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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Greece's Credit Rating Cut; Main Street Bailout?

Aired December 8, 2009 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Tonight, an alpha economy no more, Greek stocks take a battering. The country's credit rating is cut. We speak to Greece's finance minister.

At last, a bail out for Main Street. President Obama gets tough on job creation.

And on the first day of Christmas QUEST MEANS BUSINESS gave to you a partridge in a pear tree. I'll explain in an hour. I'm Richard Quest, and I mean business.

Good evening. Greece, tonight, becomes the latest country to be battered by the markets, following a downgrade of its sovereign debt. The main stock market in Athens fell more than 6 percent. And that is after some marking falls on Monday.

The decline all happened after the Fitch ratings agency cut Greece's credit rating to triple B, plus. That is also with a negative outlook. It is the first time in a decade that Greece has been given a below A grade on its debt.

And there could be further falls to come. Another top ratings agency, Standard & Poor's, has warned it may lower the country's credit rating because of the ballooning government debt.

The core issue, of course, is whether or not Greece is able to avoid a default on its sovereign debt and in doing so, whether it might have to seek further financial help, whether from the IMF, the ECB or other Euro institutions.

On the line now, Greece's finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, joining me now.

And Minister, tonight, in Athens, you are facing a full scale financial crisis, aren't you?

GEORGE PAPACONSTANTINOU, FINANCE MINISTER, GREECE: Good afternoon.

We are facing a difficult situation. No, no -absolutely nothing to say about that. At the same time we are a new government that is putting together very quickly a number of initiatives and measures to reassure the markets and our European partners that we are serious about reducing the extremely high deficit that we have, unfortunately, inherited from the previous government.

Remember, we are a government which is in office for 50 days. We started from a very difficult point. And we are doing and we are committed to whatever it takes to make sure that we get the economy back on track.

QUEST: OK, I suppose, I understand that after just 50 days, it is just about impossible to answer many of these questions. But straightforwardly, is it likely that you are going to default on debt, or have to seek further financing, either from the IMF or the ECB, or from other institutions?

PAPACONSTANTINOU: No, the straightforward answer is absolutely not. And this is for the following reasons, what you are seeing at the moment is the rating downgrades basically reflect the lack to credibility that we have seen in the past. We are building that credibility back with a new budget that has been tabled to parliament, which cuts the deficit by 3.6 percentage points, half of which comes from permanent measures, both on the expenditure, and on the revenue side.

We are in the process of a major overhaul of the tax system and expenditure review, which will reduce expenditures throughout the -

QUEST: Right.

PAPACONSTANTINOU: public sector. So, there is movement on all reform fronts. And I think this will reassure the markets.

QUEST: But realistically to cut the budget deficit by 3 percent in an economy that is already suffering from recession, that is going to have a depressing effect, which could send you double dip, straight back down again.

PAPACONSTANTINOU: It depends what kind of expenditures you are cutting. We are cutting operational expenditures. We are cutting consumption expenditure, whether public sector -we are not cutting back public investment, which we need, in order to keep growing as an economy and not sink deeper into recession.

We are cutting down on waste, we are cutting down on things which are not needed. And unfortunately the last few years we have had a lot of that.

QUEST: Don't you face a serious problem next year in that some of the debt that is now graded, triple B, or anything less than A, is not valid for you being used as collateral to the ECB, for further liquidity. And many people suggest that is going to be a problem for you, Minister, next year.

PAPACONSTANTINOU: Yes, once the ECB tightens the eligibility criteria, at the same time 2010 will be a year where we will be needing to borrow less than we did in 2009. For the moment we are borrowing at a higher price, but there is not lack of liquidity in the markets. But it is a difficult situation. There is no question about that. And the fact that we move with the kind of reforms which are necessary to reassure the markets, the easier it will be to borrow next year.

QUEST: Minister, finally, the situation tonight, in Athens seems to be, you know, you may well have it under control and you may have a plan to move forward, but whether it is the markets, or whether it is the Greek people, there is going to be some very turbulent times for you in the weeks and months ahead.

PAPACONSTANTINOU: Well, let's put things in perspective, shall we? The stock market fell 7 percent last week, after Dubai. It then rebounded by 7 percent the next day. So, a daily change in the market index doesn't say as much as the faith that investors have that there is investment opportunities in this country, that we are moving forward, that we are actually addressing structural problems that we have had for a very long time. And that we are putting an order in our public finances.

QUEST: Minister, many thanks indeed for joining us. We appreciate it. Thank you for coming on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

PAPACONSTANTINOU: Thank you.

QUEST: And now, let's look at the markets that are trading, and open, and doing business. In New York the Dow Jones industrials, is open at the moment. And a sharp fall off in the market, down 102 points.

Interesting that we have had markets that have just basically been down a bit here and there, but now off nearly 1 percent, under 10,000 on the main New York market.

In Europe, there was a hit, a big hit today as well. Closing slightly lower on Monday. British banks, it is the British banks that are thought to be some of the highest rated in terms of risky for what is likely to happen. The London FTSE closed down 1.65.

What am I trying to say here? What I am trying to say is that the British banks are likely to be clobbered after the government, the British government has its pre-budget report, which come out tomorrow. RBS, which of course is one of those where the bankers are having issues with their bonuses. That , of course, down 1.65 percent for the U.K. market.

Another sharp losses on the Xetra DAX, down 1. 6 percent, after a weaker reporter showing their expected industrial output data. It dragged down the German economic -those companies that are affected by the wider economy. For instance, the chemical giant, BASF, was off 3.1 percent.

The CAC currant in Paris, not so badly effected. The banks did not really suffer as badly, just off 1.43 percent. But I alluded a moment ago, to what was happening to the British banks and how they have all been so affected. And this, I think, really shows the issues.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, down 7.7 percent. Barclays bank, hang on, I've got shares in that. You will be aware of my Barclays bank shares. Down 3.2 percent. And the reason, of course, that the British banks were off quite sharply, that comes along because as I said, it was a result of the pre-budget report, that is coming along.

Now, Britain's top bankers look set to be hit with a super tax on their bonuses. The U.K. finance minister is said to be preparing to unlash -unleash, even, a super tax when he has his pre-budget report.

The British Bankers Association, the BBA, a worthy body of men and women, say the country's best bankers will simply up and away. The problem is, where would they go? The finance sector employees a million people and bankers warn that an exodus of talent could mean wider job losses. The thrust, the main thrust, of course, of Wednesday's report is how Britain is going to deal with its enormous budget deficit, currently running -look at that, the best part of $300 billion U.S.

Joining me now to talk about this is David Blanchflower, Professor David Blanchflower, former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee. And a professor at Dartmouth College.

Professor, many thanks for joining us.

There is a vast array of subjects that we need to get to grips with, but lets begin with -let's begin first of all with the pre-budget report in the U.K. cutting the deficit. And do you believe it is reasonable to start making sizable cuts in the U.K. deficit next year?

DAVID BLANCHFLOWER, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE: No, I don't. I think we are still in the very, very, early stages of a very weak recovery. Now is not the time to cut spending. It is time to get a plan as to what one is going to do. What the country is going to do, once recovery is well established. So, essentially what you need is a plan to say, when we get growth coming, when revenues are coming in, we will pay off that deficit.

But now you have to win the economic war first, otherwise it would push us over the cliff. So not now, wait until we are in significant recovery.

QUEST: OK, now. On this -

BLANCHFLOWER: We're not yet.

QUEST: question of bankers bonuses and super taxes, windfall taxes, it is delightfully populist and it makes for good politics.

BLANCHFLOWER: Right.

QUEST: But I'm wondering. Can you give any credence to this idea that it makes for bad economics?

BLANCHFLOWER: I don't think it necessarily makes for bad economics. I think what actually happened is that people feel a real sense of unfairness. They have been hit very hard by this recession. Their incomes have been hit. Unemployment has risen. People feel, very kind of insecure about what is going on. They see all the money going to the bankers. They see the bankers, in a way, the ones who got us into this mess in the first place. And they don't feel like they are sharing the losses, if you like.

So, it is populist in once sense, but I don't really think it is bad economics. It is about sharing and doing things rather more fairly. And I don't think the bankers have really been very good press. They actually have to convince the public that these bonuses are reasonable. And they certainly have failed to do that.

QUEST: So, if we take a look, for instance, at your - I mean, you have been highly critical of the way in which, in some ways, the Bank of England has handled the crisis so far. Admitting, of course, you were a member of the monetary police committee. You said you didn't know about the vast loan to the Royal Bank of Scotland, and to Lloyd's. So I am wondering, are you confident that the bank will get it right, possibly most tricky part, i.e., when to withdraw liquidity, went to raise interest rates?

BLANCHFLOWER: Well, I think, I have considerable concerns about what the Bank of England is going to do and what a government is going to do. I think the evidence this week about the size of the loans, the secret loans, that were given to RBS and to HSBC, suggest actually that the shock is greater than we had ever thought. And I think the evidence is that if you look back the Bank of England really didn't get it right for a very long time. Didn't call the recession. August 2008 inflation report said no recession. And now the Bank of England is has produced a forecast which basically says there is a V-shaped recovery. It will be the fastest recovery the U.K. has ever seen post war. And that is a signal that they are going to tighten.

QUEST: Tighten.

BLANCHFLOWER: And I think that is very mistaken, with the output data today, the industrial production numbers are flat. CBI monthly industrial trends numbers are poor. German industrial production is down. So, I think the evidence is you have to keep the stimulus going and erring on the side of doing it too long is much better than doing it and then removing it too quickly. And I'm worried the bank is going to make similar mistakes on the way out, as they made on the way in.

QUEST: OK.

BLANCHFLOWER: And I don't want them to do that.

QUEST: Tonight, of course, I don't know if you were able to hear but the beginning of our program and the Greek finance minister. Tonight -

BLANCHFLOWER: Yes, I could hear you. Yes.

QUEST: Tonight, Greek debt is being downgraded, the stock market, is this a real worry, that a major EU country could default or could find itself in deep trouble?

BLANCHFLOWER: Well, I wouldn't say necessarily that. I mean, I have no insight into a particular country. But we have seen this financial crisis, if you like, deepening. I mean, the point I was making a few minutes ago. I think the crisis is deeper than really anybody ever thought. The managing director of the IMF the other day, Strauss-Kahn, said that his view was that about half the toxic assets at this point have been declared. Well, that is good, but it means that half have not. So, in a space of a week or two we have had Dubai, we've had Greece. I think this crisis is far from over. I have been writing about that.

I think we need to prepare for the possibility that there are more financial crisis to come. There are various countries in Eastern Europe. We have mortgages that are actually set in euros and Swiss francs, and so there are places where you might that there are difficulties to come. But I'm not going to call any of them. But I think this crisis is far from over and the financial crisis is probably deeper than we thought.

I'm sorry.

QUEST: No, please. David, do me a favor, please come back on our program again and talk more about these things in the future. You have a standing invitation and it is lovely to have you with us tonight. Many thanks, indeed.

BLANCHFLOWER: Thank you.

QUEST: Thank you, David Blanchflower, joining me there from Dartmouth College. One of the members of the MPC, or the former member of the Monetary Policy Committee.

It is a busy day, slightly late than normal. We ask the forgiveness of Fionnuala Sweeney at the CNN News Desk.

(NEWSBREAK)

QUEST: In just a moment, after this break, magnificent men and woman in Copenhagen want to see lean, green flying machines. The aviation industry is laying out the goals at the Copenhagen summit. When we come back an old - I won't say old - a friend of the program, the director general of IATA joins me. Giovanni, will talk about airline industry (ph).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: United Airlines said today it had placed a $10 billion order for 50 wide-bodied jetliners from both Airbus and Boeing; 25 XW 350 XWBs, 25 Dreamliners. One of the major reasons for the new purchase was to replace older gas guzzling aircraft, the 747s and the 267s

United says the new aircraft, when they are delivered later next decade will pump out a third less carbon than the planes they are replacing. The aviation industry has been laying out its environmental goals at Copenhagen. IATA says it will halve carbon emissions by the year 2050, that as against 2005.

Now, we have known about this particular offer to halve those emissions. But IATA also says it is committed to improving fuel efficiency by an average of 1.5 percent per year, right the way through to 2020. This is done by improving routes, approaches, landing patterns, all of the start up grids, oh, you name it. There are all sorts of ways you do it. IATA says it is moving ahead with climate change goals which will involve investing in new technology and flying smarter.

Joining me now, from Copenhagen, is Giovanni Bisignani, the director general and chief executive of IATA.

Giovanni, good to see you. Thank you, as always for coming on our program.

The goal of 2050 to halve emissions, it sounds very good, but why can't you do it sooner?

GIOVANNI BISIGNANI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, CEO, IATA: No, we are very serious on our numbers. So, we know there are challenges and the technology will play a very important role. From now to 2020 we'll invest in $1.2 trillion in order to achieve this. And our biofuel could be a big contribution, but by 2020 we will have just 6 or 7 percent on the total fuel in biofuel. So it is an aggressive target, but I think it is a realistic target.

QUEST: You see, that's the point. Your critics still say that the only real answer, Giovanni, is for people not to fly. That it is not a realistic -whichever way we cut this cake, not getting on a plane seems to be the starting point.

BISIGNANI: You know, the problem is emission, so the problem is to cut emission, not limit the growth. And we, with our target, and with our strategy we are achieving this. We have a good track record. In the last two years we have reduced 70 million tons of CO2, on routes and the other achievement that you just mentioned. So, it can be done and we are working in order to achieve all our goals.

QUEST: What we are also seeing is lots of airlines taking their own measures in replacing equipment. But I need to ask you on the wider question of the economy, are you seeing any upturn yet? I know you have been very pessimistic so far. Are you now prepared to say you see light at the end of the runway?

BISIGNANI: I think the worst is over. Yes, this year has been dramatic. You know, this is industry that will have a drop of $80 billion in one year, but the traffic is starting to increase. We have still problems with the yields. But I'm starting to see some blue skies also. If next year we will still report a deep loss. This year, the forecast as you know it is over $11 billion losses.

This industry has lost over $53 billion in 2001. So, investing in new technology, as you just mentioned, is key, is very important. And we are doing as much as we can in order to keep up with this kind of investment program.

QUEST: Giovanni, many thanks, indeed. Giovanni Bisignani, the head of the IATA, joining me from Copenhagen. Have a good conference. And thank you for being on our program tonight.

When we continue in just a moment, the world is going on a low-carb diet. Carbon, not carbohydrates. It is not trainers, but traders for helping us trim back the polluting staunch. What does it all mean? I'll explain in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: You don't have a tree-hugging hippie to help the planet. These days many of those involved in the fight against climate change are the very city traders. People turning to raw market forces and slashing those harmful carbon emissions. Carbon trading it is called. People are also making money at it, at the same time. It isn't altruism, pure and simple.

Jim Boulden is here to tell us about carbon trading.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, Europe has the most sophisticated carbon trading system. And banks like Barclays and Morgan Stanley are involved in this.

Now phase one, was from 2005 and 2007, and it was highly criticized because there were too many allowances given to companies and the allowances were given for free. Very few people think that the phase one was very successful. But we are now into phase two, much tighter caps, more greenhouse gasses and many more companies are now getting involved. And these caps are mandatory.

And a lot of countries around the world are looking at Europe's phase two of this carbon market trading system, based mostly here in London. To see how that is working, to see how they can emulate that, in their countries, for their trading. The most important being, of course, the U.S. Congress is currently debating their own cap and trade system. Not clear it is going to happen, but the bankers I talked to in the last couple of weeks say if the U.S. can get its own carbon trading market going then the carbon market will explode and then the goal here is to have all these markets around the world linked.

And then you would have true, like a stock market, but a world stock market for carbon trading where companies would trade if they have over the excesses, and under the excesses, and then the companies in the middle, would be trading their carbon credits. And in that, the goal of course, is to cut overall emissions from the biggest polluters, Richard.

QUEST: All right. Now, Jim Boulden with the carbon trading, overall picture. London believes it should position itself at the center of such a future market. It is a message being sent from the CBI, the Confederation of British Industry. Neil Bentley is the group's director of business environment. We needed to know about the fundamentals of carbon trading and whether or not it wasn't all just one big con.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEIL BENTLEY, DIR. OF BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT, CBI: The important thing about the carbon trading scheme is there is a cap on pollution, that decreases year by year. That makes the permits that polluters can buy more and more scarce, that hat pushes up the price, that encourages innovation and investment in low-carbon technologies. And that is a long-term trajectory that we are on, within the EU. And we'd like to see the sort of cap and trade scheme embedded in the Copenhagen deal, so we can spread it internationally.

QUEST: Why though? What is so magic about cap and trade? The critics say it is a slow way that only is effective when economic pain is reached.

BENTLEY: Business likes cap and trade because it is the most cost- effective way of getting to low carbon solutions. They like trading. It is a market mechanism. It is something they know and trust. And it is delivering carbon reductions.

QUEST: But it only works when the pain of not doing - the economic pain of not doing anything is greater?

BENTLEY: It works because it incentivizes business in the right way. It makes permits scarce, that pushes up the price. That makes business react to that price signal.

QUEST: But you have to wait until those credits become scarce or become too expensive, or it becomes more cost effective to change your own production techniques.

BENTLEY: The cap is ensuring that they become scarce, because the cap declines every single year, year on year. And we are seeing this new cap in the EU being (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to 2020. What that does is set a long- term investment trajectory. So people can invest in the new technologies that we are going to need to move to a low carbon economy. That is cost effective.

QUEST: Wouldn't it be better off though to have a system that just simply regulated how much people could put out, how much emissions, how much pollution? And just do it that way?

BENTLEY: Well, there is an argument, a U.S. argument, that regulation or taxing is an easier way to do that. But I have yet to find a tax system that is simple. And what we are saying is a market mechanism, is simply the right way to get the right business reaction, a cost-effective reaction to get carbon emissions down.

QUEST: Are you in favor, within the ambit (ph) of a cap and trade system, of a speculative trading nature?

BENTLEY: Well, what we are in favor of is making sure we get a stable trading nature, with global hub for carbon trading in London, and that is going to make sure that we get low carbon emissions in the EU, but actually across the world. Because if you could join a trading schemes in the EU to the U.S. and to Asia, then you start talking about setting a global price for carbon, which is going to attract investment.

QUEST: You -- you end up creating a giant trading scheme where the derivatives of the -- of the credits become more important and you end up with an entire bureaucracy.

BENTLEY: No, not at all. Not -- you will have a -- you need an administration to make sure that this is done fairly and it's in -- in a stable format. But carbon trading alone is not going to make sure we get our countries into a low carbon economy. We are going to need some regulation. But it is the cornerstone of the E.U.'s policy and we think it works.

QUEST: Which industries are most in favor because they are the largest polluters?

BENTLEY: Well, we're seeing lots. We're going to see energy companies are in favor of doing this and lots of other companies see the benefit in lots of other sectors, because it actually places a price on carbon and -- and it sends a signal to them where it says if you don't think about the price of carbon and your investment and your long-term strategies, you are going to have to pay more and more. And that doesn't make -- simply make good business sense, now, more than ever, to pay more than you need to.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: Carbon trading from the CVI. This is the one program that will help explain why these issues are so relevant.

When we come back, hunting for a job?

A livelihood or success doesn't just suspend -- depend on your CV. It's a lot to do with where you live. In a moment, the best and worst places to be a job seeker -- part two of three and four of tonight's program, all about jobs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Good evening.

I'm Richard Quest, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

This is CNN.

For this part of the program tonight, we're going to be focusing on the jobless recovery and the issue of people finding work and the difficulties they face.

The bailout the Main Street in the U.S. has been waiting for -- President Obama might dip into the TARP funds to tackle joblessness. There are 16 million Americans who are currently out of work and the White House is feeling a renewed urgency to create jobs.

The U.S. president outlined a broad new set of proposals for job creation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even though we have reduced the deluge of job losses to a relative trickle, we are not yet creating jobs at a pace to help all those families who have been swept up in the flood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: President Obama did not give a price tag for those proposals. He pointed out there were more wiggle room in the federal budget since the 2008 financial bailout, which will cost $200 billion less than expected. In other words, the less money from bailout will now to go pay for some jobs.

But if you're looking for a new job, a report offers some hope. Around the world, employment services company Manpower says there are many places in the world where things are getting better. Manpower breaks it down region by region, bit by bit, starting off with the Americas, where the report says the situation has generally improved from three months ago. Hiring funds apparently are the strongest in South America, down in Brazil. It tells about what is affected by toxic assets in the banking system.

In Europe, the situation is mixed. Now there, employers in eight countries are indicating improved outlooks. Germany -- fascinatingly, Germany is the bright spot in Europe, largely because they make machines that make machines. Sixteen percent say they'll be hiring new employees in the first three months of 2010.

Asia-Pacific -- what can one say about Asia-Pacific, except there, it is the engine of growth. Continued progress toward recovery, say Manpower. Employers in India reporting the strongest hiring plans in the world.

Earlier, I spoke to David Arkless, the president of global, corporate and government affairs at Manpower.

The -- the survey seemed to suggest very different percentages and results in different parts of the world.

DAVID ARKLESS, MANPOWER: Well, it shows that things are fragile. And when things are fragile, there's always a bit of misstep. So, you know, things are turning around somewhat, but it seems to be very slow. The psychology of hiring has changed fundamentally in this recession.

QUEST: What does that mean when you say it?

Does it mean -- we've always known that hiring post-recession is the last barometer of the final -- the recession is over?

ARKLESS: Well, we track all weakness since we've started the company in over 50 years. And by now, given the economic indicators that we're seeing, we would expect a much bigger uptake in temporary employment. So what happens is output starts to go up and companies, they lay on temps, they get contractors and then when they're feeling confident, they hire perms -- you know, permanent employees.

That hasn't happened in the same kind of time cycle in this recession as it happened before.

QUEST: If you define real job growth, how would you do that?

What jobs can be created without -- that -- that would be sustainable once the recovery takes hold?

ARKLESS: Well, I'll give you an example. What we're seeing right now in the U.K. is that in some sectors, we're seeing job creation, in the financial sector and in business services. I don't like the look of that. What I like the look of is creation of jobs in industry, manufacturing. And that really starts to show when an economy is starting to get out of a recession.

QUEST: You...

ARKLESS: And the U.K. hasn't created those jobs yet.

QUEST: When the ILO says that millions of jobs are still at risk, as we reported on this program last night, when the ILO says that, why do you not think that's necessarily the case?

ARKLESS: I -- I disagree. We just look at the trends of our write-up today. We're looking at the next quarter and we're looking into next year. And we've seen an absolute stability. Whenever we've seen that, further jobs will not be lost in millions or tens of millions, as I -- I think the ILO was saying.

What we're going to see is a much bigger lapse before employers get confident enough to hire permanent, core employees. They're not doing that yet.

QUEST: So when -- come off the fence, please.

ARKLESS: No fences. No fences here, not right now.

QUEST: When do you expect to see reduc -- real reductions, not artificial reductions, real reductions in unemployment?

ARKLESS: I think we see it in different economies at different times. If -- if I look at China and India, it's not going to happen. They're creating real jobs, because as you come out of the recession, two -- two things combine, capital and employment, labor combine to create output.

In China what they do is they don't use as much capital, they just throw labor at new jobs, because of the price of -- because of the price of labor.

QUEST: But in the developed economies (INAUDIBLE)...

ARKLESS: Right. In the developed economies, we are genuinely seeing flat or zero job creation for at least six months, in my opinion. The U.S. may be longer. Certain countries are going to come out of it pretty well. Germany will. Switzerland will, because they make those machines that everybody needs. But I think that the U.S. is going to lag for a while.

QUEST: Time for the traffic lights.

You've done this before. Red, amber or green for the jobs situation only?

ARKLESS: Amber.

QUEST: Are you sure?

ARKLESS: Absolutely.

QUEST: Why so definite, I mean...

ARKLESS: Just looking at the numbers. That's it.

QUEST: Thanks very much.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: And we'll be following the jobless numbers in the weeks and months ahead.

It's a tough world out there, as our job seekers are finding out.

Job Questers, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Welcome back.

There is never a good time to be unemployed, seeking a job. In the festive season, it is particularly bad. Nobody is hiring, expenses are going up through the roof and, of course, there's the disappointment of not being able to take part in the full festivities.

Our Job Questers tonight make it clear, being out of work is tough.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last week on Job Quest...

FRAN HALES: Hi. My name is Fran Hales.

I'm -- I'm 35 years old. I'm originally from New Zealand, but I've been in the U.K. for 12 years now.

DIDIER: I realize that people love brands, fashion brands, designer brands. But most of the time, they can't afford them or they're now careful with their money. So the idea comes to sell on this Web site last year's collection at a discount, obviously.

JASON: Everything has been really good except for the fact that we haven't sold our house in Atlanta yet. And like most of the country right now, the Atlanta market is having a tough time. And it's actually going to be a while since anybody even looked at our house.

HALES: I try to -- to get up just after my flat (INAUDIBLE) to go to work, so round about half past eight. And -- and I -- and that's sort of when I get up to start my day. And I'm normally still filling up my days to around about 9:30, I suppose, on two or three jobs.

It's surprising, actually, how fast the day goes when you're unemployed. I thought I'd have a load of time on my hands. And I found myself filling up the day. I found myself cleaning a lot more than I used to and taking the dishwasher, doing washing, which sounds incredibly boring, but it's amazing how much time you spend doing things like that. And, also, and I think I cook a lot more. There's just a lot of stuff which takes up your day.

My situation is, because I have received a redundancy, I can still afford to pay my rent and live day to day. At the same time, it would be nice to be able to save some of that money. So I'm not using that money, you know, until it runs out and then looking for a job.

As well as start looking for a job, I try to also intersperse it with doing some social activity. Often, if I've had a bad day and I haven't really had the response that I want from agencies and companies, I'll take some time out. I'll go out with my camera, go out on my bike. And I go and visit some friends that are maybe not working at the moment, because I think it's quite good to -- to -- to make sure that you have a bit of balance. And often those things can make you feel better again and you feel kind of fresh, really, for the next day to start again and looking for work.

LISA MATHESON: I'm about to do an interview with a company in Southeast Washington State for a communications position, which I'll call right on time.

Hi. Good morning.

It's Lisa Matheson.

I am great.

How are you guys?

OK. Well, you know, it's all about me this morning, isn't it, though?

I knew that I would be a late bloomer in college so I spent a lot of time on organization so that I would develop leadership skills. It's very important for me to work directly with my manager to understand what his or her priorities are, to make sure that I'm in lockstep with that and accounting -- accommodating situational demands as they arrive, so that I have flexibility in shifting things around from a priority standpoint on my work plate.

Fans and friends, I think that they would say that I am a real go- getter, that I have a very strong work ethic.

All right, take care.

All right.

Bye-bye.

Bye-bye.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It sounded great from this end.

How did it feel for you?

MATHESON: Again, I -- look, I'm a perfectionist and so I always want to give the most perfect answer and -- and knock it out of the park. And so I was a little rusty on a few. But overall, I think that I did really well. I think that I was showcasing the skills that they're looking for. And I think that personality wise, we're -- we might be a really good match.

RODRIGO MEDINA: I've been involved in three processes. They all have been very interesting. One of them, I got a call a couple days ago and they told me I'm not going on that one anymore, so I got a bit disappointed. But the other two, I'm still on. I'm a finalist on one of them and then on the second one, they're going to call me for a third interview. But I have to wait for a couple of weeks. So I need to be patient and just concentrate for now on the other place they have working for me.

It's very easy -- important to always stay on top of things. And even though I have two processes of interviews right now, I there is a possibility that I might not get those jobs. So I need to keep looking for jobs and get as many prospects for the future. I need to open as many doors as I can and then, if I'm lucky, maybe I'm -- I'll be the one choosing.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: You know, I just loved hearing the -- what's happening with our Job Questers. It's absolutely fascinating.

Now the weather forecast tonight.

Guillermo is at the CNN World Weather Center -- good evening, Guillermo.

GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I have -- good evening to you - - 45 seconds only to talk about weather. And here we have it. The rains are moving out of Great Britain, but we're going to get cold conditions. I see reports of rain all over. I mean I -- I can't pinpoint every city right now, but I can tell you, this is the forecast. You're going to see still some rain, some delays in Europe all over.

There's a system that is developing into -- in Italy. And that's where we see the rain in Trieste, in Venice, over here, that's going to slide down into Greece, that area, and into Turkey, as well. We saw that last week with intense winds and also with severe storms. The story if repeating itself again Friday, Saturday, Sunday, with bad weather.

Thirteen degrees in Paris, not bad. London, 12.

Have to go.

See you on the other side of the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Welcome back.

Tonight, we start a special World At Work series all around the festive season. It's celebrating the uniqueness of everyone's job. As the season comes up and gets into full swing, we're talking about the 12 days of Christmas. You're probably familiar with the song. You can see some of the lyrics. You know...

(singing): On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge...

You get the idea. The challenge of our program was to do everything that we could to find different jobs that we could show you on the 12 days of Christmas.

So tonight, day one, a partridge in a pear tree.

My producer ended up with Mike Johnson, who's well known in the west of England for making traditional pear cider, known as perry. It's a dying art that he's trying to revive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE JOHNSON: We put about, in total, about 100 perry factories, which are made up of about 28 varieties. We make what we call craft, cider perry, or whole juice. So the only thing we use is the actual juice from the fruit.

I'm lucky that I've been doing it for 25 years, so I've got a head start on the (INAUDIBLE) you make it.

You wouldn't find it in a supermarket. In fact, they're not particularly nice to eat at all. They are specifically grown for perry. And this one is called Gin (ph). It's actually one of my favorite pears. It makes a really nice light perry, which has a very much an elder flower flavor.

We wash the fruit, mill it -- which means you chop it all up -- then we build the cheeses on the press, which means you -- you build layers of just chopped up pear between slats. And then the press compresses it, the juice comes out through the cloth that you put the pear in, into buckets, which then go into these barrels.

And the interesting thing for me is, over the years, with my father, we've planted lots of different varieties, so we can make really interesting ciders. So a lot of these barrels are just one off (ph), there's, you know, that barrel might be fantastic, it might not, but we try different things every year with the different varieties.

This tree is a Homer (ph), which is 200 years old, probably. It's a nice thing for me to have here because I've planted these trees and one day they're going to be like this. And I keep thinking 200 years ago, somebody put this here and I think of all those different generations that have picked pears from under this tree and made perry and had great fun with it, probably.

Traditionally, every farm in this area would have made cider and perry. The social life of a farm would revolve around the cellar (ph). We've kind of recreated that. I have wonderful, good people that are equally enthusiastic that help me. I'm just so lucky to have a way of life that is so fantastic and so social.

As you can see, there's some partridge in there running around, because they're ground birds. You're not likely to see one in a pear tree, I'm afraid.

Thank you.

I think we should have a toast. Thank you, everybody, for working so hard this season and I want to thank Pergy (ph) for doing this fantastic partridge and perry supper. Well (INAUDIBLE). And I think we should toast to the partridge and the pear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To the partridge and the pear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cheers.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: Festive. World At Work, the partridge in a pear tree.

I'll have a Profitable Moment in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Now the song, of course, if you're not familiar with it, perhaps you might care to look up the words and the lyrics on our Web site, our Facebook page. We've printed them so you can follow along over the next few days, as we show you the tricks of doing certain trades -- crafting gold rings, dancing "Swan Lake."

You're going to hear the passion of the people who have been doing these things for years and still love what they do. You will see how inventive we have been making 21st century reports on calling birds, maids a milking, lords a leaping. It's all part of our festive 12 days of Christmas.

And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight.

I'm Richard Quest.

Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable.

Christiane is after the headlines.

END