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Quest Means Business

US Basketball Star, Brittney Griner Freed in Prisoner Swap; FTC Sues to Block Microsoft's $69 Billion Bid for Activision; Chinese President Gets Warm Welcome on Visit to Saudi Arabia; Harry and Meghan Take Aim in Netflix Documentary; Elon Musk Drops on World's Richest List; Call to Earth; Global Crises Pose Risk to Tourism Rebound. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 08, 2022 - 15:00   ET



RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: A rough week for the markets. Taking a look at the Dow, you can see the Dow is about three-tenths of one

percent higher, let's call it 100 points. Those are the markets and these are the main events.

The choice was one or none. US officials defending the terms of the prisoner swap for WNBA star, Brittney Griner.

Elon Musk loses his spot as the world's richest man.

And for the first time, the US dollar will be signed by two women.

Live from New York, it is Thursday, December 8th. I'm Rahel Solomon, in for Richard Quest, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening.

Tonight, Brittney Griner is on her way home.

A short time ago, Russia's state media showed the US basketball star leaving jail and boarding a plane. That's after Washington and the Kremlin

agreed on a prisoner swap.

The US released the Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout and held the exchange at Abu Dhabi's Airport. The White House says it made the difficult decision

to accept Russia's offer of one or none, to secure Griner's release for the man known as the Merchant of Death.

Meanwhile, American, Paul Whelan remains in Russian custody. Joe Biden vowing to keep working on his release while announcing Griner's release.

Isabel Rosales reports.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She is safe. She's on a plane. She's on her way home.

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN REPORTER (voice over): After nine months spent in Russian detention, WNBA star, Brittney Griner is finally free.

CHERELLE GRINER, BRITTNEY GRINER'S WIFE: Today is just a happy day for me and my family. So I'm going to smile right now.

ROSALES (voice over): President Joe Biden sitting alongside Griner's wife in the Oval Office as he spoke to the Olympic gold medalist on the phone.

BIDEN: This is a day we've worked toward for a long time.

ROSALES (voice over): Griner was arrested on drug charges at a Russian Airport last February testifying she inadvertently packed the cannabis oil

found in her luggage. She was sentenced to nine years in prison in early August.

BIDEN: She endured mistreatment and a show trial in Russia with characteristic grit and incredible dignity.

ROSALES (voice over): Griner's lawyer confirming the release was part of a prisoner swap with convicted arms dealer, Viktor Bout. The exchange did not

include Paul Whelan, another American, the State Department has declared wrongfully detained in Russia.

BIDEN: For totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul's case differently than Brittney's.

ROSALES (voice over): The President promises efforts to secure his release will continue.

C. GRINER: BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home including Paul, whose family is in our hearts today as we

celebrate BG being home.

ROSALES (voice over): In Washington, I'm Isabel Rosales reporting.


SOLOMON: And Paul Whelan has spent four years behind bars in Russia on espionage charges, accusations he denies.

Speaking exclusively to CNN, he said his is happy that Brittney is free, but have this message for the Biden administration.


PAUL WHELAN, US CITIZEN HELD BY RUSSIA: I have to say I'm greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release, especially

as the four-year anniversary of my arrest is coming up.

I was arrested for a crime that never occurred.


SOLOMON: Matthew Chance joins me from London.

Matthew, great to have you.

So look, this is the day that Griner's family, no doubt, has been waiting a long time for, but it is also sparking quite a bit of criticism about who

the US had to release.

So, tell us a bit more about Viktor Bout, and why do you think he is so important to Putin right now?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, that's the big question. I mean, you know, because there has been a lot of

efforts underway over the past several years by the Russian authorities to try and secure the release of Viktor Bout. It has always been a big

question as to why they are so interested in him.

Obviously, he has been a notorious arms trader, arms smuggler, and there has been lots of speculation that he could have connections at the highest

level in the Russian authorities, and they wanted to make sure that he didn't sort of spill the beans as it were, when it came to what he knows.

But I think it is broader than that now, particularly at a time when Russia is fighting that very bloody war in Ukraine. The fact that he has been

released now, you know, underlines that the Russian government is keen to show that they're not going to leave anybody behind.

And in fact, the Russian Foreign Ministry has come out over the past hour or so and has said that people from all over Russia and all over the world

have been sending them messages of congratulations, you know saying that they regarded Viktor Bout, this convicted arms trafficker as one of them,

as one of their family.


And they were celebrating across Russia and across the -- much of the rest of the world, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry that he had now

been released.

And so, you know, from that perspective, this is a big win for Vladimir Putin, particularly given that the person he exchanged Viktor Bout for,

Brittney Griner was not exactly a criminal mastermind. I mean, she was convicted of bringing in small quantities of cannabis oil, accidentally in

her luggage, you know, and she admitted that.

Viktor Bout, of course, again, one of the world's most notorious arms smugglers, and so there is a definite moral imbalance between these two


SOLOMON: It is a great point, and it is a question that a lot of people are asking today. I mean, was this a fair exchange?

Matthew Chance. Great to have you. Thank you.

Well, US trade regulators have sued to block Microsoft's purchase of the video game maker, Activision. In its complaint, the FTC claims that the

deal would give Microsoft the "means and motive" to hurt competitors. It also claims the $69 billion takeover would affect game pricing and quality.

Microsoft shares are slightly lower. They are off about 1.5 percent. Activision Blizzard off about 1.3 percent.

Matt Egan joins me from New York.

So Matt, what more can you tell us about what the FTC was saying about this proposed deal? I mean, it would have been one of the largest acquisitions

in tech history -- in history, in fact, if it actually went through.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Rahel.

The Federal regulators are essentially saying that this $69 billion deal would make Microsoft way too powerful, and they're willing to sue to stop


Now, to your point, this isn't just the largest ever video game deal. This would be one of the biggest tech acquisitions in history. It would give

Microsoft control over a leading video game publisher, the maker of "Call of Duty," "World of Warcraft," and other video game titles, and the FTC is

alleging that it would give Microsoft the mean and the motive to be anti- competitive.

Let me read you a key line from the statement out from the FTC. They say that: "Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content

from its gaming rivals. Today, we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio, using it to harm

competition in multiple dynamic and fast growing gaming markets." Essentially, they are saying that this would hurt consumers.

Now, in the last few minutes, Activision Blizzard has put out its own response. The CEO of Activision, Bobby Kotick, sending a note to employees

pushing back on these allegations from Federal regulators, he says that: "The allegation that this deal is anti-competitive doesn't align with the

facts, and we believe we'll win this challenge."

So certainly, signaling that from their side, they expect this to play out in Court, and we'll see what happens.

But Rahel, this is another example of how the Biden administration is trying to crack down on what they see as anti-competitive behavior,

particularly when they think consumers could be harmed.

SOLOMON: It's a great point, Matt, right, because it's sort of the implications of this deal. But also, what does this signal about the

broader strategy of the FTC under Chair Lina Khan. I mean, she is a prominent tech critic. I mean, what do you think this suggests more broadly

about the strategy at the FTC right now?

EGAN: It suggests we're going to see more challenges ahead, right? I mean, the Biden administration, they installed regulators, not just at the FTC,

but elsewhere, who are taking a tougher stance. Those regulators are in power.

And right now, given the gridlock we're seeing in Congress, with Republicans taking over the House, we can expect to see more enforcement

action from the DOJ, from the FTC, SEC, and other regulators.

And so I think that when they see instances, we saw recently, there was a publishing deal that was blocked by regulators from the Biden

administration, when they see instances of potential anti-competitive behavior, they are not going to be shy about acting, and you wonder, Rahel,

if this makes some companies who are thinking about doing deals, maybe they hold off because they don't want to see it get tied up in Court.

SOLOMON: That's a great point. Right? It's sort of the here, but it's also the here and now, the sort of implications and whether it sort of puts the

kibosh on future deals.

Matt Egan, great to have you. Thank you.

For the first time in history, the signatures of two women have been printed on the US dollar bill. The new banknotes came off the presses in


Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Treasurer, Marilynn Malerba will have their names on them.

During the ceremony, Yellen joked about the messy handwriting of her predecessors calling out Obama's Treasury Secretaries Tim Geithner and Jack

Lew. She admitted though, she did spend some time practicing hers before the event.


Speaking earlier, Yellen also spoke about the importance of today's events.


JANET YELLEN, US TREASURY SECRETARY: We've made progress in providing greater economic opportunity for women at Treasury and in the Economics


But we still know that much more needs to be done, and I hope that today is a reminder of the road we have traveled on equity and inclusion, and I hope

it motivates us to continue to move forward.


SOLOMON: And coming up on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, the Saudi Crown Prince meets his top crude customer. President Xi Jinping gets a warm welcome in

Riyadh with no fist bumps in sight.

We'll be right back.


SOLOMON: Welcome back.

Chinese President Xi Jinping says that his country is ushering in a new relationship with the Arab world. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince welcomed him

to the Royal Palace with a lavish ceremony. China is Saudi Arabia's biggest oil customer.

The two countries announced several new agreements the first day of Xi's visit. Saudi state media, but the collective value of the deals at $30


Nic Robertson is in London and with us now.

So Nic, I mean, clearly, Xi was greeted a lot more warmly than US President Joe Biden. I mean, do you think the US sees this as a snub?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think the US certainly sees it for what it is that Xi Jinping is trying to exert greater

influence in Saudi Arabia and in the Gulf in particular, and I think we got that from some of Xi's statements.

He wrote an article for a publication shortly before he arrived there, and he said, the Arab states share with me the idea of territorial integrity,

of sovereignty, and of not having outside interference in your country.

This is a direct message to the United States and to his Arab partners that China is not in favor of the United States having controlling leverage and

influence over those countries.

The deals that you talk about there, $30 billion, that's a really big, significant numbers for the countries. The sort of trade relations between

the two countries last year worth more than $80 billion, more than half of that is Saudi oil going to China, but this is a relationship that Xi really

believes he wants to make bigger.



ROBERTSON (voice over): President Xi Jinping's arrival in Riyadh as much about the substance of China-Saudi relations as it is about signaling Saudi

Arabia's growing power.

When the leaders met last, February 2019, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman MBS, needed Xi's handshake. The Chinese President

welcome, intentionally helping MBS shake off his image of international pariah following the brutal murder of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

SHAOJIN CHAI, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, SHARJAH UNIVERSITY: It was China who invited him to go to China and give him a big applause and they understand

each other. They are looking forward this long term -- long-term rule in for their own respective countries.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Xi's greeting this time, even with COVID protocols better than Biden's five months ago; also, a significant diplomatic


Biden got a much criticized fist bump from MBS, a promised arms deal, and departed vowing not to leave a vacuum in the Middle East for China and

Russia to fill.

Xi bridles at that, claims not to be in a regional power play, but does want Saudi Arabia free of US limitations.

CHAI: The Chinese government see himself want to achieve strategic autonomy of the Middle East countries including Saudi GCC or Arab States.

ROBERTSON (voice over): The detailed substance of the meetings isn't on the record yet, but is likely to include a joint multibillion dollar

petrochemical venture, and very possibly Chinese weapons sales, too, maybe drones.

During Biden's visit, I asked Saudis Foreign Minister if the then newly agreed defense cooperation with the United States negated Saudis desire for

Chinese arms, too?

PRINCE FAISAL BIN FARHAN AL-SAUD, SAUDI ARABIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We see really the US as a primary partner in defense procurement. But of course,

if we can't get US equipment, we will look elsewhere.

ROBERTSON (voice over): But the Xi-MBS relationship isn't just about MBS playing US interests against China's.

AL-SAUD: China is the world's second largest economy, and that we in order for the region, the globe to have a pathway to sustainable prosperity need

cooperation, not confrontation.

ROBERTSON (on camera): According to the Saudi government, China has been its top trading partner for the past five years. Trading volumes last year

reaching close to $82.4 billion, almost half of that Saudi oil sales to China.

When Xi and MBS met in 2019. The world was a different place. COVID-19 had yet to break out in Wuhan hammering the global economy.

Today, President Xi has consolidated his grip on China, but still struggles to control COVID and the ensuing unrest at home.

(CROWD chanting in foreign language.)

ROBERTSON (voice over): MBS is also consolidating his power at home and is trading global pariah status for global powerbroker through OPEC+, crimping

world oil supplies.

MBS is also eyeing China's 5G tech, believed by Biden and allies to give China potential access to US national security data.

BRETT MCGURK, US NSC COORDINATOR FOR MENA: There are certain partnerships with China that would create a ceiling on what we can do.

ROBERTSON (voice over): After his time with MBS, Xi will meet with GCC leaders in what is being called the first China-Arab Summit, unlikely push

for a free trade agreement, and energy security.


ROBERTSON (on camera): And energy security is of course, hugely important for China. It is so dependent on outside energy supplies, and part of the

message here is by turning to the Gulf States, it is almost --

Although China has been able to get some relatively cut price, oil and energy supplies from Russia because Russia is running out of places it can

sell its products, too, it does seem here that the subtext of this visit is that China worries potentially about Russia's ability to continue supplying

or the relationship between the two countries, and sees the Saudis and the Gulf as the reliable partners to move forward with.

That is certainly the message that the Saudis want to put across and very aware, obviously, that Iran and Russia had been selling oil products more

cheaply to Russia.

So this is important from that perspective for Saudi Arabia to maintain that market share, but it is also, you know an interesting statement not

just relative to the United States, but relative to Russia as well that Xi is troubled by what Putin is doing, and doesn't know how that is all going

to play out for Russia in the long run.


SOLOMON: Lots of implications. Nic Robertson, good to have you, thank you.

Meanwhile, in China, the country's loosening of COVID restrictions is bringing both joy and anxiety. The announcement led to a surge in bookings

for domestic travel, but experts are warning of a looming surge of cases which could delay the economic benefits of lifting restrictions.

Many are now rushing to buy COVID antigen tests and fever medication, leading to report to panic buying and shortages.

Elizabeth Cohen is with me now.

Elizabeth, you know, I mean, critics could certainly say you saw this coming, a quick loosening or a quick reopening would lead to the sort of

public health crisis or emergency we're starting to see.

I mean, what concerns you most about what we're seeing in Beijing?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What's really concerning about this is what's going to happen to hospitals, they could become


Now, to be clear, you know, the vast majority of people who get COVID do not end up in the hospital, but this is a very large country. You don't

necessarily need all that many people, and you can -- you know, in all that higher percentage, rather, and you will overload hospitals.

It is really going to be a problem, in addition to you know, that they're not going to have the supplies that they need.

I mean, the key here is that they really need to get some of those antivirals that are out there, and are they going to have enough? I mean,

that could be a real problem.

It feels like they weren't really prepared for this. If they had prepared for this, they might have enough supplies, they might be able to handle the

hospital surge. But if they're not prepared, this could be really, really a bad situation.

SOLOMON: Well, Elizabeth, I wonder -- I mean, what would that have looked like? I mean, we know that most of the population have never been exposed

to COVID. So, there is not that natural immunity?

I mean, is it more vaccinations with mRNA, which have been shown to be more effective? I mean, what do you think would have led to a better preparation

at this point?

COHEN: Right. If they had had the time, really what they would have wanted to do was to vaccinate, especially the elderly, with a good vaccine. They

would have wanted to have gotten supplies of antivirals, of fever medications, other things -- you know, protective equipment, gotten those

supplies really ready to go. They would have wanted to have made sure their hospitals were staffed.

All of those things take time, though. So certainly a lesson that's learned from what the rest of the world went through, is you need to be prepared.

But if they just made, you know, this is an about face that they did, and if they did it, they did it so quickly, it's hard to imagine that they're

really prepared.

In fact, scientists did an analysis of what would happen if basically, this were to happen, if you were to all of a sudden say, okay, we're basically

lifting, you know, almost all of these restrictions. If you didn't have the antivirals in place you did in China, you will have 1.5 million people dead

within six months.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that, but that's what these scientists found.

SOLOMON: I mean, you're absolutely right, Elizabeth. The projections have been just really alarming. I know "The Financial Times" projected something

similar, about one million people this winter if we saw a real rise in COVID.

Elizabeth, you know, we learned so much, I think here in the US from sort of how it all played out here. I mean, what do you think the biggest

takeaway has been? Because some of this, there are parallels, right?

I mean, we have had shortages here in the US. I mean, we have had our public health systems on the brink. I mean, what do you think the biggest

takeaway has been?

COHEN: Right. The biggest takeaway is prepare, prepare, prepare. So in the United States, prior to COVID, there were all of these reports that said,

Hey, guys, we need to prepare something like you know, a pandemic could be coming. This does happen, let's prepare, and no one really listened in the

way that they should have been. So we weren't prepared.

Now, here is the question, before China decided to do this about face, did they do all the basic things that you need to do? Did they stockpile

antivirals? Did they stockpile fever medications? Did they make sure that their hospitals were in order because they're going to see a surge of

cases? If they didn't prepare, prepare, prepare, that's really going to be a problem.

SOLOMON: We will soon see. Elizabeth Cohen, great to have you. Thank you.

US weekly jobless claims came in modestly higher rising 4,000 to a 10-month high of 230,000 in the week to December 3rd. That could signal a slowing

labor market and a cooling economy and milder rate increases from the Fed although that data can be notoriously volatile at this time of year.

And for the first time this week, there is some optimism on the trading floor. You see the Dow is up about half a percent that's ahead of a big

week with November CPI due next week, as well as the Fed's final rate decision of the year.

And Meghan Markel and Prince Harry are leaving no stone unturned as the first episodes of a new docuseries about a couple drops just to have what

the Royals revealed and how it's making them financially independent.



SOLOMON: Welcome back. I'm Rahel Solomon. And there's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment, when Elon Musk has been dethroned as the world's

richest man, how weeks of turmoil at Twitter have damaged his fortunes.

And the vanishing business traveler, we will speak to the CEO of JLL Hotel Group about how some parts of the travel industry might never recover.

Before that, the news headlines this hour.

Iran has carried out its first known execution linked to the mass protests that rocked the country since September. Officials say Mohsen Shekari waged

war against God when he injured a security guard and blocked a street during anti-government protests.

A British Court gave American, Anne Sacoolas an eight-month suspended sentence for the car crash death of an English teen.

Harry Dunn was struck by Sacoolas' car while driving his motorcycle in England. She was driving on the wrong side of the road. Sacoolas is the

wife of a US Intelligence officer. She left the UK after the crash and claimed diplomatic immunity. She pleaded guilty in October.

And FIFA has confirmed the death of a migrant worker in Qatar during the World Cup. The worker died at a resort where the Saudi team had been

training. A Qatari government official says that the incident is being investigated. A Qatari executive working on the World Cup said Thursday

that death is a part of life.

The first episodes of the new Harry and Meghan docuseries are out on Netflix.

Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex discuss leaving the Royal family and take aim at the media, especially the UK tabloids. Buckingham Palace has

not commented on the series.

CNN Royal correspondent, Max Foster reports.




PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: Hi, still here on ...

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been billed as the firsthand account of the relationship between Harry and Meghan, their

families, in the media and in their own words.

The first three episodes of the Netflix docuseries on the couple dropped in the early hours of this morning. And it returned to some familiar themes.

PRINCE HARRY: And that press pack of royal correspondents is essentially just an extended PR arm of the royal family.

FOSTER (voice-over): Harry comparing Meghan's experience to that of his mother, Diana's. He feared she would be driven away by the media


PRINCE HARRY: As far as a lot of the family members, everything that she was being put through, they have been put through as well. So it was almost

like a right of passage. And some of them (INAUDIBLE) right, but my wife had to go through that, so, why should your girlfriend be treated any


Why should you get special treatment?

Why should she be protected?

I said, the difference here is the risk element.

FOSTER (voice-over): Ultimately, Harry said he had to leave the U.K. to protect his family.

PRINCE HARRY: I accept there will be people around the world who fundamentally disagree with what I've done and how I have done it. But I

knew that I had to do everything I could to protect my family.


PRINCE HARRY: Especially after what happened to my mom. I did not want history to repeat itself.

FOSTER (voice-over): We heard from Meghan's mother for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I remember when I first met him, too. You know, he was 6'1", handsome man with red hair, really great manners.

FOSTER (voice-over): Harry says, when he introduced Meghan to his family, they did not think the relationship would last.

MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: The actress then was the biggest problem, funny enough. There is a big idea of what that looks like from the U.K.

standpoint, Hollywood, and there's just very easy for them to typecast that.

FOSTER (voice-over): The couple say they felt unprotected by the palace against a barrage of media attacks. The palace has yet to comment.


SOLOMON: We're hearing Meghan stepped back from the royal family in 2020. They've now become financially independent since the story, the couple has

signed deals with Netflix and Spotify, both reportedly worth millions of dollars.

Kate Williams joins me from London.

Kate, good to have you. From my perspective, the couple seems pretty popular in the U.S.

What has the reaction been like in the U.K. to this documentary?

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There has been a lot of reaction, there has been widely watched, people were talking about it. Obviously, there is

a difference between the public reaction and the press reaction. There is a lot of anger in the press, having Meghan suing a lot of newspapers.

On top of this, this was three episodes in which they were explicitly critical of the press about the race bias, the aggressive press coverage

and the explicit comparison between Diana suffering at the hands of the paparazzi and Meghan as well.

So some of the papers are pretty angry about this. And certainly you know, we saw some right-wing commentators saying, complaining about what Meghan

said, getting rid of their titles.

I think overall, there was sympathy for them. I think particularly among the young and people of color in Britain, they are really thinking, well,

look at the situation in which Harry and Meghan were unprotected. They were exposed to all of this.

And how Harry was saying the royal family said to him, well, why should your girlfriend be any different?

People are thinking, where is the king in this?

Where is King Charles?

Where is Buckingham Palace?

It does not look good for them. I think a lot of young people are questioning the monarchy.

SOLOMON: It's a fair point, Kate. Even in the U.S., people of color have seemed to stand behind Meghan because there is that racial component to


You know we saw Princess Diana there. I wonder, there have been comparisons made between Princess Diana and Meghan in terms of the way she was treated

by the press, seemingly ostracized.

Do you think the parallels are fair?

WILLIAMS: I think they are fair parallels.


It's obviously a different time, there was no social media, Diana suffered a lot of misogyny and sexism but not racism. A different aspect to the

coverage of Meghan.

But Diana was chased by the paparazzi. So was Meghan. I think really, what we we're seeing in this documentary, Harry saying we have learned nothing,

we have learned nothing from when Diana was so chased, suffered so much.

Women who marry into the royal family still, all those years later, they are still being asked, still being tormented and suffering. It was too much

for Meghan. This, Harry has made clear, the reason he left the royal family was because the coverage of the stories about them and that they felt

completely unprotected by the stories.

We are also going to see more about the allegation in the trailers that is not just the palace did not control the story, it's also that the story has

been planted. I think that is going to come in detail in the next few episodes.

Certainly there is no holds barred here on the press, on the tabloid press but also, there's a lot of criticism of the royal family, about the

question of race.

SOLOMON: So interesting.

Kate, did anything surprise you from what we have learned so far?

I mean on the one hand you can argue some of this we heard before, the tell-all that the couple did over that sitdown they did with Oprah.

Did anything surprise you?

WILLIAMS: There were many aspects that were surprising, there were things they hinted at but they have not expressed in so many words. And Harry

explicitly saying this is comparison with Diana, how explicitly saying, when he was young, he was pretty much on his own. He was unsupported, there

was no one helping him get over his mother. This explicit revelation that no one was helping within the palace.

Also, I think, actually saying there was unconscious bias in the royal family, the royal household toward Meghan. And also saying that Harry said

that the royal family, that their judgment was clouded. That's the word he used, clouded judgment, because she was an American actress, xenophobia

against the acting profession.

Also the allegation that when they were texting Thomas Markle, Meghan's father, near to the wedding, they said his phone was hacked or compromised.

These are very serious allegations about racism within the royal family and the press treatment of Meghan and Harry and even phone hacking.

So this is serious material and I expect to see much more revelations in the next days to come. Certainly and Harry's book coming in early January.

But certainly I think they are not holding back, they are saying what they feel and they explicitly saying that there was no choice but to leave the

royal family.

SOLOMON: Wow, it has been fascinating to watch. Kate Williams, great to have you, thank you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

SOLOMON: Elon Musk had apparently been dethroned as the world's richest person. Forbes says he is in second place behind Bernard Arnault, the chief

executive of the luxury brand LVMH. His wealth, Musk, is linked to Tesla stock. He recently sold $4 billion worth to fund his takeover of Twitter.

Tesla shares are down 56 percent this year. Paul La Monica is with us.

Paul, how much is this the stock movement?

Correct me if I'm wrong, LVMH, that stock has moved flat this year, pretty much 0 percent, with Tesla's down 50 percent. Help me understand what led

to this.

PAUL LA MONICA, CNNMONEY DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. LVMH has held up relatively well in this very rocky economy. That's how Bernard Arnault and

his family has been able to leapfrog Elon Musk, at least according to Forbes.

He is still, Musk that is, has the title of world's wealthiest according to Bloomberg, which also has a list that tracks the world's richest people.

But make no mistake, Tesla stock has just been eviscerated this year. Part of it due to concerns about electric vehicle sales in a slowing economy,

perhaps a recession, heading into 2023.

Also, the Twitter distractions. it's not just that Musk had to sell shares in order to fund the Twitter deal, it's the sideshow. Let's be brutally

honest here, Elon Musk's handling of Twitter does not exactly lend much confidence to investors on Wall Street about his ability to continue

running Tesla at a time where he also has SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company. He is so distracted.

I think it's doing a disservice to Tesla investors, not to mention his own net worth, by having Twitter as this sideshow to the rest of his more

legitimate businesses like Tesla.

SOLOMON: Paul, certainly has his hands full. Today, he has something else to think about. San Francisco, California, apparently investigating Twitter

for illegally converting some of its space into bedrooms. I think about the infamous story of sleeping on the floors in the Tesla factory.


Then asking Twitter employees to leave if they don't want to be hardcore. I guess this is one more example of his, some would say, unorthodox approach

to running Twitter.

LA MONICA: Yes, I think that is fair and correct to say. I would like to think that any self-respecting person at Twitter, that is a talented

individual, would probably scoff at the notion that they should stay at the Elon Musk Twitter hotel when they can get a job elsewhere where they are

treated like an actual human being.

That is just me talking. Hey, some people probably feel that Elon Musk is a great boss.

SOLOMON: Elon Musk Twitter hotel, that is new. Paul La Monica, thank you.

Coral reefs are dying around the world. But surfers and conservationists are teaming up to save them. Our newest Call to Earth takes us to Tahiti.

We will see how coral gardening is making big waves.




SOLOMON: Few sports are linked closer to the sea than surfing. Three years ago, the governing body for professional surfers joined in the fight to

help protect our oceans. Partnering with an organization dedicating to preserving and regenerating coral reefs.

Today, on Call to Earth, we travel to French Polynesia, home of the some of the wildest waves in the world to learn more about the work happening




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Welcome to Tahiti, an island formed from of volcanoes in the middle of the South Pacific. Covered with lush

mountains and surrounded by crystalline waters, it is home to a diverse ecosystem.

It's also a surfer's paradise and the site of the world's surf leaks illustrious outer known (ph) Tahiti pro with a tiepolo (ph) wave,

considered one of the most dangerous in the world, provides a steep challenge to the sports elite.

VANINE FIERRO, TAHITIAN PRO SURFER (voice-over): It can be so scary but when you overcome that fear, you can get the best wave of your life out



JACK ROBINSON, AUSTRALIAN PRO SURFER (voice-over): I think it is one of the heaviest waves in the world just because the amount of volume of water

that comes in.

LAKEY PETERSON, AMERICAN PRO SURFER (voice-over): It's a very, very powerful force of nature. It's a wave that is like nothing else you have

ever seen before.

STEPHANIE GILMORE, 2022 WORLD SURF LEAGUE CHAMPION (voice-over): I think it should be one of the eight wonders of the world. You get to watch the

surfers risk their lives for these barrels. It's one of the most amazing things you can ever see in your life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Below the crashing waves at this epic surf spot, a different kind of life is at risk.

TITOUAN BERNICOT, FOUNDER AND CEO, CORAL GARDENERS (voice-over): At the moment on our planet, the coral reef conditions are not good. They are

here, on planet Earth, since 400 million years.

But in just three decades, we already lost 30 percent of our world's coral reef. And the scientist estimate by 2050, 90 percent of the remaining one

could be condemned. So it is an emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): To help raise awareness about the issue in 2019 World Surf League teamed up with Coral Gardeners, a organization

led by Titouan Bernicot, who is from Araya, this is the island of Tahiti.

BERNICOT (voice-over): The main reason why coral reef are dying around the world is global warming. Then there is also ocean acidification, human

pressures like the rim of the water, chemicals and farming. There are many reasons why the coral reef are stressed and the corals are bleaching and

they're dying. And it's happening so fast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Titouan and his crew have dedicated their lives to saving the reef.

BERNICOT (voice-over): I like to say, no reef, no ocean, no air because the coral reef, they are the ocean lamps. We call them also the rainforest

of the seas. That is what regulates the temperature of the atmosphere, the air we all breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The centerpiece to the Coral Gardeners' efforts is a rehabilitation and restoration program that grows and replants


KALPO GUERRERO, WORLD SURF LEAGUE (voice-over): We are taking basically super coral, so coral that have not succumb to bleaching and the warming of

ocean waters. Those super coral, what we are able to do is take a piece of that coral and then graph, it put it on a line and let that piece of coral


So we keep on procreating and they keep on growing, they keep on building a bigger and bigger house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): It's a model designed to be scalable and implemented anywhere in the world and one that now has the support of an

international collective of individuals, scientists, engineers and surfers alike, who all share a singular mission of helping the oceans catch a


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): There is still time to save the reef, it's not too late. We can change our ways, we can bring back the reef. that is

what the good work at Coral Gardeners is doing. We are not too far gone. Like we can make a change right now and we can turn the corner and turn it

around. So it is not too late.


SOLOMON: Let us know what you are doing to answer the call with the #CallToEarth.





SOLOMON: Welcome back.

Tourism saw a rebound this year. But a slowing global economy could bring that to an end. The OECD said the impact of inflation and a global energy

crisis is putting the industry's progress in danger. A full recovery can be delayed until 2025 or even later.

Special on year though for the second with tourism in OECD countries hitting 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels in July, although the head of

United Airlines told CNBC that business travel is already feeling the impact of economic headwinds.


SCOTT KIRBY, CEO, UNITED AIRLINES: It feels like business travel -- and this is probably indicative of pre recessionary kind of behavior -- has

plateaued, even though our total revenues are still going up.


SOLOMON: Gilda Perez-Alvarado is the head of the JLL Hotels and Hospitality, a group that advises businesses in the leisure industry, and

she joins me from New York.

Great to have you.


SOLOMON: So business travel has plateaued according to Scott Kirby.

Do you think part of that is post pandemic Zoom environment?

Or do you think this is the first signs of business is pulling back because of macro headwinds?

PEREZ-ALVARADO: That's a great question, I think businesses are being smart about the way their employees and executives travel. Of course, there

is no substitute for in-person meetings when it has to do with B to C or B to B.

But of course, we can be very efficient in using Zoom to connect for internal meetings. So we have not felt the frequency of travel go down; I

think we are being more purposeful and there is a lot of conversation as to the evolution of travel. And that new concept of bleisure trips as well.

SOLOMON: OK, how about hotels, how is the hotel industry doing?

Are you back to pre-pandemic levels there?

PEREZ-ALVARADO: We are almost back to pre-pandemic levels in the hotel industry. The sector that has grown the fastest is leisure. Now we are

starting to see that recovery of business travel and group demand.

The U.S. is leading the way. We have other countries that are also catching up and doing very well; for example, Dubai. Now that the rest of the world

is opening up, we are definitely seeing an uptick in hotel recovery.

SOLOMON: If the U.S. is leading the way, what would you say is the biggest drag right now?

Where are you seeing the weakest demand?

PEREZ-ALVARADO: Well, we all want business travel to come back. But I think the trends we are seeing, they are all quite promising. In your

opening statement, in terms of the overall macro economic environment, obviously that is the biggest headwind we have, we are all watching very

carefully. To see how, consumer, how disposable income is going to be affected. How corporations are going to be managing their travel budgets

going forward.

SOLOMON: Heading into 2023, of course, you know, that is a big concern, right?

How consumers respond to rising interest rates, how consumers respond to inflation. How businesses respond to those things.

How best to prepare for economic downturn?

What are you telling hotel operators and your clients?

PEREZ-ALVARADO: I think it's twofold. Number one, we are finally seeing the world reopen. We heard signs of China reopening starting last week.

That is very encouraging. The second world's biggest economy, which has, in essence, been shut down since the pandemic.

International travel is one leg of this stool that we have not seen back. And the other one, in terms of what hotel owners learned during the

pandemic, they need to cater to the local guests.

They need to be relevant to the community they serve, make sure they are catering not just to those paying for the hotel room but also patrons

coming to use the rest of the hotel facilities, such as restaurants.

SOLOMON: How best to keep a handle on wages?

Wages, certainly in the U.S. have risen at a pace higher than central bankers would. Like so how best for operators to attract and retain top

talent but also, account for the higher cost that comes with the talent?

PEREZ-ALVARADO: A lot of the cost increases have been passed on to the consumer.


And the consumer has proven to be resilient, in terms of rising ADRs.

I would say, I think we are going to see some softening of the labor pressures as more people get back to work. I think, in terms of your

question as well, we had a very significant loss of jobs in the travel and tourism industry. About 60 million worldwide.

We have to do right by the employees, demonstrate there is a career that they could have in hospitality. This is one of the most amazing jobs, I

think, in the world, in terms of being with people, growing service, et cetera.

But there needs to be, number one, we need to make sure we are helping them grow, that they can actually afford to have a very nice life by working in

the sector but also another thing we learned during the pandemic is that we can do a lot more with less.

So we have to be mindful of all of the waste that is generated in hotels, maybe paying for things that don't necessarily add value. And areas that do

add value, such as the service aspect, we do have to look after our workers.

SOLOMON: It's an interesting point.

How serious of a threat do you think players like Airbnb are for more traditional hotel operators?

PEREZ-ALVARADO: I think Airbnb has done exceptionally well over the last 10 years. They have been around. I think they've showed us, they show

traditional hotel is a different way of hospitality. We are seeing more and more blurring of the lines.

We are seeing the combination of residential hospitality, I think they're on to something. They are offering a product that is quite distinct up to

the traditional hotel industry.

I'm not sure what growth looks like going forward to the extent that we go into an economic recession. But I think what they have done for the

industry overall, it's forced us to innovate.

SOLOMON: Innovation is always good. Gilda Perez-Alvarado, thank you, good to have you.

Moments left to trade on Wall Street. We will have the final numbers and the closing bell right after this.




SOLOMON: Just moments left to trade on Wall Street, the Dow has given up early gains. It's still up 0.5 percent, about 175 points. Such a close high

30 seconds left. Shares of Activision Blizzard, they are falling, after the FTC sued to block Microsoft's acquisition of the video game publisher. The

stock is down over 1 percent, about 1.4 percent of Microsoft, about 1 percent.

Looking at triple stack, the S&P is looking to snap a five-day losing streak, you can see all the major averages are higher with the Nasdaq

leading the way. The Nasdaq is up 1.1 percent. And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for today. I'm Rahel Solomon, the closing bell is ringing on Wall