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Quest Means Business

Stocks Fall At Start Of Major Week Of Earnings, Economic Data; Adani Group Scandal; Funerals Held For Victims Of Blast In Pakistan; Hong Kong's Vanity Plate Mania; TikTok CEO To Appear Before U.S. Congress In March; TikTok CEO Face Congress On Data Privacy, China Ties. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired January 30, 2023 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And it was all going so well. Look and see at the day. We did have some green at the top of the morning, but

as the day has moved on, the market has turned turtle, it is holding down round about 200 points. We will explain, analyze, and digest, as we have

the final hour of trading on this Monday.

Those are the markets and the main events of the day.

A pinnacle week in the fight to control inflation. That's what it is all about. Decisions from the Fed, the ECB, and BoE.

The British Prime Minister is facing scrutiny over an ethics scandal within his party. We will talk about what's going wrong.

And TikTok CEO has testified before US lawmakers.

Tonight, we are live in London. It is Monday, it's January the 30th. I'm Richard Quest. And in London, of course, I mean business.

Good evening.

On both sides of the Atlantic, markets are falling as investors are bracing for a week of major economic data. This is the triple stack, and I think

what is significant here, obviously, you've got the Dow 30, the big board down, but as we go to the broader market, which suggests there are one or

two things pulling the Dow up, but the broader market is down heavily and the techs are off, or indeed the growth stocks are off even more.

And the reason is, they're worried about a whole variety of thing. First of all, tonight, we have the IMF with its economic outlook, so the WIO comes


Then, we have news on Wednesday of the Fed with its decision; Tuesday, you have EU GDP growth; Wednesday, you have the Fed decision. Thursday, you

have the Bank of England, and the ECB's decision, and on Friday, you have the US jobs data.

So by the time we get -- that's backward looking a bit, although it has got some forecasts in it -- by the time you get to the end of the week, we will

have a very good idea of the way things are going.

Now tech stocks are going to be put to the test as they release earnings. Apple, Meta, Amazon -- all down heavily today on that very reason. You can

see one -- I mean, the worst of the day is Tesla, but that's got unique problems, even so it still falls off the bed along with everybody else.

The Central Banks are expected to slow the pace of rate rises this week, but they are still likely to raise rates in this battle against inflation.

Now, the Fed finished the first half after raising rates 425 basis points last year. It is the fastest tightening cycle in a decade. Inflation slowed

significantly in most parts of the world, particularly as energy prices fell, labor markets stayed resilient across the thing. The US, indeed,

continues to add job numbers quarter of a million in December.

And when it comes to GDP growth, you end the year at a rate of just under three percent. What will the second half bring as it is more drawn out and

painful than the first.

Mohamed El-Erian is the president of Queens College at Cambridge University, chief economic adviser at Allianz.

Now, we have a really interesting bifurcation, if you will. On the one hand, you've got these worries and Feds and things, rates will continue to

go, but until this week, the buoyant market had given the impression that it was all over nothing to see here. It's all over now, where do you stand?

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, ECONOMIST AND ADVISOR, ALLIANZ: So it has given that impression, Richard, because the data was supportive of somewhat of a soft

landing. What do I mean by that? Not much sacrificing growth, no recession in Germany, no recession in the US, and inflation coming down. Today, we

got a bit of a shock.

We found out that German GDP contracted, it was expected to expand and we found out that Spanish inflation came a whole percentage point higher than

people expected. So what you have now is doubt coming back into the market and that's the right thing.

We are not destined for a soft landing, we may get it, but it's a low probability we have to be open to the possibility that it is going to be

very bumpy from here.


QUEST: Okay. Except, I come back to this point that, you know, when I was presenting this program last week, we were all about, all over, carry on,

markets buoyant and running. It is not going to be that bad, soft landing. Even the IMF has recalibrated its growth forecast.

EL-ERIAN: Yes, and if they have, they've done it too fast. Look, we've had lots of head fakes. Remember, the notion that inflation could be

transitory. Now, simply because we benefited from a warmer winter in Europe, people got carried away.

We have growth headwinds, and we have the likelihood of sticky inflation. I think is going to be a bumpy journey. The big question is, will it be a

better destination? It is possible that it would be a better destination, but policymakers have to get it right.

QUEST: In your view at the moment, let's say we get a couple more rate rises quarter percent, maybe one, maybe two, as we head on, the Fed towards

five, five-and-a-quarter. And how much more in your view should they be doing?

EL-ERIAN: I think they'll need to do another half to three-quarters of a percentage point. If it were up to me, I would do half a percent on

Wednesday, not the quarter of a percent that everybody expects, because I think that's what they will do. I will do half a percent. Why? Because I

don't want to tighten policy into a weakening economy.

The big action is going to come from Europe and the UK. They're going to do half a percentage point and they will probably do another half a percentage

point off the bat.

QUEST: Are these rate rises? I mean, I'm in the UK at the moment, and I just looked at my mortgage. I mean, it has doubled. In the space of six

months since so they started rate rises, or eight months, it's actually more than doubled.

How can ordinary house people with mortgage, how can people afford this?

EL-ERIAN: And that's the tragedy of starting too late. That is a tragedy of mischaracterizing inflation as transitory when it wasn't, then you have

to play catch up.

You pointed out, the Fed had one of its biggest year of rate increases, it could have spread that out over two years, it wouldn't have had to go as

far. But they started late.

But let me just say one thing, Richard, you and I remember the days of high inflation, those are not good days. So getting inflation low and stable is

very important for long term economic wellbeing.

QUEST: So let's take the markets, and I guess what every investor large or small, big or little really wants to know is -- are we at the bottom or

near the bottom? And when is it going to be time to buy?

EL-ERIAN: So people have been buying already. We've had one of the best January's for the last 50 years with gains of six percent for the S&P, 11

percent from NASDAQ, eight to 11 percent for Germany, France, Italy. We've had a great start to the year.

I think, we'll probably give some of it back, so it is not going to be smooth from here. It is going to be quite bumpy.

It wouldn't surprise me if we go down a bit before we start going up again. There's a lot of uncertainty and the market ignored too much of it in


QUEST: The difficulties that we now face over the next -- over the rest of the year. I don't doubt that there is a light at the end of the tunnel

alone. I mean, but do you think we're bumping along? I don't just mean the market. I mean, economically. Do you think we're bumping along the bottom

or is there much more grimness to come?

EL-ERIAN: So there could be more grimness to come. I mean, there's a cost of living crisis going on. There is the likelihood of higher income


What we are not seeing enough of is growth-oriented policies. We are seeing talk, we've heard it in the UK, the notion of the four years, why we need

economic growth, but how you're going to get economic growth hasn't been detailed yet, and growth is the solution to many of our problems.

QUEST: Mohamed El-Erian, I'm grateful to talk to you. Thank you, sir. We'll talk more. Grateful.

EL-ERIAN: Thank you.

QUEST: I have got a bit of light reading for you. Single-sided, about 400 odd pages. But the Adani Group went on the offensive today against the US

firm that alleged widespread fraud.

It is 413 pages and it accused the Hindenburg Research company of launching a calculated attack on India, however, it did little to pacify investors.


The shares of most of Adani's companies fell again sharply. In total, it had about $70 billion wiped off in less than a week. As for the net wealth

of the founder, Gautam Adani, it has now fallen almost $28 billion this month. Asia's richest man did get some good news. Abu Dhabi's International

Holding Company invested $400 million in one of his companies. I guess, that is just a case of a bit of bargain shopping, getting something while

it's cheap.

Anna Stewart, allow me to pass this --

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yes, this is my bedtime reading, isn't it, Richard? Isn't that right?

QUEST: So you have to read the report. You've got the Adani, and you've got the report --

STEWART: So here we have the original report on the Adani Group. This is from a forensic financial firm, the Hindenburg Research Group, and they

allege, well, they say it is brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud that has gone on for decades at this, Adani Group, which is the second

biggest conglomerate in India and honestly, the accusations and allegations in this report make for some pretty shocking reading.

QUEST: Right. That's the Adani response.

STEWART: This is then the response that came several days later over the weekend. It's 420 pages long. It says that not only do they deny all of the

accusations in this, and let's make that clear, but they also say this is an attack on India, and they actually go after this firm, Hindenburg


So they actually say the shoe was on the other foot. Hindenburg is actually a concealment and they go into that. Then we get to this third report,

Richard, this is then the next response from Hindenburg to Adani on the rebuttal, and they say fraud cannot be obfuscated by nationalism.

So, stop talking about India. We're not attacking India. We want answers to these questions and you've not given them.

Now, it is interestingly, the nationalism line because I have to say the Hindenburg Group here have said that the Adani Group has got away, they say

with fraud over many years with the help of people in government.

QUEST: Right. So what about the regulators? I mean, one would have thought that this sort of stuff would have the regulators in India chomping

at the bit to get to the bottom of it.

STEWART: This was my thought as well. I thought, well, we've had this response, this response, this response -- where is the regulator? Because

this is days on from serious allegations, nothing yet from India's market regulator, SEBI, and it was interesting in the initial accusations from

Hindenburg, they do say, "The issues of corruption permeate multiple layers of government. According to numerous sources, we spoke with, Indian

securities regulator, SEBI seems more inclined to protect the perpetrators than punish them."

So I would suggest that we need to hear from SEBI one way or another at this stage.

QUEST: Does this have legs?

STEWART: I think it does. It certainly has a lot of paper to get through, but if anything I've learned from Wirecard, where that was something where

the German regulator didn't get on it very quickly, and in many ways denied there was an issue for some time, that had legs.

QUEST: Well, it is getting on a bit, so don't let me stop you from your - -

STEWART: Oh, I'll get to it.

QUEST: Reading -- I want that quote from Page 362.


QUEST: Thank you.

We're in London tonight, and if I look at the papers, there's "The Guardian," a serious failure. Zahawi out -- Sunak. Every -- and "The Daily

Mirror" has the best, I think, "Rotten to the Core" is how they are describing it.

The pressure is on the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He sacked his Party's Chair over a tax scandal. And now of course, people are saying he waited

too long to get rid of him, and Rishi Sunak's judgment is up for grabs. We'll talk about that with Peter Westmacott after the break.



QUEST: A somber night in Pakistan after a deadly attack on a mosque and a police compound.


QUEST: The latest pictures that we've received showing the funerals that were held for dozens of victims. At least 61 people are dead and more than

150 have been injured

CNN's Ivan Watson reports.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dazed worshippers pulling themselves out from the rubble, a deadly blast hit this

mosque during afternoon prayers partially collapsing the building. The suspected attack targeting a police compound in Pakistan's northwestern

City of Peshawar.

The victims likely mostly law enforcement, caught off guard in a place of worship.

HAJI SHAHHAWAZ, EYEWITNESS (through translator): We took out the injured and sent them to hospital. The dead bodies should all be inside the mosque,

buried under the rubble.

WATSON (voice over): Dozens are confirmed dead, Pakistani Police say with more than 150 injured. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned what he is

calling a suicide blasts saying: "The brutal killing of Muslims prostrating before Allah is against the teachings of the Quran. Terrorists want to

create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan."

The Pakistani Taliban known as Tehrik-e Taliban or TTP has claimed responsibility for the blast, calling it revenge for a targeted IED attack

against one of the group's founding members last August. CNN cannot independently verify the group's claims.

For years, Islamist militant groups including the TTP, which is a US- designated terrorist organization have periodically carried out attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, where Peshawar is located.

But Monday's blast was the worst the city has seen since March of last year, when a suicide bombing that ISIS later claimed responsibility for

killed at least 61 at a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers.

Leaders of Pakistan's rival political parties condemned the latest mosque bombing, a country with a long history of deadly political violence, now

bracing for the threat of more possible suicide attacks.

Ivan Watson CNN.


QUEST: Now, the main spokesperson for the Pakistani Taliban is now denying that the group was responsible, which contradicts earlier

statements from other Pakistani Taliban officials.

A scandal in British politics is raising questions about the judgment of the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. After weeks of pressure, the Prime Minister

finally sacked the Conservative Party Chair, Nadhim Zahawi over a multimillion pound tax scandal.

It was the Prime Minister who appointed Zahawi to the position, but the allegations go back much before then. The series in the latest -- the

latest in the series of controversies. First of all, he appointed Suella Braverman as the Home Secretary a week after she was sacked for a security

breach. He lost Gavin Williamson amid bullying accusations, which still rumble on, and an investigation is underway into the conduct of the Deputy

PM, Dominic Raab that's also still rambling on.

So Peter Westmacott is a former British Ambassador to France, Turkey and the US. I mean, is he unlucky? Is it unfair? Because most of these

accusations were all before he became Prime Minister.

PETER WESTMACOTT, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE, TURKEY, AND THE US: Yes, a lot of it has been running for a while. You're right.

And one of the reasons why Rishi Sunak is Prime Minister is because several other people had a go at it and it didn't work out, so he was not the first

choice of a lot of Conservative MPs, which is one of his problems.

He has got a rather fractious party of which he is now the leader, but he has also got some individuals there who have been, if you like, under

investigation for a while.


Gavin Williamson, who you mentioned just now has gone -- he has been fired three times in about four years for bad behavior as a member of the

Cabinet; Suella Braverman under investigation, as you say. The Dominic Raab stuff has been talked about for many years, NDAs, and all sorts of

allegations about bullying and you know where did that come from?

QUEST: How did he survive?

WESTMACOTT: Well, there, I think the details of those cases have been kept quiet because of these nondisclosure agreements. And now, there is an

investigation going on. When will it see the light of day? I cannot tell you.

QUEST: So, is the PM, when it comes to Zahawi, is his offense in a sense, not sacking him when the allegations first surfaced, and it took him a

while before he set up the independent investigation by Sir Laurie, but he moved quickly once Sir Laurie's report came out, which tonight is being

questioned as being unfair.

WESTMACOTT: Yes, he moved very quickly when the report came out, and there are some that questions tonight about whether Sir Laurie was fair,

whether he gave Nadhim Zahawi a sufficient chance to set out his side of the story and so on.

But I think what he was very keen to do, the Prime Minister was to ensure that there was a fair process and that he didn't just sack the guy simply

because of the allegations, and that is reasonable enough, it seems to me.

QUEST: Now, the good viewer of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight, doesn't really get to much about the minutiae of the Conservative Party or indeed,

any of the fortunes of any one Minister. What they care about is whether or not there's something smelly. Is there something smelly and unpleasant

going within the British government, do you think, that this government needs rooting out?

WESTMACOTT: I would say, without having lots of inside information, Richard, that we've got a Prime Minister now who is clean and young,

different, hasn't been around for a long time, but he is the head of a government which has been in power for 12 years, where there is a lot of

people who have got somewhat tarnished reputations, and therefore he does need to clean things up because there isn't a sense at the moment that this

government has been there too long, and there are too many people in positions of authority in Cabinet who shouldn't be there.

QUEST: Now, I need you to stay where you are, if you be as kind, sir. We'll get to another story and I'm coming back to you for second dibs as

they say.


QUEST: The President of South Africa says -- sorry, Turkey's President Erdogan is threatening Sweden's potential membership of NATO. Tensions have

been building between the countries for some time now. It culminated in protests of the burning of a Quran outside Turkey's embassy in Stockholm,

Mr. Erdogan said this.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKEY PRESIDENT (through translator): Let me say something here this evening, we can give a different message about Finland,

if necessary, and when we give a different message about Finland, Sweden will be shocked.

But Finland should not make the same mistake.


QUEST: You're a former Ambassador to Turkey. What is he playing at here? He must know that -- would he really admit Finland and not Sweden, knowing

that the two Prime Ministers have been so close that we go together?

WESTMACOTT: There are some very difficult elections coming up in Turkey. President Erdogan has brought forward the date to the middle of May. He is

under attack from a lot of different people who would like his job. He has been there for 20 years, a lot of people think it is time for change.

What do you do when you are a head of government and you're under attack and your polling is poor? You find a foreign enemies to blame for things

that are not going right. He's done a bit of that in Northern Syria. He has maimed America for this and that.

He has actually done a quite a handy role in trying to mediate between Ukraine and Russia, but in terms of all this NATO stuff, I don't think he's

going to relent until those elections are over.

He seized on the burning of the Quran, but we know who burned the Quran, a guy who was paid to do so it seems by the Russians, in order specifically

to sow division within the NATO Alliance.

So I hope that people are advising the President of Turkey, look, be careful what's going on. There are people who are playing you and this is a

much more important issue than just one burning of a Quran, however offensive that maybe.

QUEST: Lot of talk in Britain tonight, about the strength of the British forces, and whether actually they are up to snuff. Have they actually got

the right equipment, the right people? Are they actually able to make a decent contribution here?

WESTMACOTT: I think what's significant this time around, Richard, is that the Defense Minister and the Defense Secretary of State have both come out

and said that what an unnamed American General has said about UK military capabilities is right, that we are under resourced, that we haven't got

enough people, and that the UK is not the top tier force that it was under the immediate first choice ally for the United States.

I used to have this from President Obama and the late, much loved Ash Carter when he was Defense Secretary when I was Ambassador in Washington.

They were complaining then that we weren't capable enough, and now, I'm afraid our capabilities have gone further down.


QUEST: Right, but if you are the Prime Minister and if today there was a massive announcement about new nurses and new ambulances, and you have had

people saying the health service is the worse than it has ever been, where do you put your priorities -- health and votes or defense and strength?

WESTMACOTT: Well, one of the things you've got to do is ensure that the money you spend on Defense, which is a lot is properly spent. We've just

frittered five and a half billion on a light tank made by General Dynamics in America, which doesn't work at all; whereas the French has spent the

same amount of money on a light tank where they got hundreds of them that do work.

So there is an issue about procurement quality, a bit of bad luck, I'm sure as well. It's not just how much, it is how you spend and what you do with

that Defense budget.

QUEST: Thank you very much, sir. I'd hate to see really bad luck. Thank you very much.

WESTMACOTT: Thank you, Richard.

QUEST: Very kind of you.

WESTMACOTT: Thank you.

QUEST: Let's go to South Africa now where the President says he may announce a State of Emergency over the country's worsening energy crisis.

South Africa has endured record number of power outages, load shedding they call it with disruptions on more than 200 days.

Our correspondent there is David McKenzie. He has the story from Soweto. And I caution please, some of the images here are somewhat disturbing.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tens of thousands of dead birds suffocated when the power failed and surges blew

the backup systems. It's the awful impact of a country in crisis.

MCKENZIE (on camera): So when you saw thousands of chickens die like this, what was it like for you?

HERMAN DU PREEZ, OWNER, FRANGIPAN FARMS: A glass of cold water in your face. It was so, so bad. I never thought it would happen to me.

MCKENZIE (voice over): Herman Du Preez has struggled for months with up to 10 hours of rolling blackouts a day. He can't hide his anger at the


DU PREEZ: I'm not asking them to do me a favor. Really? I don't. I will do my job. I will produce food. I'll wake up early, work on Sundays to

produce food for South Africa. I like what I'm doing. Just do your job. You have one thing to do, just do it, just give us power, please.

MCKENZIE (voice over): But power is in short supply. The farm that Du Preez and his father built from scratch now runs at a loss during the worst


He says diesel costs could sink them.

MCKENZIE (on camera): The President himself has admitted that corruption, sabotage, or lack of skills has caused this issue. Why should this

government then be trusted to fix it?

VINCENT MAGWENYA, PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN: Well, David, as you know, this problem predates President Ramaphosa's time in government.

MCKENZIE (voice over): Even the President now acknowledges that decades of mismanagement and breathtaking corruption crippled state-owned power

utility, Eskom, a lack of maintenance, a deep skills deficit, and regulatory red tape have all helped cause this crisis.

MCKENZIE (on camera): I'm going to repeat the same question, which is why should South Africans trust the government that caused this problem to fix

this problem?

MAGWENYA: We accept those mistakes. I've said it and the President has said it numerous times that there were massive, regrettable policy missteps

that led us to where we are now. However, now, we are focusing on the solution and the opportunities that have been presented by this crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forward to energy security, forward.


MCKENZIE (voice over): Not everyone is buying it. The official opposition is calling for mass action.

MCKENZIE (on camera): You can sense the growing frustration in South Africa already. This crisis isn't just inconvenient for people, it can kill

the dreams of a better future.

MCKENZIE (voice over): A better future is what Thando Makhubu and his family strive for.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Are you proud of your son?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I am. But we used to fight a lot.


MCKENZIE (voice over) Thando turned a small government COVID grant into the Soweto Creamery. It's a huge hit here, thanks to the whole Makhubu

family, but when the power goes out, their profits evaporate.

MAKHUBU: So now, I'm about to turn on the generator.

MCKENZIE (voice over): They plans to expand, put on hold.

MCKENZIE (on camera): What do you want the government to do?

MAKHUBU: I want the government to be brutally honest with us. If they are able to fix it, please fix it. If they can't, they must let us know and it

makes us feel that we are not really in a democracy, because it's meant to be for the people by the people, but it is as if, for them by them, you


MCKENZIE (voice over): At the very least, Thando and all South Africans just desperately want the lights to be turned back on.

David McKenzie, CNN, Soweto, South Africa.


QUEST: And the best way to report a story of course is go there and see it. So next week, our firsthand look at South Africa's energy grid crisis.

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS is live next week from Cape Town as the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his Annual State of the Nation Address.

It is next Thursday at 8:00 PM in London. It will be a bit later for me in Cape Town, it will be at 10:00 PM, and of course you can drop me a note as

to what you might want to ask or find out

The sort of things we should be asking when we are in Cape Town next week.

A symbol of status, wealth, and even humor, all in one license plate. Vanity plates, Hong Kong, and they are everywhere.



QUEST: The CEO of TikTok has agreed to testify before the U.S. Congress in March. The House committee says it will examine how the company handles

user data and the impact on young users as well as its relationship with the Chinese Communist Party. The U.S. government has already banned TikTok

from official devices. More than half of U.S. states have taken similar measures.

Paul La Monica is with me. How unusual is this for somebody like the CEO to be before Congress?

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a fairly unusual, Richard. I mean, obviously we have seen Congress bring the heads of many big tech

firms to the hill over the past couple of years for concerns about privacy and the control of user data. But with TikTok obviously you have that added

wrinkle of the fact that it is owned by ByteDance, a major Chinese tech company, so there are national security concerns as well.

And I think it's going to be very interesting to see whether or not the CEO of TikTok is able to convince lawmakers that this is not a national

security threat particularly because, you know, TikTok does have a deal where it is getting a lot of its data hosted from Oracle, a U.S. tech

software giant.


QUEST: At the end of the day though, he's onto a loser here, he's going to get beaten up left, right and center by U.S. politicians, both on the

grounds of security and on the grounds that a lot of us kids seem to buy it globally. It seems to be just addicted to the gym scrolling on TikTok.

LA MONICA: Yes. I think -- I think the former is probably more of a valid point than the latter. I don't think we can really pin all of the blame for

social media obsession/addiction with younger users and teens, solely at the foot of TikTok. This is obviously something that, you know, Facebook,

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram and Reels is part of the problem. Snapchat is part of the problem. YouTube shorts owned by Google.

There are so many social media platforms out there that many young kids and teens are on all day all night long. It's not just TikTok, TikTok is

obviously the most popular, so they're going to really, you know, get hit pretty hard. But this is definitely I think, a phenomenon that goes beyond


QUEST: So, what is the best that the CEO could hope for?

LA MONICA: I think the best that he can hope for is that Congress doesn't really start to look seriously at banning the app outright in the U.S.

because that would be shutting off a major growth market for the company. I don't know if the U.S. can really justifiably do that. Considering that

there are so many celebrities and social media influencers that use TikTok. You would have to think that there would be a big uproar even if you tried

telling some of these people well, we're doing this for your own good because the Chinese government might be compromising your data.

I don't -- I think a lot of social media stars might not care all that much. They love their TikTok and doesn't really matter to them if it's

owned by a parent company that has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

QUEST: Paul La Monica, grateful for your time. So, thank you.

Now imagine a world where your license plate costs more than the car to which it is attached. That is the reality for some in Hong Kong. Customized

vanity plates as they're known. They are a must-have item and some are being auctioned off for millions. Kristie Lu Stout reports from Hong Kong.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): STOUT: Stepping into his convertible Rolls Royce for a leisurely drive next to his chauffeur, Hong

Kong tycoon Cecil Chao has the front seat to a life of luxury. A palatial home, pricey artworks, and a penchant for vanity car plates.

CECIL CHAO, HONG KONG TYCOON: I have Cecil and Chao.

STOUT: Here is his Rolls Royce with Cecil and another Rolls with the number four.

STOUT (on camera): Why the number four? Isn't that unlucky?

CHAO: I was born in China in Shanghai. In Chinese, number four is happiness.

STOUT (voice over): Since 2006 over 40,000 personalized vehicle registration marks have been sold at auction by the Hong Kong Transport

Department. Car owners can create marks of up to eight characters including spaces with prices starting around $640 U.S.

STOUT (on camera): It is a hot market. Owners have spent millions for a coveted plate. In 2021, one person spent more than $3 million U.S. for a

plate with a single letter, W.

STOUT (voice over): The phenomenon has sparked social media accounts where hunters share their finds online. On Twitter using the handle and hashtag

H.K. Number Plates.

Spotted in the wild, a yellow Lamborghini with Sin. A black BMW with Darkside, and a white Porsche with CNN.

There is also this. The rap is part of the Hong Kong Vanities Project, an online platform that collects photos of personalized plates and invites

users to string them together into poetry, like TGIF By Tony. TGIF, Timeout, Live to Love, City Life.

Hong Kong Vanities' creator Michele Salati says he has gathered about 2,500 images for his platform.

MICHELE SALATI, CREATOR, H.K. VANITIES: These vanity plates are used by the owners to highlight their status, wealth, humor, desires many things,

superstition, or even their favorite food.

To me, each plate is like a line of poetry, you know, like racing through the streets of the city, kind of poetry in motion.

STOUT: A creative outlet for some, and for this wealthy property developer.

CHAO: My philosophy of life is that you come to this world for only one aim, to be happy.

STOUT: Happiness came at a good price for Chao. In 2007, he bought Cecil for just over $2,500.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.



QUEST: And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'll be back with you at the top of the hour. Aardvark tournaments from now for dash from closing bell. It's

not going to be a particularly pleasant closing bell. Coming up next, World of Wonder. Oh, that's me again.


QUEST: Hello. I'm Richard Quest. Together we have a dash to the closing bell. And we're just over two minutes away. Now they're down, the markets

at the beginning of a busy week, where the worst point of the day, 277 points. We're getting at a Fed rate decision this week. By the way on

Wednesday, I'll be at the New York Stock Exchange when we get that decision. And it's going to be a busy earnings week. But that is the tone

of the market so far.

If you look at the way various tech stocks, and those that are losing quite sharply. Apple, Facebook or Meta, Amazon, Tesla down six percent and

Alphabet are all sharply lower with the Dow really leading the way down. And the triple stack also shows that the market, it is primarily the tech

growth stocks down nearly two percent. A couple of big ones pulling up the Dow over here. I'll show you that when you see the Dow 30.

But the S&P 500 is off 1-1/3 percent. This I think is probably the worrying bit because this suggests we could be on a downhill trajectory. As for the

35th of the companies listed in the earnings reports on the tech heavy NASDAQ. If you look at the Dow 30, you'll see exactly where we are going.

You've got Verizon at the top, that usually means it's a flight to safety and to quality. And now Goldman Sachs and now you've got Johnson and

Johnson, that's over talcum powder, a particular there.

But if you look at the rest of them, all those stocks that have -- got shown such good gains over recent days and weeks are now the ones Disney,

Apple, 3M are now sharp (INAUDIBLE) we have a busy week ahead and I will be back in New York with you tomorrow.


That is the dash to the closing bell. I'm Richard Quest in London tonight. We're with you in New York tomorrow and indeed for the rest of the week.

Whatever you're up to in the next 24 hours, I hope it is profitable. There's the market and the closing bell on Wall Street.