for 5000 workers who might want to come from the E.U.
They're going to be a setting up they say a boot camp to train people to drive these heavy goods vehicles as soon as possible that could train about
3000 drivers. But a lot of people saying this is not enough. It's a last minute Band-Aid on the problem if you like. There have been shortages of
all sorts of things in the U.K. before the fuel pumps went dry this week. In particular, fresh produce and stuff like that.
And also, by the way, remember, Max, there's another natural gas shortage in this country or concerns about a natural gas shortage later on in the
DOS SANTOS: So consumers getting awfully panicky across the U.K., whatever the government says. Max?
FOSTER: OK. Nina. Thank you. So as she says, at the heart of all this a shortage of truck drivers, the U.K. this weekend offered those temporary
work visas hoping to lure up to 50 -- 500 foreign drivers to deliver fuel. Experts say there are many reasons why there aren't enough truckers right
now. Some blame Brexit which prompted thousands of lorry drivers to leave the country. There's also the pandemic which delayed training for new
drivers, people left their jobs as well went elsewhere.
Then there's the job itself low wages, long hours away from home and difficult work. And the shortage isn't just in the U.K., finding qualified
drivers has become a problem worldwide. Frank Moreels is the President of the European Transport Workers Federation. And he's been critical of
offering visas to try to lure foreign truckers to the U.K. He says -- he joins us now from Skype from Brussels and to explain what he does think the
I mean, where a lot of people think this is to do Brexit, therefore it becomes a visa issue. What do you think the broad issue is here?
FRANK MOREELS, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN TRANSPORT WORKERS FEDERATION: But it's for sure that the problem is very visible now. It has to do with Brexit, it
has to do with the corona crisis. But in fact, the problem of shortage of drivers isn't new. There is a shortage all over Europe, not only in the
U.K. We see that in Germany for example. There are 60,000 jobs open for truck drivers in Poland. They search 120,000 drivers. So it's a general
In my country, for example, in Belgium, we see that the average age of a truck driver is 50. So that means that young people do not step into the
job anymore, because the job is not attractive anymore.
FOSTER: But I know that your -- one of your big efforts is to improve paying conditions within the industry and for those drivers. But isn't that
going to happen naturally now out of desperation for these companies that need to deliver their product?
MOREELS: Well, let's hope so that it happens naturally because it's a problem that (INAUDIBLE) yours. And in fact, we are confronted with a kind
of a race to the bottom, everything must be cheap and more cheap and cheaper. And so the wages and the working conditions of the drivers are
very difficult. The wages are low, the working conditions are bad. There are not enough parking areas where the drivers have to take the rest.
The sanitarium -- situation on this parking areas is not OK. There is a lot of pressure to do long hours. So the situation for a truck driver is a very
difficult one. It is also since a long time that we see this coming. So let's hope that it may change the situation for these truck drivers.
Because in our opinion, there is no problem of a shortage of drivers, there is a problem of decent jobs that are not (INAUDIBLE) for the drivers.
FOSTER: What jobs did all of those, you know, I'll see, if we take a Brexit out of this in relation to the U.K. at least. The other issue is obviously
the pandemic and there's very little work, wasn't it? For a lot of these truckers so they had to find other work. Where have they gone? Is there no
way of luring them back into the business, presumably their licenses are still usable?
MOREELS: Yes, of course. If you see in Great Britain in the U.K., one million people have a license to drive a truck but they are not in the
industry. So if you want to get them back to the industry, it will not happen like that. We will have to present these people an attractive job, a
job that is respected, respectful job, a job that pays well. A job that that can be done in normal working hours with not too much flexibility.
So we must change the mentality in the industry in my opinion. We must change the approach of this kind of jobs and then maybe people will be
motivated to step back in. And moreover, young people could be attracted again to the job of truck driver, which is not the case for the moment. In
Europe, we see that truck drivers under the 25 years, only five percent of them are under 25. So young people do not step in the job.
We really have to change the approach, stop the race to the bottom, give good wages to these people and create good working conditions.
FOSTER: Frank Moreels, thank you very much for insight on that as you say it's a European problem. It's also a problem in other parts of the world as
well. That is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'll be back at the top of the hour as we make a dash for the closing bell. Up next, Living Golf.
FOSTER: Hello. I'm Max Foster. It's a dash to the closing bell. We're just a couple of minutes away. Quick look at how the U.S. markets are doing
then. The Dow is up today with oil prices inching closer to their three- year high. Up .2 percent. We'll see how that ends up. The S&P 500 though currently down 4.2 percent. The NASDAQ taking a hit as investors move away
from technology stocks as you can see, survey down half a percent.
Stocks in Germany led European markets higher after the country's finance minister came out on top. In the national elections, the DAX was up as much
as one percent. Getting closer to its record highs is up almost 25 percent over the past year. Olaf Scholz will now try to form a government speaking
to me earlier, the European director of Citigroup said there's still a chance that coalition talks might not lead to much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIAN SCHULZ, EUROPEAN ECONOMIST AND DIRECTOR, CITIGROUP GLOBAL MARKETS LTD: So in an ideal world, we get continuity, but with a smidgen of reform
on climate change, and on digitalization. Of course, the problem is that all these parties want a lot of other things as well and ultimately they
may just neutralize each other. And we might just get political stagnation for another four years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Christian Schulz here. The singer R. Kelly has been convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking. A jury in New York reached that verdict
just a few moments ago. He'll now be sentenced on May the 4th next year. He could face decades in prison. One of his attorneys said he's disappointed
in the verdict and is considering filing an appeal. That is your dash to the bell and the latest on that trial. I'm Max Foster.
The closing bell ringing in New York. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.