Return to Transcripts main page

Quest Means Business

WTA Suspends Tournament in China Over Peng Shuai; Biden Concerned That Omicron Could Worsen Supply Chain, Inflation; Volatility Jolts Major Averages; CDC Considers Testing For All Travelers Entering U.S.; South African President Slams Omicron Travel Bans; Dash To The Bell. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 01, 2021 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: An hour to go on Wall Street and the gains that we saw during the day evaporated as we enter the final hour. You

can see, it was turning into a reasonable day, until a whole slew of details, everything -- well, we'll get to all of that. When we get to the

main event, you'll see why the gains have evaporated.

Firstly, the Women's Tennis Association says it will suspend all tournaments in China over Beijing's screenings of the tennis star, Peng


And then you've got President Biden saying he is concerned omicron could worsen supply chain problems. The United States records its first case in


And of course this --



deal with what you don't know because what you don't know is in many cases greater than what you do know.


QUEST: Hedge fund billionaire, Ray Dalio shares his investment advice. Very useful after a week of volatile markets.

We are live in New York on Wednesday, December 1st. I'm Richard Quest, and I mean business.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

QUEST: Good evening. We start tonight in response to China's censorship of the tennis star, Peng Shuai. The Women's Tennis Association says it is now

suspending all its tournament in China and Hong Kong.

The WTA Chairman, Steve Simon says he had serious doubts that Peng was free, safe, or not subject to censorship after accusing a former Vice

Premier of China of sexual assault.

In the statement announcing the suspension, the WTA reiterated its call for in their words, " ... a full and transparent investigation without

censorship into Peng Shuai's sexual assault accusation. None of this is acceptable, nor can it become acceptable."

Don Riddell is with me in Atlanta. Before we do the whys and the wherefores, just outline to me what is in the sense at risk from the WTA

having made this announcement? How many tournaments, sponsorships, games were there due to be? Is this more than just tokenism?

DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Well, Richard, I would say that both sides effectively lose here, but the risk from the WTA's perspective is

financial. They have gone into China in a big way in the last few years and China has invested very heavily in women's tennis.

We don't know exactly how many tournaments would have been on the calendar for next year, because they hadn't actually finalized the schedule, but the

WTA has told us that on average, they play 10 events in China every year, and the money at stake is absolutely enormous.

For example, in 2018, the WTA signed a 10-year deal with China to host the WTA Finals, which is the end of season event, and that contract was worth

$140 million. It doubled the amount of money that was on the table in that one event alone. And to give you some perspective of what the WTA might be

losing in just this one event alone, they couldn't play that event in China this year, because of the pandemic, they had to play it in Guadalajara in

Mexico instead. And instead of $14 million being on the table, there was just $5 million.

So this is an absolutely enormous story for the WTA and sports business, and the reaction has been really interesting. I just want to show you what

the former men's U.S. Open champion, Andy Roddick said on Twitter a short time ago because this really speaks to the nub of what the WTA has done

here. He said, "There are a lot of organizations who can afford to do something like this a lot more than the WTA can. Respect. Doing the right

thing is a lot easier when there aren't associated costs. I continue to be proud to be in the tennis orbit."

QUEST: So what does the -- I mean, this is just inviting pure, raw speculation here -- what does the Chinese do? I mean, in the sense that,

well, the WTA has gone nuclear, if you will, this was their nuclear option.

RIDDELL: Yes, well, their bluff has been called and that's very rare, certainly in the world of sports business and international sports

relationship with China. Nothing like this have ever happened before.

Steve Simon, the head of the WTA, had hinted that he was going down this road. He said a couple of weeks ago that we are at a crossroads with China.


The ball, so to speak was very much in China's court because the WTA made absolutely clear what they wanted to happen. They wanted to be able to

speak to Peng Shuai, they wanted to better ascertain that she was safe, and she wasn't being coerced, or harassed, or intimidated. And they also wanted

a full and transparent investigation into her accusation -- and none of that has transpired.

So now that this is where we're at, what cards does China have left to play? They have to presumably do what the WTA is asking, and I think a

great many people who watch China a lot closely -- more closely than I would wonder if China would go down that road.

QUEST: Don Riddell, thank you, sir.

President Biden and the O.E.C.D. are both worried omicron could make supply chain bottlenecks even worse. The U.S. has now detected its first case of

the new variant. It's in a vaccinated traveler who recently returned from South Africa. The traveler is recovering well after mild symptoms.

Joe Biden said he is concerned about omicron's effect on the supply chain while he tried to reassure American shelves will be stocked as the Holiday

season draws close.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you watch the news recently, you might think the shelves in all our stores are empty across

the country, that parents won't be able to get presents for their children this Holiday season.

But here's the deal: For the vast majority of the country, that's not what's happening. Because of the actions the administration has taken in

partnership with business and labor, retailers and grocery stores, freight movers and railroads, those shelves are going to be stocked.


QUEST: The U.S. Commerce Secretary has told CNN, she is worried the variant could strain the supply chain even further if people keep returning

from work.

Matt Egan is in Washington.

We don't know. I mean, that's the long and short of it. We don't know. But in the parlance of the markets, the risk is on the downside.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Richard. And we've seen the markets take a lot more notice about that risk, just in the last few

minutes with U.S. stocks hitting session lows and the markets were way up on the day and a lot of it has to do with omicron.

And so I think that the big issue for the White House and the Biden administration is that it is a really tricky economic narrative. Yes,

retail sales are booming. Yes, the jobs market is strong -- really strong. But all of that good news is being overshadowed by these really two

powerful forces -- inflation and the supply chain mess. And the risk is that this new variant could actually make both of those issues worse.

There has been some positive momentum in the supply chain front in recent weeks and business leaders have talked about those positives. The Business

Roundtable held a press conference today where the CEO said, you know what, CEOs are seeing some glimmers of hope, but they are worried that the

variant is going to cause some backsliding in terms of more bottlenecks, not less.

And I sat down with the Commerce Secretary General Raimondo and asked her about whether or not she is concerned about this. And she said, yes, she

is. Let me read you the key line from the Commerce Secretary, she said, "You know, it's too soon to tell, but I do think it's real, not just

because of the outbreaks but because of people's fears to show up. It's massively disruptive."

And it is especially disruptive of course, Richard, in factories where people are working very closely together. And if they are either getting

sick or worried they're going to get sick or worried they're going to bring the virus home to their family, they may have to stay home, which means

there is less components like computer chips that go into key items like cars, and that of course, can raise prices for everyone.

So Richard, it's just -- it's hard to see how you totally unwind the inflation and the supply chain problems until you get COVID under control.

QUEST: Matt Egan, thank you.

The retailer LL Bean says its shelves are stocked for Holiday shopping, and yet, it is warning the situation may not last. The Chief Executive said

last month, he expected inventory to run low by mid-December because of backups and recommended shopping early -- and shopping now.

The LL Bean Chief Executive, always good to have Stephen Smith with us from Yarmouth in Maine.

I wish we spoke on a happier time, Stephen. I really do. Every time I -- you know, I want to talk about nice things about latest fashions and

things, but unfortunately, I can't. We have to start with your supply chain issues. Your manufacturing comes from China. That's where the problems are.

STEPHEN SMITH, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, LL BEAN: Yes, nice to see you, Richard. And it is always a pleasure to be with you. I know we talk about tough

topics. For us specifically, we actually don't have a lot of things that come from China. We have a pretty -- a very global supply chain, but you

know, for sure it the supply chain challenges have been real.


You know, we have been -- we've received over 600 containers since August. Typically, we would have received all of those before August, and we're

currently tracking 300 that are in transit now expecting to come in between now and mid-January. But indeed, the bottlenecks have opened up, a lot of

our stuff comes in on the East Coast. Truck drivers are driving and products are moving.

We're now sitting at about 70 percent of our products in-house, which is a good place to be. We're deeply appreciative that customers shopped early in

October and November, because that has helped us sort of smooth out our inventory. But we're feeling like we're in an okay position right now with

our product levels.

QUEST: In that case, it is not so much a supply chain problem. Now, it's the omicron problem, and how you -- and it really hits you two ways in a

sense of your own employees who we hope remain safe and sound and vaccinated, but at the same time shoppers and this continuing shift

backwards and forwards between in-store and online.

So, how are you factoring in, whether it be omicron or another variant into this?

SMITH: Yes, I mean, we've been doing this now for 20 months through COVID. So, this new variant, honestly, it's too soon to tell what the impact is

going to be to our employees, to our supply chain, to our customers.

But we're experienced -- sadly, we're experienced with this now. So we understand how to keep our employees safe, how to do social distancing, how

to make sure that all of our employees are masked.

You know, we've been -- we've had a great response with our employees through vaccinations, and we'll continue to do everything possible to make

a safe shopping environment for employees and customers, and it's not new. This is a new variant. We'll make the adjustments, and we'll continue to

move forward.

QUEST: What are you seeing now in terms of what people are wanting? When we spoke before, there was a definite shift in the type of garment and

clothing people wanted? They wanted -- I mean, what I always say, out with the glitz, but it was very much we are at home, we're making do, we're sort

of keeping comfort.

What are we seeing now? Are we waiting to break out from that?

SMITH: Yes, you know, there's two things that have been happening since COVID hit. One of which I think is incredibly encouraging. So, millions and

millions of people have become outsiders and have really embraced getting in the outdoors for the mental and physical health benefits.

We saw that, we've talked about it, we've reported on it you know, for the past year and a half. We are continuing to see that outdoor goods, things

that enable people to get outdoors with their family, with their friends, with their pets, continue to fly off the shelves and through e-com, so

that's been incredibly strong.

And indoor comfort continues. You know, we just came off of -- in the States, we just came off of a Black Friday and Thanksgiving Holiday and

all, and we sold Wicked Good Slippers, a pair every two seconds for the entire four-day time period of Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

So, we're continuing to see that split of people getting comfortable at home, working at home and then people getting outdoors.

QUEST: It's too -- it's too late in the afternoon for me to work out, a pair every two seconds over a 48-hour period. I have no -- I have no doubt

that even as we speak, somebody is tweeting to @RichardQuest how many you sold. A pair every two seconds.

Look, so what do you now need? As we move forward into this next stage of whatever we are facing, what is it that LL Bean needs most either from

regulators, government, or consumers?

SMITH: I mean, from consumers, you know, consumers have been unbelievably resilient through the entire COVID process dealing with different delays,

supply chain delays, delivery delays, you know, that sort of grace and appreciation from customers has been amazing. We still need that through

the Holidays.

You know, having customers shopping early, shopping with an alternate in mind if a color or style isn't available to go ahead and make an

adjustment. Back orders are your friend. So, if we have a date for a backorder date, it means the product is coming, we just can't exactly

guarantee when it's going to be here. So back orders are a friend.

And then I think, you know just remaining calm and getting outdoors, taking care of physical and mental health is the most important thing for both

customers and employees.

QUEST: It's 8,640 -- that's selling a pair every two seconds for the three days from Black Friday, okay, and I'm sure there's a lot more than that,

but we'll talk about that on another occasion It's good to see you, sir. I much appreciate your time.


SMITH: Nice to see you too, Richard, thank you so much.

QUEST: Good to see you.

SMITH: Have a great holiday.


Facebook says it has linked some posts related to the migrant crisis to the Belarusian KGB. Europe and the U.S. had accused the country of weaponizing

migrants at the Polish border.


QUEST: Fears are swirling that the new omicron variant could upend the pandemic recovery. It's time for 101 -- Econ101 on inflation and the


Now, pay attention at the back, please.

Prices in the United States and the E.U. and indeed elsewhere are rising faster than they have in 30 years. There you are. You can see that very

fast rate of inflation. Now, the Fed has called this rate transitory inflation.

Chair Powell says he is erasing the word "transitory.' It's a sign that inflation could be systemic, structural, and persistent, and that means

felt on the U.S. economy for longer, and it means the Federal have to taper pandemic stimulus more quickly.

UBS is giving us this handy equation. You'll want to know if you're wanting to be -- for Economics tonight at dinner. Omicron plus taper equals


We've seen that volatility all week on Wall Street. This is the Dow since Friday, when the W.H.O. first sounded the alarm. Down 905, up 235, down

653, and despite the swings, the billionaire investor, Ray Dalio told me inflation is actually killing us. Those of us who sit on the sidelines

holding cash. His new book is called "The Changing World." And in it, he explains how money printing, its markets, and the consequences.


DALIO: The things about it as an investor at this stage is to understand, for example, the consequences of money printing. Okay? You don't get richer

because of money printing, it produces inflation, and it moves through the system to change asset prices in a certain way. So, I explain how that


And so for example, you don't want cash. You don't want -- people think that the safest investment is to hold money in cash.


It is the worst investment because you lose constantly to inflation, something like three, four or five percent a year would be the tax, and

your money will not be worth it.

So to be able to know how to develop a balanced portfolio, so not in any one thing, but to achieve balance and diversification is a very, very

important thing. So as an investor, I think -- so there's many things that are in the book about how to do those kinds of things.

QUEST: Let's just for pause on that, if we may.

DALIO: Sure.

QUEST: And talk about that, because constantly, we are told, as you as you said, diversification. Diversification in portfolios and investment assets.

Now, for somebody who is a large-scale investor like yourself, that has a variety -- that has access to enormous options, opportunities in different

areas, but most of our viewers will say -- will be looking and saying, all right, Ray Dalio, tell me what does it mean? I've got a pension fund, I've

got a bit of money in the bank, I've got a house, a car, and a bit of savings.

What do you mean for somebody like me to diversify?

DALIO: Well, if you watch the market every day, that you will see -- notice what goes up and what goes down and the relationship between them.

For example, you'll notice that when the pandemic comes along, and the stock market goes down, that the bond market goes up, and that the gold

changes in this way. Just watch how those movements occur relative to each other, and that gives you a sense of how that balance is going to occur.

There is a mistake of a lot of people to think that one asset class is a better than another asset class, and put all your money in that. Markets,

if one asset class was better than another asset class, then everybody would make a lot of money because all you do is go shortly at one that's

less good, and you go long on the other.

Markets have a way of handicapping. It's like horses at a horse race. You know, the favorite to win is not going -- the bet on the favorite to win

won't improve your odds any better than they are on the least likely to win because the odds get changed.

And so to know that and to be able to achieve that balance is an important thing, and I won't be able to cover it, and I probably already took too


QUEST: On that point, are you optimistic at the moment? Is there cause for optimism?

As the omicron came along, everybody is walking around, and I'm not asking about omicron per se, but everybody is walking around with an air of the

sky is falling or worse. This is never going to end. We've got to chase for yield in the market, even at low interest rates, even if they go up. Is

there room for optimism?

DALIO: I would say that if people understand that and that dynamic, there is plenty of room for optimism. But it is really you need to understand

those lessons of history and see those patterns and understand what we're doing over and over again. And then related to that there, although, those

first four that I mentioned are sources of great concern, but man's adaptability and technology and creativity. And so if man can reflect on

how do we want to be with each other, and how do I want to take care of my finances in a way? The capacity certainly exists.


QUEST: Ray Dalio with plenty of room for optimism. You'll hear more from him by the way in terms of bigger issues about where we stand, but the day

has turned nasty. Now, the market was strongly up, but as you look at the way in which things have moved, we're now down 223 points. And you know,

the downward pressure seems to be growing. It's large -- we've been through the reasons, but I do need to update you.

We've got 40 to 50 minutes -- 40 minutes left to trade.

Now, there is some new CNN reporting about tensions in Belarus.

Facebook says it has evidence that the Belarusian KGB used fake accounts to stir up tensions about the refugee crisis. The agents apparently posers,

journalists, and activists. Their goal was to inflame what is a volatile situation already on the Belarusian border with Poland.

Donie O'Sullivan has more details on this.

Firstly, what is Facebook saying happened here?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Richard. Yes, Facebook just announcing this in the past few minutes and directly pointing the finger at

the Belarusian KGB. Here is what Facebook is saying these accounts were doing.

They said these fictitious personas, so these accounts pose as people, as activists and journalists, posted criticism of Poland in English, Polish

and Kurdish including pictures and videos about Polish Border guards allegedly violating migrants.


And also in this, on the flip side of this, Facebook said they found messages that came out of Poland. But importantly, they are not blaming the

Polish government or Security Services in Poland for these accounts.

These accounts were also posing as fake personas, and this is what they were doing. Facebook saying: "These fake personas claimed to be sharing

their own negative experiences of trying to get from Belarus to Poland, posted about migrants' different lives in Europe. And they also posted

about Poland's strict anti-migrant policies and anti-migrant Neo-Nazi activity in Poland."

So what is interesting there obviously is you see somebody was also running accounts out of Poland, posing as migrants, telling migrants do not come,

do not come into this country. Facebook again, not saying who was responsible, or who was behind those accounts.

But really, I guess what we're seeing here, Richard, is that on both sides of this, people are playing, are using social media to play and infiltrate.

QUEST: That's right. There are two aspects are there. Firstly, there's the fact that Facebook has come forward with this information, which I guess,

you know, but it's never the wrong time to do the right thing in the sense of doing that.

But it also begs the question, the impossibility of the task for Facebook. Since it is ubiquitous, it's going to be used by both sides in all in every

occasion, and there is nothing they can do about that.

O'SULLIVAN: They, of course, would like to say that they are doing something about it, but as we see, it's often so often too little too late.

Look, you're right. You know, many of the migrants that we saw at the border are using Facebook. They're using WhatsApp. They are using it as a

means to find information to even find smugglers to find ways into Europe. And so that is part of Facebook's value, I suppose in that it is so


Facebook has these teams that are trying to stamp down on how state actors like in this case, the Belarusian KGB as Facebook alleges and others are

using their platforms to pose as fake people and to trying to stoke tensions and divisions.

But you are right, Richard. I mean, this stuff is happening of course all over the place, a tool like Facebook is a goldmine for foreign and for

Intelligence Services, and espionage all around the world.

QUEST: We will talk more as it continues, Donie, thank you.

As we continue tonight on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, the White House might make it tougher to travel to the U.S.

In a moment.




QUEST: The U.S. is considering stricter COVID-19 testing for international travelers. Government officials say the Biden administration may require

all incoming travelers to do a predeparture test one day before departure. Now it's the negative test is -- results within three days is allowed.

Athena Jones is with me.

So let's ignore the difficulty of doing a one-day test, which would be quite considerable basically.

But is that the thrust of it?

What about quarantines, are we expecting anything on that as well?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Richard. So far, right now, a mandatory self-quarantine is not being discussed among the options under


But I will say, this is all about making international travel as safe as it can be. That is what we heard from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control

director Dr. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and kind of telegg that these moves would be coming when she spoke with reporters just yesterday in the White

House briefing.

So as you mentioned among the things being considered are requiring everyone coming to the U.S. to be tested just one day before, not three

days before their flight.

But also on the back end, requiring that everybody, whether U.S. citizens or permanent residents, to be tested again once they get here. So those are

the two main things being discussed right now.

Nothing has been announced officially. But I can tell you here at Newark Airport, this is one of four airports that is already enhancing their

attempts to get track of the Omicron variant. So they're doing more surveillance here.

At this setup behind me, Express Check, people from certain international flights have been able to go over there and get a free COVID-19 test, and

the most high quality one, a PCR test.

They don't get the results immediately but they are able to get the test, send it to a lab. They can also take home a test to test themselves within

three to five days as recommended.

Right now, that's not mandatory but this is the sort of thing we could soon see change. Of course, once those samples are tested, if any of them is

positive, they are then sequenced to see if it is the Omicron variant.

So this is part of an effort to step up surveillance of all coronavirus cases but also especially of Omicron, which we now know has been discovered

or detected here in the U.S. in California.

QUEST: OK, so having had some experience of this, the U.S. initially required a -- still does require -- predeparture test within three days. It

can be antigen, used to be PCR but it can now be antigen, which makes it -- lateral flow, which makes it very easy.

You used to have to do a seven day quarantine or a 10 day and a test after so many days. NOw we've got to a very low level now. But it seems as if a

lot of those gains are going to be rolled back.

For instance, if you do have to do a test after three days and we don't know whether if you have to remain in isolation during that period?

JONES: Well, it would make sense that you would have to remain in isolation. Certainly when Dr. walenski talked about some of these plans,

you know, self-quarantine was one thing she mentioned. But as of right now, it does not appear that that is going to be mandatory.

But of course, we have to wait and see what it is that's announced. This is a situation that can change very quickly, because, of course, it's changing

quickly on a global level. So we know President Biden is set to outline the steps his administration will take to fight COVID as we enter the winter

months and as we've seen cases rise in many cold weather states.

So we could see some of these announcements as soon as tomorrow. But certainly, the idea of self-isolating, if someone tests positive, is

certainly on the table as part of overall COVID mitigation efforts that have been in place for a long time. But in terms of the very specific steps

that they're going to be rolling out, we'll have to wait and see for the official announcement.

QUEST: I have to tell you, Athena, if they go for a 24-hour test.


It will be just about impossible to do a 24-hour PCR test before you come to the United States. It would have to be an antigen lateral flow, maybe at

the airport; they've tried that one.

It's not going to be easy, is it?

JONES: No. No. Not at all. No, certainly, you have to have a whole system in place on both ends to make sure the testing can be done in an efficient

fashion. So a lot of changes coming with -- because of this new variant and concerns about COVID.

QUEST: All right, Athena Jones. Thank you, appreciate it.

Let's look at the markets now and how they're doing. The markets have been absolutely all over the place. In the sense that we had a strong session at

open and things were going quite well and now, it's gone absolutely in the opposite direction.

And so we're now down over 260 points, off over half a percent. The World Health Organization says blanket travel bans won't keep Omicron variant

from spreading. With me is the tourism minister from South Africa, Lindiwe Sisulu. She is in Madrid for the U.N. World Tourism Organization, the U.N.

WTO's general assembly.

We look at the graph, Minister, and we can see that the -- I mean, the virus, the Omicron variant is everywhere. I guess that's a case of you

saying, I told you so.

LINDIWE SISULU, SOUTH AFRICA TOURISM MINISTER: Yes. It is, actually. Being in Madrid at this forum gave us the opportunity to explain how we got to be

associated with Omicron.

And we made it very clear that Omicron is not a South African variant. It was discovered by our scientists and it seems to have spread all over the

place, long before we discovered it.

And we needed to get that clarity, because we suddenly found ourselves with a whole lot of countries red-listing us, making it very difficult for our

economy to, you know, get beyond where it is right now. So I'm glad that I am here, to bring clarity that issue.

QUEST: But Minister, I take your point and I agree with you in the sense that travel bans are not particularly effective or they're not really very

effective over the long term.

However, there is an argument that would say, in the early stages of Omicron's spread, reducing the opportunity from countries where it is known

to be more prevalent is worthwhile.

And I give you the example of the two KLM flights, where there are 11 passengers on board who suffered from Omicron and 60 passengers on board

those two flights who were positive.

SISULU: Yes, but what we did discover as well is that this variant is as easily discoverable as the ordinary COVID variants that we know about.

So there is no -- there would not have been any reason for us to go to the extreme of cutting off flights landing in South Africa or leaving from

South Africa. We could easily have made available those tests that immediately are able to detect whether somebody who was boarding a flight

is COVID positive or not. The tests would be the same.


QUEST: Do you see --


QUEST: -- well, what hope do you see for your tourism industry next year?

I mean, I know you've had a difficult time, very difficult time. You've had to adapt for sort of regional tourism, domestic tourism, which has saved,

to a certain extent, but it's not the same thing.

Can you get a good tourism season next year, do you think?

SISULU: Well, the good thing that's happened now is, out of the experience that we have gone through, is we've got closer to the industry, the tourism

industry. And we've been working very closely with people who have been completely devastated by this pandemic.

And, therefore, we have learned what it is that we can do better. And we are hopeful, building on that to make sure we can work better, we can work

collectively and we are looking forward to the new season, to make sure that, even if we have another pandemic, whatever nature, we will be able to

survive it.

This pandemic found us completely unaware of the repercussions, completely unaware of the devastation that we were going to be faced with. But we've

learned now. And I've met with all the major stakeholders everywhere. And from that, we are hoping that, whatever pandemic break out, we will be


QUEST: What can you do, do you think the government can do, to increase the vaccination rate?


SISULU: Well, the president has indicated that that is now getting to the point where we would need that -- perhaps make it compulsory for everybody


QUEST: Right.

SISULU: -- and, I think that's the only way we can survive. I think increasingly, the world will have to take choices about what to do about

the vaccination. If it is the only way that we as a species will be able to survive, that's the way we will go.

QUEST: Minister, we will meet again and we'll meet in South Africa, promise you that.

SISULU: I hope so and it will be very safe for you there.

QUEST: Oh, always safe there. Thank you.

And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. The top of the hour we will have a dash for the closing bell. I know you're long in the market, you'd rather like

me to do a slow walk to the bell, hoping it will go positive. I don't think that's going to happen. I don't know. We've got 20 minutes, plenty of time

for mischief and mayhem. Coming up next, "MARKETPLACE AFRICA."

No, "MARKETPLACE ASIA." I'm getting my marketplaces mixed up.






QUEST: Now it's coming up toward the top of the hour, let's look at the markets and just remind you where we stand. The close of play. The last --

well, the last few minutes have fallen very sharply. We're down 406 points on the Dow.

So the market -- the acceleration has -- the acceleration has accelerated, if you will, and it's widely because the first case of Omicron variant has

sent the markets considerably lower.

The Dow has shed its gains; the S&P is down sharply, the Nasdaq has lost the most of all, it's off 1.75 points.

At the same time the president and the OECD are both warning that the Omicron variant could make supply chain problems even worse. The issue of

course -- look at the Dow 30 and you'll see the way it is and you'll see that it -- the green that we're all seeing, there's a bit of it but it's

in standard goods, solid stuff that you would expect.

All the others are heavily down, there is deep misery in the market.

And the only real question I leave you with as the closing bell rings is whether or not the rout has begun in the middle or is coming to an end. The

closing bell on Wall Street. Good grief, I forgot me bell. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it is profitable.