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Quest Means Business
U.S. Markets Down On COVID, Inflation And Tapering Fears; Mattel CEO Confident Toys Will Get To Shelves For Holidays; U.S. Health Experts Prepared For New Strain; Vaccines And Omicron; Durban Drugmaker To Launch Vaccine For Africa; Quest's World Of Wonder/St. Petersburg; Dash To The Bell. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired November 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, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: In 60 minutes from now, the closing bell will ring on Wall Street and it will tell us a
miserable dismal day, a second one. It is off its session lows, but still deep in the red and that it might go down a bit further before the day is
If you want to know the reason the markets -- well, these are the main events.
They are falling after Jay Powell signals he is ready to speed up the Fed's taper timeline.
We're getting mixed messages from the vaccine makers. Moderna says omicron could evade current vaccines. BioNTech says the jab may still be effective.
Who is right?
U.K. regulators are ordering Facebook owner, Meta, to sell GIPHY one year after buying it. What's going on?
We are live in New York. It is Tuesday, November the 30th, another month gone -- basically all going. I'm Richard Quest, even at the end of the
month, I mean business.
Good evening, the Chairman of the U.S. Fed, Jerome Powell now says rising inflation may force the Central Bank to taper sooner and quicker, and that
sent stocks lower on Wall Street. The Chair told a U.S. Senate hearing it was time to stop calling inflationary, transitory, and the U.S. economy was
strong, inflationary pressures were growing, and the Fed needs to talk about ending its bond buying program ahead of schedule.
As for omicron, he said the full risks of the economy is still unknown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the omicron variant pose downside risks to the
employment and economic activity and increased uncertainty for inflation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now, the testimony didn't sit well with investors rattled by what they'd seen. The big board shows the picture, just look, you can see, you
see 10 o'clock, open at 10 and within an hour, after all the messages, within an hour, the Dow had fallen quite sharply and lost 300 points.
The triple stack is similarly -- all the major averages fell deeper into the red during the morning testimony. They've come off their lows, but they
are still pretty grumblingly unhappy.
Rana is with me. So, taper faster and abandon transitory inflation. Ah, what do you make of it?
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Yes, worrisome. Really worrisome. And you know, all this coming at a time when we don't know what
the hit to the economy is going to be from the virus. I mean, it does raise worries that the Fed is going to find itself sort of trapped between what
looks like a very strong economy right now, but could be a weakening economy.
At the same time, you've got the pullback, the asset markets don't like it, and if you've got a rate hike, or even faster rate hikes than we might
think later in the year, that of course will be hard for consumers. But it might also be hard for companies, Richard, which we know are holding a lot
of debt. That's something you and I have talked about a lot. Will this be the point that the bubble bursts?
QUEST: Rana, look, he wants to taper more quickly because he is worried about inflation, and he really wants to slow things down. But we don't know
omicron and its possibilities that that could also slow things down.
You know, one might have thought he might have been saying, we are holding off faster tapering, until we see what Omicron is doing. But he is saying
exactly the opposite. I don't know what omicron is doing, but I need to taper faster.
FOROOHAR: Well, indeed. And you know, we've had this conversation so many times, I wish that we would have tapered before, I wish that we wouldn't
always wait until the very last minute to do that, but I understand the impulse to taper.
You know, I actually just had lunch with a venture capitalist today who was saying there is so much froth in the market. I mean, investors are very,
very worried and they say that it could take any surprise, a geopolitical surprise, another surprise with the variant to correct markets.
And so I think the Fed is trying probably wisely. You know, if this were the only thing happening just to get out in front of that bubble, but
what's going to happen with the virus? The virus will ultimately drive it.
QUEST: So you said you had lunch, I hope it was a good one --
FOROOHAR: It was.
QUEST: Excellent. But then you said there was worry. What are they worried about, the VC?
FOROOHAR: Worried about so much money out there, so many funds that are trying to invest in so many things, and there really isn't that much good
stuff to invest in. I mean, there's been a lot of investment we've been in a more than a decade now of easy money, of rising asset prices.
I mean, just look at the housing markets. It's incredible what's happened. And so when top level investors that are trying to fill their own funds are
saying, wow, you know, I'm worried that so much is being paid for assets that are really not worth it. That's a signal. These are the signals that
we heard before 2008.
So, you know, I get where Jerome Powell is coming from, but it's a tough moment. It's a tough moment.
QUEST: Okay, you sort of -- you lifted the lid off the nuclear button.
QUEST: You mentioned 2008. We're not -- in the sense of the effects obviously, because banks are much better capitalized. But what your --I
assume, so we wouldn't have the same systemic issues, possibly.
FOROOHAR: That's right.
QUEST: Right. But in terms of pure relationship of debt to investment to loss of wealth, that could happen again.
FOROOHAR: A hundred percent and you're right. You know, I don't want to be nuclear and say, we're not at a Lehman Brothers moment. Absolutely not and
you can look at the stats and see risk is off the banking balance sheets, but risk has also gone into a lot of places that we can't see it as well.
Crypto -- there's a lot of money in houses that I suspect will lose a fair bit of their value when there is a market correction. Asset prices are at
near all-time highs. Still, when we know we don't have a real economy that is stable. All of that makes me think that there could be significant
correction coming. And then what does that do for consumer confidence? What does it do for job creation?
I will say, Richard, though, the one really bright spot here is tech. Tech could save us all. I mean, tech could dampen inflation to the extent that
companies are rolling it out and becoming more efficient, but tech stocks, you know, in a little sort of mini version of what we saw at the beginning
of the pandemic, tech stocks actually rose, everybody might be working from home a little longer. That's good for certain stocks, not all of them, but
some of them.
QUEST: I was listening to -- I was listening distressingly carefully to what you were saying.
FOROOHAR: I'll be back.
QUEST: Well, yes, you're talking about --
FOROOHAR: I'll be back.
QUEST: Yes, when there is a correction. All right. All right. I'll let you have it today. Because I actually think that what the Fed is trying to do
is almost like have it both ways and backwards.
QUEST: And I sort of agree with you that there is the presage of a fall.
Anyway. Good to see you, Rana. Thank you.
FOROOHAR: You, too.
QUEST: We need your expertise as we move our way through.
The Chief Executive of Mattel says global supply chain issues won't stop children from getting toys this season. He was speaking today to the U.S.
Congress, Jay Powell delivered the less festive message ahead of Christmas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL: The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the omicron variant pose downside risks to the employment and economic activity and
increased uncertainty for inflation. Greater concerns about the virus could reduce people's willingness to work in-person, which would slow progress in
the labor market and intensify supply chain disruptions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" may be Jay Powell, let the countdown to shopping days, only 25 more shopping days to go and Mattel,
the toymaker behind the iconic brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels get 74 percent of its products from China. Go Santa go. Many will go to the Port
of Los Angeles. We know that ships are backed up there as far as the eye can see, and the problems only begin in California.
The toys then have to go from the East Coast -- from the West Coast across North America by truck or rail. The truck industry is short of 80,000
Mattel's Chief Executive is Ynon Kreiz. He met President Biden on Monday to talk about supply chain bottlenecks. He is with me now. What did you tell
the President? I mean, obviously, the President has already said, you know, get your toys at Christmas and I know you're going to deliver like Santa,
but it's not easy.
YNON KREIZ, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MATTEL: Well, Richard, I was where -- I was actually very encouraged by the President's approach and commitment to
support the private sector in mitigating supply chain disruptions, including in particular, port congestion, which is the real issue.
We shared information with the President about Mattel's perspective on supply chain and the toy industry overall, preparation towards the Holiday
season and we look forward to this continuing collaboration and partnership.
KREIZ: We are seeing very strong demand for product, we are growing strongly and we are on track to achieve our highest full year growth rate
in decades. Our product is resonating with consumers at levels we have not seen in years. And we are doing really, really good methodical work in
making sure that we have the right product at the right time on shelves for Christmas.
QUEST: So the supply chain issue -- you have to get -- and it doesn't matter whether it is to the United States to Australasia, or down across to
Europe. I know you did certain things, you basically bought forward. You used clever supply chain management, so you're not in such a bad situation
as maybe others. But it's still a risky moment, would you say that the supply chain is not robust?
KREIZ: Well, it's not that we have not been impacted by disruptions, but we have been able to work through these challenges through actions that we
were able to take as a company that specializes in this area.
We continue to work closely with our retail partners. They themselves are doing tremendous work to carry for demand, and we still are very confident
that we will have plenty of Mattel toys for children of all ages for the Holiday season around the world.
QUEST: Now, talking of that, Barbie -- good old Barbie -- number one global toy property in the third quarter. Now, I actually was in Copenhagen
where I visited the Barbie -- a lady who's got a Barbie museum and I got firsthand experience of just how popular it is. What is going to be the big
toy this Christmas?
KREIZ: Barbie is just an incredible story, such an iconic brand. It's much more than a doll as we all know. It is about diversity, about inclusivity,
and more than a representation of the world for today's kids and families.
The hot selling toy this Christmas will be the new Barbie Dream House. The Barbie Dream House is always the greatest offering for Christmas. This
year, it will be especially unique given the new product that we just introduced to the market this year.
So it's going to be a fun Christmas for a lot of Barbie aficionados.
QUEST: And really back to the industry into doing business now, for a company like Mattel, you've had your hard times, you've pulled yourself
around, you've got your -- if you like, you've patted yourself back into good shape once again. But then you have got the virus, you've got to
supply -- what's your biggest single issue that you feel that you, as the CEO, that you have to deal with now?
KREIZ: You know, we just came out following three years of restructuring, where we increased our adjusted EBITDA from $126 million in 2017 and just
guided to 925 -- a range between $900 million to $925 million of adjusted EBITDA from $126 million to $925 million in four years.
So we are increasing our profitability very strongly. We're not done. We expect continuous improvement. And we are also entering a growth phase for
the company. We just guided for 15 percent growth this year. This will be the highest growth rate we've had in decades and we are seeing a lot of
momentum and we do expect to continue to grow for the two years after that. We already put out those goals. So a lot of momentum for us.
QUEST: So if I was to buy you for Christmas or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, and I was to buy you one of your own toys, which I'm not going to, you can afford
to buy your own, but if I was to buy you one of your own toys, which would it be? What's your favorite?
KREIZ: You know, I'm a fan of all of our products. Other than Barbie, the Hot Wheel Monster Truck volcano arena is going to be special, and pay
attention to Masters of the Universe Masterverse figures. This is going to be a really, really exciting offering. It is a brand that we are bringing
back. It's a lot of potential and a lot of excitement around it.
QUEST: It is always good fun to watch the CEO dance as he is asked to choose between his children. Sir, it is good to see you tonight. Thank you.
I appreciate your time.
KREIZ: Thank you.
QUEST: QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight.
Dutch officials now say omicron has arrived in the Netherlands at least a week before it was named a variant of concern. Officials there found a
variant in a test sample from November the 19th, that was before it was detected from air passengers arriving from South Africa.
It's now been spotted in at least 19 countries and still scientists don't know where or when it has originated.
CNN's David McKenzie with the latest.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A coronavirus testing center in Johannesburg. The omicron variant is already
dominant here just weeks after it was first detected. A doctor who is treating omicron patients is expressing cautious optimism.
DR. ANGELIQUE COETZEE, CHAIRWOMAN, SOUTH AFRICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: But the majority of what are presenting to primary healthcare practitioners are
extremely mild cases, so it is mild to moderate.
MCKENZIE (voice over): The White House says there aren't enough cases yet to evaluate the variant's danger, but that they are prepared.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Our variant surveillance system has demonstrated we can
reliably detect the variants from alpha at the start of 2021 to delta over this past summer.
MCKENZIE (voice over): The C.D.C. is strengthening its booster recommendations for Americans saying all adults should get another dose six
months after their second Pfizer or Moderna shot or after just two months if they had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
It's a similar story abroad, where the U.K. government says it will now make boosters available to everyone over 18.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What we are doing is taking some proportionate precautionary measures while our scientists crack the omicron
MCKENZIE (voice over): In England on Tuesday, facemasks became mandatory again in stores and on public transportation. Israel confirmed its first
cases of omicron community spread, the Sheba Medical Center said a doctor who traveled abroad and then infected a colleague.
In the Netherlands, where some are already isolating in this airport hotel, the government said the omicron variant was in the country a full week
earlier than it originally thought, found in test samples from November 19th that were just sequenced.
Japan found its first omicron variant case, a man who traveled from Namibia. Its borders closed to all foreigners on Tuesday. South African
leaders are slamming those global travel bans as ineffective and punitive.
XOLISA MABHONGO, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We feel that the travel ban is very unfair. South African
science should be commended for discovering this new variant and sharing the information with the world. We have played our role very responsibly.
QUEST: That report from David McKenzie.
Facebook bought GIPHY last year for $315 million. Now regulators in the U.K. have ordered its new parent company, Meta, to unwind the acquisition.
It's a first. In a moment.
QUEST: The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority has told Facebook owner, Meta, to unwind its acquisition of GIPHY. That's the platform that
creates and shares GIFs, if you're not familiar, and things like that.
Now, for example, we can use a GIF to show that three percent was wiped off Facebook share price. That's roughly all its gains this month. And we can
GIFfy by showing the CMA is saying that Meta's purchase wasn't fair. It said the deal would threaten an important source of potential competition.
And you can GIFfy, it's a blow for the company, once known as Facebook, as it plans to expand into the Metaverse.
No. Paul La Monica joins us now. Why are the Brits -- why are they so concerned about this, if no one else is?
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, I mean, I don't know if it's fair to say that no one else is concerned, there are a lot of questions and
people wondering whether or not Facebook has gotten too big, because of its ownership of things like WhatsApp and Instagram and Oculus and what have
But in this particular case, Richard, I think there are legitimate concerns that Facebook owning GIPHY will make it tougher for other social media
companies like TikTok and Twitter and Snapchat, to use GIFs on their own platforms, because they are increasingly popular ways for people to accent,
you know, certain content. You know, people have posts and would like to use the GIFs and Facebook wants to own all of it.
QUEST: But right, but for an individual national regulator to require this. I mean, if every regulator around the world started to pick a deal, I
know they had the right to, but I'm surprised it wasn't the E.U. or for example, the D.O.J. or somebody like that. Does Facebook have to get rid of
GIPHY worldwide? Does it have to lose it across all its jurisdictions? How does -- what's the practicality?
LA MONICA: Yes, that's a great question, and I think it is why Facebook or Meta as they now refer to themselves as will be potentially appealing this
decision. I don't think they're just going to lie down and say to the U.K., okay, you win, we're not going to do this $315 million deal because it is
part of a broader social media strategy for Meta to have an increased stranglehold, I think, on the advertising market for social media.
But I do think that it does potentially show that there are many other governments around the world, including the United States that are
increasingly critical of all of the properties that Mark Zuckerberg's company now owns and what that means for the social media advertising
market that Facebook has such a stranglehold on.
QUEST: Yes, as any one point, I mean, I say this slightly tongue in cheek, but all these other regulators, none of them have the power of a Chinese
regulator in the sense that if you look at what's happened with DiDi or Alibaba or any of those, the Chinese regulators don't like it, and it's
over and done with.
LA MONICA: That's the difference between democracy and control. It still isn't, let's just leave it at that.
QUEST: We will leave it at that, before we get cut off. Thank you, Paul La Monica.
In California, prosecutors are cross-examining, Theranos founder, Elizabeth Holmes. She has told the jury on Monday that her former romantic partner,
also the company's Chief Operating Officer, abused her.
Sunny Balwani denies her claims. Holmes also said she leaned heavily on him to run the business. Theranos imploded after the government regulators
found its blood testing devices were dangerously inaccurate. Both Holmes and Balwani are charged with fraud and both have pleaded not guilty.
Stephanie Elam has been following the trial. We heard of course, all the earlier evidence, then we heard her evidence in chief. But what's been the
tenor of the cross?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Richard, we know that they are covering a lot of ground and they're taking a look at this
relationship with Balwani and whether or not it was, as she says, it was. Yesterday was her fourth day on the stand and Elizabeth Holmes, painting a
picture of herself being abused in some ways by Balwani.
She said she was abused psychologically, emotionally, and sexually. These are things that she alluded to yesterday. Today, they are asking her about
that relationship. They are also questioning her about treatment of whistleblowers, people who were speaking out about what Theranos was doing
and how they were doing it.
But yesterday, obviously, the big news coming out of the Court hearing is the fact that she was saying all these things about her relationship. Keep
in mind, she met him when she was at the end of her teen years. They had a professional relationship for 13 years and a personal one for seven years,
and she says that he coached and controlled her and criticized her in many ways.
One of the things she said yesterday was that she needed to kill the person she was to become successful. That's what she says Balwani said to her. She
alleged that he forced her to have sex with him when she didn't want to so that he would -- he would know that he still loved her is what she said.
She said that this whole idea here being put forth by her defense attorneys as the idea of what her state of mind was during the alleged fraud when it
was happening. She also said that she claimed that she believed what she was being told by Balwani about the technical and business dealings of
Theranos at the time and didn't have any reason to doubt it because he was her COO.
But all of this, obviously showing the fissure here between the two. Remember, they were charged together, and now they're going to face trial
separately. His is next year, so still, you can see more of that happening here as you hear this play out.
QUEST: Right. But the prosecution's argument is that this thing didn't work and she knew it didn't work. This thing did this -- these blood tests
were fraudulent in the sense that they did not do what they said.
How does the allegations of abuse relate to what she knew in a sense? I'm not saying they're not very serious and worthy of, you know, proper mention
in their own right, but how do they relate to the fraud?
ELAM: That's exactly, I think, exactly what is probably taking place in court today is this idea of, okay, so that may all be true. But that
doesn't mean that you didn't know what was going on. She is under cross examination right now.
She also said yesterday that she was raped at Stanford and that's why she left because she wasn't going to classes and decided to throw herself into
creating the company. So trying to change the narrative around how she has been viewed over all of these years, and saying that this is basically more
negligence on Balwani's part for not owning up to where things were.
But obviously, when you look at her involvement in the company, it's hard for some to believe that she didn't know some of this was going on, but is
trying to change the narrative.
QUEST: Thank you, Stephanie Elam. We will be watching the case in Los Angeles.
Now, the current state of vaccines and how well they protect against the omicron variant. Well, the answer now depends on which vaccine maker you
choose to ask. One says it does, the other says it may be and we're not sure who is right.
In a minute.
QUEST: Some breaking news: three people are dead after a shooting at a high school in Oakland County in Michigan. The sheriff's office says they
believe all who have died are students. Six people were shot and the shooter was taken into custody within five minutes of the emergency call.
The Omicron variant has affected the vaccine makers themselves. The CEO of Moderna rattled Wall Street when he said, "There is no world, I think,
where the effectiveness is the same level as we had with the Delta variant."
The CEO of BioNTech said, "We believe fully vaccinated individuals will still have high levels of protection against severe disease caused by
The two are not mutually exclusive. You can believe both at the same time. They can both be absolutely accurate. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now.
Look, you can believe both, because one is merely saying it won't be effective. The other is simply saying, it will still be effective. But it's
the tone and tenor of how much trouble are we in here.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: These are the informed but still speculative musings of pharma CEOs. And this is a novel virus. So
the idea you place it into a box of context, there is none for this. We're dealing with something new.
So you're right, both statements could be true, it may not be as effective but it will still be effective. That could be true. There's a couple of
things to point out.
When we talk about vaccines, we often talk about something called the cushion effect. You have enough of a cushion to provide that protection.
With Delta, there's a lot of cushion, about a 1:1,000. Against some of the variants in the past, it's dropped down. We'll see what it does with
Omicron. It's likely to drop down further.
At least that's what some are speculating.
Will it be enough to make a difference clinically?
You may still get very good protection against illness, which is what I think most people are really measuring here.
QUEST: Are we not seeing an example of what you said right at the beginning, first, we need to vaccinate everybody. And that includes those
people in Africa.
And secondly, we need to test more. Last night, we said testing is the answer. I went to a place here in New York City to get a PCR test. I was
told the result would be three to five days, unless I paid $250. It's laughable.
GUPTA: It's hard to believe we're still in this position, almost two years into this because we've had a lot of successes with vaccines. Many people
thought they wouldn't arrive for at least a couple of years. But they came much faster.
But the testing is still very lackluster. And people are making decisions based on this testing. I will say, for someone like you, if you were not
having symptoms -- and the real question you're trying to answer is, am I contagious?
Even more so than, am I carrying the virus, am I contagious?
If that's the question, the antigen tests can actually play an important role. Some of them are 97 percent accurate in terms of answering that
question. They often get a bad rap because people may test positive on PCR and negative on antigen tests.
GUPTA: The antigen test is trying to figure out whether or not your viral load is high enough to actually spread. If that's the question you are
trying to answer, an antigen test can help serve that role.
QUEST: And you've been asked this question more times than is honest or decent.
Dr. Gupta, when will this be over?
GUPTA: I think this virus is here to stay. They call it endemic. And there's remnants of the 1918 flu virus that are still hanging around. I
think what happens at some point, not now but at some point, the world gets enough immunity to these coronaviruses in general.
Variants will emerge but people will have a fair amount of immunity from hopefully the vaccines that are rolled out. It will take time.
But then it will be a question of, what are we willing to tolerate?
In the United States, 60,000 people still die of the flu a year, we're willing to tolerate that, it seems. So we'll sadly tolerate a certain
number of deaths. And at that point, we'll declare this over. But we're not there yet.
QUEST: Dr. Gupta, thank you.
Johnson & Johnson is looking to make a vaccine specifically for Omicron. And they've made an agreement with South Africa's largest drugmaker to make
its own COVID-19 vaccines. The WHO yesterday said many donated vaccines are near the end of their shelf life.
With me now, Stephen Saad, the CEO of Aspen Pharmacare.
When you make this new vaccine, are we talking here about a window shopping exercise?
Or has the IP been transferred, has the necessary technology been transferred for you to make this thing yourselves?
STEPHEN SAAD, CEO, ASPEN PHARMACARE: Thank you. Thank you, Richard.
I think it's, as you say, a great opportunity for Africa. Where we are right now is the critical part of getting independence. So the license
gives us our own vaccine. We currently make J&J vaccine for J&J.
Where we are now, is a different position. We'll be in a position to make a vaccine and not have to sell it to J&J but rather sell it to Africa and the
African Union. So it gives you independence, so we decide who we sell to. Vaccines made in Africa stay in Africa. And I'm sure you've been briefed on
what has happened in Africa.
And the second area, IP. You don't need IP waivers and the tech transfer gives you a certainty of success.
QUEST: What do you need now?
What actually is the next step that somebody like yourselves -- is it VC capital, investment, production facilities, technical know-how?
What is your next biggest requirement?
SAAD: I think we've invested heavily in our facilities. We would like to get our capacity up to 1.3 billion J&J doses. That would give us one dose
per one African. We've built the infrastructure for that. We were at 300 at the end of this year. So we want to bring it to over 400 next year and 700
the following year.
I think for us, it's not about funding. It's more you don't want to build these big World Cup soccer stadiums that I see outside the window here, use
them once, then the pandemic goes and it disappears.
So I think a very important component here is to understand that multilateral procurers will support regional manufacturers. I think that's
been pretty important -- sorry.
QUEST: I just want to get your view, is it your view that the current -- and I know we don't know. I'll give you, we don't know.
But do we -- is it your view that Omicron, the current vaccines will, de facto, do a good job at keeping it at bay?
SAAD: You've answered the question but I think what I can do, living in South Africa, is give you some of the insights I've heard from some of the
SAAD: And their view at the moment -- and it still needs a another week or two -- is that the cases they've seen have been largely asymptomatic and
mild. That's the upside. The downside is, if it's a lot worse, the next seven days will tell us it's terrible. We don't know. But there's been
nothing to make us so alarmed at the moment that we should all start panicking.
QUEST: We won't panic and we'll wait for you to come back and talk to more about us. Sir, thank you very much.
SAAD: Thank you.
QUEST: The Dow Jones, we're down 628. I want to see the chart. There we are. We're not quite at the lows of the day but we're not far off. And
we've got 20 minutes to go.
That's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for the moment. I'll be back at the top of the hour. Together we'll make a dash for the closing bell. It's going to be
grim. Coming up next, we'll take you to St. Petersburg with the "World of Wonder."
QUEST (voice-over): The weather has decided to cooperate. For a brief moment, St. Petersburg in the sun is a very different place. I'm having
breakfast with one of the city's top chefs and his wife.
Oh, now we're talking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's specially prepared for you sirimiki (ph) because she's originally from Kiev. And it's one of my favorite Ukrainian dish,
especially for breakfast.
QUEST: I'll use my fingers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, it's finger food.
QUEST: This is delicious.
It's very good.
QUEST: When did you discover that you liked cooking?
ARAM MNATSAKANOV, CHEF: I'm always very good host. And this is a key of success, the food is the second thing. You have to be an amazing host. For
me to service, we can share food, normal food with our best friends and have an amazing time.
QUEST (voice-over): My hosts insist the best way to see St. Petersburg is from the river.
QUEST: Wow, that's a real breeze.
What would you say is the essence, the very core of St. Petersburg?
NATALIA MALINOVSKAYA, MANAGING PARTNER, AM RESTAURANTS: Harmony.
Tell me why.
MALINOVSKAYA: You know, it was planned to be the perfect city. It was middle of 18th century. First of all, it was a beautiful period of human
history. That was the main DNA of the city.
QUEST: This was Aram's first restaurant and it remains a roaring success.
MNATSAKANOV: And you can smell this white truffle goes. Season is just starting.
QUEST: Oh, I love truffle.
MNATSAKANOV: I'll show you something special. This is my own line of caviar.
MNATSAKANOV: Good combination because it's (INAUDIBLE) from Italy, from (INAUDIBLE) and the caviar --
QUEST: Oh, look how much caviar he's putting in there.
MNATSAKANOV: And you know, it's like a taco. You put it like that. And tell me what you feel.
QUEST: I feel -- mmm, an explosion of different tastes. It just absolutely envelops the mouth.
QUEST (voice-over): He's a Russian chef who has translated to a wider audience, with a specific recipe for success here in Moscow and in Berlin.
QUEST: Lots of restaurants have a kitchen to the side. But you've put it center.
Why was that?
MNATSAKANOV: Because I believe, first of all, all team has to be together with the guests. Normally, you come to a restaurant, a kitchen somewhere
and the chefs never see the client enjoy it.
They just prepare and give a dish. It's so boring. They love it and they're proud about this work.
QUEST: Oh, my God.
QUEST (voice-over): I'm starting to see that indulgence and opulence of an earlier era is still very much alive in St. Petersburg.
QUEST: Very good of you.
QUEST (voice-over): Graceful movement, commanding voices, captivating performance, the main stage of the Mariinsky theater, here for 200 years,
the very best have performed in a city considered the cultural capital of Russia.
Visiting Mariinsky is a must to understand what makes St. Petersburg's heart tick.
QUEST (voice-over): For the artists, performing here is the pinnacle of decades of practice.
QUEST: They look tired.
YURI SMEKALOV, MARIINSKY BALLET COMPANY: They, no. (INAUDIBLE) huge energy, they're young, so strong.
QUEST: Is it different, dancing on this stage, to New York, London, Paris, Munich?
Is it different?
SMEKALOV: It's different, absolutely, because it's our home. This responsibility for me, because it's our city. It's our tradition. It's
QUEST: The first time you sang on this stage, were you nervous?
IRINA CHURILOVA, MARIINSKY OPERA COMPANY: I don't know how to say, I sing on this stage for my Gergiev.
QUEST: What's he like?
CHURILOVA: Ah, fantastic, man. Very energy. Very emotional. And eyes, it's very important, eyes.
QUEST (voice-over): She's talking about Valery Gergiev; he's the lord, whose fiefdom is Mariinsky, the deity upon which all this talent thrives.
QUEST: You're a rare beast. You're somebody who is still in the same job that they got in the Soviet time and post.
How is it different?
VALERY GERGIEV, ARTISTIC AND GENERAL DIRECTOR, MARIINSKY THEATRE: It's a rare story. I wouldn't call it a story of success. What really happened,
that young people coming, every three, five years, become loyal, most of them. And they become a strength of the company. And this is the core power
of the institution.
QUEST: Where are we going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going on the stage in a special, secret place.
QUEST (voice-over): I would be a fool to visit this temple of arts and not make the most of my tutors for the day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). You see, this floor, it's a very special floor for jump. Because when we have a little bit (INAUDIBLE), you see?
QUEST: Not with my knees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assure you. We need to do, together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
QUEST: No. This has got disaster written all over it.
Your job is safe. It looked awful. It felt magnificent. And in my head, to know that I have danced on the stage of Mariinsky ...
QUEST (voice-over): Thankfully, Irina didn't hear my warbling. Or if she did, she's too polite to mention.
CHURILOVA: This stage has fantastic acoustics. And our home -- or not change it.
Ah, this night -- I'm sorry.
QUEST: That's all right. You were so exuberant, one of your hairpins came out.
CHURILOVA: I'm sorry. Thank you. My little secret.
QUEST: Bravo, marvelous, wonderful.
QUEST (voice-over): The Mariinsky's been through three political systems. Its survival today is credited with Gergiev's brilliance, his artistic
genius and his sheer drive.
QUEST: You're about to go and conduct.
What is going on inside there?
GERGIEV: To like to watch big cats. The tiger is, first of all, he's the owner of a forest he's living in. He moves very relaxed. Suddenly, if --
that means he starts the performance.
So I have to be more or less in the same spirit because, during the performance, I cannot be relaxed. Inside me, there's always a hunter who
has to react on whatever happens.
GERGIEV: I have to be -- it's very, very often a total and full concentration in how to make performance, not for a moment, not boring.
QUEST: Oh, with my singing and dancing, I'll never make this stage. But to have been on it with those performers, truly incredible, which gives me a
thought as to the word for St. Petersburg.
Is it incredible?
Absolutely. But it is imperial, not just for its historic, czarist past but for the way it is a leader in culture, in grandeur and sheer beauty. And
you will want to come here and experience some of the imperialness for yourself. St. Petersburg, part of our World of Wonder.
QUEST: I'm Richard Quest. Together we have a dash to the closing bell, 90 seconds from now. Uncertainty over Omicron has weighed on the markets. The
Dow is down and fell sharply during Jay Powell's testimony and never recovered.
He warned of faster tapering despite the downside risks because of Omicron and more concern with inflation. And you see all three major averages are
down. Looking more closely at the Dow, it's off more than 1,200 points since Thursday. And Apple is up 3 percent.
Why, I hear you say?
Good question. One, it's got a cash pile and it can weather storms. Two, it's a robust, resilient company. And three, it's coming up to Christmas.
And Nike is trying to eke out a win. Merck on COVID-19 issues, Boeing because it's lost so much overall. You get an idea, the market is not
happy. But that is the dash to the bell for today. I'm Richard Quest. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. The
closing bell is ringing on Wall Street.