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Quest Means Business
Global Stocks Fall as Omicron Fears Grow; Moderna Booster Increases Antibodies to Omicron; COVID Travel Measures Reinstated across Europe; Markets Fall As Omicron Fears Take A Toll; Omicron Variant Adds Uncertainty To Travel Recovery; Chile's Leftist President-Elect Promises Economic Reform. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired December 20, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS HOST: The Dow is off the lows of the day, but it is still red across the board on Wall Street. It's the worst session in
nearly a month for the Dow.
Those are the markets and these are the main events.
Global stocks are gripped by fears of omicron as investors fret about new lockdown measures.
Israel is about to ban arrivals from a host of foreign countries as travel restrictions spread before Christmas.
And Moderna says its COVID booster can help fight off the omicron variant.
Live from New York, it is Monday, December the 20th. I'm Alison Kosik. And this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Good evening. Tonight, 2021 is ending like it began with COVID cases surging on both sides of the Atlantic. This time it's the omicron variant
triggering a global selloff. Major averages in the U.S., Europe, and Asia are all lower to start the week.
The Netherlands has now entered a new lockdown as more European countries restrict activities and travel. In China, the Central Bank cut interest
rates for the first time in 20 months, and the Shanghai Composite still closed lower.
In New York, the Dow was off more than 500 points. U.S. politics are partly to blame. The prospects for President Biden's massive spending bill were
dashed this weekend. In response, Goldman Sachs has lowered its growth outlook for next year.
Matt Egan joins me now to talk all about this. Matt, good to see you.
You know omicron, the variant creating a lot of uncertainty here. I'm thinking this is one of the drivers today, but there is another wrench
thrown in the mix here and that is Biden's -- President Biden's Build Back Better plan being shelved. Talk us through why that is impacting the
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Alison, you know, I do think that it did come as a surprise for many on Wall Street. I think a lot of economists, a
lot of investors had anticipated that eventually Democrats were going to get something done on Build Back Better, which is that $1.75 trillion
centerpiece of the Biden agenda, and the thinking was that that was going to help support the economy, particularly as a lot of the fiscal stimulus
had started to wear off.
We had all the COVID relief in 2020, the American Rescue Plan early this year, all of that fading away. But Senator Joe Manchin's opposition to
Build Back Better, that caused people to realize that this is probably not going to happen. And so Goldman Sachs very quickly lowered its economic
outlook on for the United States, particularly because of no more Build Back Better, and they are now calling for two percent growth in the first
quarter. That compares with their prior call for three percent growth.
They also slightly lowered their growth outlook for the second quarter and the third quarter, and that's largely because there is this enhanced Child
Tax Credit that's going away unless Congress takes any action.
But Alison, I would say that while Build Back Better, the demise of that legislation -- apparent demise is a big negative for the market, or at
least for the economic outlook, I think the bigger negative for the market right now is omicron and this rapid spread of COVID cases throughout the
KOSIK: Yes, and all the uncertainty that omicron brings. Now, interesting I was watching oil prices as well. Omicron causing oil prices to fall. It
was just a few weeks ago, we were concerned about oil prices jumping. Could we expect OPEC to take some sort of action based on the impact of omicron?
EGAN: Yes, Alison, it is a great question. I think at a minimum OPEC's decision to you know, really take it very slow in adding back supply, much
to the disagreement and dismay of the White House -- that looks a lot better in light of omicron. I mean, we heard OPEC officials talk about, you
know, concerns about demand, concerns about the health situation. And yes, that is clearly what is weighing on oil today down three to four percent
because there are worries that people might be flying less often, they might be scrapping road trips, they might not be commuting as often.
I mean, normally, I would be talking to you from the studio in New York and I'm not. I'm at home because of the COVID situation and we also have to
look at what is going on in some of the other COVID exposed U.S. stocks because we've seen a pullback from some of those names in particular, if we
look at JetBlue is down, other airlines as well. We've also seen Wynn Resorts lose ground.
EGAN: Darden Restaurants exposed to this as well. The TripAdvisor down. And then investors are also sort of anticipating that people might be stuck
at home more often. So, they're going back into some of the stay-at-home stocks. We've seen Zoom and Netflix and Chewy all go higher.
So Alison, this is all just another reminder of even though we all really want COVID to be done with, it's not done with us yet.
KOSIK: Oh, yes. We want to be done with this. Matt Egan, thanks so much for your reporting.
It took just one month for the omicron variant to change the outlook in Europe. Berenberg's chief economist says the fast-spreading variant could
overwhelm health systems, forcing other countries to follow the Netherlands into lockdown.
A Societe Generale strategist says it feels more like Halloween than Christmas, given the number of economic risks out there. He lists the
collapse of Turkey's lira, falling oil prices, and lower bond yields, another sign that things won't be normal for some time.
The World Economic Forum postponed Davos until early summer because of omicron's impact on travel.
Victoria Fernandez is the Chief Market Strategist at Crossmark Global Investments and she joins us from Houston, Texas. Grateful for your time
VICTORIA FERNANDEZ, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, CROSSMARK GLOBAL INVESTMENTS: My pleasure.
KOSIK: All right, so we're looking at kind of the big picture here. Investors around the world, they really just seem to be rethinking
everything with this uncertainty of omicron. Plus, you've got the Fed's expected moves to tighten. Do you think we're facing a new economic cycle
here or is there still room to grow?
FERNANDEZ: Well, Alison, I think the key is what you mentioned just a moment ago, and that was uncertainty. When we look back a few months, I
think the big question that everyone was facing is what is the Federal Reserve going to do in regards to tapering and rate hikes? And everything
else people thought was somewhat contained.
And we thought, you know, COVID, we've got through delta, we thought things were going to be okay there. It looked like the legislation with the
Infrastructure Bill was going to be okay, and people really saw us more as kind of in the middle of the cycle.
I think over the last couple months, we've really progressed more towards getting to late cycle, maybe not necessarily there completely, but we're
starting to see some of those sectors that tend not to do as well in late cycle starting to come back a little bit.
Now, is it just because of that? Probably not. And you know, you've spoken about the omicron variant and the questions we've seen there, the Build
Back Better issues that we're seeing there. You combine that with the Federal Reserve, and the people are saying perhaps March is going to be a
live meeting to raise rates, I'm not sure I agree with that, but it is still conjecture in the market.
And I think you have a lot more uncertainty than what people were planning on and that is the volatility that we're seeing in the market over the last
KOSIK: To your point about the Federal Reserve, do you think the Fed is watching the stock market? I'm talking about these selloffs that we've
seen, so watching the market in relation to its expected acceleration, in tapering and rising interest rates. You know, is there a point that the
stock market decline could become an issue for the Fed and possibly even redirecting the other way, maybe a 10 percent decline, a 20 percent to
incentivize the Fed to pull back on accelerating the slowing?
FERNANDEZ: Well, they always say that it doesn't dictate what they do. But I think they have to pay attention to it to some degree. And obviously,
their mandate, when you're looking at the labor market, when you're looking at price stability, those things are going to affect what's going on in the
So maybe, it is a secondary component of what they are looking at. But obviously, if we have a huge pullback because of concerns of the omicron
variant, because of concerns that the omicron variant is now going to hinder some of the progress we had seen in supply chain issues, which means
inflation maybe won't come back down as the Fed was anticipating and I think many in the market were anticipating, then yes, it does start to feed
into what volatility in the market as being, you know, correlated exactly with inflation, with growth, with the labor market and all of that is what
the Fed is concentrating on.
KOSIK: To the bond market very quickly, you know, even with the Fed's expected moves, not seeing yields moving any higher. What's going on there?
FERNANDEZ: You know, I wish I had a really good answer for you, Alison and I don't and it is quite frustrating, actually, we sit around -- the CIO of
our firm Bob Doll and I were talking about this over the weekend, trying to determine what really the message is from the bond market with yields
staying low, and I think actually, more importantly, credit staying very well-behaved right now, which tells you it's not a risk off sentiment in
the bond market, and without the longer into the curve moving higher, you have to wonder how much inflation is really a concern for the bond market
at this point in time.
FERNANDEZ: So I feel like we have very different stories right now in the equity market and the bond market, and only time will tell, which one is
correct or do they start to move together towards the middle? That would probably be my guess as we head into the New Year.
KOSIK: Okay, Victoria Fernandez, strategist at Crossmark Global Investments. Thanks for your analysis today.
FERNANDEZ: Thanks, Alison.
KOSIK: Moderna is delivering some promising news about its booster shot. It is proving effective against the dogged omicron variant. But how
effective is it? The details ahead.
KOSIK: The Dow is headed for a third straight session of losses. We are off the lows, but the Dow still has lost more than two percent over the
last week. Even Moderna shares can't stay out of the red, they had opened higher.
Moderna's preliminary tests show that its booster shot can increase antibody levels against omicron. The shares later turned negative though.
Let's get more insight on this data and bring in CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen who is with me now.
Elizabeth, great to see you. This is good news if this is what I'm hearing, the headline here. Talk with us more about how effective this Moderna
booster is against the omicron variant.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Alison, it is a bit of mixed news. What Moderna says is that their booster does indeed increase
antibodies against the omicron variant. What is not entirely clear is it doesn't raise it enough, is it useful against -- to fight the omicron
variant? It's two different things.
You see something in a lab where the antibodies go up. That's good. But what does that mean in real life? That's what's really not clear. So let's
take a look at what Moderna found.
So they looked at their current booster, that's the one you can go out in the United States and other places and get. The booster is 50 micrograms
and it boosted antibodies, but when they looked at a 100-milligram dose, that boosted antibodies even higher, but the effectiveness of either dose
against omicron is unclear. It's unclear what that means.
Now, you might look at this and say, well, maybe they should be using a hundred micrograms. Well, the first two shots of Moderna are 100
micrograms, so those doses do exist. And so Moderna -- the Moderna President said, look, that's for public health authorities to decide if
they want to switch from 50 to 100, but that definitely is a question that's hanging out there.
COHEN: Now, the bottom line is, look if you are, you know going to get a Moderna booster, if you're thinking about it, go get the booster. It is
going to increase antibodies. It's unclear exactly how much good it will do against omicron. But first of all, at least in the U.S., most of what's out
there is still delta, and it's not going to hurt you, and it will, if this study is right, it will increase your antibodies.
It's not entirely clear exactly if it will fight off omicron, but it's better to have the booster than to not have the booster and of course, get
those first two shots if you haven't done so already -- Alison.
KOSIK: What about those in the U.S. who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and go ahead and look to get one of these boosters. What is the
recommendation for them?
COHEN: So one thing is for sure that if you got Johnson & Johnson, you should be getting a booster two months after that Johnson & Johnson shot
and the U.S. government, the Centers for Disease Control came out last week and said the Moderna and Pfizer are preferable, the preferred vaccines,
preferred over Johnson & Johnson so that seems to say if you're going to get a booster after Johnson & Johnson, make it Pfizer or Moderna, so that
advice still holds.
KOSIK: Boosters are key. That is the message here Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.
Okay, new COVID restrictions are wreaking havoc on Christmas travel plans. The U.S., Canada, and Germany have all landed on Israel's No Fly List.
Those measures go into effect at midnight local time.
Sweden is tightening its border rules, now requiring visitors from Nordic countries to show a vaccine passport. And new travel restrictions for
British arrivals in Germany took effect this morning. Only German citizens and residents can travel from the U.K.
Ben Wedeman is in Italy for us tonight on this story. Ben, you know, it just sounds like Europe is kind of going back to the days of what -- March
2020 when we were in the real thick of the pandemic.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It seemed like we have fallen into a time warp. When you look at some of the restrictions
that are going into place, the Netherlands, for instance, ordering all but non-essential shops to close; in other areas, you see restrictions coming
into place, the likes of which as you've said, we haven't seen since March or April of 2020, and I think we're just at the beginning.
Dutch officials are worried that the national health system could be overwhelmed with new cases by January. So, what we see is a variety of new
restrictions coming into place. For instance, I'm in the Lazio region where Rome is located, officials are considering imposing a vaccine mandate here
on this region with a population of six million people. That sort of thing.
A vaccine mandate is political dynamite. We've seen a variety of European countries where there has been civil unrest against mandates, vaccine
mandates, and new shutdown measures. But officials are concerned that this omicron variant about which we know so little is spreading so quickly.
In Denmark, for instance, the number of omicron cases is doubling every two days and it seems that officials in Europe simply can't do enough to slow
it down -- Alison.
KOSIK: I saw a headline before we started the show that Boris Johnson is unlikely to impose further coronavirus restrictions before Christmas.
What's the reaction to that?
WEDEMAN: Well, there's a lot of unhappiness with the British Prime Minister because of what is emerging as his personal exit from all the
regulations that were in place in Britain in the toughest times when people could not meet with their loved ones for the Holidays. He apparently was
taking a rather cavalier approach to the regulations his government was imposing upon the people.
So, there's a lot of public unhappiness with his behavior. We know that the Labour Party is calling for more stringent measures, but everybody in the
U.K. is aware that the Prime Minister says one thing, but when the attention is off of him, he does something completely different -- Alison.
KOSIK: All right, Ben Wedeman, thanks so much for all of your great reporting.
Businesses in the U.K. have been forced to close with COVID cases soaring and staff stuck at home. Tourist attractions like London's Natural History
Museum, and Scotland's Edinburgh Castle temporarily shutting their doors.
The CEO of Adnams Brewery, Andy Wood is with us now in Southwold, England.
KOSIK: Great to have you with us. I know that you were part of the meeting last Friday with the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak and hospitality leaders. I'm
curious to hear what you came away with from that meeting? How reassured are you by the plans put in place by the government? And what more could be
done at this point?
ANDY WOOD, CEO, ADNAMS BREWERY: Well, it's really great to be here. I think what business leaders were looking for was clarity, certainty and
some sense of confidence from what we heard from Ministers.
It was clear that they were still in listening mode, really and were asking business leaders there their views on the impact of the omicron variant on
the economy and what was happening.
And certainly, my business, which is, in U.S. terms, a craft brewer, although we've been around 150 years. So, we're quite long in the tooth in
that regard, we have seen about 50 percent drop off in the amount of people coming out for pre-Christmas parties and, and meals and so on.
KOSIK: Yes, I mean, the pandemic has really been hard on the hospitality industry. You know, you don't need me to tell you that. It is difficult
just to stay open for business.
I mean, how can breweries continue to operate? And more specifically, how much business has your company lost?
WOOD: Well, we've seen something like, almost 50 percent of our bookings gone in hospitality. And of course, when those bookings go, it also means
that those bars and restaurants and clubs are not ordering beer, so it knocks on right through the supply chain.
So our business is down about 50 percent at the moment, which is pretty catastrophic. So we're talking to government about the support that they
could put in place, because this is an important sector in the U.K. It employs around three million people and is worth about 60 billion pounds to
the economy, it's the third or fourth biggest sector. So, it's worth supporting from the government.
KOSIK: If the government doesn't kind of come to the rescue and give the support that you need, what are your predictions for the industry?
WOOD: Well, as with hospitality businesses throughout the world who celebrate Christmas, this month is when hospitality makes a lot of its
money, and in the northern hemisphere, it ceases through the dark months of January, February, and March.
So I would predict quite a number of business failures if the government doesn't come to support. And of course, with pubs and bars, there is a lot
of mom and pop shops, so -- and these businesses are often the last thing standing in communities. So, it's an important sector to support.
KOSIK: And during the pandemic, we've seen a real shift to behavior about how people drink, they are clearly drinking more at home. Can companies
like yours survive that pivot? And what other ways are companies like yours pivoting with the times?
WOOD: Well, certainly we pivoted way back when, 2014 in the U.K. There was more beer consumed at home than in pubs and bars. So, we'd already made
But the other things that we're doing is continuing our digital transformation, and just making sure we've got state of the art websites,
and we can, you know, operate on a sort of e-commerce platform, and also making sure that we've got all our listings in place with our supermarkets
in the U.K., which is an important outlet for us, which are important outlets for us.
KOSIK: Talk with me about the staffing issues that you've had as the pandemic continues on. Have you had trouble staffing, you know, all your
WOOD: Absolutely. So the best story I can say, good and bad, is we have a luxury hotel here in Southwold, which is by the ocean, and at its height,
the pandemic took out our whole front of house team, and we had a 19-year- old managing the restaurant for us. He did a -- Sebastian did a brilliant job, but it's not something that he wanted to do on an ongoing basis or
indeed we would want him to do.
But we are seeing it with omicron. Not only are we seeing demand fall away, but we're seeing our staff get infected with this version of coronavirus
and that's not good for them.
We hope -- we really hope that this is a less severe version of the virus and some of the science coming out of South Africa where it was first
detected would suggest that it is a less severe variant, but we have to wait and see and our scientists are saying you know we cannot take that
risk because the healthcare system could become overwhelmed.
KOSIK: Right, right. All right, let's give a shout out to 19-year-old Sebastian, stepping into that bigger role. You know, that's what we've all
had to do during this pandemic, is to kind of step up, right?
WOOD: Yes, absolutely.
KOSIK: All right, yes, go ahead, finish your thought.
WOOD: No, he's a great lad, and we're very grateful for him. He's got a bright future.
KOSIK: That's fantastic. All right, CEO of Adnams Brewery, Andy Wood, great talking with you.
In the U.S., political uncertainty is also weighing on investors. Goldman Sachs expects slower economic growth now that President Biden's major
spending bill has lost a crucial supporter. Senator Joe Manchin says he cannot support the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan.
CNN's Jessica Dean is on Capitol Hill for us. So Jessica, where does President Biden go from here? I mean, is one option, maybe breaking up this
ginormous bill into bits that maybe are more passable?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT Right. That's certainly a possibility, Alison, but even that has a kind of a long and winding road
ahead of it. So kind of where things stand right now is that we know Senator Joe Manchin is an absolute no on the Build Back Better plan as it
currently stands. And remember, that had a host of different issues and priorities in it, including an expanded Child Tax Credit, pre-k for all
three and four-year-olds, climate provisions, a number of things, healthcare provisions.
So could they potentially spin off parts of that and try to work through something like that in the Senate? Maybe they could. They then have to send
it to the House. Can Nancy Pelosi get that through the House? Remember, they have a very small margin there with Democrats? Those are a lot of
We do know that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said there will be a floor vote on Build Back Better when they come back from their Holiday
break. He wants to put Joe Manchin on the floor and make him vote against this on the floor and in front of everyone. It's something that Manchin
seems very fine to do.
We heard more from him today in a local radio interview where he went into some more detail really blaming the breakdown of all of this on White House
staff. He said they did some things that were inexcusable, in his words. He really didn't like the way that they had gone back and forth.
He also did not seem very open to just relaunching back into negotiating a Build Back Better plan, and trying to like maybe slim it down, but instead
wants to send it through Committees, which would take a much longer time and parcel it out and not do it through this process that requires only
Democratic support. He wants bipartisan support.
Now for their part, the White House certainly has pushed back on a lot of this and saying, we saw that really extraordinary statement from the White
House yesterday that we know President Biden himself signed off on that really, it essentially said that Joe Manchin didn't keep his word, which is
really something you do not see very often, especially from people who have been in the Senate like Joe Biden. So that was pretty extraordinary to see
Where do they go from here? We're not exactly sure, Alison, but we know that a lot of Democrats are pushing for this to get done. They want to see
a lot of these provisions, but one thing to keep in mind as we move forward into 2022, it is now an election year, and that makes things even harder to
get done and any miniscule Republican support that Joe Manchin could have possibly gotten on something like the Child Tax Credit maybe evaporates
because again in an election year, Republicans aren't apt to help Democrats -- Alison.
KOSIK: Yes, we will see maybe if Democrats use the leverage of even the Goldman Sachs report today about the expectations of lower growth. We shall
Jessica Dean, live on Capitol Hill, thanks.
The stage is set for a major social and economic shift in Chile. What the country's young new President-elect stands for and his plans for sweeping
KOSIK: Welcome back. I'm Alison Kosik. Omicron's impact on highly- vaccinated countries could determine how it affects global markets. That's how the top strategist had Charles Schwab is looking at it. Jeffrey
Kleintop spoke to Isa Soares earlier on "FIRST MOVE." He said there are reasons for optimism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY KLEINTOP, CHIEF GLOBAL INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, CHARLES SCHWAB: Economic growth remains on an upward trajectory, earnings revisions remain
strong. Every earning season this year, companies have exceeded estimates, we're going to be heading into an earnings season just about, you know,
four weeks or so from now. And I think that will be a positive tone for the market.
So as we can set some of these issues behind us and we can't really put Omicron behind this, but maybe as we get more information, and it appears
to be less severe, maybe the fears of additional lockdowns will fade away. Along with that maybe your return to corporate fundamentals, which remain
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: What will change that, then that case, because we're seeing -- the numbers obviously continue to surge in
Europe, restrictions coming into place expectations, and at least in the U.K., the numbers we'll get will only increase in terms of not just
hospitalization, but infections are in the U.K. likelihood of that arriving in the U.S. next few weeks. What is your biggest fear here?
KLEINTOP: That is that's certainly a big concern. I think what -- watching the impact of how this unfolds in height, more highly-vaccinated
populations, it's going to be very important. A number of countries have ruled out further lockdown restrictions. So we'll have to see how that
goes. The U.S. is widely live with it rather than a lockdown mode. So there may be less of an economic impact in the U.S.
But certainly that'll be an important thing to watch. And of course, the impact of this could have on exacerbating what already, you know, supply
chain problems around the world. So that's critical, at least here for the next several weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: COVID is throwing the travel industry a holiday season curveball. At least 48 people tested positive for the virus on a Royal Caribbean cruise
ship. The Symphony of the Seas despite strict industry protocols, travel stocks are mixed today and outperforming the broader market. Royal
Caribbean fighting for the green today and its cruise competitors are up along with American Airlines.
That's despite the new outbreaks, lock downs and travel restrictions. Paul La Monica is here. Paul, I'm scratching my head a little bit. We did see
the travel stocks get hit earlier in the session. They're bouncing back now. It became -- today's trade kind of became the, you know, the stay-at-
home trades were doing better versus the reopening and now it's all confused.
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think, Alison, that even though the broader market is clearly down fairly sharply on these renewed
concerns about Omicron and COVID-19 in general, travel investors seem to be taking the longer term view which is that Omicron may not be hopefully as
serious as the previous variants of COVID-19.
MONICA: And that people, particularly vaccinated people aren't going to necessarily change travel plans. And I think that is why carnival which
reported its results this morning, which worked great. The stock is up because, Alison, they seem to be more optimistic about the second half of
2022, that people are not -- by that point in time going to be remembering the outbreaks around the holidays of 2021.
That people will still be willing to go on cruises, stay in hotels, take flights. And that's why you're seeing hotel stocks, airline stocks and the
cruises, cruise companies not really doing all that poorly today, even as the broader market sinks. Maybe choice of words, talking about cruise lines
KOSIK: Love the puns. You know, I know you've been covering the markets a long, long time and you've got gut instincts are. Do you think that we are
at the beginning of a slow moving correction of some sort? What -- and what do you think the next catalyst is for what Wall Street will be watching?
MONICA: Yes. I mean, I wouldn't even say it's really slow, Alison. When you look at what's happened with tech stocks, in particular, the NASDAQ's had a
pretty decent sized drop in the past, you know, week or so. We're getting closer to that 10 percent level. I do think that in some respects, we
needed this refresh, if you will, for the markets. You know, we went from having a lot of negativity in the late summer and early fall to pretty much
brushing off all of the concerns about COVID-19.
Any variance and having your markets returned to all time highs. I think the truth is somewhere in between. It's not as negative as the market
reaction today would have you believe but it's not so strong to suggest that the economy is going to go ahead gangbusters in 2022 without blips
here and there, particularly with regards to COVID. And we also see how sensitive we still are to political news. You know, Joe Manchin, obviously
not helping matters today as well for the broader market.
KOSIK: Yes. Where politics and Wall Street intersect. Paul La Monica, thanks so much for your perspective.
All right. Chile's new president-elect is vowing big changes to the country's economy after his resounding runoff victory over the weekend. At
35 years old, left-wing former student leader Gabriel Boric will become Chile's youngest president ever. He wants to make the public health system
more accessible, cancel student debt, and raise taxes for the super wealthy.
GABRIEL BORIC, CHILEAN PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translator): I know that in the coming years, the future of our country is at stake. So I guarantee
that I will be a president who cares for democracy and does not risk it. Listens more than what he speaks, seeks unity and attends to the needs of
the people daily. I will firmly fight against the privileges of a few and I will work every day for the quality of the Chilean family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: CNN's Rafael Romo has more from the Chilean capital of Santiago.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chile has had two very clear choices. A 35- year-old leftists former student activists who promised a better bigger government with more social services paid for by taxing the rich. And a
conservative attorney who campaigned on law in order platform, family values and a nationalist agenda. They chose Gabriel Boric who will become
Chile's youngest president, at least since the country's returned to democracy in 1990.
Boric promised the kind of government that takes care of people's needs by raising taxes. During the campaign he spoke about improving public
education and welfare programs, as well as protecting human rights, LGBTQ rights and the environment. His rival conservative attorney Jose Antonio
Kast quickly conceded defeat, calling Boric less than two hours after polls closed and the trend had become irreversible.
Boric's victory was also swiftly recognized by current president Sebastian Pinera who had a video conference call with the winner moments later. How
will Boric govern once he takes office in less than three months after a tooth and nail campaign in a very polarized country, Boris was ready to
turn the page when he addressed to Lance after winning the election. He thanked his supporters, and said he will be a president for all Chileans.
Leaders from across Latin America and the Caribbean, including presidents Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba and Colombia's Ivan Duque congratulated the new
president-elect. Boric will take office on March 11 for a four-year term. The turnout was massive, even larger than November's first round of more
than eight million people went to the polls, about 56 percent of the electorate. Rafael Romo, CNN, Santiago, Chile.
KOSIK: And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Alison Kosik and I'll be back at the top of the hour as we make a dash for the closing bell. Up next,
KOSIK: Hello. I'm Alison Kosik. It's the dash to the closing bell and we're just two minutes away. It's getting to look like a red Christmas for Wall
Street. The Dow is off around 400 points. It's third down day in a row. Surging COVID cases in the U.S. and Europe and a major setback for
President Biden's signature spending bill have rattled the markets. Goldman Sachs has already cut its U.S. growth forecasts off the back of that news.
All the major averages are down. More than a percent to start the shortened week. The markets will be closed Friday in observance of Christmas. The top
strategist at Charles Schwab says it's not clear whether Omicron will force major countries to go back into lockdown mode. Jeffrey Kleintop said it's
the supply chain, which could be hurt the most.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KLEINTOP: Watching the impact of how this unfolds in height more highly- vaccinated populations, it's going to be very important. A number of countries have ruled out further lockdown restrictions. So we'll have to
see how that goes. The U.S. is more in the live with it rather than a lockdown mode. So there may be less of an economic impact in the U.S. But
certainly that'll be an important thing to watch.
And of course the impact of this could have on exacerbating what already, you know, supply chain problems around the world. So that's critical at
least here for the next several weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Let's take a look at the Dow components. Merck is back in the green as the big winner on the Dow 30 today. A study found its COVID-19 pill cut
the risk of hospitalization and death in at-risk unvaccinated patients by nearly a third. Wal-Mart and Procter and Gamble are up to with Home Depot
fighting for a win today as well. Travelers Insurance, Honeywell and Goldman Sachs are at the bottom of a sea of red.
That's your dash to the bell. I'm Allison Kosik in New York. You can follow me on Twitter or instagram @AlisonKosik. The closing bell is about to ring
on Wall Street. There it goes. "THE LEAD" with Pamela Brown starts right now.