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Quest Means Business
U.S. Posts Strong Growth; U.S. Corporations Relocating to Dallas in a Texodus; Biden and Zelensky Hold Phone Call; Wall Street Choppy as Worries Outweigh GDP Growth; Neiman Marcus Chain Begins Turnaround after Bankruptcy. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired January 27, 2022 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Live from Dallas in Texas, a Special Edition of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight. A look at the markets before we go any
further. Volatility continues to be the name of the game. The Dow is essentially flat at the moment, but let's not make too much. It has given
up early gains.
The markets as they stand, and some of the reasons why. U.S. economic growth exceeds expectations. It is the strongest since the 1980s. That's as
far as it goes.
The billionaire investor Ken Fisher will give me his take. He'll be here shortly.
Oil is hitting new highs as Russia and Ukraine tensions push crude way up. Ross Perot, Jr. will join me here in Dallas.
And also, life after bankruptcy. The well-known store, Neiman Marcus, with us, the Chief Executive tells me people have money to spend, and they're
prepared to spend it.
We are live from Dallas in Texas. I'm Richard Quest. It is January the 27th. It's a Thursday. And of course, in Texas, I definitely mean business.
Good evening, we are in Dallas. We're in Texas tonight.
The reason I'm here, of course is the "World of Wonder" where we're filming, but it is a good opportunity to discover what's going on in the
real economy in the United States at this difficult time. So that's why we're coming up to you tonight.
And it's been another wild day for the stock market. Strong U.S. numbers, but they were not enough to soothe investors' nerves. To capture the mood
here, here in Dallas, we'll be talking to the home -- the city is the home of leaders of U.S. industry. AT&T, parent company of this network, of
course; ExxonMobil, Southwest Airlines.
And from Dallas tonight, you're going to hear from the city's top business leaders. So, we will have for you the oil and real estate magnate, Ross
Perot, Jr. We'll have the billionaire investor, Ken Fisher, and the chief executives of MoneyGram and Neiman Marcus.
We begin though with the top story, which is that fast growth in the United States. The fastest since the 1980s.
2021 GDP came in at 5.7 percent. Now, that's a rocket for a mature developed market like the United States. It ends a lot for two to three
percent, 5.7, but it comes from a low ebb, and there's a lot of pent-up demand, and there is a lot of roller coaster within it.
For instance, the last quarter was 6.9 percent after the delta variant slump happened in the third quarter. We haven't seen omicron. That will
come in Q1 of this year.
The Fed Chairman says omicron will surely weigh on growth. The rates going up, of course, as we heard from the Fed.
Wall Street rollercoaster session, the Dow was up 600. Now, 600 points on the GDP report. It then went negative. It has now clawed its way back into
Look at the major averages. Hawkish Fed policy, you get the idea.
Matthew Egan has the details on this particular interesting GDP number and where it takes us.
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Richard, we haven't seen growth like this in the United States for the whole year since 1984 when Ronald Reagan was in
the White House, and as you mentioned, this is really strong growth for a mature economy.
We also learned that the economy really ended 2021 with a bang. We saw growth accelerate in the fourth quarter to 6.9 percent. That's triple the
pace from the third quarter. It's also the second fastest growth of the entire recovery, second only to the summer of 2020 when the economy first
started to reopen from COVID. So, this is impressive.
You mentioned correctly that this does not capture omicron, which is very likely to slow down the U.S. economy in the beginning of 2022. We don't
know how long that will last. Hopefully, not very long, but this GDP report is just one more indicator that shows that this is a hot economy.
When you look at the fact that unemployment is down to 3.9 percent, remember it nearly hit 15 percent in April of 2020 when the world was
EGAN: We also saw a record 4.5 million Americans quit their job in November. Most of them, or many of them because they felt confident that
they can get a better job. Wages up by almost five percent at the end of the year. That is very strong compared to the last 10 or 15 years.
Unfortunately, and this is the problem with the economy, wages are often not keeping up with the cost of living. We know that consumer prices were
up by seven percent at the end of 2021. We haven't seen anything like that in 39 years, and that explains why people don't feel so great about the
economy, why there is a lot of anxiety about people's personal finances.
So, Richard, clearly 2021 was a very strong year for economic growth, 2022 to 2023 is going to be dictated by what happens on the inflation front.
QUEST: And inflation is what we're going to talk about next. Matt Egan, thank you.
The volatility to which Matt referred to hasn't gone away. The VIX is up to 80 percent year-to-date. The VIX Index which of course measures exactly
that, and there have been wild swings on The Dow over the last five days. A thousand-point intraday moves, which gives you an idea of the difficulties.
It only closed up on Monday. We're on Thursday, of course, and the heavy tech selloff last week. The NASDAQ is off more than the Dow and the S&P.
Tech heavy, highly relevant to interest rates. The NASDAQ is bearing the brunt.
Ken Fisher is with me. He founded Fisher Investments in 1979, has more than $200 billion assets under management, based here in Dallas, and bullish on
2022. Can you believe that the rate hikes do not mean an end if you like, to the tech growth or the tech boom that we've seen?
KEN FISHER, FOUNDER, FISHER INVESTMENTS: Or the stock market. We actually have a very long history of interest rate movements and stock prices. And
the fact is that long rates going up actually correlate slightly positively with stocks, meaning they go up together. It's a weak correlation, but
there is no history that shows rising rates, making stocks down or tech down.
QUEST: But when you see -- look, the professional investor is either sold earlier on or is on the way out or has left the market or is uncashed. The
401(k), the pension fund, the person -- I'll give you myself as a portfolio, is sitting there wondering what to do next. What do you do next?
FISHER: I think the markets are going to be volatile all through the first half of the year, but the back half of the year, I think, is going to be
strong and it is going to be strong because that's normally what happens in America, in a midterm election as the market starts to pre price, the
beginnings of gridlock. And that's what we're going to get in this election.
I think the market will price that starting in the third quarter, normally the fourth quarter of midterm election years is positive 85 percent of
QUEST: Can we say that? The previous historical precedents bear weight -- bearing in mind --
FISHER: Usually not. Usually not.
QUEST: Exactly. Bearing in mind, you know, pandemic, slow growth, high debt levels, all these things factor in.
FISHER: But the things that have happened in history that people don't believe will happen are the ones to do. And the fact that there is such a
strong ideological bias that people have to either be on the left or on the right in politics, think the other side is terrible, that they can't quite
believe that if their side loses or is suffering, that it's not bad.
QUEST: So the acumen purchase of a billion of Netflix yesterday or the day before yesterday. Everybody would think, well, if the big players are
buying on the dips, should I buy on the dips, too? Netflix is down by the way, some 50 percent from its all-time high, from its 52-week high.
FISHER: And in the short term, that's all meaningless. Again, I'm thinking the first half of this year has got a lot of volatility. I've been saying
that since December. I didn't predict this January weakness. But I believe the first half of the year should be scary, a continuation of all a scary
talk that we started in the fourth quarter.
QUEST: The economic fundamentals we are told, remain strong. Do you believe they are?
FISHER: Yes, absolutely. But we've got problems, supply chain problems are real. The supply chain problems are made worse by omicron. Because
fundamentally omicron starts some problems of getting something out on time.
Inventories as a percent of GDP are back to pre-2020 levels, and if that's the case, and we have shortages of some stuff, we have way too much of some
QUEST: Right. But I'm interested that's we're now all playing the dreadful game and those of us have been around long enough. How big would the cycle
be? How long will the cycle last? How high will the rates go?
FISHER: And the answer is the skepticism is enough that it can go on for quite a while and what I've said it's it can actually go on into 2023. The
history of third years of President's terms is overwhelmingly positive. Again, rolling that gridlock into a part where political risk aversion
falls and politics gets quieter and calmer, which nobody expects.
QUEST: So, put it all together. I mean, you have a different view, but you have a view that's based -- not being based up in New York or London, but
being based in the south, which gives you I think, a slightly more rounded view.
FISHER: It's not the south, it's Texas.
QUEST: In a sentence, tell me what's the difference? What makes Texas different?
FISHER: Texas is a mindset. Texas is just a mindset about big, about future, about opportunity, and about independence. I could tell you a lot
of stories, but we don't have time, but it's a mindset.
You're talking to Ross Perot later, ask him about Alliance Airport. It's the biggest thing that nobody knows about.
QUEST: You just heard Ken talking about, it is a mindset. A mindset you said.
FISHER: Indeed, that's what Texas is.
QUEST: Texas is mindset. Watch this, and I'll show you exactly why.
(Video clip from "Beverly Hillbillies.")
QUEST (voice over): A hundred years ago, the oil boom turned Dallas into the greatest financial hub west of the Mississippi. The home of Exxon-Mobil
never looked back.
QUEST (on camera): If your idea of Dallas as a 1970s TV series, oil, money and cattle, you're probably out of date. Today's Dallas is about corporate
headquarters, attracting technology companies, not for nothing do they call themselves Silicon Prairie.
QUEST (voice over): Oil rigs and bull whips were long ago traded for white collars. The Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, now home to 22 Fortune 500
companies. By revenue, second fiddle only to New York.
Here, there are household names like American Airlines, Texas Instruments, Kimberly-Clark, and AT&T, the parent company of course of CNN.
If DFW was its own country, it will be the top 25 economy in the world.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.
QUEST (voice over): Fifteen hundred miles from Wall Street, Dallas has a corporate culture all of its own. It is defined by its larger than life
chief execs like Herb Kelleher, cofounder of Southwest Airlines, who was the star of his own marketing campaigns.
HERB KELLEHER, COFOUNDER, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: If on the other hand, Southwest is your kind of airline, we will still give you this bag.
For all the money you'll save flying with us.
QUEST (voice over): There is Jerry Jones, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Cowboys, the most valuable team in the National Football League.
And Mark Cuban, the billionaire serial entrepreneur and host of "Shark Tank."
MARK CUBAN, HOST, "SHARK TANK": I'll give you $100,000.00 for 25 percent contingent that you raise the other hundred.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
QUEST (voice over): More and more CEOs are coming in droves hoping to strike it rich in business friendly North Texas.
Charles Schwab, Aecom, and pharmaceutical giant, McKesson, all recently relocated here from California. It's called the "Texodus."
Low taxes, relaxed regulations, cheap land, it is helping the Dallas metro area grow faster than any other place in the United States. The city's
motto is "Big things happen here." Dallas is primed to attract big corporations and big profits as the Texodus continues for decades to come.
QUEST (on camera): And we will look over the course of this program exactly what this means. We're going to be talking about oil prices, particularly,
how they have been affected and what is likely to happen next.
Russia and Ukraine has sent them rocketing, but what happens next? Ross Perot, Jr. after the break. The sun has started to shine, the Dallas
skyline, impressive and it does look better when it's in the sun and it is now starting to get nice and sunny.
It is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Good evening to you.
QUEST: Welcome back. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight from Dallas in Texas.
Now, in the last hour, the United States and the Ukrainian Presidents held a phone call to discuss the latest developments. You'll be aware, of
course, that the U.S. has responded to Russia's demands or at least, requests. We're still getting details on exactly what the U.S. response
President Zelensky of Ukraine is expected to express his concern on U.S. rhetoric and where the U.S. is going next. The Russian response, of course,
to NATO's letter -- remember what Russia wants. Russia wants a commitment that NATO won't expand into Ukraine. NATO and the U.S. have basically said,
we'll give no such undertaking. Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia now says the main concerns were not addressed in the reply, which is perhaps
only surprising to the Russians.
The tensions have sent crude prices higher. Brent hit $90.00 for the first time since 2014. You can see where it's going. It's back about right round
$86.00 for West Texas, and rising energy prices. It is a mixed blessing here because it's welcome at one level here, somewhere like Dallas, which
is an energy and land based economy.
But at the same time it also is a reality of political instability, geopolitical worries, and that's why Dallas, oil, and technology all go
QUEST (voice over): Since petroleum was first discovered here in the early 20th Century, Dallas has grown into the financial center for the U.S.'s
biggest oil producing state.
Bankers here pioneered petroleum financing. They are amongst the first to use oil as collateral for bank loans. And an energy company even served as
the backdrop of the city's most famous television drama.
(Video clip from "Dallas.")
QUEST (voice over): Much like the fictional Ewing Oil, some of the United States' biggest energy companies call the Dallas Metro Area home, including
the biggest Exxon-Mobil.
Today, Texas produces around two-fifths of the United States crude oil, but it plays a crucial role in the U.S. mission to achieve energy independence.
QUEST (voice over): In the 21st Century, shale drilling has broken new ground for the industry here, as I discovered on a visit in 2013.
QUEST (on camera): There's nothing pretty about the art or science of fracking. It's loud, it's dirty, and you look at the array of equipment,
it's extremely complicated.
QUEST (voice over): Falling demand during the pandemic put a temporary halt to those ambitions. A recent resurgence in crude prices, it has all
breathed new life into the state's oil industry.
A century on from the Great Texas oil boom, producers here a pumping at near record levels. At the same time, the state takes a leading role in the
green energy transition, producing more wind generated electricity than any other U.S. state.
QUEST (on camera): With me is Ross Perot, Jr. He is the Chairman of the Perot Group Investments of oil and gas and large land holdings as well.
Hillwood, the Texas based real estate.
Let's start with oil and gas, the price is going up. Now, whether that is, you know, for whatever reason, that is a benefit to the oil community here,
and it makes non-traditional fracking better value and comes back on stream.
ROSS PEROT, JR., CHAIRMAN, PEROT GROUP: Absolutely. I mean, Richard, these prices bring the oil industry back in Texas. This is a free market state.
Price comes back, you see people go to work.
The problem now is we have shortage of fracking crews, shortage of labor, like we have throughout industries in the United States. So, it'll take a
little while, but you'll see the oil production come back in the United States that should help stabilize global pricing.
QUEST: The problem with oil and fracking is that it is totally market driven. So the moment the price drops, as it did in 2020, it becomes
unproductive. We saw bankruptcies.
PEROT: That's right.
QUEST: Ancillary companies went out of business. Now, that's almost impossible for an oil industry to plan around.
PEROT: It is, but this is what the entrepreneurs do. This is what the risk capital does. When it's time to drill we drill. But then in Texas, we have
a tendency to overdo it. Too much money comes in, oil price will drop, great for the consumer, bad for the industry. We slow down, price comes
But now Richard, it's the politics. You've got that negative political tone on oil and gas that's keeping money out. In a normal market, hundreds of
billions would be pouring into the industry. We get oil, we'd have affordability.
You're now going to have expensive oil for a while because it's going to take a while to get the industry back.
QUEST: And do you think -- I mean, oil and gas. Is it a dirty, dirty phrase?
PEROT: Not at all.
QUEST: Again, politically? I mean, politically.
PEROT: Well, maybe certain politicians worry about it, but you look what's going on. We need oil and gas. We need clean oil and gas produced in the
western world where you have environmental standards. So that's what you have in Texas are good standards, we have good oil, we're going to need oil
for another 30 or 40 years, Richard. A hundred million barrels a day is what the world is going to need.
QUEST: I heard a lovely phrase to describe what's going on here. The Texodus. Now, this is people coming from California and the Pacific
Northwest, even the East Coast coming to Texas. Land prices have gone through the roof. You just done some very big deals.
QUEST: In the billions.
PEROT: Yes. Yes. This is the high growth region now in the United States. We are adding 375 people a day in the Dallas Fort Worth. We will pass
Chicago in 10 years to be the third largest metropolitan area.
New York, LA, and Dallas Fort Worth, and Richard, what makes us unique, there are no barriers to growth. We can grow in 360 degrees. We're adding
millions of people and we'll continue to add millions of people every decade.
QUEST: Is there a bubble building up in here in property here, do you think?
PEROT: Not really. I mean, we've been -- we're better behaved this time. The banks have been kept disciplined in the market, and so we're not over
built and right at this moment, all the product types are full.
I lived through the S&L crisis. I mean, I saw -- I saw how the prices.
QUEST: The S&L. Now, that's --
PEROT: How about that for old history?
QUEST: I remember the S&L crisis and the bailouts and then 2008.
PEROT: That's right.
QUEST: And the bailouts.
PEROT: That's right. But remember in '08, Texas wasn't bad. We were not that overbuilt in '08. We went down a little, but we were the first back in
the recovery of the '08 crisis.
QUEST: Your late father, of course, was highly involved in politics in that sense, but it gave you a feel for the wider picture of what is happening in
this country at the moment.
PEROT: Right. Right.
QUEST: Our viewers are in every country. They look at the U.S. gridlock. They look at this inability to even agree on which side of the seat to sit
on. Is it that bad now in America?
PEROT: Well, maybe in certain parts of America, but where I live in Dallas Fort Worth, it's not bad. I mean, this area works well together. It is very
positive, very optimistic, and like every conversation you know, you can find 80 percent of the material you'll agree on, there's 20 percent, you
might not agree on.
PEROT: But this country is very strong, very resilient and you will see the American people continue to come back and continue to build this country
and I'm very optimistic, we invest all over the world, we continue to put more and more money in the U.S. every year.
QUEST: And if you had to tell me the other areas of the world that you'd like to look off, I suppose I also want to know what you don't like. I
mean, but where do you like the look of at the moment?
PEROT: We have a great team in India. We've been in India for 30 years. We are part of a fabulous business called ACCESS Health, over 20,000 employees
in India. We have a huge demand, huge growth. We have a wonderful Indian team. So we're very pro India.
QUEST: Dallas or Fort Worth. Dallas -- Fort Worth is somewhere --
PEROT: Oh, no, it's this way.
QUEST: It is over that way.
PEROT: That's like asking me who is your favorite child? I mean, I love Dallas, but also I love Fort Worth, and I grew up in both cities. But our
largest project, Alliance, is in Fort Worth. That's 27,000 acres.
So we are very, very pro Fort Worth, but we invest a lot in Dallas, too.
QUEST: It's been wonderful to have you, sir.
PEROT: Richard, you're great. Thanks for being here. We will go flying next time.
PEROT: That's what you've got to do.
QUEST: I'm going to hold him for that. Normally, I'm the one making promise of where I'm visiting, but I've got a promise that to go flying.
PEROT: We will get in the helicopter and fly around.
PEROT: I'll let you fly. We'll check your heads out, see how good you are.
QUEST: Thank you.
PEROT: Richard, thank you.
QUEST: Thank you, we will talk soon.
PEROT: We will talk soon. Yes, sir. Appreciate it.
QUEST: There is a store that's very well known here in Dallas, it is known across the United States. It's a luxury store, and it's called Neiman
After the break, the Chief Executive of Neiman Marcus shows me round and tells me why there is good money here to buy luxury goods even very
This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS live in Dallas.
QUEST: Welcome back to Dallas. The numbers that we've been seeing so far on the economy show that the U.S. economy is roaring back. GDP is up 5.7
percent in 2021. Now we've not seen those numbers since Reagan era in the 1980s.
However, there's a strong argument for saying we also haven't seen the level of inflation that we're now seeing since the Reagan era. So with that
growth comes higher prices as well.
On the markets, we always we need to show you that because of the volatility of late given great cause of concern, the Dow is flat even
though start up, look at the way it just goes out into nothing, petering around here.
One of the big failures during the pandemic was when Neiman Marcus announced that the high end department store, that it was going into
bankruptcy protection, also closing one of its flagship stores at Hudson Yards in New York.
We know because it's in the same building we're based, on the West Side. However, Neiman Marcus now says it's anything but in trouble after a
strategic bankruptcy filing. The company is now enjoying excellent growth.
And guess what?
Neiman Marcus is based right over there.
QUEST (voice-over): The first Neiman Marcus opened in 1907. It offered clothing never before available to the good people of Dallas, all at a time
when pockets were filling to the brim with oil money.
Founded by Herbert Marcus; his sister, Carey Marcus Neiman; and her husband, A.L. Neiman, they promised to deliver satisfaction, not just
Herbert's son, Stanley, later ran the company as it expanded across the United States, providing customers with luxury goods from around the world:
necklaces, dresses and the unique, high end items in its famous Christmas catalog.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elegant --
QUEST (voice-over): Texas, with a French accent is how "Vogue" described the company. I visited the original Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas.
QUEST: This store itself, magnificent. This is the first.
GEOFFROY VAN RAEMDONCK, CEO, NEIMAN MARCUS: This is the first and the original one.
QUEST: But, you still keep it downtown where there's not the same footfall, not the same traffic. I mean --
VAN RAEMDONCK: It's emotionally important. We have the store here, we have the restaurant on the sixth floor. And families come here to celebrate
Christmas with Santa, to celebrate graduations. It is a tradition and it's a tradition that is multigenerational. And so we keep it because our
customers love it.
QUEST: Right, but you're a businessman.
Is it worth keeping?
VAN RAEMDONCK: Every single one of our stores is profitable, this one is. And because it is dear to our best customers, it actually does quite well.
QUEST: You had a really, really bad early pandemic, didn't you?
VAN RAEMDONCK: You know, it's all about how you look at it. For me, the pandemic --
QUEST: Bankruptcy is not a difficult way to look at it.
VAN RAEMDONCK: No, it's a strategic choice to repurpose and reshape your balance sheet, which allows you, post bankruptcy, to have at least debt in
the industry to have a bank, available liquidity that allows you to invest in your business.
If you look at where we are today, it's the best time we've ever been in terms of recruiting new clients, having growth to pre pandemic and partly
(INAUDIBLE) pre pandemic.
QUEST: That whole period of closing Hudson Yards and going into bankruptcy for financial reasons creates an aura that the fundamental business is in
trouble. And if I understand what you're saying, that's not the case.
VAN RAEMDONCK: That's not the case at all and I think it's good that we changed that aura. Prepandemic, we were generating 430 million EBITDA. We
were growing 9 quarters; post pandemic, generating more than prepandemic and growing, the last quarter reported high single digit.
And we're seeing a tremendous growth of new customers and a tremendous growth specifically in men, which I think is very promising for the U.S.
QUEST: This idea, products that you don't necessarily need but you desperately want, that's what you sell.
VAN RAEMDONCK: Yes, that is what we sell. We sell a dream, a dream about the integrity of the product. We sell a dream about the craftsmanship that
goes into it. And what it makes you feel. We -- I always say, we're not in a world of transaction; we're in a world of emotions. And that's really
what we do.
QUEST: And you play on those emotions.
VAN RAEMDONCK: Oh, we totally play on the emotions, on what does it make you feel to wear this beautiful product, to carry this beautiful handbag.
We do 40 percent of our sales with customers who spend more than $10,000 a year with us. These people enjoy luxury lifestyle and they trust us as the
guide and the curator of that lifestyle.
QUEST: This post pandemic, tell me the story again, about the new customer.
VAN RAEMDONCK: What we saw during the pandemic is an increase of new customers, 20 percent up to prepandemic. And it's really a customer who has
a new disposable income. They cannot travel, can't go out so they're deciding -- and being influenced by digital inspiration, that they want a
special sneaker, a special sweater.
And they come in and spend much more than they've ever spent.
QUEST: We can tell the difference between you and me.
VAN RAEMDONCK: Do tell.
QUEST: I mean --
VAN RAEMDONCK: I think you can get there. I think --
QUEST: I'm feeling highly insecure now.
The nature of this luxury store is that it, a lot of people will feel it, either I can't afford to shop there or it's not for me, because, when I
walk through the door, I can only afford to buy a lipstick or even something small.
VAN RAEMDONCK: So I'm not trying to sell you one thing. I'm in the business of relationship. I'm in the business of building a relationship so you come
back. But wherever your entry point is not what matters. What matters is the relationship that I can make you come back.
QUEST: Let's talk about the fantasy gifts and the whole, the Christmas, all that.
When did it begin?
VAN RAEMDONCK: It started almost 60 years ago, started with Stanley Marcus. And we are in his former office. Behind me, the suspenders he had in his
closet. It's a special place here and his spirit is very much there.
What he created was a notion of, when it's the holidays, we should celebrate it with fantasy because that's the dream we have. So he had crazy
gifts. The one that I love is a camel that was available for sale. A woman in Fort Worth bought it and got delivered on Christmas Day.
You don't need a camel.
But how cool is it to have a camel run into your garden?
QUEST: Have you ever said no, no; either that's ridiculous or, no, that's too expensive --
VAN RAEMDONCK: I've said no to ideas I thought were not ours, that you could find it somewhere else. So the criteria for me is it has to be
emotional, unique and only us could provide it. If it is something available anywhere else, then that is not a fantasy gift for Neiman Marcus.
QUEST: I just love that phrase, it's not what you need, we'll sell you what you want. Right. Digital and crypto start-ups say they want to upend the
traditional remittance business, a crucial lifeline for those watch, also those who work in migrant communities and low income countries.
The remittances were expected to collapse during the pandemic. Actually robust growth expected to rise some 7.3 percent. Now the World Bank is
pushing the money transfer companies and the industry to reduce costs.
One of the largest remittance companies in the world is MoneyGram and they, too, are based here in Dallas. Whether it's an issue of remittances,
digital currency, cryptocurrency, Alex Holmes is the CEO of MoneyGram. And he explained why remittances matter.
ALEX HOLMES, CEO, MONEYGRAM: If you're from many of the countries -- Mexico, Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, some of the largest
received markets in the world, it's absolutely critical to the lives of the consumers in those countries.
But many people don't appreciate that. If it's not the life that you live, then it's not something that you ever really get involved in.
QUEST: Companies like yours have been highly criticized in previous years, as to costs of transactions and the idea that only when they'll absolutely
drag, kicking and screaming, will you cut the cost of transfer.
HOLMES: It is actually very complicated to move money around the world. Few companies can do it at scale. Few companies can do it in the number of
countries we do it in. So these companies, they come together like MoneyGrams and like our competitors do really provide a very unique service
and that is to instantly move money, get funds from United States to Mexico in literally subseconds.
For the ability to take $350 you worked hard to earn and get it back to your mother so she can pick it up in Mexico, use it for food and
healthcare, you know, housing, real-time, is actually, I think, a very unique service. And we've worked really hard.
HOLMES: I mean we've listened to the World Bank. We understand what they're trying to do on costs. And we're really proud today to say we've met their
3 percent initiative, which is, on average, our send through MoneyGram is less than 3 percent of the face value of the transaction -- of the
principal sent, rather, for the transaction.
QUEST: So let's break this down, the digital wallet. It's supposed to be the way forward that will help reduce costs.
How does that affect you?
HOLMES: Well, actually, that can be very additive to what we do and that's one of the things really noticeable throughout the pandemic, right, which
is consumers are looking for new and safer, easier ways to send and receive funds.
Traditionally, MoneyGram would have been all cash to cash, about, 2011, 2 percent of the entire business we operate will be, we would call digital.
Today it's about 35 percent.
QUEST: So if you'll forgive my bluntness.
QUEST: If I am sending money from my account, through you, to another account, so it is an entirely digital transaction from start to finish, why
should it cost 3 percent?
HOLMES: Actually, it costs less in that scenario, which is pretty interesting. And something that people don't appreciate appreciate.
Well, because we don't have the cash handling side of it. Cash can be very expensive to handle, to convert; cash pick-up, cash transformation, agents
have to have cash on file and at the stores.
At the operations they locate, it can be expensive. You do still have to deal with foreign exchange. Obviously the largest single expense is
compliance. Global banking can be quite expensive.
And if you actually look at our costs, online or the walk-in space, compare that to what it would cost you to do a traditional wire transfer through a
bank, it's materially cheaper.
QUEST: The new digital entrants believe they can eat your lunch and Western Union's and all of them.
HOLMES: Well, the dirty secret is a lot of the digital only players are actually looking to advance their cash positions around the world, because
they see how many still rely on cash pay-out.
Fascinating, Mexico today, 97 percent of all of our transfers are picked up in cash. Yet we have real-time bank account connections to any bank account
in Mexico. Yet the Mexican constituents still want to pick up the money in cash.
Contrast that with India, about 50 percent of all our transfers to India are picked up in a bank account. So the digital entrants looked to disrupt
that early on, now say, oh, I need to add cash pay-out rails and other things, even our favorite friends at Facebook are actually looking at, how
do they actually get cash paid out?
QUEST: What about crypto itself, where does crypto fit into this?
HOLMES: I actually think MoneyGram can play a huge role in what I call interoperability, so crypto and block chain sits in its own unique world
today. And when you're in that world, it is very efficient. It's super interesting flow of funds for payment purposes.
But when you try to take that back into the fiat world, it gets quite expensive. It can be 1 percent to 2 percent for fiat into crypto, another
1-2 percent to exchange it back out again. And that doesn't take into account the volatility and the movement of the crypto value, very much like
a foreign exchange rate in some respects.
QUEST: If my coffee shop agrees to accept Libra and somebody owes me Libra in another country and they transfer it to me, my coffee shop takes it,
then I have defeated the currency world.
HOLMES: Conceptually you have. Yet I haven't met a cryptocurrency yet that isn't priced against the dollar. And I think that's important to
understand, because most consumers today are not paid in cryptocurrencies, right?
So their base currency is still the fiat of their home country. So that coffee, I guarantee, if they accept that cryptocurrency, they may accept it
but it will be priced similar to the coffee in U.S. dollars, if not more expensive in most cases.
QUEST: Final question, what we often ask people on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm going to give you either a dollar, a euro, a piece of bitcoin or gold.
QUEST: Which one are you going to take?
HOLMES: I'm going to take the dollar.
QUEST: Of course you are.
QUEST: Of course.
What else would you have expected from MoneyGram other than to take the dollar?
Before we take a break, let me tell you where we are. That's Dallas over there, we're a bit apart from it. We're actually and I don't know if this
is, we're actually on the roof of the Canvas Hotel and the interesting thing about this building, before it was a hotel and some years before
that, it was a -- you'll never guess what it used to manufacture here -- coffins.
Yes, no, coffins, seriously, making no similarities or comments or anything like that about what might have been or otherwise coffins at Canvas.
QUEST: After the break, well, if you're going to be in Texas, you'd better look the part.
But how did I choose which hat to buy?
We'll show you in a moment.
QUEST: We're back. Today's call to Earth called the Great Karoo in South Africa, all about rewilding into the wild by one particular family. And
when you put it together, big cats are back in the wild. Eleni Giokos reports.
ISABELLE TOMPKINS, SAMARA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE (voice-over): The word conservation means to keep things the way they are. It means to prevent
things from getting worse. But rewilding has a much more ambitious remit. And I think the planet deserves a more ambitious remit at this point in
ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Located in Africa's Great Karoo region, the Samara Private Game Reserve was established by
Isabel Tompkins' parents, Sarah and Mark Tompkins in 1997.
TOMPKINS (voice-over): What rewilding seeks to do is to restore ecosystem health by reintroducing all the component parts of that system,
essentially, reintroducing all the pieces of the puzzle.
GIOKOS (voice-over): Spanning 67,000 acres, the park is home to five of South Africa's nine vegetation biomes and the team says it is over 60
different species of mammal.
TOMPKINS (voice-over): We're located in a global biodiversity hot spot. So despite being a semi-arid region, there's actually a remarkable amount of
biodiversity, particularly endemic plants and also certain endangered species, like the Cape mountain zebra, the cheetah, the black rhinoceros.
GIOKOS (voice-over): In 2018, the Tompkins family reintroduced lions to the reserve after an absence of almost two centuries.
TOMPKINS (voice-over): When you think of Africa, you think of the lion. There's no feeling more primal than walking in the bush, knowing there are
TOMPKINS (voice-over): You feel your ecological senses tingling. It's almost like a rewilding of the self.
We are seeing our (INAUDIBLE) lions at the moment, an incredible sighting, one of the best sightings I've ever had, actually, seeing our new little
cub for the first time, which is really, really exciting.
And in terms of rewilding, it's not just about bringing back a species that existed maybe 300 or 400 years ago, as wonderful as it is to see them back
in their natural habitat. Rewilding is also about bringing back the ecosystem. And for lions, being an apex predator, quite clearly, one of the
main roles is the role of predation.
And if you look around us, you'll see a lot of skulls from some rather unfortunate wildebeests that have been lion food over the past few years.
But it's a key role that they play in controlling the animal numbers and enabling the field itself, the red grass, very palatable grasses, to
actually regenerate themselves as well.
GIOKOS (voice-over): From the mighty lion to each and every blade of grass, it's all connected.
TOMPKINS (voice-over): So human beings tend to want to compartmentalize nature. We want to divide it up into cells and units that we can
understand. But nature doesn't really function like that. Nature works as a whole system. And various elements can impact on each other in ways that we
don't even understand yet.
One of the central principles of rewilding is actually to manage an ecosystem less. It's to give nature back to nature, give nature back to
itself. So we need to take a step back and sort of realize that we're a part of nature rather than apart from it.
I think that if human beings can focus on their own sphere of influence and on making a difference in their own little backyard, our backyard just
happens to be 27,000 hectares of Great Karoo landscape. And what a privilege for us to actually be able to spend our time improving this
landscape and making it work for both people and planet.
QUEST: Here in Dallas, here in Texas, of course, they know about the wild open spaces and the preservation and the conservation. And let me what
you're doing to preserve, sustain and just look after the magnificent around us. Tell me your plans. It's #CallToEarth.
QUEST: You know, the Texan saying, all hat and no cattle?
Well, I haven't got the cattle and I didn't have the hat until now.
QUEST (voice-over): I need a hat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Hey, Richard.
QUEST (voice-over): And this is the place to get it.
BRUCE BEAN, MANAGER, WILD BILL'S WESTERN STORE (voice-over): Any Stetson is (INAUDIBLE) the cowboy hat (INAUDIBLE).
QUEST (voice-over): Stetson.
BEAN: Stetson, J.B. Stetson. After the Civil War, he came to Texas from Philadelphia, gave us our cowboy hat.
QUEST (voice-over): What are the distinguishing features of a traditional cowboy hat?
BEAN: It is formed and shaped for a reason. You have your cattleman crown, which is a gutter, which runs water off. The shape of the hat reflects sun
away from your eyes. In those days there weren't sunglasses.
QUEST: It's very heavy.
BEAN: But it's supposed to be. This hat was made from buffalo and the buffalo fur.
QUEST: Oh, I like that. That's perfect. That fits.
That looks nice.
Right, decision time. This one or buffalo. This one.
QUEST: And there you are, a proper Stetson. And before anyone else, A, we pay for it and, B, it's about $140 if that's what you're interested in. And
if fits like a glove, which we also looked after. And we'll have a "Profitable Moment" after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment" from Dallas, Texas: one of the great things about being away from New York or the major international cities is
you get a different perspective. You get a chance to see and hear and think things through in a different way.
So tonight, we're really pleased to hear from Ken Fisher, who says that, if you look at midterm elections and you look at interest rate cycles, then,
yes, there's going to be volatility. But there's no reason to think there will be a collapse.
And then Ross Perot tells us, if you look at the economy here, the Texodus, if you will, the growth that's taking place, there's still reason for
optimism in what's happening in the U.S. economy.
And then you hear Neiman Marcus, the CEO, making it clear, high spenders continue to spend. They're having one of the best years ever, even though
they have had to close some stores and restructure.
What does it tell me?
It tells me that things are difficult at the moment but not disastrous, that change is underway, and volatility will continue. But if we all keep
our nerve and remember that Texas is a state of mind, then we'll all get through this one way or the other.
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight, I'm Richard Quest, in Dallas, Texas. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable.
I'll be back in New York next week.