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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Three Greek Bank Workers Killed As Protestors Hurl A Petrol Bomb Into Their Building

Aired May 5, 2010 - 14:00:00   ET

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


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INT'L. ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: The crisis in Greece turns tragic. Civil unrest claims three lives.

Chancellor Merkel says Europe's future is at stake. And Portugal, Spain and Greece feel the heat.

And the final push for votes, Britain's election results. It is an (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tonight.

I'm Richard Quest, I mean business.

Good evening.

Tonight three bank employees have died in Athens, and two women and one man were the victims of the violent protests which are sweeping across the Greek capital. Thousands of demonstrators are still outside the parliament building. Meanwhile, inside Greek lawmakers are debating the latest round of cuts, which are igniting such anger on the streets. It is all part of the agreement between Greece and the IMF, and European Union, or Euro Zone countries.

Diana Magnay is in Athens tonight.

Diana, before we get to the wider economic matters, we must begin, of course, with the loss of life.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Three bank employees who were working today were victims of a petrol bomb, which was thrown into their bank, which is about five minutes away from here, from the main square in Athens, in front of the parliament building, five minutes away. We know that they were two women and one man, the people who lost their lives. We're hearing from the civil protection unit here that one of those women was pregnant.

And the president of the Republic of Greece has just issued a statement, and I will just quote you a couple of lines. He said, "Our nation is on the edge of an abyss. And it is our responsibility not to take that step into the void."

The prime minister has also issued his condolences. There was a moment of silence held in the parliament building when that news was confirmed. And in the parliament today, what was going before the economic council there, was this austerity package. It will be debated tomorrow in the parliament, Richard.

QUEST: The way in which these riots, if you like, have taken such a deadly tone. Diana, the thing we need to understand is how widespread it is? If we look to the rest of Greece, do we see similar actions, or are these activists very tightly controlled around Athens?

MAGNAY: Well, on the streets of Athens, today, the police are saying with only 25,000 protestors, now that is much less than what the unions say was going to turn out. And perhaps that figure is interesting in itself. Only 27,000 people in Athens, and across Greece, there were also some in Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city. Protests there, but these numbers are not enormous. I think also the fact that this particular protest, that this strike, did turn deadly, fatal in the way that it did, is not representative of the nature of today's strike.

Those strikers who we had met earlier, who were going to the demonstrations to protest this austerity package, I've called them since. I said what is your reaction to this news. One of them told me that she was breathless. She couldn't breathe. She was so appalled by what had happened. And I think that that is very much the general sense, and we'll certainly see in the newspapers tomorrow morning, the sense of shock across the nation, the trauma for what has happened. That it is one thing to protest against economic measures. It is a very different thing that people should loose their lives during those protests, Richard.

QUEST: Diana Magnay putting your finger firmly on the spot there, in Athens tonight. And the images from the Greek capital are handing ammunition to those who doubt that the Greek government can put its program of cuts into action. Investors are looking beyond Greece now, the shaky finances of other Euro Zone countries.

The German Bundesbank chief, Axel Weber who sits on the board of the ECB, says Europe risks grave contagion, stocks, government bonds, and European currency are all under severe pressure. If you join me over in the library, you'll see what I mean. Let's begin with the euro. Now, the euro in many ways has been the barometer of what's been taking place, besides the Athens market. We are now at lowest point since March of last year. It is under $1.30 to the U.S. dollar, so it is down by roughly a cent, a cent and a half. And the fall was quite dramatic today, to these sorts of levels. It is not the sort of thing you would expect to be seeing at this point in the crisis.

European stocks also were lower, the FTSE, the DAX the Paris, and the SMI. The thing about these were it was-it was-one of the main reasons I think that we saw a bit of a fall out of bed here, because it was broad-based, was Moody's has put Portugal's credit rating on watch. We know it is on watch, but an analysts comment pretty much did the done deal, and said it would come down from a notch or two, just now waiting of course for that to happen. Airlines were off sharply, Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, largely on the back of the volcano issues. Lufthansa had disappointing results.

Look at the borrowing costs. This, the Greek 10-year bond is now back over 10 percent. Now, that is worrying. Because the Greek borrowing costs not only being reflected in Greece, Portugal and Lisbon- Portugal, Lisbon-and Madrid, are also seeing higher rates of borrowing. The market fears they'll need a bailout in the end.

The European economic commissioner, Olli Rehn has been at pains to point out that so far there is no evidence that these other countries are going to need support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLLI REHN, EU COMMISSIONER FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: No one can deny that there are tensions financial markets, but that is also in the financial markets there is also significant overshooting. All euro area member states are taking measures to control their public finances, not the least Spain, also Portugal.

And I want to underline that Greece is indeed a unique and particular case in the European Union. Greece has had particular precarious debt dynamics and Greece is the only member state that has cheated (ph) with its statistics for years and years. These are now being corrected and the program of last week is a turning point in this regard. And fully support the efforts of the Greek government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Now all those negative numbers and comments are overshadowing a more up upbeat forecast for Europe's economy. The EU says the recovery is in fact gathering strength and in speed. This is the European Union as it emerged from that deep recession. EU experts think the block overall will grow by around 1 percent, 1.75 percent next year. It is .25 percent better than when the commission last did the forecast, last year. And the extraordinary growth is due to external factors. Inside the union things are remarkably weak.

I want to just point out Greece is down 3 percent. Now that is probably an optimistic forecast, bearing in mind, the severe budgetary deficit mechanisms that they are going to have to put in place. Spain still remains in recession. Portugal that must be questionable, the U.K., at one point, 2 percent, and Germany at 1.2 percent. The deficit numbers are equally disappointing. If things go according to plan, Greece's forecasted to have a deficit of 9.3 percent. That is if it goes according to plan. The U.K., which of course goes to the polls in the next 24 hours, 12 percent deficit number, if things go according to plan. Spain at 10 percent. These are all what are being forecast by the European Union at the moment, but it is by far-it is far from clear that those actually will come to fruition.

Vanessa Rossi is a senior research fellow of international economics at the think tank Chatham House. Vanessa is with me, well, I mean you just heard the overview, let's start with Greece and then we'll go to the rest of the union.

Tragic events, but the risk for Europe is quite dramatic now?

VANESSA ROSSI, SR. RESEARCH FELLOW, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, today has been a really grim day. I think we could have hardly imagined that it could come this. But the background to it has been a multitude of rather feckless efforts at trying to put deals together since essentially February. And we know this is not the way to treat any kind of debt crisis. Now the weekends' deal sounded punchy. The intended it to be big and punchy and be effective and convince markets, but they clearly haven't done their math. People in financial markets did the math. When they added it up you first realize that by the end of this program, in three years, the Greek debt will rise even further than it is today. This is no way of solving a debt problem.

QUEST: No, but they delayed, they've obfuscated, they've done a deal, but a blunt question, Vanessa.

ROSSI: Hmm.

QUEST: The markets are still telling us it is not going to work.

ROSSI: Exactly. You add up the numbers it won't work, even if they meet the deficit targets, Greece's debt-

QUEST: Which is very difficult.

ROSSI: Greece's debt will be bigger in three year's time, than it is today. That means they will have even less chance of paying it back. So, effectively the market added up the numbers, worked it out, and said, no there is going to have to be restructuring.

QUEST: Pause one second (ph), while we listen to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor speaking before parliament, and basically telling them that this was a matter of Europe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): This is about nothing less than the future of Europe. And with that the future of Germany in Europe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: It is a matter, says Angela Merkel, the future of Europe, the future of Germany in Europe. Does she bear some of the blame?

ROSSI: No, I think that the blame here is probably more with other Euro Zone partners, than with Germany. But I think-

QUEST: She delayed. She delayed.

ROSSI: Yes, but the problems go back further than this. How come this debt situation has been allowed to grow like this? Why was there not stricter monitoring from Brussels in the first place? All of these problems, the debt problem is supposed to be enshrined in Maastricht, the no bail-out clause, all of this is gone. But Angela Merkel is totally correct in saying this is a European crisis, of big proportions.

QUEST: Should, Professor, some quick-fire questions, if I may?

Spain and Portugal, are they next?

ROSSI: They ought to be able to hold on, but with this pressure in the markets, facing higher interest rate costs it is going to make it very difficult for Portugal, unless there is some special debt agreement. Spain, at the moment, is not the problem. I think that has been overblown, but I think that the point the markets are making here, the reason there is so much hysteria is that there is still no clear plan to deal with these underlying, fundamental economic problems. Until the Euro Zone has that in place nobody stands to be convinced now.

QUEST: Do you see any possibility tonight, looking tonight, that either Greece has to suspend their membership of the euro, or some shape or form, or there has to be a radical restructuring of the whole euro system?

ROSSI: I think what Merkel's pointing to-and Axel Weber, I can assure you from his own discussions of these problems, Axel Weber as well has been pointing to this-that there is going to be some much tougher measures taken very quickly. And these have to be seen and they have to deliver now. Because if they don't it won't simply be a case of whether Greece exits the euro, it is going be a question of whether the euro survives at all in its present form.

QUEST: Is that realistic?

ROSSI: To be realistic, it is actually quite difficult for a country in trouble to leave the euro, because the alternative is complete chaos. It easier for a strong country to exit a monetary union than a weak one. And I think that is what we have to think about in this veiled threat that Merkel is making. You have to toughen up the Euro Zone or else the Germans are going to think again about the whole commitment.

QUEST: Vanessa, please, always welcome to talk these matters on our program. Many thanks indeed.

ROSSI: Thank you.

QUEST: Serious matters tonight in the financial world. Becky is at the CNN News Desk to bring us up to date with other international news.

(NEWSBREAK)

QUEST: Now, when I come back and we rejoin where do the U.S. markets go from here? After Tuesdays rout, Wall Street is struggling to add a further lurch south. We'll back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: All right. So, the Dow Jones fell sharply on the Tuesday market. The Nasdaq was off more than 3 percent. This is the way the markets are trading at the moment. Just off half a percent, we are back in the 11,000. And in fact, we didn't hold 10,900 yesterday as you can tell. What we did yesterday, we held 10,900, but we are now under 10,900 at the moment. This is despite some impressive earnings. It is Greece. It is worries about sovereign debt. And it is worries about the economic situation. Kevin Cook is an analyst with the Chicago based brokerage, Peak6 Investments. He joins me now from the trading floor.

Kevin, so look-

KEVIN COOK, PEAK6 INVESTMENTS: Hi, Richard.

QUEST: -why is the market continuing to beat up, firstly on equities, then on Greek bonds, and now Portugal and Spain?

COOK: Well, we definitely had a panic rush for the exits this morning, but look what happened, we got a little bit of a bounce in equities, and look at gold, as a fear trade, I think professional investors who want to stay long gold, they just let the weak hand sell it this morning and came in and bought it above 1150. So, you know, look at the way this market has run. This market-this equity market in the U.S. is extremely strong. It is pricing in a V-recovery in the economy and earnings. So, you are going to have pull backs. You are going to have to have small pull backs here.

QUEST: But, but-

COOK: What we are looking at is a potential systemic banking crisis in Europe.

QUEST: Right, now that is what I was getting to. Is this a pull back and is it predicated by the systemic banking crisis? Or do-I mean, the market is giving a big two thumbs down to the very idea that they have solved this problem.

COOK: Oh, absolutely. And you look at European equities, the Euro Stocks 50 has taken out its February lows. So what we are seeing is an asset allocation shift. Fund managers who buy stocks globally are selling Europe and nibbling at U.S. equities here on the pull back. And it doesn't mean that U.S. equities can't go lower from here, but they are not going to go significantly lower. Somebody asked me, can the U.S. grow by itself. Well, no it can't, but it's not dependent on Europe. U.S. growth is driven by the global growth from emerging economies like China.

QUEST: Hey, I've got 12 pages of your views here that was sent to me. Let's talk about the euro on that point.

COOK: Sure.

QUEST: $1.28, you forecast $1.31, but at $1.28 the old line, how low can it go?

COOK: Well, my thesis back in January was if you take out $1.31 then you are going to see $1.25. We're not going to see $1.25 this week, but in the next two to three months we will test that double low at $1.25 that we had during the credit crisis of '08 and '09. So, the European Union will probably stay together. My bet is it will. There maybe some backdoor solutions to let out a country like Greece, or Portugal, but it will stay together, the single currency, the euro will stay there, but it doesn't mean it can't go below $1.25 this year.

QUEST: I need to finish off. Pure naked self-interest, since I'm in the U.K., the U.K. election is tomorrow. Cable is trading at about 152, 153, does-does it stay in that realm? What happens after Thursday?

COOK: Oh, cable has held up so strong. I mean, it is like a rock there above 150 and you know we are getting some of the worst news here. I didn't expect the euro to fall out of bed this week, down to $1.28, and look how well sterling is holding up. So, I don't know what is being priced in for the U.K. election, but it seems that the smart money is very comfortable staying in British pounds.

QUEST: Many thanks indeed, Kevin. Lovely to have you as always. We'll talk more after this election. We'll get to grips with gold on another occasion.

COOK: Thank you, Richard.

QUEST: Because there is plenty there that you and I need to chew over. Many thanks, indeed.

Now, we come back in a moment. We're talking about the election. The election is very close and as Beck was saying so, in the polls, all the parties say they hold the key to economic recovery. Well, when we come back. We'll be live at Westminster for the latest, as it goes down to the wire. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, good evening to you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: There are now a little more than 12 hours to go before-

(DESK BELL CHIMES)

-the polls open in Britain's general election. All the main parties are mounting a push, a final push for the vote. It is a cliffhanger of a campaign as the latest polls testify. CNN's political contributor Robin Oakley has been following every twist. Robin is at Westminster.

Robin, let's start first of all, how many elections have you covered?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, I think it is about a round a dozen, Richard. I started very early, of course.

QUEST: Right. And what would you say that this election brings to bare on the night of the vote?

OAKLEY: Well, it's feverish, and it's fun, it's frantic. It is the most unusual election that we've had for a long time. Not only in the sense that it is hard to tell the precise outcome, but because thanks to those TV leader debates it is genuinely been a three-horse race. There are three parties with a very serious interest in the outcome, Richard. And I think probably most people would say that Gordon Brown and his Labour government haven't got a chance of actually coming out as outright winners, but there is a possibility of them, in combination with the liberal democrats, of the conservatives in combination with the Liberal Democrats, or just a tiny working majority for the conservatives. All those three options are there, Richard.

QUEST: And the question of-which we'll explore in the weeks ahead, of electoral reform. If the Lib-Dems come out with 24 to 28 percent of the vote and get a mere 90 seats, 85, 90 seats. Robin, by any definition that sounds unfair.

OAKLEY: Yes, I mean, people are looking for change in this election, Richard. They are look for change in the House of Commons after all the corruption we saw in the last parliament. And if we get a really skewed result, then I think the pressure for electoral reform will increase. I mean, take that last election. On average, you have about 90,000 votes for every liberal democrat who was elected. About 40-something, thousand votes for every conservative elected, and about 28,000 votes fro every labor MP, who was elected. That is not fair by any stretch of the imagination. And the way the British system is skewed at the moment because the boundary commissioners don't keep up with changes with population. It is a disgrace. Something has got to be done about it, Richard.

QUEST: And Robin, we will talk more-because we are going to be on the same program tomorrow night. I do love election night. I do think there is nothing quite like that excitement and hopefully we'll have a chance to talk more about it tomorrow night. Robin Oakley joining me at Westminster.

There are major differences between the parties in terms of what they are saying on the economy. And of course it has been the economy that has been the crucial part. Jim is with us tonight.

Jim, it has been a long election-well short by American standards.

BOULDEN: Absolutely. We're used to it being two years.

QUEST: Right. But you know, we're exhausted at the pace at which it has gone. And really it has all come down to-at the end of the day- it is to the economy and the economy-

BOULDEN: The economy and the budget deficit, because as we are seeing around Europe, of course, the budget deficits of all these countries becoming a main political issue. So, we are going to look at how these three parties differ and how they would attack the budget deficit here in the U.K. And there are some stark differences.

First we start with Labour. In general, Labour would say for every 2 pounds they'll cut from the budget-and that includes of course, cutting a lot of spending-they would raise 1 pound in taxes. So that is important to look at, the 2 to 1. Also, very important, Labour says we need to delay any cuts until the next year-next year. And that reason is, of course, a fragile economy and Prime Minister Gordon Brown says we should not have any savage cuts this year because that could put the country back into recession and he thinks that, of course, would be very damaging. Labor has said there would be about $22 billion in efficiency savings. Of course the electorate always looks at efficiency savings and says, well, if you think you can promise to do that now, why don't you do it anyway, when its not an election year?

But let's look at the Conservative Party. Very different here. They say for every 4 pounds they would cut from the budget they would only raise around 1 pound in taxes. It is not that they say that, that is actually how the consensus of what would come out of this. But they are looking at immediate cuts to any-huge parts of the budget, because they think, the Conservatives, that they have to tackle this right now. They want to tackle it earlier than you would see from Labour. But there would be tax cuts as well. They would reverse one of the proposed job tax rises that Labour has actually said they would put into place.

Liberal Democrats, we wouldn't have talked to much about them until a few weeks ago, but now very serious player if there would be a coalition government of any sort. Slightly different. For every 3 pounds they would cut from the budget they would raise taxes on about 2 pounds worth. But they too want to delay cuts. Again, Liberal Democrats, saying it would be madness for Conservatives to cut the budget this year, because they want to delay it a little bit. Still with the idea, though, they would have the budget deficit within decent shape between 2015 to 2016. But unlike the other parties, the Liberal Democrats have said what they would cut. Some of the things, there would be a big slash to some big military spending targets and projects, and some big IT projects.

QUEST: Aye, Jim. Hang on, Jim. Let's just talk about-am I right? And following off of what governor of the Bank of England said about, you know, any government is going to-

BOULDEN: It's coming.

QUEST: Is going to be.

BOULDEN: Yeah.

QUEST: Am I right, that ultimately whoever does win, it is going to be-there are going to have to be some serious cuts?

BOULDEN: Serious, savage cuts. And where do you always go when your government, public spending, public sector, that why the unions here are worried. That is why people in schools are worried. Because they know they have to cut these budgets. It is a matter of timing and how quickly can they do it. Why is the U.K. different from Greece? Big economy, got a lot of exports. They have a growing economy this year. So, these parties differ in they say how big and how bad those cuts have to be.

QUEST: All right. Many thanks, Jim. And the camera had a funny- a bit of an odd wobble. Which, of course, is probably exactly what will happen when all those budget cuts come along.

The real recovery in a moment. The recovery (AUDIO GAP). Not my words but the words of India's captains of industry. In a moment we'll hear from the chairman of Whipro, Azim Premji will join us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, this is CNN.

All right, 8.2 percent, this is how much India's economy is expected to grow this year. The numbers are from the latest survey of economists by the Reserve Bank of India. It is the kind of growth that developed economies can only dream about, but it is not all good news. The specter of inflation is raising it's head and the central bank has raised interest rates twice since mid-March to keep a lid on the way things are developing.

Earlier I spoke to the head of Whipro, one of the companies spearheading India's rapid growth in IT and computer services. Whipro is now a conglomerate around the globe. It knows exactly what is happening in different markets, across many continents. I asked the chief exec Azim Premji about the outlook for the tech sector.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AZIM PREMJI, CHAIRMAN, WIPRO: I think fundamentally we are seeing major revival taking place. Even though the budgets for IT software may not go up substantially this year as compared to last year, I think the budgets will be spent. And that is a fundamental difference. There is a mood now, of more confidence. There is a general feeling among virtually all industry leaders who we meet, across the globe, that their organizations are much stronger, much leaner, much more productive today. And a strong feeling that the worst is over and that the revival is real.

QUEST: So, how do you square that circle with what we hear from economists who say that growth, particularly in Europe and in the United States is going to be sluggish and worse than we thought.

PREMJI: You know, our assessment is that the growth in the emerging countries is getting back to normal. Growth in the mid-way emerging countries, which are much more advanced, is getting back to normal. U.S.-our judgment is we'll see a 3 percent growth rate this year. And probably Europe will trail with 1 or 1.5 percent. But you know, w are not one correlated with growth so far as industry is concerned. We are correlated with spender budgets. And that mood is much stronger today than we have seen, even just three months.

QUEST: If there is one issue on your agenda, that you are most concerned about at the moment, what would it be?

PREMJI: What we'd be most concerned about is because unemployment levels are very high across the world. The priority of virtually every government in the developed nations across the world is employment. In the process of trying to generate employment they should not reverse the process of liberalization, particularly, on services, and getting to restrictions on movement of people, which are completely unreasonable.

There can be more regulations. There can be more disciplines. But free trade is just as important in services as it is in products. And the emerging world has a significant competitive advantage in services. Because of talent, because of technology, because of science labor, one should not reverse the value the developed world is getting out of it. And the wealth it is generating in emerging countries has become (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in developing countries.

QUEST: The QUEST MEANS BUSINESS traffic lights. Red, amber or green, as you look at your business and the economies that you are dealing with, which would it be? Are you prepared to come up with the amber?

PREMJI: We'll come up with the green.

QUEST: It's green? Because you are pretty optimistic?

PREMJI: Yes, and we are seeing what is happening in the marketplace.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: The green traffic light, and who knows how many more we'll get in the weeks ahead. The CEO of Whipro.

You could call it a beer-o-meter for the U.K. election, or a swig- o-meter, who will be calling time on their political notes come Friday. We'll have a look at the alternative election indicators.

And here's the funny thing. So far they've been quite accurate, at least in the past.

(DESK BELL CHIMES)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: So, Britain goes to the polls and if you are in the U.K. you might think you have heard about as much campaigning as you can swallow. We think we have found something that could tempt you, whatever your tastes. Because there are a variety of ways in which you can gain an opinion poll on that the politicians are likely to say, do and wait.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST, (on camera): There are 650 seats in the British parliament. And until we get the results of the vote on Thursday night, well, any indicator can help give a glimpse into what might happen. So, we have been looking up the markets, the media, the bookies, even the swig-o-meter.

(Voice over): Meanwhile, across the country Brits have been giving us their gut reaction.

But at this supermarket, they have introduced party colored cupcakes to bring a little sweetness to the debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In third place, it's Labour. Second place, it is the Conservatives, (AUDIO GAP) poll is the Liberal Democrats.

QUEST: Down at the Arch Hotel, in London, it is a battle of the eclairs, the party leaders are just the icing on the cake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the winner of the election eclair poll is, the Liberal Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

QUEST: At Ben & Jerry's your political party can be mould breaking, incredibly cool, or endanger of a meltdown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Currently British flavor fans are voting Cameron Chew-Chew at number one with 27 percent. Cheesecake Clegg at 26 percent, neck in neck. And Gordon Fudge Brownie is unfortunately last at present, with 12 percent, behind the Green Party and Fairly Nuts Monster Raving Loonies.

QUEST: So, to our final indicator, the Swig-O-Meter. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pulling the pints has been used as a way of polling the punters.

So the winner of the next vote is a resounding victory for the Tories. Second place goes to Lib-Dems, Labour bringing up the rear.

QUEST: So, according to our election indicators, the Conservatives are set to be the biggest party, but it might still end up all hung over.

(On camera): In the end, these barometers are just a big of fun, testing which way the wind is blowing-and perhaps, giving us an idea of what the new parliament will look like. Richard Quest, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: And we will have tried many more ways to do this. But tomorrow, of course, is the only vote that matters. The weather forecast now, and Lola Martinez at the World Weather Center.

(WEATHER REPORT)

QUEST: Finally, tonight's "Profitable Moment". With less than 12 hours before voting begins in Britain, this has been an election like no other that I've seen here in the U.K. Whether it was the closest in the polls, the third party split, or those TV debates, it is hard to say.

It will be a different election also for another reason, because when the voting is finished and the winner is declared, the very nasty business of tax rises and spending cuts comes to the fore. The governor of the Bank of England alleged to have said, whoever wins, will loose the next election and be out of office for a generation, because of the severity of the spending cuts necessary.

The economists are pretty much in agreement. The country is a long way off the Greek standards of despair, but tomorrow Britain goes to the polls, knowing whatever happens, the outcome, economically will be grim.

And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, I'm Richard Quest in London. Whatever you are up to in the hours ahead, I do hope it is profitable. "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is next.

END