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Quest Means Business

E.U. Fines Meta $1.3 Billion For Sending Facebook User Data To U.S.; Ruling Party In Greece Wins Election, But Fails To Secure Majority; Biden And McCarthy Set To Hold Debt Ceiling Talks; U.S. Chip Maker Expects Revenue Hit Amid Sales Restrictions; Democratic Leaders Condemn Beijing's Economic Coercion. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 22, 2023 - 15:00:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: There is an hour left of trading on Wall Street and this is the way the market is going. It has been down most

of the session, not hugely. It's waiting and seeing. Definitely, all about the debt ceiling. We'll talk about it in just a moment.

The other stories we're following for you. EU regulators fine Facebook owner, Meta over a billion dollars for violating data privacy rules.

A resounding victory for Greece's ruling party. The former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis joins me to discuss the bruising result for the


And China goes after Micron in the escalating battle over chip technology.

So start of a new week together, live in New York. It's Monday, May the 22nd. I'm Richard Quest, I mean business.

Good evening.

We begin tonight with the record setting fine for Meta by the EU. Meta says it is unjustified and sets a dangerous precedent. It's a $1.3 billion fine,

and it is the largest ever issued by the European Data Protection Board.

It says Meta broke EU privacy laws by transferring the data of Facebook users from Europe to the United States. In return, Meta says data must be

allowed to cross borders for the internet to work and it plans to appeal against the EU's decision.

There are by the way talks between the EU and the US that would pretty much make this a moot point in the future.

CNN's Melissa Bell is in Paris.

The gist here is what? Meta says that yes, well, we did it, but there was no way around it or are they saying, no this never happened. What is the

gist here?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They are saying, Richard that they did it, but they had no choice because those talks that you

mentioned between Washington and Brussels on how to ally the free flow of data between two parts of the world that have such different legislation

have essentially disappeared.

There have been previous data flow agreements that allowed the companies to get around this kind of issue. They have been struck down time and time

again by European courts. The latest back in 2020 with the European Court deciding once again that the European citizens' rights to data protection

was not being respected by finding itself on American servers, where American spy agencies can have relatively easy access to it. They struck it


What they also did, Richard was tighten the use of so-called SCCs. These are the Standard Contractual Clauses that allow companies like Meta to get

around the fact that there is no framework for the time being, and that is their point, we had no choice. If we're going to have -- continuing to have

Facebook, Instagram on the European continent, we have to keep using this legal device in order to keep them going -- Richard.

QUEST: I saw Sir Nick Clegg, who is the head of corporate policy for Meta. I saw him basically saying that without this, we are going to end up

siloing the internet again, and that would ultimately come at the cost to European consumers, but I suppose he would say that, wouldn't he?

BELL: He would say that and yet, there is something there. So far, the big tech giants have been arguing successfully that in order for the internet

to function, it needs to be able to function globally, and almost irrespective of what the local legislation says.

This time, the Europeans have had enough. It's not the first time, of course, Richard, that they've imposed fines on big tech. Amazon saw a big

fine just a few years ago, several of Meta's platforms have as well. This time, and again, the press release from the European regulators this time.

It is just the size of the fine, $1.3 billion, it is also their message.

This is to send a message that it doesn't matter how big you are, it doesn't matter how important you are around the world, what you represent

within the global economy, if you do not respect European legislation, we will come after you.

Now of course, Meta have said that they are going to appeal, but as you say, there is another thing which they're looking for which is also what

might save them or rather make it possible for them to continue to function is if Washington and Brussels manage to figure out a new framework that we

understand could happen as early as July.


BELL: It could happen, Richard as late as October. And of course, that will have a material impact on what Meta is or is not able to do. Their point

is, if we are not able to transfer this European data to American servers, then you're not going to be able to use Instagram and Facebook.

Still, the Europeans want to be sure that they are being safeguarded. The American legislation simply doesn't allow for that, and so, this whopping

fine and this message, we will come after you, it doesn't matter how big you are, the fine will be sufficient to make you think several times about

doing it again -- Richard.

QUEST: And the fine, of course is in the bench for the moment, whilst the appeal or any appeal takes place.

Melissa in Paris, thank you. Good evening to you.

Staying in Europe, we are in Greece, a strong victory for the prime minister's party in Sunday's elections. New Democracy won more than 40

percent of the vote, better, much better than many expected.

Although the center-right party came in well ahead of the second place, Syriza, it fell short of winning an outright majority. The prime minister

says he will reject a mandate to form a coalition government and the country will be back at the polls next month.

Elinda is with me in Athens. So in a nutshell, why did he do better than we thought?

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: Well, it seems to be all about the economy, both the country's economy and what people feel in their own pockets.

Greece has come out of a big financial crisis, a decade long financial crisis and this is the first prime minister who has delivered growth.

Greece is showing tremendous growth for the first time in such a long time, and it seems to be that people want to rally behind this prime minister.

They do believe that he is a safe pair of hands who can deliver.

He has pledged to cut down unemployment further. He has pledged to bring in more foreign investment, and this seems to be what has made people's minds,

as he told me while he was on the campaign trail, really, the numbers speak for themselves.

And although Greece has been going much better than expected, it is still facing a number of problems. Part of it has to do with the energy crisis,

inflation and so on.

QUEST: Right.

LABROPOULOU: So it seems that this is a vote of confidence for somebody who has proven himself as well -- Richard.

QUEST: So assuming -- so he says he is not going to go into coalition. So that means back at the polls, probably by June or July, where will he pick

up the extra support necessary to give him the seats?

I know, there's also a difference -- a change in electoral rules, which means that he gets thumping more seats to start with under the new

electoral rules, but where will he get the necessary seats to give him a majority?

LABROPOULOU: Well, first of all, if he gets the same number of votes, as he did this time round, he would actually win the next election, so that would

be a given.

You would need a threshold of about 37 percent, well, now he needed 45 and he got 41. It seems that what happened in this vote is that because the

second round was kind of expected due to the electoral system, a lot of people didn't actually go to vote.

And now, what we are expecting to see is that more voters will go to the polls, and also people who gave a protest vote, people who were not

supporting this government.

There have been a number of scandals in Greece during these last four years, including a wiretapping scandal involving the government, which did

have serious repercussions and a deadly train crash.

Now, these people gave a protest vote or voted for many smaller parties this time round, but what we expect to see is that next time around, they

will rally behind the major parties, Richard, so this is like where he is likely to get the additional support.

QUEST: Elinda in Athens, thank you.

Investors liked what they saw. The Athens Stock Exchange was up six percent. The economy has largely turned around since the European debt

crisis and Greek bonds on the brink of returning to investment grade status, allowing you to borrow more money at cheaper prices.

The country though, is still struggling with a massive cost of living crisis.

With me now, Yanis Varoufakis is the Greek finance minister in 2015. Now, the head of the country's European Realistic Disobedience Front.

And sir, it is fair to say your party last night, even by your own admission did extremely badly, which leads you to sort of have to work out

what you're going to do next. Why did you do so badly? If things are as bad as you say, why didn't you attract support?


YANIS VAROUFAKIS, LEADER, EUROPEAN REALISTIC DISOBEDIENCE FRONT: Well, this is very interesting question, Richard.

Look, there is no doubt that Mitsotakis and the government scored a stupendous, utterly unexpected victory. Now, I beg to differ with your

correspondent about the state of the Greek economy. If you look at real wages, median real wages, they are lower today than they were at the

beginning of the debt crisis.

But to cut the long story short, I think that the average Greek voter who has been brutalized by the worst recession, perpetual recession in the

history of Western capitalism for 30 years now has had enough bad news stories.

They actually embrace even though they don't believe the good news stories of the government, they embrace the idea that maybe the government knows


There is a parallel here, Richard with what happened next door, Turkey. Remember, Erdogan just scored last week, a massive victory against the

grain of a population that was immiserized, the shocking response or bungled response to the earthquakes.

Similarly, here, we had a huge railway accident that this government mishandled terribly. We had one failure after the other, but I do think

that our -- my personal political defeat is vastly due to the fact that people don't want the truth really. They want a soothing narrative of

normality even though in my view it is fake.

QUEST: Right, so you say, how to persuade bad news averse marginal voters, without plying them with soothing lies. Your message isn't resonating, is

it time to pack up and go home?

VAROUFAKIS: I am at home. But no, absolutely, home for me now is politics.

You know I'm a political animal, according to Aristotle's definition of politics and human beings. So no, until the last breath of mine, I shall be

in politics.

It is part of who I am and I think that it is necessary in a democracy to have this very candid exchange of views, different narratives. I do believe

that if you were here, Richard, and you've been here many times before, and I want to take you around.

Two million Greeks out of a population of 10 million are facing foreclosure of their homes and businesses. Can you wrap your mind around that? One in

five, now, that is not a success story.

QUEST: Well, if that is the case, what the population -- what the populace seem to be looking for are solutions. Now, I know you say that they were

given soothing lies, but the prime minister has come up with his plan.

I guess at some point in this next runoff, you're going to have to decide if you're going to throw your weight behind anybody who actually stands a

chance of giving you influence.

VAROUFAKIS: Well, the only people who can actually give me influence is voters. So, I'm standing behind them, and it's a matter of persuading them.

But look, Richard, the reason why you've been so many times to Greece during the debt crisis, is because for eons, right-wing governments have

been managing to create a semblance of growth and prosperity on the basis of debt, unsustainable debt. This government has added 50 billion euros to

an already unsustainable debt. Four years of spend, spend, spend with the support of the European Central Bank.

When you were in Athens in 2010 talking about the bankruptcy of this place, our debt was 300, now it is 400. And our income back then was 220, now it

is 192. We are more bankrupt than ever, except that we still have this tendency to live on borrowed money until the taps are switched off. That's

now the big model.

QUEST: What's your view with Turkey since you were kind enough to mention it. What do you think happens in the runoff in that election?

VAROUFAKIS: Erdogan hands down. It is another paradox. You see, they used to call Reagan the Teflon president. Erdogan and Mitsotakis are different

in the sense that a lot of the stuff sticks on them, and yet, it doesn't matter, they win.

QUEST: Good to see you, Yanis. You rightly remind me that I'm long overdue another visit to Greece, where you and I can sit and discuss politics till

the cows come home and the sun sets.

Good to see you, sir. You're looking well and healthy. Thank you.

VAROUFAKIS: I'm looking forward to it.

QUEST: As we continue, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS from New York, President Biden and Speaker McCarthy is set to resume debt ceiling talks in a couple of

hours. The House Speaker says a deal must be reached this week to avoid a default. Big talk -- can it be done?



QUEST: President Biden and the US House speaker, Kevin McCarthy are set to meet in a couple of hours from now. The two said they had a productive call

on Sunday, while the president was flying back from Japan in the G7.

A short while ago, Speaker McCarthy said the talks are at a sensitive point and there is no deal yet although of course, one is still possible.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You need to have a deal tonight to avoid a default.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I thought it would have been better to have a deal sooner. I think we could we can get a deal tonight, we get a deal

tomorrow, but you've got to get something done this week to be able to pass it and move it to the Senate.

REPORTER: Do you think you can get this done by June 1? Is it possible to get this thing by --

MCCARTHY: I think it is still possible.


QUEST: Matt Egan, I love this phrase, "I think it's still possible. We can still do it." I mean, the reality of them not doing it is so horrific that

they are going to get on with it.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, that's right, Richard.

Everyone thinks that they're going to have to address the debt ceiling because the cost of inaction is just too great. You're looking at market

turbulence and of recession and people losing jobs and no one wants to get blamed for that.

So that is why, eventually, they are expected to reach a deal. It is kind of funny to hear Speaker McCarthy say that he thinks that they can still

get this done by June 1 and avoid a default because that is setting the bar really low given the stakes here.

But ultimately, investors think they're going to get a deal sooner rather than later.

QUEST: Tell me why you wrote why we may need a stock market plunge to solve the debt ceiling?

EGAN: Well, it's because, Richard, history shows that Congress often doesn't do the difficult things until there's either a hard deadline or a

crisis, or both. That's what happened in 2008 when the House initially voted down TARP, causing the markets to throw a temper tantrum. Lawmakers

they came back, probably after hearing an earful from their constituents and they ended up approving TARP.

There was market turbulence before the 2011 and 2013 debt ceiling deals as well, and it has been kind of stunning to see how totally chill the markets

had been this time around.


I mean, the Dow at last check was down like 50 points today. That's a drop in the bucket. The CNN Fear and Greed Index of Market Sentiment is getting

closer and closer to extreme greed.

Look at that chart. We're at the top end of the range, almost the highs of the year despite this ticking time bomb in Washington, and the problem with

that is that it sort of takes the pressure off of Congress, right?

I mean, lawmakers look and they say, well, investors are not freaking out, so we don't need to be in a rush and markets are taking this all in stride.

It is sort of a feedback loop.

QUEST: Right. But my guess is, having seen a few of these things, if it starts to unravel, it is going to happen very fast. I mean, if the market

gets a real scintilla of a default or some form of technical, this thing will go down. I mean, like nothing we've seen before.

EGAN: I think that is the risk here, especially because this is not happening in a vacuum, right? We're just weeks away from some of the

biggest bank failures in American history. The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates at the fastest pace since the early 1980s, and so many

economists and investors are worried about a recession, all of that actually is not even related to the debt ceiling circus.

So the stakes are really high here and the risk for a miscalculation are high. Hopefully, the two parties get together and they get this resolved

before it causes mayhem on Wall Street, but there is a growing sense that it might take some market turmoil before they get this done.

QUEST: Matt Egan, grateful, sir. Thank you.

The CEO of IBM says resolving this debt ceiling crisis is a matter of when not if.

Arvind Krishna spoke to us earlier and emphasize that if the US hits the debt ceiling, nobody wins.


ARVIND KRISHNA, CEO, IBM: A debt ceiling breach would not be good for anyone, for either body of the United States, and certainly not for

business or the nation. So I think we can all agree on that.

Now, what's the likelihood it will get resolved? I have complete confidence it will get resolved. I think the question is, when. Will it get resolved

before a potential breach? I think that would be ideal for everybody, or right at the moment, or right after.

I think any of those, we could potentially live with. If it is more than a few days after, that's when we begin to run the risk of reputational


I'm actually confident the United States will not breach, meaning all its debts will get paid. However, when is the exact question.


QUEST: When? The African Development Bank is holding its annual meetings this week in Egypt, and the cost of climate change is high on the agenda.

The bank estimates that climate related hazards have cost Africa up to 15 percent of its GDP growth since the 1980s. $30 billion are invested in 2020

alone on climate projects, and the African Development Bank says more money is still needed.

The president of the Development Bank is with me now.

Sir, before we talk about the climate change, how would, in your view, a debt default, albeit a technical one, a US government technical debt

default, how would it hit emerging and developing markets or countries?


I think that will be disastrous for emerging markets, for sure. It would certainly very disastrous for us in Africa, because we are the only AAA

rated financial institution on the continent and we go into capital markets to raise money, long-term money for financing African economies, and this

is very, very crucial for the development of Africa.

So I can't even think of what will happen if there was a default. With a default, it means that the price of everything just goes up. It means, it

would very, very difficult for you to raise money at the low concessional rate that we are doing, and for us, as a multilateral development bank, if

affects our business model, it basically then means that in fact, we will be able to face difficulties raising a lot of money for our countries.

Our risk capitalization rate will go up very, very fast, and I can't even think about it, and I just hope that they are able to solve it because it

will complicate a lot of things just at a time when we all have to raise a lot of money to deal with climate change and food security and health

issues globally.

QUEST: So let's talk about this money for climate change. My understanding is that actually there is no shortage of money for climate change projects.

What the problem is, is the right projects with the right transparency and monitoring the relationship between the various players in climate finance

and that actually, everybody needs to get their act together rather than worry about whether there is enough money to go around?


ADESINA: Well, the fact is, actually, there is not enough money. If you take a look at Africa, Richard, Africa needs $2.7 trillion to be able to

meet all of its climate financing requirements between 2020 and 2030.

And you look at it, how much is Africa getting? Peanuts, basically. Africa gets $30 billion a year to be able to do that. You're looking at a

continent, Richard, that accounts for only three percent of cumulative emissions, but in suffering disproportionately from it. You said it

yourself --

QUEST: So, stay with the hard business side of it, not just the hard business -- so why don't the private sector -- why doesn't the private

sector wants to put more money in? Why aren't the projects being funded? Is it a transparency issue? Is it a lack of finance? Is it a willingness


ADESINA: Well, first and foremost, it is just to think about how much private financing itself is needed. Africa would need about $213 billion a

year, Richard, to tackle climate change; green energy, greening all of our transport systems and so on. But the key is if the private sector is going

to come to the table, a number of things have to be done.

First is, there has to be bankable projects, and so those bankable projects is where we actually have to support the African Development Bank. We also

set up a private equity vehicle called Africa 50, that actually has project development facilities, to develop bankable projects that others will want

to put money into.

Second one is the issue of risk, and I think the issue of risk, as far as I'm concerned in Africa, is a lot more about perception of risk, as opposed

to real risk because if you actually look at -- Bloomberg did an analysis of cumulative default rates on infrastructure globally, guess what they

found? They found that Africa has the second lowest rate of default of infrastructure investments globally. It is higher in Eastern Europe, in

Asia, and Latin America.

But yet, when people talk about Africa, they will say, oh, well, the risk is high. Well, in part it is, perception is not reality.

And so the other thing that I think is going to be very important, however, in dealing with the risk is for the multilateral development bank like

ourselves, and we do, do this, is to deploy risk guarantee facilities.

We have partial credit guarantee facilities. We have partial risk guarantee facilities that essentially handholds investors when they want to invest.

Now, the other thing that I think is very important as well, if you're going to invest from the private sector side is also the stability of the

policy environment.

We want to be sure that if I put my money in, there is going to be political stability, there is going to be the business investment,

regulatory environment are going to be stable for that to happen.

So these are some of the reasons why the things we have to do to get the private sector to do it.

But Richard, look, we've got in the world today, 145, essentially, trillion dollars of assets under management. We've got to be able to get some of

that money to go into green infrastructure globally, whether it is energy, whether that's water, whether that is sanitation, whether that's


QUEST: Sir, I'm grateful. Thank you, sir.

ADESINA: Thank you very much.

QUEST: QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight, the tit-for-tat tech battle between Beijing and Washington is heating up. China is taking aim at Micron, a

major US chipmaker, in a moment.



QUEST: U.S. chip maker Micron has warned its revenues could be significantly hurt after being targeted by China. Shares are down while

some of its rivals in Asia were sharply higher. Beijing's banned Micron from key infrastructure projects citing security risks. The latest move in

an escalating tech battle between the two superpowers.

Clare Duffy is with me. How far -- why are they banned? How deep is this ban? I mean, this is sort of root and branch or tinkering around the edges.

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS TECH WRITER: So, Micron says it's still in the process of engaging with Chinese authorities to sort of figure out how deep

this will go. But the Chinese government is saying that micron will be banned from key infrastructure projects. And I think this sort of signals

that. Micron could face a deeper ban going forward. That it could be restricted from all sales in China.

I think part of what's happening here is you see the Chinese government trying to signal to the U.S. that in the midst of the U.S.'s effort to

restrict semiconductor technology from going to China, China is saying we may not need all of this -- all of this technology from the U.S. I mean, we

mean -- we may not be as reliant on U.S. companies, as was previously expected. Micron in particular makes this crucial memory storage


And so, I think this is, in part probably an effort on the Chinese government to say we can do some of this domestically.

QUEST: So, that's the point to address. Who has the whip hand here?

DUFFY: I mean, it's -- in a lot of ways the U.S. has the most advanced the smallest, the fastest computer chips that are important for everything from

smartphones, to vehicles, to more advanced supercomputing and weapons production, big A.I. models. And so, I think the U.S. especially over the

last couple of months after having restricted the export of some of the most advanced semiconductor technology, you see the U.S. trying to onshore

more of that production to move production away from China and neighboring countries.

I think the U.S. is really trying to establish its dominance in this area. And this effort by China to ban Micron from some key infrastructure

projects is really an effort to fight back here a bit.

QUEST: Right. I'm going to shift direction, if I may, without warning or whatever. But, you know, I want to hear your views on this fine against

Meta, this morning from the E.U. Over a billion, whether or not there have actually to pay it, it goes to the heart of the GDPR business and the

transference of data between the E.U. and the US. Doesn't Meta have a point that if you start siloing the whole thing falls apart.

DUFFY: I mean, it is the, you know, Meta is not the only one who is going to face challenges here by this lack of U.S. and European agreement on data

transfers. A lot of different companies could be impacted by this. Of course, Meta is a big name. And so, you see it facing this big billion-

dollar fine which of course for this company is sort of a drop in the bucket. But it does sort of get at the fact that you could see lots of

other companies facing challenges because of this and not able to pay a billion dollar fine the way that meta could.

QUEST: Oh. Small change -- well, not small change. Thank you, Clare. Good to see you. Thank you.

DUFFY: Thank you.

QUEST: Back towards Micron and China and the ban, the G7 was taking its own standard what it's calling economic coercion. In a statement aimed squarely

at Beijing, the leaders of the world's largest democracy has condemned the disturbing rise of attempts to weaponize economic vulnerabilities. It's a

delicate balancing act because leaders know their economies rely on China.


They're also worried about how to use its growing power and influence. Ian Bremmer is with me. The president of Eurasia Group. He joins me from New

York. It's good to see you, as always. The phrase -- the new phrase everyone's using is de-risk, as opposed to decouple. I'm not sure --- I'm

not sure I fully understand de-risk.

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Well, de-risk means that we understand that there is going to be continued strong interdependence

between the West, between the G7, between the United States and China. And it's not an effort to force companies that are doing business in China to

get out wholesale. But it is an area where if the Chinese take state decisions against countries and their companies, de risking means that you

don't have threats to your national security or unacceptable threat suddenly to your economy as a consequence.

It's a bit of a term of art, but everyone's using it.

QUEST: Right. How real is the -- if you like the disquiet, the breach between the U.S. and China at the moment versus rhetoric?

BREMMER: Well, the politics are horrible because the United States, both Democrats and Republicans see beating up on the Chinese as the principal

adversary of the United States, is a worthwhile thing to do. So, for example, even though Biden would love to get rid of the Trump era tariffs,

because it would reduce inflation, and it would help American consumers, he can't, because of the politics.

That also means that you don't have the same level of engagement. There's no military-to-military conversations happening between the U.S. and China,

Richard. So, God forbid, you have another balloon incident or something worse, you know, you have like, you know, an incident in the South China

Sea, the potential for that getting much worse, because the two sides don't trust to talk with each other is much greater than it would otherwise be.

QUEST: Factor into this now. Russia, Ukraine. I mean, I watched the G7. And you saw Zelenskyy sitting next to say, Modi at some of the meetings, and

you wondered just how -- I mean, the dynamics of being -- of not wanting to say to him, do you realize, you know, my people are being killed and you're

not doing anything to actually against the country that started it?

BREMMER: Well, it's interesting. I mean, Modi, has been more neutral on this conflict, but Modi's, you know, buying oil, lots of oil from the

Russians at a discount, of course. So, are the Europeans. They're using a price cap. The Indians are just going for a direct discount. Modi's

perspective is that's not all that dramatically different. I think what's important here, Richard, is that every member of the G7 was having a

private sit down with Zelenskyy.

Every one of them was making very strong commitments, not just to help reconstruct the country but also to ensure that Ukraine can defend itself

for years to come against a Russia that might want a second bite of that apple. And that puts Ukraine in a much better position to engage in

negotiations after this counteroffensive. So, I do think that there is increasingly a window for a ceasefire.

A window that countries like India and Brazil, and even China can start getting behind. And it's not just seen as NATO versus the global south.

QUEST: That's a hint of optimism from you.

BREMMER: It's a hint. It's a hence because the Ukrainians have been given such strong support for such a long time. You can't put the Ukrainians in a

position where they need to negotiate with two hands behind their back. But if they've got F-16 is coming and they've got heavy tanks, and they've got

long-range missiles and they're taking back a fair amount of their territory while the Russian military is in disarray.

Plus, they know that they're getting into the E.U. and they're going to have money to rebuild. That's the position where Zelenskyy can say, OK, we

don't need to keep fighting for another six, 12 months. We can have negotiations. We can even have the Chinese at the table. Member Xi Jinping

after months of refusing to call Zelenskyy actually spent an hour on the phone with them.

So, I do think that, you know, I wouldn't say it's optimism in the sense that you've had tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians dead and eight

million refugees but it's -- it looks better today for the Ukrainians than it did three months ago. We can certainly say that, Richard.


QUEST: Ian Bremmer, glad you did. Thank you, sir.

Now, some news to leave you with. A smile on the chair. Jeff Bezos is engaged to his partner Lauren Sanchez. A source close to the couple says.

You might remember, he divorced his first wife in 2019. It was the larger settlement worth around $38 billion. But there are no details about wedding

plans, at least. Not chosen to share with me.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Top of the hour, together, you and I, a dash to the closing bell. Living Golf is next.



QUEST: I'm back where together we're going to have a dash to the closing bell. It is just two minutes away. And stocks are on the lower side. We've

dropped maybe 60 or 70 points over the course of the last hours. Investors are watching the debt ceiling talks between President Biden and Speaker

McCarthy. So, the risk is on the downside and the weakness is there. The NASDAQ in the S&P 500 are slightly better than only NASDAQ is even eking

out a small gain.

Stocks in Greece were higher on the country's election results. Voters gave the current government credit for digging Greece out of its economic

crisis. The former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis says the recovery is built on shaky ground.


YANIS VAROUFAKIS, FORMER FINANCE MINISTER OF GREECE: -- has added 50 billion euros to an already unsustainable debt. You know, four years of

spend, spend, spend with the support of the European Central Bank. You know, when you were in Athens in 2010, talking about the bankruptcy of this

place, our debt was 300, now it's 400. And our income back then was 220, not 192. We are more bankrupt than ever.


QUEST: The Dow components to bring to your attention. You don't see this too often. Nike is at the bottom for the second day in a row. Some analysts

have downgraded the stock over the weekend. It's off four percent. That's quite a sizable loss on a market like this today. Intel's near the top

along with others, like 3M, Microsoft. So, it is a strong day for chip makers, IBM and the like.

In fact, the rival chip makers are benefiting from China's crackdown on Micron. That's why that is there. Otherwise, you have a twixt in between in

the middle. Everybody's waiting to see exactly what's going to happen with that talks.


That's the dash for the bell. I'm Richard Quest in New York. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it is profitable. From my bell to

theirs, the closing bell is ringing on Wall Street. And "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.