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Quest Means Business
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wants Debt Limit Vote Today; Evergrande Raises $1.5 Billion As New Debt Payment Looms; Fumio Kishida Expected To Become Japan's Next Prime Minister; Interview With Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh On Pushing For Emphasis On Vaccination; Interview With Gaston Browne, Prime Minister Of Antigua And Barbuda, On New Travel Protocols In Parts Of Caribbean; Interview With Gene Simmons Of Kiss On Band's Farewell Tour. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired September 30, 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 ANCHOR: There's a recovery of sorts on the way. U.S. stocks coming back after the worst day in months, the market shows,
with 60 minutes to trade, we're up over 260 points, a gain of three quarters of one percent. Which is all the more remarkable when you consider
the main events of the day.
Corporate America is sounding the alarm with the debt ceiling crisis, and Nancy Pelosi saying she'll deal with it today.
Japan is getting a new Prime Minister, the Suntory chief executive tells us he is not the strongest leader.
And the Chief Executive of United Airlines urges his fellow CEOs to mandate vaccines for their staff.
We are live in New York. It's good to be back on Wednesday, the 29th of September. I'm Richard Quest, I mean business.
Good evening, there's a full blown financial crisis brewing in the United States over the debt ceiling, and the U.S. House Speaker says she wants a
vote on suspending America's debt ceiling before the close of business today.
Nancy Pelosi, of course, who is a Democrat has warned of dire consequences if Congress fails to act, and she says Republicans will bear the blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I spent a good deal of time in the meeting talking about the debt ceiling, because we have to get that done. It would
be like $15 trillion in household wealth will go down the drain and unemployment would go up to nine percent. It would double.
It would be increased interest on car loans, credit card bills, mortgages - - anything you're paying interest on. So, this is something that has to be done.
The fact that the Republicans are being so irresponsible is no surprise, but nonetheless, disappointing as always.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now the government is facing a shutdown on Friday, and then following that, a potential default in just a few weeks from then. The
partisan gridlock is preventing the country from paying its bills. And what one might describe as theatrics in Washington are starting to worry Wall
Now, two markets here, the 10-year bond, which rose four percent yesterday, is up about 17 percent per month -- on the month. Now, arguably that is on
other issues. However, what you can point to is the one month bond yield at the short end of the yield curve, and that, as you can see is up some 16
percent and that firmly is on debt ceiling and short-term notes and bills, the supply of which could be in question and of course, the liquidity could
Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase sounded this alarm on a U.S. default. Now, the investment bank Jeffries is joining in, and a note to
investors, Jeffries says it " ... sees the government's cash balances starting to get very low on October the 14th and the risk of default
intensifies significantly past then."
Matt Egan is with me. Matt, first of all, the risk of a default, it has never happened. They get close to the edge. But why is this different, if
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Richard 19 days, that's all that's left for Congress to raise the debt ceiling and avoid what Janet Yellen, Jay Powell
and Jamie Dimon have all said would be an economic catastrophe.
Now, I do think that investors anticipate that eventually Congress is going to do the right thing because they always do, or they always have in the
past where they eventually will raise the debt ceiling. I think that this is tricky, because there's a lot of moving pieces here. They're trying to
get a lot of stuff done in Congress, they are trying to avoid a shutdown, get this reconciliation bill passed, pass bipartisan infrastructure, and
raise the debt ceiling, and the clock is ticking, and the risk is that the closer they get to the edge here, you know, they're more likely that they
accidentally go over it.
QUEST: Well, yes, but they shouldn't go over, accidentally, because Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader instead has made it clear that the
Democrats on their own do have the votes to raise the debt ceiling, and whilst there may be a political expediency, to wanting to rope everybody
else in, if push came to shove, the Democrats could pass this.
EGAN: That's right. If push comes to shove, then Democrats could do this on a purely partisan basis through reconciliation, and clearly they don't want
to do that. And Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen weighed in on this yesterday and she said that she thinks that raising the debt ceiling is a
quote "shared responsibility" and she said that's because the national debt has been driven up by both parties.
EGAN: And she pointed out that as recently as under President Trump, Democrats in Congress voted to raise the debt ceiling. But to your point,
at the end of the day, they should be able to do this on a purely partisan basis if they had to.
QUEST: Matt Egan. Matt, thank you.
Now, on that point, the U.S. is running out of time to pay those bills. The Federal government partially shuts down on Friday, if there isn't an
authorization, and the Speaker says she doesn't think the shutdown will happen, promising a big vote tomorrow.
Three weeks hence, is when the money runs out. The so-called debt ceiling is reached. However, ironically, the spending plans continue. The House is
looking at a vote on a trillion dollar infrastructure bill tomorrow. And then it's off until the 19th, which is after the deadline.
The Senate is staying in D.C. until next Friday, six days for lawmakers before the U.S. runs out. There are real consequences to all of this
political wrangling as you'll be aware, of course, 2011, ten years ago, when S&P downgraded the U.S. AAA credit rating, because Republicans
threatened to prevent a debt limit increase.
Short term yields are going up already, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary has warned that if the U.S. defaults, even on some of its bonds, and
treasuries, it could be difficult to sort out, leading to a catastrophic scenario.
Rana is with me. Rana, they're going to do it, because at the end of the day, if they don't -- the Dems can do this on their own, if they have to.
Is that why the market -- short market is high -- is higher? The short end of the curve? But is that why the market is more sanguine?
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: I think that that's right, I think that there's an understanding that look, you know, we always get to
the brink and this does eventually get done. But you know, every single time, there is a little bit more erosion of U.S. credibility, a little -- a
few more questions in the mind of allies, of Europeans. You know, what is the Biden administration all about? Can it even prevent Civil War within
its own party?
So, you know, although I think we're going to get to a solution, what is the goodwill capital that you lose in the meantime, by always getting to
the edge of the cliff? You know, that's what people want to know.
QUEST: All right, so let's say they go over the cliff, all right. Let's say they go over it. Nobody, for a moment thinks that for a second that people
won't get paid. I mean, you know, if a bond was paid late, it would get paid with the necessary penalties on top of it, what's the danger?
FOROOHAR: Again, I think it's an existential danger. I don't think it's an actual dollars and cents danger, but there is -- you know, we are moving to
a world sooner or later, where the U.S. is not the only superpower. You know, China is there. China has its own currency, its own trade patterns.
Right now, we are in a very bipolar world. Europe is trying to figure out should we push more in the direction of the U.S. or should we keep our
trade relationships and strengthen currency alliances with China? I mean, this is where we are right now.
So, all of these things have a kind of an exponential effect that starts to influence things like National Security debates, foreign policy debates --
it's all very touchy, it is all very interlinked right now. I think the stakes are higher than they have been in the past.
QUEST: Right. But when you say that, Rana, I get the impression you're saying, not because of the sheer, if you like, technical financial
fundamentals of this, because, you know, sure, I can make an argument that says, the real problem here is, if they were to default on a minor bond,
then essentially it will become the new game de jour, will default on another one in six months' time.
You know, everyone will get paid eventually, but the amount of nonsense that takes place. But you're saying, actually, it's bigger.
FOROOHAR: I think it's bigger. I think it's about the trust in the U.S. government and ultimately, the trust in the dollar, the trust in dollar
reserves. You know, I mean, we are moving, I think, at some point to a post dollar world and frankly, if the world's creditors began to think that the
-- I really do think, we are Richard, you know, ultimately, we're starting to see sovereign digital currencies coming. You know, we have China that
wants to have a totally different orbit.
I think sooner rather than later, there will be in the next five years, more pressure on the dollar, and when you get a government shutdown every
few years, it doesn't help things.
So, I don't see it as a sheer matter of technicals, I see it more as a crisis of the old order, if you will.
QUEST: Yes, but I'll throw this packet to you. You're talking about China and I could arguably say yes, but who wants to invest or be tied to a
country where there is seemingly arbitrary changes to the capitalist rules on the drop of a whim, where they seem to be purely designed at the moment
obviously to gain control, but also clobber the Western markets in the process.
FOROOHAR: Hundred percent, Richard, there's not a lot of good options out there. But if the U.S. wants to bring not only Europe, but other O.E.C.D.
nations along into new trade and tech alliances, they're going to have to, you know, get their act together in Congress and start, you know, getting
these situations wrapped up before we get to the edge.
QUEST: And a word for now, okay, I'm going to give you a choice for something to put under the bed. Do you want a dollar? A euro? A Bitcoin? Or
a bar of gold? Which would you have? You can have the equivalent in gold. Which one do you want?
FOROOHAR: Oh, my gosh. Oh, God, Richard, I love this. I'm going to go -- can I have 50 cents in the dollar and 50 cents in gold?
QUEST: Typical. Thank you. Look --
FOROOHAR:Don't ring your bell on me, by the way.
QUEST: Oh, I forgot the bell. The bell is over at -- we will have to get the bell before the end of the program.
Rana, thank you for reminding me I've forgotten the bell.
What would you have? If you had the choice? I'll show you the e-mail address. It's email@example.com.
We'll show it to you or just tweet me @RichardQuest. firstname.lastname@example.org or @RichardQuest.
You've got a choice, bearing in mind what Rana was saying. You can have a dollar, equivalent in gold, a euro, or a Bitcoin. We will make up some sort
of graphic and we'll show you and we will to do that before halftime.
U.S. markets appear more optimistic there will be a resolution. The Dow is up more than 200 points. You saw that a moment ago after a rebound, and in
fact, all the major averages are up with the NASDAQ reversing losses from earlier on.
The bills are mounting for Evergrande. Now, it is off loading shares worth $1.5 billion as it tries to stay afloat.
Clare will have that after the break.
Where is the bell?
QUEST: Evergrande is doing everything it can to raise cash as it faces more interest payments, and now it says it struck a $1.5 billion deal to sell
part of its stake in a local bank. The company had an interest payment due today. It's got liabilities of more than $300 billion.
Clare is with me.
Well, I mean, any old stuff -- kitchen sink? What have you got lying around that you can just pop on the block?
SEBASTIAN: Yes, they still have assets, Richard, this is a good thing, and that means that we're in is still in a liquidity crisis, not necessarily a
solvency crisis. But what we learned today, really, is it is sort of reinforcing what we've been seeing over the past week and a half, a sense
of the pecking order here.
Really, the government in Beijing looks to be prioritizing, and this makes total sense. Of course, first of all, the regular people, the people who
bought apartments who perhaps haven't received the apartments yet. There was a statement this week from the Central Bank saying that they would
maintain the healthy development of the real estate market and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of housing consumers.
And this move today, this divestment of part of their stake in this local bank, which is going to be used to settle liabilities with that bank that
in addition to the fact that they paid one domestic bond interest payment last week shows that the next in line of the domestic creditors and only
after that it seems, will the foreign bondholders get a look in.
Right now, we don't know what's happened to the bond payment that was due today, the interest payment of almost $50 million, and it would seem that
they missed a payment last week of somewhere north of $80 million in another dollar denominated bond. So we're getting a sense of this sort of
order of things if there is a restructuring here.
QUEST: Okay. But the size and scale of this will have to be a major restructuring rather than tinkering around. I mean, you're talking about
major creditor stuff.
SEBASTIAN: Yes, and I think, you know, today, clearly $1.5 billion, that's a very tiny proportion, less than one percent of their overall debt pile of
$300 billion. And of course, none of that money is going to go to any of the creditors other than this bank itself.
I think this shows how widespread and complicated the situation is, as well, a debt in all kinds of different places. But the other thing we
learned today, Richard, is that there is a potential role for state owned enterprises here that the company that actually bought that stake in the
local bank from Evergrande is a state owned enterprise.
Reuters is reporting, citing unnamed sources that the government in Beijing is prodding other state owned enterprises to try to pick up Evergrande's
assets that would avoid a situation where they have to sort of do fire sales of those assets that could ripple through the domestic property
market and the economy overall.
So, that's one of the clues that we're getting even though Beijing has yet to actually talk publicly about Evergrande yet.
QUEST: All right, Clare, stay with me. Answer this. This is the question we're asking today. Which would you choose? A dollar? A euro? A Bitcoin?
Gold? On the screen, you can see me, you can email me at email@example.com or the Twitter @RichardQuest, but everybody is on the
hook today. So, Clare, which would it be?
SEBASTIAN: I'm going to say -- oh, you know what, we're going to be cautious today, Richard. We're going to say gold.
QUEST: Gold. Safe. Safe as ever. Thank you, Clare Sebastian.
We now know who is very likely to become Japan's next Prime Minister. He is Fumio Kishida, the new leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. It
means he is likely successor as the Prime Minister. He has already served as Foreign Minister, where he has dealt extensively with China.
And Mr. Kishida wants to put together a massive economic recovery package calling -- it has called to help push Japanese stocks higher since the
leadership race began. And you'll remember, the Nikkei has not been doing as well as most.
The chief executive of Suntory says he is worried that Kishida is not the strongest leader in the party. Takeshi Niinami has been an economic adviser
to the Japanese government. Speaking to Selina Wang, he said Japan has to keep China on side.
TAKESHI NIINAMI, CEO, SUNTORY: We believe that Mr. Kishida will visit Beijing at some point to be able to create a good relation with President
Xi, and we know the relation between dependent China is interdependent, and the business with China is -- we can't lose it.
So we, business leaders have to talk to Mr. Kishida to convince that we should not rely on the United States entirely. We should have a good
relationship with China as well.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prior to Shinzo Abe, Japan went through six Prime Ministers in six years. Are you concerned that Japan is returning to
a period of political instability with very short lived Prime Ministers?
NIINAMI: I'm concerned about that. I'm hopeful that Mr. Kishida will keep his regime at least more than six to seven years so that his administration
will touch upon long lasting issues like fiscal policy, fiscal debt, and of course, visitations between U.S. and China, which needs a lot of time to
resolve, but there are so many complicated issues and he is not the strongest leader in the ruling party of LDP.
NIINAMI: So, I'm so concerned about the revolving Prime Minister system.
WANG: So you were an economic adviser to Yoshihide Suga, what advice would you give to Kishida to boost the Japanese economy after damage done by the
NIINAMI: Mr. Kishida, give the incentive for people to travel freely, going to the restaurants and bars because people are so suppressed, and people
want to spend the money. Second, in the long run, Mr. Kishida should reform Social Security system of this country. That has been a huge hindrance for
people to spend money because people have strong anxiety to the future because people they have -- we have a very fragile Social Security system
because of the aging population, less the working population.
QUEST: The chief executive of "Forbes" says he wants his business to be as big as the company's brand. For more than a century, "Forbes" has covered
millionaires and billionaires, has been a byword for business journalism. It was first published in 1917 as a magazine, quote, "devoted to doers and
doings," then came the 400 Rich List in 1982. And now, it's looking for a bit of money on its own.
It is going public with a SPAC, working with a company based in Hong Kong. The chief executive of "Forbes" is Mike Federle. He joins us now.
Mike, it is good to have you, sir. Thank you. And it's going to be different, isn't it? A public company, which is going public in a sort of
an unusual way -- well, it is not unusual now, but it's not the most conventional ways. SPACs are still unusual. Why this way?
MIKE FEDERLE, CEO, "FORBES": Well, thanks, Richard, for having me. Good to see you there. Well, it's not very unusual anymore, if you look at the
number of SPACs going on, and for us, it was -- we had multiple choices of how to go public or how to raise money, whether through private equity,
through a private deal, and this SPAC option proved the best for us at this point in time.
QUEST: The change -- "Forbes" is such -- it's an institution and, of course, Steve has been on this program on many occasions in the past. How
do you take the value of the money you're going to get from this and grow the business? Where does it grow? Bearing in mind, the digitization and the
interest in digital properties, that sort of wanes and comes back and seems to be back in vogue.
FEDERLE: It seems to be back in vogue is right. You know, the timing for this is, is just right for "Forbes." You know, about 10 years ago, we
really set ourselves down a path over this last decade, to take the company through this digital transformation, and we've done it very successfully.
We have invested a lot of money in our tech stats, which enable us to -- we've created this business of scale. And in digital media, you need scale.
And so we have scale and we have the technology behind it now to really start segmenting audiences and understand through data and analytics, how
we can address those audiences with very bespoke products and experiences.
And to do that, we're going to use this investment and the cash that we're getting to the public market, to really take us through the next
QUEST: Now, clearly, the quality of journalism and information is the gold standard, if you like. I don't think either of us will disagree on that.
And I look at things like "Business Insider" Bloomberg, our own CNN Business, and I ask you though, it's getting very crowded out there, which
does suggest there needs to be a shift to quality.
But can you teach the elephant a new dance? A new trick? Or do you end up looking like our parents disco dancing at a wedding?
FEDERLE: I think the question was on journalism and obviously that is the core of what we do as it is what CNN does. You know, the challenge in all
of that is, you know, the media model really hasn't changed in a hundred years if you think about it. It's about creating content that attracts an
audience, then you can then monetize their subscriptions or advertising. That part hasn't changed.
What has changed is the technology in order -- through data and analytics to really understand these audiences. So, I think you'll see, journalism
and media in general become much more targeted, and, again, creating products that speak to specific interests of different audiences that we
QUEST: Final question to you. We were talking about the debt ceiling and the seriousness of it, if it all goes belly up. It made me think to ask one
of my colleagues, you know, if you had a choice these days, what would you choose? Put under your bed for a rainy day, would you choose a dollar? A
euro? A Bitcoin? Or gold?
And most people seem to say they go for gold. What would you choose? Something for a rainy day to put under the bed, which one would you like?
FEDERLE: I would follow Warren Buffett's advice and stay with the dollar. It's still going to be the best bet and the best economy to bet going
forward. And also, it might be a surprise, I am more of a Keynesian who believes stimulus spending is the appropriate path right now, so the dollar
QUEST: And we thank you. Good luck, sir. Good luck, and we'll talk more as things progress. I appreciate it.
FEDERLE: Thank you.
QUEST: QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight. The CEO of United Airlines tells us his company's COVID vaccine mandate is a success, and now, he want others
QUEST: The United Airlines chief executive says COVID vaccine mandates are working. Scott Kirby says the fact his company got nearly all of its 67,000
employees to comply proves it.
United is getting ready to fire nearly 600 U.S. workers who decided not to get the shot or apply for an exemption.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
QUEST: This is CNN and here, on this network, the facts always come first.
QUEST (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) voting now on a measure that will keep the U.S. government open. Here's live pictures. The Senate already passed a
continuing resolution. The House approval will send it to Joe Biden's desk to keep the government open.
The president of Belarus is pushing back against allegations of human rights abuses in an exclusive interview with CNN. He dismissed multiple
reports of violent acts against (INAUDIBLE). His government's been cracking down on protesters for months. He says he has nothing to apologize for.
Police in Ecuador are encountering horrific scenes as they retake control of a prison from a deadly riot. At least 160 people are dead, seven of
them, beheaded according to officials. More people have been injured. The president declared a state of emergency.
QUEST: Jordan's prime minister told me the country needs to do more on vaccination as it tries to keep its economy open. The prime minister was in
Beirut today, where he met with his Lebanese counterpart. Last week, I sat down with Jordan's prime minister for the first interview of his
premiership and he told me the country did not want to shut down things again.
BISHER AL-KHASAWNEH, JORDANIAN PRIME MINISTER: Our challenge is to increase the demand on the vaccine domestically. And I think we have done a very
good job by reaching, so far, 3.2 million, who has taken two doses of the vaccine.
But we need to do more and we're trying to increase awareness because this is the panacea that will ensure we can achieve the equilibrium safe and
fully open. We are now fully open. And by not reverting to any restrictive measures again that could hit or impair the economy that has been suffering
as a result of closures.
QUEST: You have taken the decision early on to vaccinate everybody. That includes the several million refugees.
AL-KHASAWNEH: And in a totally neutral way. We had the platform for registration. That was neutral. It did not require proof of citizenship.
Everybody who was on Jordanian land and soil was able to, based on the criteria that involved the criteria, that the vaccines in terms of priority
would be directed to people with comorbidities.
When we had the surplus for larger categories, they benefited from them. So a refugee would end up being vaccinated before it was 30 or 40 years of
QUEST: Did you take any stick?
AL-KHASAWNEH: The policy is very neutral.
QUEST: If we look at the economy, Jordan's economy has -- my words, not yours -- but Jordan's economy has always managed to struggle along.
QUEST: With its own industry and its own -- along with an aid or assistance. But the number of refugees has now become critical. The costs
are exorbitant. You're only receiving a fraction in international assistance.
What more do you feed?
AL-KHASAWNEH: We need to focus on that assistance. It's dwindled significantly and in a manner that is adversely affecting the economy
beyond our means to basically sustain a healthy prospect of economic growth, sufficient creation of jobs which is needed.
And we have an increased number of unemployment in the country, as you know and perhaps a decade of extremely low economic growth, that operates around
2 percent prior to COVID-19. And with the two years of COVID-19, you had a negative growth rate as a result of being hit by COVID.
In the decade preceding COVID, that's fundamentally so the challenges that are not within the context of the control or policies to control. We were
of consequences of events that were around this in the neighborhood, whether be it wars, civil unrest.
And we wound up on the receiving end of all of that. And this places strain on our economy. It's very resilient but nonetheless, it's an economy that
has a lot of challenges.
QUEST: I guess the big difference now is it's yours. You're no longer somebody else's chief of staff. Guess what, this is yours.
QUEST: Are you prepared to break eggs to make this omelet.
AL-KHASAWNEH: Absolutely. No doubt. And I'm not a person who likes to overpromise. But I fully believe in the potential of this country, the
potential of its people. And I believe that we can basically reach into resources that we have in general terms, in the sense of pride, resilience
and high education standards that they have, to make all the difference.
And I really am committed to this process along with this government to make us realize, to make this place an example in modern in the region and
for the world.
QUEST: Prime minister of Jordan speaking to me last week.
Expo 2020 Dubai has arrived. The event is officially open. It had to be pushed back because of COVID-19; 25 million people are expected to visit
between now and March. You can see the next big things in technology and design.
Events like these have made lasting impressions, with monuments like the Eiffel Tower or the Space Needle as seen by Elvis in the 1963 film, "It
Happened at the World's Fair."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wowee, huh?
ELVIS PRESLEY, SINGER AND ACTOR: You haven't seen anything yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: "You haven't seen anything yet." He was right. The high-tech items we use every day first appeared at a world expo, the telephone, the touch
screen and even the reason you can see me live on television broadcasts. Scott McLean is at the expo site right now.
What have you they got for us?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think we're going to find out through the next couple of days. They have been restrictive in what we have been
allowed to film. They wanted to present this gleaming image of Dubai, which, I think, check. Some of the architecture is really striking. The
sustainability pavilion has 5,000 solar panels on it. It's really cool.
We have only gotten a chance to get a preview of one pavilion. But we know there are some others with some cool tech. Also the Singapore pavilion has
climbing robots that can water plants. They have some problem with space but they want to grow things.
At the Vietnamese pavilion they have slip on shoes made from a combination of plastic and coffee byproducts.
QUEST: You're fortunate to report over the days and weeks ahead. Thank you.
And we will be at that expo later in the year. We will be broadcasting from there. Very much looking forward to doing that from the expo in Dubai.
More people than ever are jetting off to some parts of the Caribbean. The prime minister about the new COVID restrictions designed to keep the island
safe, he's with us after the break.
QUEST: It is glorious weather at the moment on the islands of Antigua and Barbuda. And starting tomorrow, these islands will require visitors to be
partially vaccinated. Travelers must also take a PCR test within four days of flying to the Caribbean.
It follows a blockbuster summer travel season. Numbers are rising; the number of visitors are rising. The prime minister is with me.
Thank you. It is good to catch up with you. I am wondering why only now a vaccination requirement for visitors. Many places now require PCR before,
vaccination, even a test when you arrive.
GASTON BROWNE, PRIME MINISTER OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: Right. You would be aware we have been following the vaccination numbers in the United States,
Canada and the U.K. Those are our principal source markets.
We wanted to ensure that there was a large category of vaccine to present before we introduce policy, to ensure that there would be no reduction in
the visitor arrivals. So it was a matter of timing.
QUEST: So you benefited, didn't you?
You kept things -- you did more than keep the lights on; you kept the economy moving, which I think is fair enough. Tourism is your lifeblood.
BROWNE: Absolutely. So balancing lives and livelihoods was perhaps the most significant issue for us. We are putting the health of our people as a
priority. Equally, we have to make sure we kept the economies in the Caribbean afloat. And we depend heavily on tourism. So we had to make sure
we keep borders open.
QUEST: I noticed that this mandate now, it's a fairly wide mandate across vast swathes (sic) of the economy to be vaccinated. It is understandable.
I'm guessing, did you have to think twice before doing this?
BROWNE: Well, no, because ultimately, we want to make sure that we keep the hospitalizations and have a safe environment, not only for the locals but
visitors, too. It's a difficult choice. Ultimately the only way to restore normalcy is to achieve immunity.
Hesitancy seems to be more acute here than in other places in the world so then we had to definitely have these mandates.
QUEST: What do you need now?
What's the next thing that islands like yours need by way of support to recover -- you didn't have the great surpluses that other countries had.
You weren't able to have the same headroom to use in terms of debt.
QUEST: So what do you now need?
BROWNE: With our limited resources, all of the countries practically ran large deficits extensively. So the issue of cancellation that we spoke
about a few months ago, that's still a significant requirement for countries in the Caribbean.
We all have unsustainable level of debts. We need assistance to reduce our debts through debtor cancellations. And also countries in the Caribbean
still require official (INAUDIBLE) assistance. And we had gotten some support from IMF but that represented less than 10 percent of the amounts
QUEST: You're talking about debt cancellation, not debt restructuring or debt --
BROWNE: Cancellation. It's unsustainable. With so we need some debt relief and also increased assistance to help us with the recovery, even in terms
of dealing with COVID and our health infrastructure, to ensure we can deal with the new variants that will arise from time to time.
QUEST: Prime Minister, I'm grateful. Thank you. Thank you for taking time to join us.
So in the live music industry, the big name bands are getting back on the stage. I'll speak to Gene Simmons from the band Kiss. Their farewell tour
is back on track after two members, including Gene Simmons himself, caught COVID.
QUEST: Kiss is hitting the road again for its eye-popping farewell tour.
QUEST: Many dates were pushed back because of the pandemic. After two of the bandmates got COVID-19, front man Gene Simmons and singer Paul Stanley.
Gene is with me now. He joins me from Austin in Texas.
First of all, how are you feeling?
GENE SIMMONS, MUSICIAN AND ACTOR: Fantastic. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I feel no side effects. Of course, I had the Pfizer vaccine twice. I
got the flu shot. I got COVID anyway. But I literally didn't know I had anything. My appetite increased, my sense of smell was good. I didn't know
I had it.
But out of respect for everybody else, I quarantined nonetheless.
QUEST: And now you're back touring. This is the last one. Or so you say.
SIMMONS: No, no, no, we mean what we say and say what we mean or vice versa. The reality is that I'm 72 now. You want to get out while the iron
is hot and while the getting is good. I don't want to be up on stage at 75 or 80.
We're the hardest working band in show business. I have to wear 40 pounds of armor, 8-inch platform heels, more makeup and higher heels than any
female you know, spit fire, fly through the air. I would have been smarter to be in the Stones, playing a guitar, who I love, playing the guitar,
wearing a T-shirt and sneakers and never having to break a sweat, other than Jagger, of course.
So we're getting out while the getting is good. Health is good. We're rocking it. We're doing great. Go out when you're on top instead of when
you're a sorry mess afterwards.
QUEST: Are you surprised that the band is still as popular all these years on?
Others come, others go but you still have phenomenal audiences and concerts.
SIMMONS: You're very kind. The live concerts are a gift. We love seeing the fans. Kiss, unlike other bands, is a licensing and merchandising
juggernaut, from the Kiss cruises, we have the Kiss golf course in Las Vegas, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. We have Kiss condoms, Kiss caskets, we'll
get you coming and we'll get you going.
You see what I did there?
There's so much stuff. There's a Netflix movie coming out, a cartoon show and you don't want to hear about -- but we're so lucky to say goodbye from
our heart, to thank the fans who made our lives possible one last time, by going out and putting on the greatest show on Earth.
QUEST: You're also an artist and you have been for many years. Your art is not as well known in terms of your talents and branding. But your art is
now becoming more important with exhibitions. Now we called the gallery in Las Vegas to find out -- because I thought I might pick something up for my
husband for Christmas.
But an original Gene Simmons costs up to $300,000. My word, that's good art.
SIMMONS: Well, size matters and some of the pieces are eight feet long and about four feet high. Look, I'm an only child. I have had a lot of time on
my hands. So all my life, I have been doodling.
And this pandemic gave me a chance, as sad as it is for the rest of the world, gave me a chance to hole up in an industrial center in Whistler and
just start feverishly painting. Something to do every day. I was shocked anybody was going to like it. I met socially the curator of the largest art
place at the Venetian hotel. And October 21-23, I'll be in Vegas to debut. I'm so lucky.
QUEST: Finally, I'm just looking. Since you talked about age, you're early 70s; Steven Tyler, 73; Paul McCartney, 79; Jagger, 78. Good grief, you're
all still sort of battling on.
SIMMONS: Well, the few and the proud. You have to be in shape. This thing called rock 'n' roll is not like a chanteuse or somebody singing songs. We
love Nat King Cole and Perry Como and all the rest of them. All you have to do is sing the notes. But the physicality of what we do prevents us from
going too long.
SIMMONS: And so I would urge anybody out there, who thinks they are getting to the end of their physicality, you don't want to hear, "All right, here's
Kiss," and hear the tuba.
No, get off the stage while you're still looking good, singing well and have the physicality to deliver a convincing performance. Go out on top.
QUEST: We'll get you to do a quick doodle for us before the end of the year. Gene, always a wonderful pleasure to have you with us on the program
tonight. Thank you God bless. Thank you for being with us.
SIMMONS: I wish you well.
QUEST: Breaking news: the U.S. government shutdown has been avoided. The House approved a measure to keep the U.S. government open. It means it goes
to the president for approval. The government will be funded until December 3rd. It would have to shut down at midnight tonight had it not been
That does not mean the debt ceiling has been fully raised. That is a problem that still needs to be addressed. We will take a "Profitable
Moment" after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment." I'm always so grateful you make time to join us for our evening digest of business and economics. After all, as
the airline pilot says, we know you have a choice. We're glad you have chosen our way. We hope we delivered tonight.
We have heard from two prime ministers on crucial issues about vaccine mandates, whether it's being in the Caribbean or the Middle East. The
energy commissioner of Europe, who is talking about the energy crisis and rising prices, The U.S. cabinet secretary on the story of the day, just at
a time when the House has voted to keep the government open.
And Gene Simmons on his art, his life and a message for those of us on the wrong side of 50, get off the stage before it's too late but don't go just
yet. I think we have delivered on our promise to you tonight. I hope you do, too. Because that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for this Thursday night.
I'm Richard Quest in New York. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. The closing bell is ringing. The Dow is heavily off.
"THE LEAD" is next.