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US Supreme Court Rejects Special Counsel Request To Fast-Track Trump Immunity Dispute; UN Chief Calls Out Israel For Cretaing "Massive Obstacles" For Aid Distribution; UN Security Council Adopts Resolution On Gaza; Jailed Russian Opposition Leader Not Seen For 17 Days; Wall Street Rallying To Close Out Strong 2023; The Lost Art Of The Office Christmas Party. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 22, 2023 - 15:00:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Good evening, breaking news to bring you. The US Supreme Court has rejected the special counsel's request to

fast-track a ruling on presidential immunity. Special Counsel Jack Smith had asked the nation's highest court to speed things up in deciding whether

Donald Trump can be prosecuted for alleged election interference. Smith wanted to avoid going to the appeal court first and going, if you will,

straight to the top.

Mr. Trump's attorney says he was acting in his official capacity as president and is, therefore, immune to federal charges. So the current

question plays out through the Washington DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Katelyn Polantz is in Washington and with me.

Now, look, the -- this is both procedural/legalistic at one level and, at the same time, incredibly important because it's sort of going to mean a

trial -- a further appeal trial has to take place, which pushes all things forward. We don't know why the Supreme Court refused to put this on

turbocharge, do we?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: We don't. We just know that they're not ready yet. So the Justice Department, whenever they

asked the Supreme Court to take this issue on immediately, this question of presidential immunity, is Donald Trump immune from being criminally

prosecuted going to trial for things he did after the 2020 election while he was serving as president, the Justice Department called it an issue of

great constitutional moment.

And, Richard, the Supreme Court says this is not their moment just yet. So what is happening here is there is a question of this community around the

presidency. And does Donald Trump get that protection as a criminal defendant?

That question is going to go to an intermediary court first, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, the court in the middle of the trial court and the

Supreme Court in the US. And so that DC Circuit, they're going to be looking at this question. They're going to hear arguments on it on January

9th. They are taking it very fast as far as their schedules .

QUEST: Right.

POLANTZ: . are concerned.

They could very well rule before March 4th, when Donald Trump is set to go to trial. But if they do, then the question is back before the Supreme

Court, and it is a question of how fast will they resolve it. Is there a trial next year? Does it begin anywhere near March 4th where that schedule

is right now?

QUEST: Right, because my understanding, and we'll get more analysis on the strict legalese, that the trial really can't start whilst that fundamental

question on appeal has to be sorted out. But it does beg the question, you know, the justices know it's coming their way eventually, however, the

appeal court. And until there is a finality of ruling on this, it's just about impossible for the real trial to begin.

POLANTZ: Correct. One of the things that happens in criminal cases is that defendants try all kinds of ways to snarl the proceeding and to have their

trials delayed. Donald Trump has tried that with the gag order appeal, some other things.

But at the end of the day, there were very few things appeals courts have to figure out before a trial. And it's very hard to have this sort of

derailment from the trial judge, things going to a jury having that trial because you need an appeals court to weigh in.

This is one of those things.

QUEST: Right.

POLANTZ: This is one of the only things the appeals court has to settle. And so, it will go before the circuit. It will go before the Supreme Court

almost certainly. We won't know if they granted until they actually get it again once the circuit has figured out what they'll do, but this is one of

those issues that this country has never had to grapple with legally, that the Supreme Court never truly fleshed out what to do about a former

president being prosecuted.

And one of the things that this does allow now that it will be heard on oral argument at the DC Circuit, it does allow the courts to develop the

record a little but more. That's how you would phrase it legally. It allows judges before it gets to the Supreme Court to press on these legal

questions that have never been asked before a little bit more and have lawyers from both sides answer them.


We didn't have that sort of argument stage happen at the trial level. The judge just took the writings on both sides, the briefs of both sides,

looked at them, made a ruling and said, no, Trump is not immune.

And so, we're going to get more of that. There's going to be a lot of oral arguments, a lot of discussion, a lot of legal fleshing .

QUEST: Right.

POLANTZ: . out from the judges before this is back before the Supreme Court.

QUEST: Now, you see that's fascinating what you just told me because that is always the justification for delaying, if you will, ultimate appeals

because the process of the lower court, if you will, the chewing of the curd and legal machinations, as it is formulated, does create a scenario

that the Supreme Court can then deal with.

I can put on the other side of the scale what is the point of having a speedy decision process. I mean, it seems like, you know, on the one hand,

on the other hand, this was classically made for it.

POLANTZ: Well, one of the things that has happened in this, Richard, is that Donald Trump has taken every opportunity he can to say that the

Justice Department wants things to move fast here because of politics, because they want him to go to trial while he's running for President.

But the courts in the US had tried very hard to distance themselves from politics. The trial judge has said that it might your day job campaigning

for office, but that is not how the decisions are made here. There are reasons to go to trial quickly. And one of the things people say quite

often -- and is true -- justice delayed .

QUEST: Right.

POLANTZ: . is justice denied.

And so, the Justice Department essentially went to the Supreme Court and said, it's in the public interest to determine whether a former president

can be prosecuted and sit for trial. We need someone to determine this now. We don't know the reasoning of the judges -- or the justices on the Supreme

Court why they aren't taking the case at this time. But making that determination because of the campaign is something that is highly unlikely

at this point that this is a legal question. It matters not just for Donald Trump, it matters .

QUEST: Right, yes.

POLANTZ: . for the American presidency.

QUEST: Well, you and I have talked before on this point. I don't, for a moment, think that these justices would have made any decision based on

politics in the sense of, you know, pro- or anti-Donald Trump. But it is the legal philosophy that they come to the table with.

Again, you and I have talked about that before, so it will be interesting. And I don't know that we will see what the split on that decision was or

whether it's just left as a single one liner, as a line of a judgment as to whether or not the decision follows traditional conservative nipple lines.

POLANTZ: Well, one of the things that is intriguing about this is that we do just get that one line, that this is denied. At this time, no one wrote

about it.

But there are nine justices, three of them are liberal president appointees or Democratic appointees. And there only need to be for people to vote to

take a case on the Supreme Court. You don't need that majority of five.

And so, there is a question of what happened here, which people would have not wanted to take the case at this time? Maybe all of them, maybe just

some of them. That is a real question, and it won't not be revealed until much later when we see where the justices are coming in once this is

through the DC Circuit.

But there isn't -- you know, it -- these things are really hard to read tea leaves on and to predict. And it very well just might be that they want to

be able to feel certain with what they end up ultimately doing, and they just want to hear more arguments. And they want to see where other courts

might t come down on this issue before they take a crack at it.

QUEST: Gosh, Katelyn, I'm glad we had you tonight and talked to me through this. Thank you very much indeed, Katelyn Polantz, on that.

Our legal analyst, Michael Moore is on the line. And so, we've looked at the dissent in the legal point of view. Who do -- in your view, Michael,

who does it help and who does it hinder most?

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm happy to be with you this afternoon. I think it probably helps the court, frankly, more than anybody

else. And that is because the court is a creature of process. And they do and historically have made sure that they are bound by their rules. They

have rules on what kind of paper you use down to what you wear in court, and on and on.

And so, this was a request. It's sort of a poison/potion of their own making by the Department of Justice to ask that this case be treated

differently than other cases. And so, the court has basically held to itself and said, look -- in their short denial, they essentially said this

case needs to follow the regular process. That is to go through the circuit court .


QUEST: Right.

MOORE: . to have an appeal, to have the record filled out, and then move forward.

So a delay, obviously, plays to help Trump, I think, at the end of the day. But it was sort of a decision that was unnecessary because, again, the

Department of Justice was asking that the case be treated differently contrary to some of the assertions that are made about all people being

treated the same under the law.

QUEST: Okay. So, that I get, but if we move into the real world of politics and fighting elections and when, realistically, the trial -- let's assume

that immunity is not upheld -- for the purpose of this question, let's assume that immunity is not upheld and that there can be a full-scale

criminal trial on the underlying merits of the case. When, realistically, might that take place?

MOORE: I think you're probably looking at the middle of the summer before the trial could take place, and that will give both the appellate court,

and DC Circuit, and the Supreme Court times to have considered the issue. I think it's just as likely that things will be expedited so that the trial

could still continue in March. That was a rush anyway and something that's sort of out of the ordinary, but we certainly have a delay.

Then the question becomes, will the Justice Department insist on moving forward for fear that it gives an appearance that they are, in fact,

meddling in an election. And there is a -- there's a very strong history and a policy within the department to not do that.

QUEST: Right.

MOORE: So oftentimes, you will delay investigations. You may -- make sure that you don't bring inquiries that could cast .

QUEST: Right.

MOORE: . aspersions on a candidate. And I think they'll be conscious of that.

QUEST: Right. I remember, of course, very clearly the head -- the whole time during Hillary Clinton and the FBI announcing .

MOORE: Right.

QUEST: . investigations and all of that (inaudible).

But with Donald Trump, let's say, again for the purposes of our discussion here, the trial does take place. Now, the judge has already made it clear.

Yes, I understand the right of -- you know, the Democratic right and balancing between the Democratic right to stand for presidency and people

to vote versus the right of justice must be done speedily and not denied.

But is it -- in the real world in which we live in, is it realistic that there can be a trial of somebody who is the nominee of one of the major

parties to be president with the election four months out?

MOORE: I think it's unlikely. And, you know, many of the rights you talk about, when you talk about a speedy trial and those things, those are

rights that belong to a defendant. And while the public may have some interest in the outcome of the case, the constitutional rights given to a

defendant are defendant-specific and protect him or her as they move forward through the judicial system.

So the likelihood that the case would move forward before the election will be .

QUEST: Right.

MOORE: . concluded, at least, before the election, I think, is slim .

QUEST: Okay. Michael .

MOORE: . that .

QUEST: . to -- just to sum it up, because this is so fascinating that we're in such deep legal morass. Tonight, do you think the Supreme helped

us or hindered us?

MOORE: I think they probably helped us, in the sense, that they held some normalcy, which we lost during the Trump administration. So I think that

maybe we're getting back to some of the norms of the institutions that have been part of the American fabric .

QUEST: Right.

MOORE: . you know, since its inception. So I think at the end of the day they said, we're not going to let you treat this case differently no matter

how much dislike or disdain there may have been for the former President.

QUEST: I suggest, Michael, you're going to have a strong drink because you'll probably need it in the hours ahead and certainly clearly. It's

nearly Christmas and you will have earned it. Have a good one, sir.

MOORE: Well, I at least think that. I wish you happy holidays. Grateful (inaudible).

QUEST: And to you, sir. Thank you very much indeed.

MOORE: Right.

QUEST: QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, glad you're with us tonight.



QUEST: The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution on Gaza. It took days of tense negotiations. The US and Russia abstained in the final vote.

The measure does not demand a ceasefire. Instead, the wording is, "urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip

for a sufficient number of days to enable full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access."

After the vote, the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Israel was hampering the distribution of aid.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: Many people are measuring the effectiveness of the humanitarian operation in Gaza based on the number of

tracks from the Egyptian Red Crescent, UN, and other partners that are allowed to unload aid across the border. This is a mistake. The real

problem is that the way Israel is conducting its offensive is creating massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza.


QUEST: Arlette Saenz is at the White House. Arlette, the US is delighted in a sense that it didn't have to veto, it was able to sign on to it. But at

the end of the day, it's passing words and one is left wondering what progress was really made.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Richard. And there were these marathon negotiations that continue throughout the week. This vote

was initially supposed to be held on Monday, but they kept delaying and delaying until it was finally voted on today.

Now, the US decided to go ahead and allow this measure to pass. They abstained because officials say it did not include an explicit condemnation

of Hamas for being responsible for this attack against Israel.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, after the vote, talked about how she doesn't understand how some of these countries -- some of these states

can't sign on to the agreement that this was perpetrated by Hamas, and they should be condemned. That is why the US decided to abstain from this


But really, all of the negotiations over the course of the week was just trying to ensure that the US wasn't going to yet again veto another

resolution relating to Israel and Gaza out of the UN Security Council. The US had already vetoed two resolutions, which called for a ceasefire,

something the US has not yet been ready to do, even as there has been some international pressure to do so.

And there has been some tweaking of the language in this resolution. As you noted, a lot of it is parsing words. There is no inclusion of a ceasefire

or calling for a direct suspension of hostilities. That language was watered down a bit, instead saying that they would talk about steps to

eventually lead to some type of sustainable cessation in hostilities.


But really, the key sticking point for the US had been the idea of this monitoring mechanism for the aid that's going into Gaza. The initial

proposal had called for the UN to create and establish an entirely new monitoring system to get that aid in, to inspect it. And that is something

that the US had simply called unworkable. They instead reached a compromise instead, appointing a coordinator who will work on all of these issues.

But it does mark a significant moment for the US as they did not veto a resolution. They did get the language watered down a bit to not include

that ceasefire language, even as many in the international community have called for that at this moment.

QUEST: Arlette Saenz is in the White House, I'm grateful. Thank you.

Concerns for the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are growing by the day -- 17 days since he was reported missing. He is

supposedly being transferred to another penal colony. And since then, he's missed multiple scheduled court hearings, including two today. Navalny is

serving 30 years in prison. CNN's contacted Russia's prison service to clarify the whereabouts.

Earlier this month, the Kremlin spokesperson said it doesn't have the capacity nor willingness to monitor his whereabouts. I spoke to one of his

advisers -- Navalny's advisers about tracking down where he is.


VLADIMIR MILOV, ADVISER TO NAVALNY MAN: Colleagues have been actually bombarding all the known detention institutions in Russia, trying to find

Navalny across the country. So they got certain replies from some of the facilities, and they confirm that Navalny is not present there. Others

haven't answered yet. So that's a constant process. As a matter of fact, they can't say no, but Navalny may appear there the next day, so we got to

keep thinking that's very time and effort-consuming process.


QUEST: Jill Dougherty is with me in Washington. Jill, I guarantee you if I was the one who do know where a prisoner was in the US federal system or

among -- or one of her -- his majesty's prisons in Britain, it would be a couple of keystrokes for an employee and they'll tell me exactly where he

is. They know where he is!

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, RUSSIAN AFFAIRS: Oh, of course. They would have to. If they didn't, it would be a security breach and somebody would

have to answer to that.

They know where he is. But right now, I would argue that it's in the Kremlin's interest not to say where he is because they are, we believe --

or at least the team of Navalny -- believes he's being moved to another prison, another workplace. And the country is very large, so that could

take weeks even to transport him by train.

And that is very convenient because, remember, just a few days ago, President Putin opened his 2024 reelection campaign and not .

QUEST: Right.

DOUGHERTY: . having Navalny around is advantageous, no question.

QUEST: The -- I mean, it's also nakedly obvious, in a sense, that it's almost defensive when you -- you know, that -- this connection, you know,

to -- yes, somebody runs up to Putin and says, oh, please, sir, please stand again for election, we need you, we need you. Two days later, we'll,

if I'm called to serve, I must serve. And now his largest critic goes missing.

DOUGHERTY: Yes. And, you know, Navalny is an interesting person because not everybody obviously, on the other side, supports him. But the techniques

that he's been using, the thing that's called smart voting has really worried the Kremlin because that is a technique where he's saying, listen,

people, you don't have to vote for necessarily the good person on the ticket -- the optimal person -- you can just not vote for Putin.

And that's a technique that's actually effective. And I think -- I would have to think that the Kremlin is worried about it. And Navalny still is --

has an amazing capacity even being in that work camp to be able to continue to communicate to his supporters and the world at large.

QUEST: The election, when it takes place, I mean, suppose the result is not in doubt, but will there be any real opposition? Will there be any real

debate? Will somebody get the chance to say to Putin's face about the war in Ukraine?

DOUGHERTY: Well, there is one candidate who almost nobody knows, but it is a woman who actually apparently supports ending the war. But realistically,

you'd have to say that there's no way. I mean, President Putin has, this time and previously, said that he is not going to debate. So if there were

a debate, it would be among the other candidates who are all pretty much, you'd have to say, nobodies who are, you know, just not known by the public

and no competition to President Putin.


QUEST: Which -- the final thought then is, however he has managed to obtain and maintain his popularity, is he really popular in Russia or is it fear

and popularity?

DOUGHERTY: You know, that's a very complicated question, Richard. There are polls that show that at least the majority of Russians support the war.

Now, do they support Putin? Probably a large proportion of the Russian public does support Putin.

Why do they support him? Well, there are many reasons. There's no opposition that they can even dream of voting for. The media are completely

controlled by the Kremlin, so it's 24 hours pro-Kremlin information.

And the other factors, you know, Russia sometimes are fearful of what could happen next, you know, insecurity, instability. What if Putin goes? So

there are a lot of reasons. They're not just saying we support Putin, but we support him maybe because we're worried about what would happen if he

weren't there. So I wish I could answer it better, but it's really complicated.

QUEST: I think we'll -- I think we will discuss these many times, Jill, so don't worry. There'll be more attempts at getting through on this one. I'm


Have a good Christmas, Jill. Always love it to have you (inaudible) the program.

DOUGHERTY: Thank you. You, too.

QUEST: Thank you.

Now, I will update you a little bit more on the US Supreme Court and its refusal to fast-track a ruling on presidential immunity. It's QUEST MEANS

BUSINESS. Better catch it with me.



QUEST: On top story, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Special Counsel Jack Smith's requests to fast-track the ruling on presidential immunity.

Smith went straight to the Highest Court to say will you decide now, if Donald Trump can face federal charges? And the court said, not so fast. You

got to work your way up through the appeals process in the normal way.

As to the actual court case, Mr. Trump's attorney says he was acting in his official capacity as president when he challenged the 2020 results. The

question is now playing out in the District D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Joan Biskupic is in Washington, CNN legal analyst, Norm Eisen is with me.

Joan, why couldn't the Supreme Court have just done the easy thing, since we know, this is going to end up there one way or the other after the

appeal courts heard it?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: For a couple of reasons, Richard. And your right to set it all up with a not so fast line.

I have to tell you that they -- this order came in just one sentence, one brief sentence with no noted dissents, no explanation. And, you know, look,

the normal process here is that you go from the trial court to the appeals court, and intermediate appeals court.

And before you go to the Supreme Court, and what Special Counsel Jack Smith was saying is exactly what you're saying, look, you're going to have to

decide this anyway, you're going to have to decide whether former President Donald Trump is immune from this from criminal prosecution for what went on

in the wake of the 2020 election.

And, you know, the Supreme Court, for whatever reasons behind the scenes, they didn't explain, just didn't want a part of it now.

You know, on one hand, they might have thought, look, let's get an orderly, good decision from a lower appellate court, we can start with that when we

take up our consideration.

Maybe there is no reason for urgency here. But everything involving Donald Trump is fraught for the U.S. Supreme Court.

And let me just tell you that his lawyers had argued to the justices, if you intervene now, you will look like you are sending a signal that you are

against Donald Trump.

You know, now, Jack Smith, the special counsel, conversely said, look, this is so important, you should decide it now.

QUEST: All right. So, Norm, in your view, were they right to not take it? Bearing in mind, there's huge advantage to having a properly argued paper

trial, legal paper trial before you get to the Supreme Court.

But it does mean, we could end up with a prosecution in the middle of the election.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Richard, I think they should have taken it. But it's a legitimate decision not to. The reason they should have taken it

is because of the extreme importance of the question. But, on the other side of the agenda, as Joan notes, letting the D.C. Circuit, that

intermediate appellate court handle things in the normal course, gives them form of insurance. Because if the D.C. Circuit, as many expect, they will,

says no Donald Trump, you don't have immunity, there is no absolute immunity for anybody in the United States, agreeing with Judge Chutkan.

Then, the D.C. Circuit will have put another thumb on the scale. So, I think it's legitimate to wait.

QUEST: So, let's, let's just go through how these proceeds. The D.C. Circuit gets this and starts the appeal process realistically, Joan. When

does -- when does a trial begin? Bearing in mind that the judge here has made it quite clear that justice for -- the criminal justice is perhaps

more important than whether or not Donald Trump can stand as a presidential candidate?

BISKUPIC: Yes. No, that's right. Judge Chutkan, who set a March 4th trial date.


QUEST: Right.

BISKUPIC: That's now off the calendar just because of what's happened here. But she had said, you know, the president is not above the law in this

situation. He should be tried.

So, the D.C. Circuit hearing will be on January 9, Richard. And then, I expect that they will try to turn that decision around pretty quickly. So,

let's just say -- let's just say they do it in two weeks.

Let's just say for purposes of argument, they can give us a decision in two weeks. Well then, Donald Trump has the right to ask for a full hearing at

the D.C. Circuit, or he could then just say, you know, OK, now, it goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.


But once you get to the U.S. Supreme Court, you know, briefing can take weeks, if not months. So, you know, and maybe the Supreme Court would

accept the case and put it on an expedited calendar. Or maybe, you know, I actually think it's a long shot. But I know that there is some people think

that maybe the Supreme Court would just let stand what the D.C. Circuit does.

I think that's -- that might be hard for the Supreme Court to stay out of it when, you know, this is such a huge question. It's never been tested,

whether a president can be immune from a criminal prosecution here.

And given the stakes, I would think that the Supreme Court should as the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution in America, kind of come in. But

bottom line, we're talking now several weeks, if not months.

QUEST: Norm, this is -- this is sort of quasi-legal, quasi-political, quasi-Americana. How much of this, do you think, the American system can

take? I mean -- I mean, Barack Obama famously said, when Donald Trump won, that your institutions were going to be tested like never before.

And yes, you've had Watergate and Pentagon Papers and Vietnam, and as we know, Iran contra. But this is -- this is just never ending.

EISEN: Well, Richard, that's a lot of quasis (PH). And I think democracy can take a lot of them. And, of course, you cover news all over the world.

And you know that America is, by no means, unique, democracies are tested, and they can be very resilient if they pass the test.

So, I think that the American people and the political system, the legal system, and ultimately, it's not the jury, in courts, it will be the jury

of public opinion, the jury of the voters who will decide on Donald Trump.


QUEST: Oh, no! No.

EISEN: They can take it.

QUEST: But -- hang on. Hang on, Norm.

That though -- those two juries, the jury of public opinion and the jury in the courtroom, if they -- if one votes him in, and the other convicts him.

What then?

EISEN: Well, it's very interesting, Richard, because one of the consistent themes in the public opinion polling is that, if the legal jury convicts

Donald Trump, the jury of public opinion swings dramatically,


QUEST: Right.

EISEN: That bombshell, New York Times Siena poll, a 14-point swing. Donald Trump went on average from being five-point up in the key states to a nine

points down. So, there is a connection.

QUEST: Right. I'm going to -- Joan, at the last word. Bearing in mind, there is a connection, and bearing in mind that those -- I mean, I think,

you know, the justices of the Supreme Court are not politicians, and yet, they are the most politically aware people. And they didn't get to be

supreme court justices by not knowing how to do diplomacy and politics.

What do you think they are saying to themselves tonight?

BISKUPIC: Well, I think what they did was they issued this order, and they are going to go on their holiday break. I think they just -- they just

said, we're not having any of it now, and we're going to let the chips fall where they may.

And however, anybody wants to judge them for ducking this at this point for not taking charge of the situation, that's fine with them, or at least it's

fine with the majority.

Richard, we don't know how they voted behind the scenes. And I bet there was some dissent over the action today.

QUEST: Right. To both of you, I'm going to give the same bit of advice that I gave an early, I guess. I suggest a strong drink and a long weekend is

probably in good order for everybody.

Wherever you may be celebrating in any which way and otherwise, I wish you well in your celebrations. Thank you.

Now, I want you to look at this chart. The major U.S. averages this year. Yes, the Dow is higher. The S&P and the NASDAQ has soared. And you all

wondering, why your portfolio didn't do the same. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS:



QUEST: U.S. markets on a tail for the final weeks of the year. Year today, the Dow was up 13 percent. The S&P is about 25 percent higher. The NASDAQ

is up 45 percent partly because of A.I.

Global markets a little different. FTSE only marginally up. France, 15 percent. That I'll tell you that. We've got strong gains in the Nikkei and

the Hong Kong Hang Seng as you can see, fell sharply.

Stephanie Roth is the chief economist at Wolfe Research. Why doesn't my portfolio look like that?

STEPHANIE ROTH, CHIEF ECONOMIST, WOLFE RESEARCH: Well, it's been a very interesting year for markets, in part, because it was -- it was largely

dread -- led by a couple of the bigger name.

QUEST: Right.

ROTH: But when looking for next year, because the economy is likely to actually experience the stock dish landing, we might see a broadening out

of the market, which should help your portfolio.

QUEST: Good. Thank you. Now, this idea of the soft landing. I mean, I -- look, I was a skeptic, a cynic, whatever you want. I didn't think it was

going to happen. I thought that would be a full throttle, recession, et cetera -- et cetera.

Are we out of the woods in the U.S. yet?

ROTH: Well, certainly it was -- it was you and everybody else heading into this year, most economists were calling for a recession.

I think we're now close to out of the woods. Of course, there's always the chance that the economy slipped into recession. And we are still in the

late -- the late part of the economic cycle. But I think we're getting close to out of the woods and recession risk is starting to return to


A big reason is because the Fed is now able to potentially cut interest rates, for good reason. Cutting interest rates, because inflation is now

down to close to something looking like two percent.

QUEST: So, how many rate cuts? And I noticed that what you were saying in one of your notes about, essentially, the Fed's preferred rate is just

about at target, give or take.

So, how many rate cuts do you think we'll see you next year?

ROTH: Yes, sure. We got the core PCE data today. And that your three-month run rate is about 2.2 percent, which is very close to the Fed's two percent


My base case is that we'll get about three rate cuts next year, starting in Q2, and they'll probably move slowly, but once every quarter.

And, by the way that forecast is, is a little bit different than the market. The markets expecting almost double that. They are expecting six

rate cuts. I think in an environment where there are six rate cuts, that's a more dire economic outcome.

So, basically, it looks very similar to what the Fed thinks, but just for three cuts next year.

QUEST: So, by the time we get to the end of next year, I mean, rates will be looking lower, yes, obviously. But there'll be almost back to

traditional levels. Whenever going back to zero, are we? So, the tough rate is going to be what? 3-1/2?

ROTH: I think the top rate could be somewhere between 275 and three, which, you know, isn't that bad? And that could be consistent with a 10-year

treasury of about three percent. And that's not so bad. That's going to feel a lot better than, you know, where we've been for the past couple of



QUEST: How aware -- this is completely out of left field though. How aware will the Fed be or conscious that A.I., like the Internet before, is going

to create such productivity gains that we cannot even fathom, let alone quantify that they're going to need to be cautious. That, you know, keep

the -- keep a tight rein on the horse, because the horse now wants to gallop.

ROTH: I mean, I think that's fair. But at the same time, it's going to probably take quite a bit -- quite a bit and of time for that to actually

play out.

And, by the way, when we have a strong productivity backdrop, that means there is downward pressure on inflation. So, that's a very different kind

of backdrop and one that they are going to be a lot less concerned about, and they'll keep an eye on it. We'll see if potential growth really just

start to pick up. But I think we're still a way's away from that.

QUEST: All right. Stephanie, I'll be back to talk to you next year for this broadening out of the gains, which you promised me. I'm very grateful.

Have a lovely holiday, or whatever you may be celebrating. I wish you well over a festive season. Thank you.

ROTH: Thank you.

QUEST: Now, it is the 12 days of Christmas. And you need to have a partridge in a pear tree. You also want some golden rings. The question is

can you afford it? As you know, every year, PNC tells us the true cost of Christmas.

Yes. How much did you cost this day?


QUEST: Christmas is upon us. In three days, people will celebrate with families, inflation. But inflation has how I'm level much. How much does a

12 days of Christmas cost us?

A QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tradition. PNC bankers figured it all out the Christmas index, they were doing it for 40 years. Here are the 12 days, and

the big three advances. You've got turtle doves. They are up 25 percent because of the rarity of the turtle dove.

You then have, the partridge in a pear tree, five gold rings. You have the partridge in a pear tree. That's 14 percent because of the rent the

partridge has to pay in the tree.


And finally, of course, geese are laying. They are up eight percent. You can't get your hands on geese at the moment. Put the whole lot together,

it's $46,730 up 2.7 percent. Five gold rings.

Remember, you have to buy the gifts again and again. So, the cumulative costs $201,972. Start saving for next year.

Partridge pear tree, geese laying, we've got the lot and, and a partridge in a pear tree.

How was your office Christmas Party? Was it a glass of warm Prosecco by the photocopier? Or an evening of mayhem and magic? Some say office parties

make workers feel appreciated. Others say they're an H.R. disaster waiting to happen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- live, living as without you. I can't live!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any chance of a dance with the boss?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sure. Sure. I hope that your boyfriend doesn't mind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not my boyfriend.


QUEST: Well, the office cultures change. Fewer people want to celebrate holidays with their colleagues. A recent survey from Walters People

suggests half of U.K. workers skip their party this year. Another 20 percent said they'd make a brief appearance.

With me, Jessica Kriegel, the chief scientist of Workplace Culture, Culture Partners. Look, I'm not saying it was right. I'm not saying it was decent.

I'm not saying it was good. But when I remember, office Christmas parties, when I joined the workforce, they were a raucous affair. Not the rather

tepid, timid thing we have today.

JESSICA KRIEGEL, CHIEF SCIENTIST, WORKPLACE CULTURE, CULTURE PARTNERS: Yes, you know, it's funny, my very first job I lived in London and that office

holiday party, I deeply, deeply embarrassed myself. I barely remember the night.

It's not a good look for Monday morning when you get back to the office, and people are telling stories that you don't even recall being a part of.

QUEST: But how do we do that? Without the woke culture? How do we say, look, look, it's not a good look to be pissed on the floor, and have ever

been laughing at the way you've been dancing half naked.

But at the same time, say -- you are allowed to let your hair down a bit. You're about to -- I don't know, flirt if you want to.

KRIEGEL: Yes, everyone is responsible for their own scene, right? So, the way that you show up at the office party is going to be what people

remember the next week.

And so, in an office setting, you want to show up professionally, whether you're friendly with your colleagues or not. And the reality is, this is a

time for celebration, the holiday spirit, but a lot of people make mistakes, it can be an H.R. disaster. I think that's happening less and

less certainly with age, people realize their mistakes, and use the opposite party for what it's supposed to be an opportunity to say hello to

people you usually don't get to interact with at work.

QUEST: Now, I think that's really interesting because, I -- again, a chance to interact with people you don't normally interact with. And, you know, in

the old days, would have a quick snack with somebody you fancy it, I suppose, will be the pre-days in the early days.

Let's assume you have embarrassed yourself at the office Christmas Party. What should you now do when you turn up on next week? Or in January? Do you

just pretend it didn't happen?

KRIEGEL: Well, I guess that's up to you. What I would suggest is to use the formula of culture. Culture is the experiences we create for each other

that lead people to have beliefs, that then result in their actions and therefore get you results.

So, if I create a very weird experience for people on Friday night at the holiday party, I like to interpret those experiences the following week.

So, I would have a conversation with people and say, let me talk about what happened last week. This is the experience that I want -- that happened and

what belief did that lead you to have, and what do you need to see for me - - to change that belief if wasn't necessarily positive.

QUEST: Yes. Right. I would just say, oh, yes, Jessica, we certainly remember the Christmas Party. And when you dragged Paul -- Mr. Jones into

the broom cupboard.

KRIEGEL: Well, that's why I don't drink at office parties anymore, because I avoid just that scenario.

QUEST: Thank you very much. I'm very grateful. I hope that whatever you're celebrating this Christmas, whatever it may be, that you make time for

family, friends, and leave Mr. Jones in the office cupboard.


QUEST: Thank you very much, indeed. Very kind of you. Thank you.

I'm going to show you the markets very quickly, before I love you and leave you.

Oh, if we can't have this. I'd like to be able to talk it up, but I've only got about 45 seconds. It's going to be down just before Christmas. But

there are good gains on the Dow, a gain of about 15 percent. The NASDAQ has got 48 percent. 50 percent over the year.

My portfolio showing nothing like that, but I'm guessing you're sort of similarly tired in your own individual way.

And whether you have part producing pear trees, geese's laying, or five gold rings, a lot of profit on the moment after the break.



QUEST: Tonight's a "PROFITABLE MOMENT". This is our last QUEST MEANS BUSINESS of the Year. We're to be sure I'll be with you on Christmas Day.

It's a tradition here at CNN that I read the news at Christmas.

And but it's our last QUEST MEANS BUSINESS together of the year. And I think it's always a good moment for us just to take stock. And for me to

thank you for making time to be with us.

Each day, we have a great team of people that come together to put together what we hope is not just informing you of what happened. There's a million

and one ways that you can be told you can go online, to whatever whatever, whatever.

Now, we want to do more than that. We hope that in some shape or form, you and I come together this time of the day, and have a bit of a chat, bit of

an atta, bit of a gossip, if you will, over what's been happening in the financial and business and economic world.

And sometimes we may be licking our financial wounds with our portfolios haven't done well. Other times it's off to the races with a Santa rally.

But whatever does happen, I would like you to know just how important it is that what we do is, and that you're there with us. Because I firmly believe

and I've always believed that amongst the most important things in our lives are how we earn and how we spend our money.

Not money per se. It's how we earn it and how we spend it. And if we can come together to share a few thoughts, a bit of a laugh, have a giggle, and

the mince pie, like to I like a mince pie. The Jew that loves Christmas.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight


I'm Richard Quest in London. Wherever you're celebrating over the days ahead, may your God be with you or without you, whatever it may be.