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Quest Means Business

Restrictions Return To Europe As COVID Infections Rise; E.U. Allocates $800K In Aid For Stranded Migrants; Dow Falls Over 200 Points At Session Low; Biden Asks Government Agency To Investigate Soaring Gas Prices; EV Companies Electrify Market; Inflation In Britain At 10-Year High; Minimum Wage Increase And Effect On Inflation. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 15:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: The Dow is seeing its largest loss for a week now and it has now dipped back below 36,000 as you can see

there, though, down about a half a percent. Not much to worry about, but those are the markets and these are the main events.

Europe is bringing in new COVID restrictions even where vaccines are widespread. I will speak to the W.H.O.'s. Special Envoy for the


Joe Biden tells regulators to investigate the oil companies over high gas prices and inflation transatlantic. Now, Britain sees its largest jump in

prices for 10 years.

Live from New York, it is Wednesday, November the 17th. I'm Paula Newton, in for Richard Quest and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening. Tonight, a growing number of Europeans are facing new COVID restrictions as the continent heads into winter, while at the same time

trying to cope with a surge. In Ireland, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs will be subject to a curfew starting tomorrow. The government is expanding the

use of its Vaccine Pass and asking people to work from home starting on Friday.

In Sweden, where the government once refused to enact lockdowns or mandates, now a Vaccine Pass proposal that would apply to indoor events

with more than a hundred people and take effect December 1st.

The German Parliament is considering stricter public health measures that includes an expansion of its 3G rule -- proof of vaccination, a negative

test, or a recent recovery from COVID-19. And in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, they have both just reported a record number of daily new cases.

Extraordinary. Have a look at those numbers.

Both governments are expected to approve new COVID restrictions this week. Melissa Bell joins us from Paris and she has been following it all and just

so alarming, right? Because it is not focused just in one country or in one pocket of people who are unvaccinated, but there are breakthrough cases,

with those cases some of those people ending up in hospital.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Paula. What we're talking about is a Europe-wide phenomenon, not just in the countries where

the vaccination rates are relatively low and when you look at the European Union and the European economic area as a whole, you're looking at an

average of 65 percent. Of course, there are big differences. In many Eastern European countries that rate is much lower.

But here in France for instance, and in Ireland that you mentioned a moment ago, the figure is pretty high, specifically when you look at the

proportion of the eligible population. That is people above 12 who have been vaccinated so far.

It is 95 percent of the population of Ireland has been vaccinated and yet, those surging COVID figure is a problem everywhere. It is of course, the

fifth wave to hit Europe and it is hitting it very suddenly.

What we are seeing is a sharp rise in so many countries even here in France where you have, as I say, high vaccination rates, Paula, but also this very

strict COVID Pass, which essentially has meant that only the vaccinated can get in to things like restaurants, cafes, and cinemas, even here where

masks are worn indoors, you're seeing this very sharp rise. A 50 percent rise in infection rates up in the course of just a week.

So, of course, you're seeing new restrictions coming in, but with this variation perhaps on what has gone on before, looking specifically at

targeting the unvaccinated, trying to encourage them in those countries where they haven't gone out and gotten vaccinated enough to go ahead and do


And as we have been hearing from the Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, targeting also, the problem of boosters. So, those people who have been

vaccinated -- and bear in mind, Paula, that it has been nearly a year now the Europeans have been able to begin getting vaccinated, the problem is

now waning immunity rate.

He explained, therefore, the need to go ahead and expand the population that is eligible for those boosters to try and bring these figures back

under control. They've been surging and the question is how much tougher governments are going to get. How much harder restrictions are going to

have to become, once again, to try and bring them under control -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, Melissa, and those are not without consequences. You know, we are just -- CNN is just learning, as well, that in Belgium now, they are

saying look, everyone who can work from home, they are reinstating those public health measures.

Is there a sense throughout the E.U. as really the kind of danger they are in economically, but also for people's wellbeing, their mental health going

into the Holidays.

BELL: I think there was a sense of complacency, really, that had set in. Because the vaccination campaigns were up and going, because in so many

countries they seem to be going so well, there had been a sense these last few weeks, these last few months in many countries of a return to normality

after a succession of waves that had come fairly closely together.

This time, it feels like rather, like it has taken people by surprise.


BELL: So, for the time being, there is no hint for instance that there will be any limitation on travel, but you're quite right, I think we can expect

as we've seen over the course of the last few days this to increase increasing restrictions on people socializing, on who can go out, on where

they can go out, on where they can gather, and this is especially, Paula, as we head into the Christmas Season.

NEWTON: Yes, especially since last Christmas was so tough on so many. Melissa Bell, thank you for that update.

Now, Ireland's Prime Minister, as Melissa was saying says that those rising infections are of, quote, "deep concern." Now, he has announced a midnight

pub curfew and other measures aimed at quote, "reducing socialization" across the board.

You see a live picture right there of a pub in Ireland. Again, decked out for the holidays. Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister meantime, Leo Varadkar

told our own Becky Anderson that it is, in fact, a sad step backwards and blamed it on the unvaccinated.


LEO VARADKAR, IRELAND DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Things were going so well. I think as a nation, we're a little bit crestfallen, a little heartbroken

that we're back into a difficult space when it comes to COVID.

We do have among the highest vaccination rates around the world, around 94 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, the five percent

that are not are not are causing a lot of the trouble. About five percent are not fully vaccinated, but about 50 percent of people in hospital and

ICU are not fully vaccinated.

So, even that five percent can create a lot of difficulty and then also, it is very evident now that immunity from the vaccines is waning, and we can

see that happening across Europe. That's why we need to give people a third dose.


NEWTON: Ray Byrne owns The Brazen Head Pub in Dublin and he joins me now. I want to thank you for being with us, especially after what has been

alarming news, right? This increase of cases. How have you been interpreting this, not just for your business, but for your customers, as


RAY BYRNE, OWNER, THE BRAZEN HEAD PUB, DUBLIN: Yes, thanks a lot. Thanks for having us on in the Brazen Head. We are a little bit shocked, you know,

as I suppose as the Deputy Prime Minister said. We are a bit taken aback.

But I think the real issue, you know, as much as COVID is growing around Europe and it is a problem for hospitality, it is a problem for every

industry. In Ireland, the biggest problem really is that we only have 300 ICU beds and 119 of them tonight are taken up with COVID patients in ICU.

So, you know, the issue is really that the health services is struggling to keep pace with us, but the industry itself is definitely doing its best.

NEWTON: Yes, Ray, I'm struck by the fact that you're a pub owner, but you know exactly how many ICU beds there are and it does focus the mind, at the

same time, it is no secret that businesses like yours have been some of the hardest hit, right?

Are you bracing for another gut punch especially now that perhaps more of that government support that you would have seen in the other waves is

being withdrawn?

BYRNE: Sure. We were closed, Paula, from St. Patrick's Day, which is a really important day in the calendar in 2020 right through to the end of

May this year. So, it was 15 months. So, it was the longest lockdown, you know, in Europe and possibly one of the longest lockdowns in history.

And as Irish people, we are very newsy, we keep abreast with the news and people are very accessible in public life and people like the politicians

are accessible and the medical officers is very accessible and information is shared very readily. So, you know, we're pretty much up to speed with


In The Brazen Head, a lot of people come because, you know, we are close to the home of Guinness and we're close to where the Jameson is made, so

people are coming in the daytime.

So, it's really only the late night economy that is getting hit, firstly, and that's after 12 o'clock. So, we wouldn't do much business around that

time anyway.

But you know, the fear is and the worry is that this kind of negativity and this pessimism, you know, which is in Europe at the moment is going to

spread more. But, listen, you know, we are here 800 years and a bit longer, so we'll get through this.

NEWTON: That is definitely perspective, eight centuries there. And I take your point in that, at the same time, do you think there is anything more

that the E.U. or Irish government should be doing to support you, and businesses like yours? I mean, you have quite a few employees, there must

be anxiety among them?

BYRNE: Sure. There is huge anxiety and there was a real struggle for people to get through the long lockdown, and to be fair, the governments, of

course, were really exemplary and I don't know if any business in Ireland that went bust due to COVID. So, I think it is just a matter of biting the


I would have confidence that between the E.U. support -- and between the E.U. direction and the Irish government, I think the support will have to

be there to keep business going because tourism and pubs are a very important part of our economy and our identity in Ireland.

NEWTON: Ray Byrne from The Brazen Head, I look forward to a time when we all walk into an Irish pub and the only thing we have to consider is not

public health, but what we are going to drink or choose to drink.


NEWTON: Ray, appreciate it, and good luck with everything and hopefully that Holiday Season will be all it is meant to be in the coming weeks.

Appreciate it.

Now, while countries like Ireland, you just heard, have been trying to speed up, right, their booster rollout, the World Health Organization has

in fact, been warning for months to hold off on boosters in favor of getting more people in poorer countries their very first shot.

Our next guest warns you cannot in fact vaccinate a population out of an active pandemic. David Nabarro is the Special Envoy on COVID-19 for the

W.H.O. and he joins me now.

Dr. Nabarro, good to see you. Many countries including the United States, Israel, much of Europe now see boosters as the way out of this pandemic.

And, you know, they're backed up by people like Anthony Fauci here in the United States who is now saying, look, the booster -- so that means three

shots is not a luxury, it is not an add-on, but it should be the standard. Is the W.H.O. really contesting that at this point?

DAVID NABARRO, SPECIAL ENVOY ON COVID-19, WORLD HEALTH ASSOCIATION: We are absolutely not contesting the important role of vaccines. They are

fantastic at preventing people who get COVID and who then are at risk of being severely ill and then dying from actually perishing as a result of

the virus.

You see, they have an incredibly good success at reducing what we say mortality as a result of infection, but they don't stop infection.

Infection still takes place and people who have been vaccinated can still pass the virus on. But the important thing is, they don't die.

So, what we're saying is, could we get vaccines to everybody who is at risk of death, particularly health workers, older people, and people with

diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions because to use vaccines to try to reduce the circulation of virus in a population is not desirable.

It's not going to work on its own. You have to do a much wider strategy.

NEWTON: But does that mean that countries like Israel and the United States and maybe even countries in Europe now are getting it wrong to distribute

those boosters to everyone over the age of 18.

NABARRO: We don't fully understand the rationale. You see, the risks to younger people with this virus are much lower in terms of death. You do get

a condition called long COVID, about one in 20 get it, which is really unpleasant. But we're not seeing high rates of death among young people.

And as far as we understand, vaccination, particularly of large numbers of people, is not in itself going to reduce the amount of virus that is

circulating in the population. Any way you can do that is by wearing masks and maintaining physical distance and being very careful when there is an

outbreak to reduce movement into and out of the outbreak area.

So that's what you need to do to really reduce this pandemic. You use the vaccines to stop people who are at risk from dying. And we say there's

plenty of vaccine in the world to make sure that everybody who is at risk of death can get it. And then if there's vaccine left over, we can start

looking at other uses of it, but we really do not believe that vaccination on its own will end this pandemic.

NEWTON: And your advice to the countries like the United States would be stop the booster roll out? To younger population?

NABARRO: You are going to have to do boosters at some point, of course. We know that immunization against COVID does not confer long protection. But

we're saying, could you just postpone your rollout of boosters?

Perhaps by a couple months, and then all the production that happens in that interval should go to the international scheme to get vaccines to the

poorer countries where people are dying because they are working as health workers or they are older and they have got other diseases. They're dying

and they shouldn't have to die because their deaths could be prevented through vaccination.

NEWTON: Yes, as you well know, this country, at least in the United States, we will be going in the opposite direction likely in the coming days.

I want to ask you about something else, though, this looming concern as the emergence of new variants, right, that could evade the vaccines altogether.

Is there anything there that you see so far that worries you and do you believe that actually these antiviral therapies after you test positive is

more likely to finally get us out of this pandemic?


NABARRO: Well, certainly there is a lot of hope with the new therapies that are coming on stream, and I'm very pleased to see that some of the

companies that are manufacturing these therapies have committed to making them available in poor countries at a very low cost. This is extremely good

news and a really welcome sign.

There is no doubt that having an effective therapy will make an awful lot of difference to the outcome of infection, particularly among poorer


Now about variants, we do know that this virus is capable of mutating and we already have got a number of variants that are concerning. Everybody I

think probably knows about the delta variant, which has taken over from the original virus in many countries because it spreads more easily.

Right now, we do not believe that any of the variants that have appeared is somehow able to avoid the protection that is offered by the vaccines that

are presently being used. But at the same time, there are signs that the virus could mutate in a way that would enable it to deceive people who have

been vaccinated and actually get past the antibodies and cause difficulty.

We know this is a possibility and that's why we're saying to everybody, don't rely on vaccines alone for dealing with the problem of COVID. Please,

try to maintain the precautions that we know work -- facemasks, physical distancing, and being extremely careful in confined spaces.

This virus is not going away. We don't know very much about it, but what we do know is it is capable of coming and causing trouble when we least expect

it. So, please treat it with respect.

NEWTON: Dr. Nabarro, we will leave it there, and I thank you for clarifying the W.H.O.'s position tonight. Appreciate it.

Now still ahead, after days in the freezing cold, some migrants camped at the border of Belarus and Poland have finally have a roof over their heads

-- of some description. We'll have more from them when we return.


NEWTON: Migrants stranded along the border between Belarus and Poland finally got some relief today after a thousand were given shelter at a

giant warehouse in Belarus. You see it there and more aid hopefully is on the way.

The European Union says it will send nearly $800,000.00 worth of food, blankets, and first aid kits. CNN's Matthew Chance got a look inside that

processing center.


CHANCE: We are right in the middle of this processing center that over the course of the past just 12 hours or so, since last night after that

violence ended, Belarusian officials and forces have been moving the migrants from the forest camp, bringing them indoors at this location about

a mile back from the border crossing with Poland.

It's still, you know, pretty rudimentary conditions that people are in, but at least we are inside with some shelter from the increasingly cold weather

conditions outside. You know, people have got mattresses to sleep on. They've got blankets to put over them.

They're being given food. Outside, they have been given hot tea and bread. The Belarusian officials that we've spoken to say, they aim to provide

these people with at least one hot meal a day. Still not very much, but it is better than no hot meals a day.

And you can see, the general atmosphere here, is a lot -- sort of, I wouldn't say happy, but people are a lot more comfortable than they were

outside in the freezing forest camp right up against the razor wire of the Polish border.

The big question is, of course, what is going to happen next to these people? Are they ever going to achieve their, you know, objective of

getting into the European Union? It doesn't look like at the moment.

The reaction of the Polish authorities yesterday, spraying the crowds with water cannon to push them back from any prospect of getting near to the

barricades was an indication that the Pols at least, and the European Union in general, are reluctant to take these people in and we are being told by

Belarusian officials that they are waiting for a decision from Germany about whether there is some kind of humanitarian corridor that could be

opened, possibly via Poland, possibly by air straight from here to German.

But that is not confirmed at all. In fact, over the past couple of days, the Germans have made it clear they don't intend to take these people in


The alternative, according to Belarusian officials, is that these people will ultimately, ultimately be deported back to their countries of origin.

For the most part, that would be Iraq. The majority of people here are from Iraqi Kurdistan.


NEWTON: Our thanks to Matthew Chance there. Now, as we were just discussing, there are fears that the tensions at the Polish-Belarusian

border could destabilize the entire region.

On Tuesday, Germany paused certifying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline sending already high natural gas prices soaring. The controversial pipeline links

Russia with Germany, remember. And this is key, it bypasses Ukraine. That country has recently seen a buildup of Russian forces near its border.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister tells CNN this crisis can be traced right back to the Kremlin's push for Nord Stream 2.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER: Everything that is unfolding now in Europe. It contains Nord Stream 2 as an element, and one of the reasons

Putin puts all this pressure is to speed up the certification of Nord Stream 2. This should be taken into account and we should speak openly

about that.


NEWTON: And that would means that Russia would have a stranglehold on that pipeline.

We want to get more on this from our international diplomatic editor. Nic Robertson joins us from London. You know, it seems the border, things are

simmering down a little bit, at least for the last few hours. Given Russia now, as we were just saying, it has been dealt that blow on the Nord Stream

2 pipeline, does it seem inevitable, though, that this escalation with Ukraine is now even a larger risk?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Look, the escalation with Ukraine is an ongoing risk. I mean, to Russia there are several things

at stake here.

Number one, Crimea, which it annexed, which is part of Ukraine, which it annexed several years ago. It needs -- because that is where it keeps its

warm water, warm water Navy. It needs that access to the sea. It needs a way to get that Navy out to sea, particularly, you know, if other ports are

locked in by ice in the deep winter.

So, that's hugely important, and for Putin, any sort of incursion or drift of Ukraine towards NATO partners, towards Europe, if you will, in his mind,

weakens potentially his ability to control Crimea and have Crimea, so, this is something that is going to last out there and it is not clear at the

moment, you know, what Putin plans to do with those troops on the border.

But by opening Nord Stream 2, which, obviously, is blocked right now perhaps until the summer of next year, by blocking it, that cuts the

revenue that Ukraine was getting from the current Nord Stream pipeline that passes from Russia all the way to Europe.


ROBERTSON: So, he is undermining the power, the strength, the resolve of Ukraine. That is his intent. So this issue isn't going away. But the

question I think in everyone's mind is, is he going to try and push it to a conclusion now? Will he put troops across the border to try to sort of

secure a land buffer between most of Ukraine and the bit of Ukraine that surround Crimea? Is that his objective, is it? Is it this year? Is it next


And it really comes down to what is in Putin's mind. It just isn't clear.

NEWTON: Yes, and it hasn't been clear, really, for years. Another related issue here is E.U. policy and whether there is E.U. unity, especially given

tensions between the E.U. and Poland right now. I mean, the timing is absolutely terrible. Anybody can see that.

ROBERTSON: Yes, it has been a moment. You would have thought several weeks ago when, you know, Poland was sort of holding out against the values of

the European Union in terms of the rights of the European justice over their own courts and their own management of their own system now

appointing judges and the political interference in that.

So, all of that was at stake. But I think what you've seen here is Europe, the E.U. recognized the bigger issue which is that they are all being

threatened, that the movement of migrants from Belarus into Poland wouldn't start there. They would end up in Germany. They would rather be in Germany.

They think they would get a better life in Germany.

So, it is a European problem. So I think that is why you've seen the Europeans draw their ranks together and because of the uncertainty about

what is happening in Ukraine, they see this as a concerted manipulation certainly by Belarus, potentially by Putin as well. Certainly something

that, you know, he would choose to exploit.

So, you know, a few weeks ago, you would have thought perhaps this would have perhaps made bigger cracks appear particularly in Poland's

relationship with E.U. That's on hold and I think this is a point where the E.U. certainly can look at itself and say, okay, we've held the line. We've

proven that we're not about to break. We're strong. And that is a plus for them.

Now, how Putin then reads that and what the next gambit is, completely unclear.

NEWTON: Yes, it is not lost on me, Nic, right? We've had maybe perhaps months' worth of news this week and it's only Wednesday. So, we will

continue to check in with you as the story evolves. Appreciate it.

Now, U.S. President Joe Biden is plugging electric vehicles and he is looking at whether soaring gas prices across the country aren't just

painful, but possibly criminal.




NEWTON (voice-over): Hello, I'm Paula Newton and more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment.

When Joe Biden asks if oil and gas companies are illegally keeping prices high, we're live at the White House.

And is there a new Big Three?

Electric vehicle startups Rivian and Lucid don't make many cars but have joined Tesla on the list of most valuable automakers in the world.

Before that, this is CNN and, on this network, the news always comes first.


NEWTON (voice-over): It is the second day of deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. The teen faces charges of homicide and reckless

endangerment for shooting two men dead and wounding a third.

It all took place during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over a police shooting. The jury today asked the judge how they can rewatch some video


The U.S. and China have agreed to ease visa restrictions on journalists, a point of contention in both Washington and Beijing. This development

follows the high-stakes summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth has undertaken her first engagement since missing the Remembrance Sunday service because of a sprained back. There you see

her at Windsor Castle. She missed several key engagements after spending a night in the hospital for what the palace called preliminary

investigations. She looks great there, though.


NEWTON: All right. Less than half an hour on the day's trading on Wall Street. A down day for the Dow taking a breather but that's less than half

a percent off. It's on track for the worst day of the week. If that's the worst day, not bad.

Most of the Dow components are down although not by that much. Visa, one exception, down more than 5 percent over a spat with Amazon. The retailer

it will stop accepting Visa cards issued in the U.K. because of high fees. At its low today, Visa was shaving nearly 100 points off the Dow.

Now oil, interesting here, is down to roughly 3 percent. Gas prices have hit a record high, though, in parts of the United States. And now President

Biden wants to know if Americans are getting cheated at the pumps.

He is asking the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to immediately investigate if oil and gas companies are driving up prices illegally. His letter claims

there is, quote, "unexplained large gap" between the price of unfinished gasoline and what drivers are actually paying. The American Petroleum

Institute says prices reflect short supply and heavy demand.

Mr. Biden is pushing, though, another solution to high gas prices right now. He is touring General Motors electric vehicle plant in Detroit,

Michigan. He's plugging parts of the infrastructure plan that would encourage more Americans to ditch those gas-powered cars for cleaner rides.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

Pretty predictable that the oil and gas lobby hit back at the Biden administration. But in political terms, the White House really has to be

seen to be doing something on high gas prices.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That seems to be part of the driving force behind this letter from the president to the Federal

Trade Commission, urging them to investigate these oil and gas companies for what he says are these anti-consumer tactics.

Of course, that is part -- what the president says is leading to these higher gas prices although there are a slew of reasons behind why you're

seeing people pay more at the pump lately.

But I do think it's part of that tactic. The White House knows they are coming under attack by this, not only by Republicans but by people who are

asking, what is it that the White House is doing to help alleviate these prices, these higher energy prices?

They do want to look like they're doing something. So this is part of that. This is not really anything that new and significant, of course. This is

something the White House really has been doing when it comes to this, saying that they want the FTC to look into this.


COLLINS: They want to make sure that people are not gouging prices so consumers are paying more to help alleviate essentially what they had been

paying over the pandemic.

And so the question, though, of course, really for the White House, is what they can do on this, something significant that they can do on this to help

alleviate prices and they really feel like at the end of the day, their hands are tied here because there are few options, like potentially tapping

the strategic petroleum reserve that the president has weighed.

But he has been advised by people and aides and officials that that wouldn't do much to change what people are paying at the pump. Some

Democratic senators are calling on the president to ban oil exports from the U.S. That is something the White House doesn't think would be helpful,

either. So this is part of the step the president is taking.

But whether or not it will move the needle on this seems pretty unlikely.

NEWTON: And does it even need to move the needle?

Kaitlan, as you were speaking, oil is down a little bit today and some people think in the next few months this will settle out on its own. Thanks

for the update, I appreciate it.

We will be right back in a moment with more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.




NEWTON: This is what we mean when we say electric shock. Electric vehicle makers with little, if any sales, are worth more than established

automobile companies. Shares of Rivian have doubled since the company went public just last week. It is now the third most valuable carmaker in the


Lucid's value is dipping now but it's up as much as 30 percent since Tuesday. It's worth more than Ford by its market capitalization.

And Tesla, of course, is worth more than $1 trillion now, even though founder Elon Musk said its value is overinflated. The car coach, AKA Lauren

Fix joins us now from Los Angeles. She is an automotive industry analyst.

Obviously, the first and obvious question is, in terms of the values of these EV companies warranted or a dangerous bubble?

LAUREN FIX, AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ANALYST: Well, it could be a dangerous bubble and I've been saying that about Tesla but he really knows how to get

government money in his pocket because none of these carmakers are making a profit on electric vehicles, no matter what it is.

They may make it off the subsidies the car manufacturers who aren't. But that's a big factor to consider. Things could change at any time. This

current administration wants to increase the incentive for consumers to purchase electric cars. So that may be good for sales.

But does it equal profits?


NEWTON: It's interesting; Joe Biden, the president, is at a plant, an EV plant right now. The climate summit that just wrapped, the key focus was on

ditching gas-powered cars.

Yet, do you think it's too soon for an EV revolution, given the issue of batteries and the fact that not all electricity is carbon free; in fact, a

lot of it is not carbon free?

FIX: Well, I'm a juror on the World Car of the Year and we just did our test drives here in Los Angeles at the auto show. And one of the

conversations that keeps coming up is electric cars.

And from other countries, the biggest thing we're hearing -- and that's true even here in the U.S. -- is we have a problem with infrastructure. No

matter how much money you put at it, the grid has to be able to support it.

Here in the U.S. we're shutting down nuclear power plants, where in China they're building nuclear power plants. So it's very interesting that we'll

have a problem with electricity supply and demand, which we already have here in California. You cannot live off of wind and solar, as we saw with


But now when you have bad weather, that happens any time, but now we have a problem where they're pushing these cars, consumers aren't buying them at

the level they are, even though the media is talking about it like it is the vehicle -- no one is buying anything else but it's not true.

Here at the L.A. Auto Show we had a ZO6 Corvette with 700 horsepower and you've got electric cars that are totally opposing as far as what is out

there. The middle of the road is what is disappearing when it comes to availability for consumers.

NEWTON: And how ecofriendly are the EVs in general?

There have been a lot of concerns about the batteries in them.

FIX: That is a big problem. So if you take a step back from looking at the car itself and where are the batteries coming from?

So there are seven rare earth minerals and all those mines are owned by China. Cobalt, cadmium, mercury, lithium, neodymium and all those are

damaging to the environment and to humans. So we're going to put all that together with other things and make a battery.

And then what happens down the road?

There's no place for batteries to be recycled. They cannot be recycled just like the windmill blades; they're made of fiberglass and they have to be

buried in the ground.

So are we putting the cart in front of the horse?

Are we pushing too hard to get this done and then find out, in 10 years we'll be talking and say, why didn't we think about this?

Now all these rare earth minerals are very dangerous to humans and the environment and they're just going to stack up these batteries and I think

we'll have another environmental issue over it.

NEWTON: Yes. As you said, it will be interesting to see in terms of innovation who and what gets there first. And having more options is always

better. Lauren, thanks so much. Really appreciate you weighing in on this.

FIX: I agree.

NEWTON: In our latest edition of "CONNECTING AFRICA," the north and west of Africa have traditionally dominated continent's oil and gas industry and

while Nigeria, of course, continues to be the major player, its neighbor, Ghana, is edging its way in.

Tullow is key to that effort, founded in 1885 to explore for gas in Senegal. It now has a significant presence right throughout the continent.



NEWTON: Still ahead, this holiday season could be one of the most expensive ever in the U.S. In Britain, inflation is reaching levels not seen in a

decade or more. We'll break it down for you when we come back.




NEWTON: Inflation in Britain has now climbed to its highest level in nearly a decade. The U.K. consumer price index rose last month to 4.2 percent.

That's twice the central bank's target of 2 percent, increasing the likelihood of an interest rate hike.

Now the biggest contributor was, of course, the surge in energy costs. Meantime, inflation, of course, at a 30-year high now in the United States.

Americans are about to face a holiday season marked by surging prices.

Arin Dube is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and he joins us live from North Hampton.

Good to see you, especially given the kind of research that you've been doing, obviously, over several years. It has been very important throughout

this pandemic. We have seen an increase in the middle wage.

On balance you say this can raise living standards for the working poor. But now attention is turning to its inflationary effects.

I mean, what do you predict and what do you think will happen?


So you know, I think it's really important to understand that the inflation increase is a global phenomenon to a large extent, as just today's news

from U.K. shows us.

At a basic level, inflation happens when there's demand for goods and services that outpaces supply, right. So the pandemic has certainly

strained our ability to produce and distribute certain goods.


DUBE: Let's take semiconductors made in Malaysia or Vietnam, where there may be outbreaks. And at the same time, consumers, flush with savings

during the pandemic, have both bought more stuff and also put more emphasis on goods away from services.

So this really has put a lot of pressure on the supply chains, you know, clogging up ports and leading to global pricing pressure and inflation.

At the same time, labor force participation: how many people working in America still has not recovered to the pre-pandemic levels leading to

shortages in some sectors like trucking means even more upward pressure on prices.

Now most forecasters expect these pressures to ease over time, especially the goods inflation. I would expect sometime by middle of next year to have

eased substantially, though, of course, we can't be sure.

At the same time, a key thing that's going to be important to keep an eye on are workers coming back into the workforce, allowing for services to

expand down the road. So those are some of the sort of more complicated but lots of different moving pieces here when it comes to understanding


At the end of the day, I will say that those in the bottom half of the wage distribution pay scale are seeing very fast wage, nominal wage increases

that are actually outpacing even the higher inflation rates.

At the same time those in the top half are less likely to do so, which is a very unusual situation here in America. For many decades wages have grown

less at the bottom than the top and that actually seems to be inverted at this point.

NEWTON: But in terms of actually rising the worker participation rate but also increasing living standards for the working poor -- I know you've done

work on this for years, including the U.K. government -- does it worry you or do you think it is a good development here that wages at the bottom are


And at least those bottom wages are keeping pace with inflation, even if at the top end they're not?

DUBE: So I think there are two things. One, inflation is not good. Inflation is bad. And we hope that inflation eases and that would be a good

thing for everyone.

Two, I think it is a good thing that wages are actually rising at the bottom after decades of really insufficient growth. This is good for

working families, who, you know, have really seen their living standards erode for decades now, for most part.

And so that I think is a good thing. We want a tight labor market that actually leads to strong wage growth at the bottom and the middle. Right

now, the inflation being high is keeping wages of the middle from really rising as much as one hopes.

NEWTON: Well, really, we're in quite a debate going on for decades. We have something in common -- not the Ph.D. in economics but the fact that we both

earned minimum wage but neither of us had to raise a family on it.

Where do you come in now after all this research in terms of all these discussions, whether it's here in the United States about a $15 minimum

wage, in Europe, in the U.K., is it a job killer to continue to raise wages at the bottom?

DUBE: Look, I think, you know, obviously, at some point, if the minimum wage rises enough that, you know, the harm is greater than the good, if

it's too high, then jobs will be lost.

My reading of the evidence, as well as I think, you know, large body of economists doing work on this topic, tend to see that minimum wages to date

in the U.S. and the U.K., for example, have produced higher wages, raised standard of living without costing any substantial number of jobs.

In fact, based on ongoing evidence, the U.K. Low Pay Commission just last month decided to keep on raising their minimum wage toward two-third of the

median wage, which is their target.

I think that reflects the best evidence on this question. I think a minimum wage can be, when judiciously used, a powerful tool to help those at the

bottom of the pay scale.

NEWTON: I don't have a lot of time left but I know you can do this in 30-45 seconds. People are you put it in the tax code, keep a certain wage level

that is not a very high minimum wage, especially given regional disparities throughout Europe and the United States, have a progressive tax system



DUBE: I think taxes and minimum wages are complements. For example, the earned income tax credit works well together with the minimum wage.

So to the extent the earned income tax credit can incentivize people to work more, a good thing, that could put downward pressure on wages, not

such a great thing, minimum wage can remedy that. So I think the tax system and a minimum wage system can work well together to increase living

standards for those at the bottom.

NEWTON: Certainly a lot of food for thought here, especially when, at the end of this pandemic, we cannot have those disparities and inequality that

we've had around the globe. I think even the leading CEOs will admit, it is better we come out of this pandemic with living wages for people on the


We'll have you back again. Appreciate the discussion.

Now the closing bell, of course, just moments away on Wall Street. We'll have the day's final market numbers after a break on what is a down day so

far for the markets.




NEWTON: Last few minutes of trading on Wall Street, let's take a look. The Dow is down, taking a breather. It is set for its worst close in a week but

really not down all that much. New U.S. jobless claim numbers are out tomorrow and they could jolt the markets really one way or another.

They are expected to tick down from the previous week, where there were 267,000 initial claims. There were more than 2 million continuing jobless

claims in last week's report.

Now those numbers are out, as we said, tomorrow. All the major averages have been down for most of the day, losses on the S&P and the Nasdaq are

lighter, though. Want to take a look at the Dow components. Let's see what the stocks are doing.

This is surprising, Apple is in the lead today. As you can see, it has been up quite a bit. Wedbush analyst Dave Ivies estimated this morning that the

Cupertino company, Cupertino headquartered company would sell iPhones at a record pace this holiday season.

And that was despite a chip shortage that has been putting a crunch on iPhone supply. Apple shares, again, are up almost about 2 percent headed

into the close. Visa at the bottom; Amazon announced it would stop accepting Visa credit cards issued in the U.K. in January because its fees

were too high.

Visa shaving nearly 100 points off the Dow at the crux of it.

We will have much more for you here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm Paula Newton in New York and you can hear the closing

bell. "THE LEAD" with Pamela Brown starts next.