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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Galleon Group On Trial: Biggest Insider Trading Trial In A Generation Begins Today; Enslaved in India; China's Inflationary Pressures; Subway Beats Burgers; Managing Maternity Leave

Aired March 8, 2011 - 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 ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: The billionaire accused; tonight we go inside the biggest insider trading trial in a generation.

Whose fast food is growing faster? Subway overtakes McDonald's.

And those baby steps. Professional advice for mothers going back to work.

I'm Richard Quest. And at least for the next 60 minutes, I mean business.

Good evening.

In New York at the moment, they are picking the jury right now as the trail gets underway of a former hedge fund legend. The case is going to the very heart of one of Wall Street's biggest-ever insider trading probes. And it has cast the accused as the face of everything that is wrong with American finance.

Raj Rajaratnam is the former head of the Galleon Group hedge fund. He arrived at court a short while ago. Mr. Rajaratnam is accused of making $45 million out of tips, nods and winks from well-placed friends; 19 people have already admitted their involvement. Raj Rajaratnam says he's innocent of the accusations.

Maggie Lake is in a cold New York, standing outside the New York Federal Courthouse.

Maggie, this is-I mean, we are used to trails, but this is in a different league.

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is. And the thing, Richard, is that interestingly it is the same courthouse, if it looks a little bit familiar, the backdrop, where Bernard Madoff's trial took place. But in that case, of course, it was against an individual who orchestrated a Ponzi scheme, who orchestrated fraud. This is the about the system itself. The government says the culture of Wall Street is rampant with insider trading and that this is a system that is basically rigged against the individual investor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAKE (voice over): He may be the most feared man on Wall Street right now.

PREET BHARARA, U.S. ATTORNEY, MANHATTAN: Good afternoon, my name is Preet Bharara and-

LAKE: U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, has been on the job for only a year and a half. But that hasn't stopped him from taking aim at some of the most powerful people in finance.

Already his office has arrested a total of 46 suspects on criminal insider trading charges, of which 26 have plead guilty. Perhaps his biggest case to date involved Raj Rajaratnam, the founder of the now defunct hedge fund, Galleon Group, who prosecutors say pocketed $44 million from illegal insider trades.

New York based defense attorney, Ravi Batra, who knows Bharara and has followed his career says the U.S. attorney is just getting started.

RAVI BATRA, ATTORNEY: I see what he's done as nothing short of throwing a neutron bomb onto Wall Street. And you know neutron bombs leave institutions intact, but they get rid of people. This man can't be corrupted. He's not looking for a political advantage. He's not looking to become a judge. He's not looking to become mayor of New York City. He's not looking for the next stop.

LAKE: In a U.S. criminal case the burden of proof is high. Prosecutors must convince a jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But Bharara has potent tools in his arsenal as this trial begins.

(On camera): Hidden camera, GPS trackers, audio surveillance equipment. Tools that can be found in specialty spy stores like this have long been used by the government in criminal cases involving money laundering, organized crime, and narcotics. But experts say high tech surveillance, specifically wire taps, will be critical in the Galleon case.

(Voice over): Late last year a judge ruled that hours of wire tap conversations could be allowed into evidence at the Galleon trial. A major win for prosecutors who have seen high profile Wall Street cases fall apart in recent years.

JACOB FRENKEL, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Historically these cases have been extremely difficult to prove because there is no obligation of the accused to testify. The reason the prosecutors and the criminal investigators are using wire taps, high techniques, in pursuing insider trading is to be able to capture the words of the person that they want to accuse. And be able to put those communications, those words, into evidence.

LAKE: But in what would be a risky move "The Wall Street Journal" reports Raj Rajaratnam may take the stand and testify in his own defense. He has already plead not guilty to all 14 charges against him, claiming that trades in stocks like IBM, Google and Intel, were based on legitimate research and not insider information. As the trial date neared his lawyers blasted the Bharara team for generating, quote, "overwhelming publicity . that has seriously jeopardized Mr. Rajaratnam's ability to seat an impartial and unbiased jury."

And late last week reports said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has agreed to be a government witness. The battle lines are drawn and the stakes are high for both sides, as the curtain goes up on the Galleon trial.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAKE: Now, Richard, we are hearing this trial could last somewhere between six and eight weeks. Today, of course, is the first day and it has been all about jury selection, which will be critical.

QUEST: And the questions that the jury are being asked, Maggie? It is a peculiarity of the voir dire in the U.S. system that the jury can be very closely questioned, can't they?

LAKE: Yes, I mean, this is very important for the defense and the prosecution. They want to get people that they think will be susceptible to their argument. But both chances get -sides rather, get a chance to do it. And interesting, the questions are being asked, very much along that line. How do you feel about hedge funds? How do you feel about the economy? They are trying to figure out, especially the defense, whether the public anger over the financial crisis is going to spill over and make them impartial.

But I have to say, Richard, lawyers I talked to about that, and certainly the defense is worried about that. Lawyers I talked to say jurors take their responsibility very seriously. And if you look at the history of the government's cases against, say, the Bear Stearns hedge fund managers, Countrywide executives, they have not been able to get convictions, so that would argue that jurors are able to put their emotions aside and listen to the case at hand.

QUEST: And Maggie, it has been many years-I mean, there have been insider trading cases, but you have to go back to, I don't know, Bosky, Milken, for the really big fish.

LAKE: That's right. That's right and that is important, Richard, because the government has-I mean this goes to the argument that they have not been on the job. This has been going on and they have been turning a blind eye, whether it is because the lack of resources or because they just haven't wanted, politically, to go there. Preet Bharara says that game has changed.

QUEST: Maggie Lake, who is in New York, and will probably spend longer than is honest or decent outside that court over the next six to eight weeks. Maggie, keep warm.

And while consider this new case, that just started, let us look at some of the characters that we'll hear a lot about over the next few weeks. It is going to go on for some time, up to two months. So, join me in the library and we'll hear about that.

Now, you know about Raj Rajaratnam. We have already heard about him. He is one of the top 400 richest men in the United States. If convicted, who knows, 10, 15, 20 years in prison. He may-we don't know whether he is going to take the stand himself, in his own defense. His voice will of course will be heard in the court regardless of whether or not he's on the witness stand. And that is because of the decision by this man, the Judge Richard Holwell, he authorized the use of the phone tap evidence. His honor has a reputation, as one might expect for a senior federal judge in the New York court, of sticking to the letter of the law, and for integrity.

Now, if this man, Lloyd Blankfein, the chief exec of Goldman Sachs, turns up, well, he's a former Goldman board member, Roger Gupta is accused revealing $5 billion worth of the Buffet investment in Goldman. So now it is going to get really interesting as all these mega names in the Wall Street, saga, all come before the court and play their individual roles.

The New York market, and how it is trading; Dow is up one and-well, 125, just over 1 percent. Comfortably over 12,214, and largely it is because oil prices, which have eased off a bit on reports of what might happen with Colonel Gadhafi. Financial stocks were leading the gains, BOA, JP, AMEX, all of them were-are sharply higher in New York. Oils, oil drilling firms slide for the obvious reason; they are on the opposite side of that equation.

Now, you may know what 3G is when it refers to your mobile phone, but when the phrase 3G refers to global growth generator, our next guest says that will be the deciding factor of where global growth will be in the years ahead.

In a moment, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

European leaders will be discussing financial reform when they meet in an extraordinary meeting on Friday. And there are plenty of jitters bugging the European economy. If you come over to the library, back to the library, I'll show you exactly the sort of concerns that they've got at the moment. Now, the European markets, you've seen what is happening in New York. They were all ended, just barely positive. London hardly up at all, on the day; under 6,000, which is seen as a factor, as commodity concerns and what is happening in oil.

So really, Paris, which has seen some sharp falls, came back a little bit. Oil companies helped drag the FTSE down. Brent was off, down at $113. Now that dragged oil companies down, but that low a price is perceived to be better, of course, overall. Mining and gold companies also lost ground.

Interest rate worries are of concern. Look at what Axel Weber has been saying. He basically says, he won't correct, he refused to correct (AUDIO GAP) market expectations of multiple interest rates by the ECB. Now, we know the ECB is using "strong vigilance", as its key word. That means rates are up sooner rather than later, we believe

But Weber is saying rates at 1.75 by 2012. And rate rise worries- that's difficult to say-the British Chamber of Commerce has cut its growth forecast. The BCC in the U.K., still believes that growth will be about 1.4 percent. However, they do say, and they are very much against the potential for a BOE, bank rate rise. Which many people now believe will happen, perhaps as early as May.

Citigroup is making some bold predictions of its own about how quickly other economies will catch up with Europe. Its new report urges us to look beyond the usual dichotomy of developed versus developing countries. Apparently, these days, it is now all about emerging markets or individual countries. That is simply too simplistic. Get rid of it. Instead, we need to look at the three Gs, global growth generators. What they call 3G for short, individual regions, cities, industries, anything that can drive an economy forward. And one of the authors of that report is Willem Buiter, the chief economist at Citigroup.

Good morning-or good afternoon to you. Many thanks.

WILLEM BUITER, CHIEF ECONOMIST, CITIGROUP: Pleasure to be here.

QUEST: So, global growth generators? How do we use that in practical terms to understand where the engines of growth are?

BUITER: Well, first we recognize that most growth in the world, for the foreseeable future will be catch-up growth. Convergence to the front tier of best practice, right? The front tier itself moves, but very slowly and there is a large number of countries, an unprecedented large number of countries, that is ready to start converging fast.

QUEST: Which ones?

BUITER: Well, there are two in Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. And nine in Asia, India, China, Bangladesh, Iraq, Mongolia, Indonesia-

QUEST: Are you suggesting-

BUITER: Go ahead.

QUEST: Are you suggesting, are you offering this up, these 3Gs as sort of an esoteric academic suggestion?

BUITER: No.

QUEST: Or as a real investment strategy?

BUITER: This is a sound predictor, in my view, of where growth will be coming from, over the next 40 years.

QUEST: But that is more than just the emerging markets, isn't it? That we know and love? The BRICs, if you like?

BUITER: Quite a few of the emerging markets, are not in the 3G category, neither Russia nor Brazil make it. They are in our second division so to speak. It is countries that start off poor, start off young, right? And then satisfy the minimal degree of political stability, minimal degree of institutional development, and very importantly, have opened to the world. And have invited in trade and FDI (ph).

QUEST: Are they wild west mentality countries, that you need to watch your shirt?

BUITER: Some of them have these properties, but that has always been the case. The wild west, 100 years ago, was the United States.

QUEST: Let's talk about more pressing problems today. Because your report, you talked about the 40 years hence. Let's look 40 days hence, rate rises in Europe? Do you subscribe that "strong vigilance" has been used-game over?

BUITER: Yes, "strong vigilance" is high testosterone. It is going to happen. Right? And it will happen, probably next month, and we'll have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rate increase before the end of the year, in Euroland. Premature, in my view, but it will happen.

QUEST: Right. So do you believe that the rate rises in Euroland will choke off growth, but you do believe that rate rises in the U.K. are probably necessary?

BUITER: Rate rises will dampen growth. They won't murder it in Europe, but they will make it less bigger than it will otherwise be, and since I believe that in Euroland, as a whole, there still is excess capacity, this is premature. In the U.K., I don't believe there is access capacity remaining, despite the high unemployment. The survey data on capacity utilization (ph) shows there is any capacity left, and as a result the high inflation, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for 4 percent, needs to be tackled more decisively.

QUEST: Many thanks, indeed.

BUITER: Pleasure to be here.

QUEST: Now, when we come back in a moment, it's the big day, Sarah Curran, one of our bosses, finally takes her biggest challenge yet. The nerves are there. Find out if she manages to make the speech.

(DESK BELL CHIMES)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: In any of our careers there are days that, frankly, are simply more important than others. In our series, "The Boss," Sarah Curran is facing one those such days in her professional career. The future success of her company, My-Wardrobe.com is riding on her bold new plan, that she believes will take her company to the next level. It has taken months of planning and preparation to get to this point. And Sarah has had make some sacrifices, because after all, she is "The Boss".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Previously, on "The Boss": Sarah Curran let's her staff take the lead, for her, letting go was easier said than done.

SARAH CURRAN, FOUNDER, CEO, MY-WARDROBE.COM: I'm a bit of a control freak, but I left quite clear instructions, even down to the size of the canape.

Could you just put a bit on the inside?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After months of planning and preparation, the day has finally arrived. In less than three hours, Sarah Curran will be presenting the new redesigned My-Wardrobe.com to her guests; 250 of them, including heads of fashion houses, designers, and international media.

CURRAN: I know my lines by heart.

To see anything that is the stumbling block, it would be tension nerves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For Sarah, this is a major step.

CURRAN: Jumpsuit. Tan, I think we're done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a recognition of years of hard work. Naturally, she's feeling emotional.

CURRAN: OK.

You know, I've sacrificed a lot over the last five years. You know, we've made a lot of financial sacrifices, made a lot of sacrifices in my relationships, and within family, you know it has not always been easy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today it seems, those sacrifices, are paying off. Her web site attracts more than 1 million visitors each month. And her commitment remains undiminished.

CURRAN: From the launch I was always really, really ambitious for the brand, but probably actually quite naive in my ambition. Because had I realized how much sacrifice would have to go to where we are today.

Hey, Jay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As she prepares to introduce her new web site, she is confronted with her worse fear, public speaking.

CURRAN: Oh, I'm so nervous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She knows she'll have to overcome it if she is to make the right impression.

Sarah has reason to be nervous. After all, she has everything riding on this. For months Sarah and her team have worked tirelessly to get every detail right, together they changed the photography.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are using a lot of street-

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The editorial-

CURRAN: I think international-I think Salon is just-

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a bit too pretentious?

CURRAN: It is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And even contemplated changing the logo.

CURRAN: It is going to be a problem in the men's. I think it is way-that's too feminine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A move Sarah decided was too risky.

CURRAN: The thing with the logo is it actually, although I'm only five, it is actually really recognized, is what we found out. But either by bringing in the "Everyday Luxuries" strap underneath it, that in itself changes it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the champagne begins to flow and the room begins to fill up, nerves and excitement start to kick in.

CURRAN: I know my speech, inside out, you know, I have no exit (ph), so I just need to concentrate and focus on it.

Wow, I'm happy to see your faces, slightly daunting.

Customer insight showed us that the My-Wardrobe women has a need for luxury items but that fit within her everyday lifestyle.

The brands that she expected to see, but more importantly, that she's wanted to buy from My-Wardrobe, were also much higher. She is an incredibly busy woman, she shops in the seams (ph) of her life.

So all these point combined have lead to the new direction, that is "Everyday Luxury."

(MUSIC, SLIDE SHOW PLAYS)

CURRAN: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the hard part over, Sarah need a moment.

CURRAN: This is amazing, an amazing, amazing journey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To take it all in.

CURRAN: You have to constantly keep pushing yourself, but I also think it is really important to stop and, you know, appreciate the moment. I think tonight is definitely-

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take a breath.

CURRAN: Take a breath and appreciate the moment.

There are going to be loads of opportunities for us.

JEAN-MARC BOUHELIER, EXEC. CHAIRMAN, MY-WARDROBE.COM: One thing I say is she is really (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you know, the way it works you tell her something once, if she agrees with you, and she does not always, then you don't get to tell it the next day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, her job here is done. Tomorrow, new challenges await.

Next week, on "The Boss", Michael Wu's new venture in Mainland China. How the Maxim's boss hopes to make his Simply Life brands a hit, over the border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: "The Boss", and you just heard Sarah Curran made a lot of sacrifices to get where she is today and just one woman at the top looking to balance work and family life.

Today is International Women's Day and later in this program we'll have advice for those women, and those of you returning to work after maternity leave.

Now, also, in just half an hour, 35 minutes, call me liar for five, on CNN, the reaction to the continuing controversy surrounding the actor Charlie Sheen, TV personality, and of his better half, Sharon Osbourne weighs in on the latest developments. How one U.S. comedian copes with his particular addiction. That is "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT", 30 minutes from now, after QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

(DESK BELL CHIMES)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, this is CNN. And on this network the news always comes first.

(NEWSBREAK)

QUEST: Prices around the world are rising and we all know this, as many of us experience on a daily basis. There is one exception, and we make no apology, for bringing this rather brutal fact to you. While prices elsewhere maybe rising the price of a slave is less now than at any other time in history.

Two hundred years ago you would have needed the equivalent of $40,000 if you wanted to buy a man, woman, or child. Today, you can buy a human being for as little as $90. As part of our new year-long initiative CNN is shining a spotlight on this modern-day slavery.

We're calling it the "CNN Freedom Project". It is an initiative aimed at raising awareness about the issues and pushing for change. And here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, our focus is going to be how this trade in human beings has infiltrated the commercial, corporate and business world.

Tonight, we are in rural India where entire villages are enslaved by landowners, sometimes, for minor debts. Debts that were run up years ago. Our Correspondent is Sarah Sidner.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An army of brick makers heaving, stacking, balancing bricks and more bricks from sunup to sundown. But these laborers take home no wage. They are working off a debt.

They are bonded laborers, bound to those who gave them an advance or a loan. Human rights activists say the practice is legal and call them India's modern slaves.

"I cannot leave here unless I pay my debt." Durgawati tells me she has no idea when that will be.

(on camera): The workers here tell us, generally, here's how it works. The contractor shows up promising them work and giving them a little advance money. Then, they're tractored in from their far off villages to a place they've never been to and they're told when they get here that they have to work off their loan and they will not be paid any wages. They're also told they have to live here so the supervisors can keep an eye on them.

(voice-over): It isn't just the adults who are expected to work. Durgawati is a mother of three. Her eldest daughter should not be this skilled at brick making. She is only five years old.

Her mother says she took an advance of 1,000 rupees, the equivalent of about $22. She, her husband and her daughter have been working six days a week for two months now. She says no one has told her when the loan will be paid off.

Their small allowance is barely enough to feed the family. Still, they don't dare leave. "They will beat me if I try to leave," Durgawati says.

We want to ask the supervisor about what seems to be a violation of Indian labor law.

(on camera): Is the supervisor -- supervisor?

(voice-over): So when a supervisor shows up asking us to leave, we take our opportunity and he agrees to speak to us.

(on camera): Are they having to pay this loan off now?

(voice-over): "Yes, they have to work and repay the loan. They keep working," he says.

(on camera): Is this legal?

How is it legal?

(voice-over): "Yes, yes," he says. "We have an agreement."

(on camera): Why are children working here?

(voice-over): "Kids are working here for food. They need food. If they can't fill their stomachs, they need to work," he says, as he's pulled away. Perhaps he has said too much.

(on camera): I'm not going to pay you money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Money. Money.

SIDNER: Why? Why would I -- why would I pay you money, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, money. Money.

SIDNER: Why?

(voice-over): Though he won't pay the workers a wage, he has no problem asking us to pay him for the interview. We, of course, refuse and everyone goes back to making bricks. Some will stay trapped in debt.

SUPRIYA AWASTHI, FREE THE SLAVES: They remain in slavery forever.

SIDNER: Supriya Awasthi works for an international organization called Free the Slaves. She admits her organization's mission is ambitious.

(on camera): What's the most shocking thing that's happening here in this country?

AWASTHI: There are 27 million people around the world who are in slavery and the maximum number of people in slavery live in India.

SIDNER (voice-over): Just down the road, in the village of Dhomanpur we meet Kharban. "When my father was alive, he took an 8,000 rupee loan from the landowner. Since that time, I have to work day and night for him." His father's debt, the equivalent of $175, changed his life. Kharban says, "No matter who in your family borrowed money, their debt becomes your debt."

"Even when I'm hurt or sick, they call me to work," he says. "You won't believe how many atrocities I have to bear each day." Before he was injured on the job, he says he tried to escape several times, but they found him and brought him back from as far away as Mumbai.

It's true, there are no physical signs of what this place is about -- no chains, no fences and no armed guards. But these villagers say they are all slaves just the same.

(on camera): What will happen if you just take your family and leave and go somewhere else?

(voice-over): "If I don't work for them, they will beat me and abuse my daughter," she says. "If you don't give in, they'll sell your daughter and son."

Lalti borrowed money from a landowner to treat her husband's tuberculosis.

(on camera): How much do you owe?

(voice-over): "I am an illiterate, so how would I know how much we owe and what's left to pay?

I don't even know how much we had taken. It's been many years."

So she works. These villagers say they all do. There is nowhere to run to and no way to get there. None of them had any idea that Indian law outlawed this practice more than 30 years ago.

(on camera): What does freedom mean to you?

(voice-over): "The day I pay my debt, I will be free. We'll be prosperous," she says.

Now, Lalti's dream is to be able to work long enough so her children will be freed from the loan that binds her to this land and this life.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Uttar Pradesh, India.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: And here is what a government spokesman in India had to say about children who are forced to work to pay off their parents' debts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JANUARY 26)

RANVIJAY SINGH, INDIAN SUBDIVISIONAL MAGISTRATE:

When India has three things, first of all, 100 percent education, when every parent will be empowered, he will understand the value of his child.

Nation formation, nation-building, what is my child's value?

He will begin to understand and socio-economic development of every state of the society. Until India progresses in these three factors, we will just have to continue doing these rescues and they will just keep sending these kids to work. This is their compulsion. The most important thing for them is food.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Now, after we launched CNN Freedom Project, many of you wrote in asking how you could get involved. At CNN.com/freedom you will be able to find all the information you need to take a stand. There are more pieces like the one you've just seen from around the world, as we take a close look at modern slavery. CNN.com/freedom.

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, has made tackling inflation his government's top priority this year. HSBC says Beijing may well be overreacting. The bank's chief China economist will be here after the break.

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: China has made taming inflation its top priority this year. The Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, says: "much is needed, address the People's National Congress this weekend."

A report from HSBC says, well, frankly, don't panic. They point out, the HSBC report, that the oil price rise at the moment where -- indicates an average of $110 a barrel on WTI and adds roughly just a half a percentage point to headline consumer price inflation, CPI probably more in the RPI basis. But CPI .5 percent.

On the worries about a drought, they point to record high state reserves and -- from the affect.

And then they say only 26 percent of the country's wheat crop has been affected, whereas record reserves of 200 million tons, 40 percent of the annual consumption would cushion the blow.

But this, I think, is perhaps the core thing, wages, the correct -- the -- the possibility of wage inflation. Pointing out a pool of surplus rural labor, they say that labor income has risen 10 -- nearly 11 percent last year, but the pool of labor will keep it well contained.

Now, Qu Hongbin is the author of that report and the chief China economist at HSBC.

And Mr. Qu joins me now.

QU HONGBIN, CHIEF CHINA ECONOMIST, HSBC: A pleasure.

QUEST: Fascinating.

So you're basically saying, in many cases, that the rest of us, who get terribly excited at the Chinese mira -- economic miracle collapsing, not to worry?

HONGBIN: No. I think, basically, China -- yes, China gets the inflation problems. Even the prime minister says basically he thinks that China -- inflation is his top concern for the moment. But I think the inflation problem in China is still manageable. And on top of what you just discussed earlier, I think it is more important that they still have some useful policies toward to address the excess of growth in the credit...

QUEST: Right.

HONGBIN: -- which is looking a problem.

QUEST: Let's talk about inflation.

HONGBIN: Sure.

QUEST: But what are you forecasting inflation at?

HONGBIN: I think the inflation, in our view, is likely to continue to rise and that it will reach the peak of 6 to 6 -- around 5 to 6 percent by the middle of the year. And then it will start to basically slow down leading forward into the second half of the year. Of course, the precondition for that to happen is China still needs to tighten the policy in the next few months.

QUEST: So when you tighten or when -- I mean so far, the tightening has been done in a very esoteric way. It's been done on liquidity limits. It's been done on bank reserves.

HONGBIN: Yes.

QUEST: It hasn't really been done by clobbering over the head with a good thump of interest rate rises.

HONGBIN: No. I think of it as...

QUEST: Yes.

HONGBIN: Well, you are right. (INAUDIBLE) right. I think that this is the key difference. For China, I think the current -- the -- the major problem is excessive supply of liquidities. I think the quantity matures, which you just mentioned earlier, is going to be more effective than the rate hike in terms of addressing this -- this -- these problems.

QUEST: But that excess liquidity is inevitable as long as they have a current account and the trade surplus at the level at which they have and, fair be fair, the massaging of the currency.

HONGBIN: That's one -- that's just one many -- one of the many reasons for that. I think I would say, actually, this time around, the excessive liquidity is mainly caused but the fact that a massive stimulus package has been introduced during the course of the last two years as part of the...

QUEST: Right.

HONGBIN: -- to stimulate the economy. So that has been over done in terms of stimulating the economy. It's open to see -- for us to see the growth has, you know, has (INAUDIBLE) the recovery. But now, we -- they needed to -- to deal with the over hang of those kind of over stimulus policy. It's time for them to pay the -- pay the bill. So they need those now the unwinding (INAUDIBLE)...

QUEST: OK.

HONGBIN: -- excessive growth of liquidities.

QUEST: Which beautifully brings us full circle, that if there is a -- a tightening, a fiscal tightening or -- and a monetary tightening...

HONGBIN: Yes.

QUEST: -- if there is both and, at the same time, an inflationary spiral, why is China still the place where you should have a sizeable allocation of portfolio?

HONGBIN: I think basically that if you can look beyond for the next few months, if you like, basically, at the longer, into the second half of this year, if China is going to deliver this needed quantitative tightening on the credit front and also to introduce, in the supply side, measures to deal with the food price inflation, I think there's a pretty good chance that into the second half of this year, we're going to see a clear sense for inflation to ease gradually.

QUEST: And you're still forecasting growth of 9...

HONGBIN: Eight or 9 percent for the next couple of years, which, of course, is not 10 percent, but nevertheless, I think it's a pretty fierce some growth rate. Someone may call that a hard landing. I wouldn't call it.

QUEST: A soft landing?

HONGBIN: Yes.

QUEST: A sort of landing.

Many thanks, indeed, Mr. Qu.

HONGBIN: A pleasure.

QUEST: Many thanks, indeed.

Now, hard landings, soft landings, Jenny Harrison is at the World Weather Center with -- with what's landing?

JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, I'll tell you what, it can be a bumpy ride, actually, Richard, across the south of the U.S. over the next couple of days. There's a really severe line of thunderstorms already on their way. In fact, there's a watch in place right now into Louisiana. You can see all this has been streaming out of the South in the last few hours.

And this is what we're dealing with. As I say, it's thunderstorms that are really beginning to fire up. So there's one right now, for example, in place across into New Orleans. And, of course, today is the last day, it is Tuesday -- Fat Tuesday.

Here is a line of severe thunderstorms that will work their way across the Southeast as we go through the next couple of days. Heavy rain, of course, associated with this system all the way up into the Northeast. So already, there are numerous flood warnings and watches in place.

You can see how far they stretch. Once again, this is the Northeast. And just bear in mind that just a few days ago, this whole area was again under a flood watch and flood warnings because there's a very similar system and a lot of it, was, of course, snow that was coming in at the same time.

But as these storms continue to fire up on the South, it's that time of year, remember, we get ferocious storms for the next couple of months. Well, some of these wind gusts could be very, very strong. And there's always a threat of these tornadoes embedded in these thunderstorms.

But, also, to the west of there, across the northern areas of Mexico, New Mexico and much of Texas, there is a critical fire danger certainly for sort of the next 24 hours. It's very, very dry. And there will be some very strong winds coming in behind that front, too. They could be gusting to about 80 kilometers an hour.

And you can see how far that fire danger reaches. It does begin to ease off a little bit as we go into Wednesday in terms of sort of the critical side of it, because the winds will begin to ease. But, in fact, by about the middle of the week, it's going to be Northern Arizona and Mexico seeing the worst.

So here come that line of thunderstorms. And they really are going to really engulf much of the Southeast and then that rain pushing all the way up, as I say, into the Eastern Seaboard.

So as we continue through Tuesday, the delays are already sort of set as we go later into today into the overnight hours, we've got just about everything. We've got some low clouds, poor visibility, we've got heavy rain, thunderstorms.

And then we head to Europe. And, really, here, the main story is continuing to be the temperatures, well below average for this time of year. The wind is a big factor. Minus four in Belgrade right now. Just six degrees in Rome. And look at that, Athens, minus four.

And this is all really because of an area of low pressure which is continuing to stay across the Eastern Med, really cold air plummeting behind that and more snow across much of Turkey, as well. You can see it all just sitting here for the next couple of days. A little bit of snow across the central areas. Remember how cold it is.

And then out toward the northwest, the winds already on the increase. And, in fact, staying pretty strong for the next 48 hours.

And that's really where we're going to see the delays. They're going to be sort of mostly wind generated and also we could be seeing some snow into the southeast. So just be prepared for all of that.

This, of course, is taking place on Tuesday. And your temperatures on Wednesday and your temperatures on Wednesday double figures. Look at that -- 10 degrees in London, Richard. Nice sunshine. And you've got a few more days of that to come.

QUEST: Ah, excellent.

Now, Miss. Harrison, don't go away.

Miss. Harrison, are you more of a burger woman, a chicken woman or a Subway woman?

HARRISON: You know, what -- what if I'm none of the above?

I'm none of the above.

What do you think of that?

QUEST: Thank you, Miss. Harrison.

Keeping trim. Well, Jenny Harrison at the World Weather Center.

Now, she rightly makes the point, but I need you to look over here.

So burgers, over here, are no longer the king of the fast food chain. Subway says that it is now the world's largest restaurant chain after overtaking McDonald's in the number of stores. And as for KFC with its chicken, well, that's somewhere far behind.

Apparently, Subway has become number one thanks to smaller stores in more unusual locations. It's taken the Golden Arches' ground and the chicken doesn't stand a chance.

McDonald's is no slouch, though. Today it reported nearly 4 percent sales growth in February.

Back to the sub. I spoke to Subway's chief development officer a little earlier.

And I asked him, now that Subway has got more restaurants, surely the next goal is more cash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON FERTMAN, CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER, SUBWAY: The bottom line is we're -- we're not here to duke it out with McDonald's as to who's bigger and who's better. It's always a matter of working to be better. And for us, it's as we add more units, we also look to build the average unit buy- ins. We look to build the profitability. It's really the entire business that we're always trying to improve and make better.

So it's terrific that we have more stores, but we also want to keep growing the business.

QUEST: You're the chief development officer.

FERTMAN: That's correct.

QUEST: So tell me, what are you developing next?

Where are you going to develop?

Which continents, countries do you develop?

FERTMAN: I develop the world. That's what we do. We go -- we go all over the world. We have markets that we're looking at for future growth -- China, Brazil, Russia, where we're seeing some very, very strong numbers coming out. And we're still continuing to grow in the U.S., which is where we started way back in 1965.

QUEST: So as you have gone around the world in your developing capacity, what have you discovered works in some places and, more importantly, doesn't work in other places?

FERTMAN: What doesn't work is trying to second guess the concept. When we go into brand new markets, there's always the idea that, oh, gee, we have to change this and make it right for this particular market. And what we've discovered is that if we try to change the formula too much, if we try to make it too Asian centric or European centric, then we lose the magic of Subway. It's delivering a great sandwich at a great value with great service that makes us what we are. And that's what we try to duplicate.

When we try to change that, we find that it's a mistake.

QUEST: And, finally, are, you don't have McDonald's in your sights, but you are now the poster child, the poster boy for the largest fast food company in the world. Now everyone's got you in their sights.

FERTMAN: Uh-oh. And that's -- that's OK, because if we can live up to that expectation, if we can continue doing what we do and delivering the right product at the right price with the right quality to all the customers that are demanding this product and that continues to grow every day, then we have no worries, as we say. We just have to keep on top of our game.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: The only question is, I think, which one is going to taste best stone cold?

We will have -- I suppose it really depends how long the day is and if -- if large quantities of alcohol have been consumed in the process.

Anyway, there you are.

And today is International Women's Day. And we are asking the question almost every working woman needs to know -- how do you juggle your job with having your children?

One woman says she has the solution.

Does she really?

We'll find out what that might be, in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: One of the most fundamental problems women face is managing their career and starting a family. Getting maternity leave is one problem. Well, so much for that. The law often deals with that for you. But knowing what to do when you come back to work is perhaps a bigger issue.

The consultation group, First 100, has this advice to women returning from maternity leave. They say, firstly, there is no time or place for guilt. As soon as you step back into the office, you're no longer a full- time mom. But when you're at home with your kids, you can't be chained to your BlackBerry.

So do -- if you're at work, do your work. If you're at home, be a mom. From then on, you've got to be the competent leader you were before the -- well, the maternity leave. And bear in mind that a whole lot might have changed while you've been away. So preparation is everything -- prepare for that change.

Niamh O'Keefe is the founder and managing director of First 100 and joins me now.

This is one of the most fascinating and difficult -- I mean, you know, women have been having children since time began and we're still battling with this leave.

NIAMH O'KEEFE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, FIRST 100: Well, that's right. And the first thing that women have to recognize is that it is a transition back into work. So my company is called First 100. And we have senior female leaders return and see that transition as a 100 day process.

QUEST: What's the biggest mistake?

All right, I'm a man you're -- I mean shoot me down. I can hear some of you say what do I know about this?

But what is the first and biggest mistake that women make when they come back to work? O'KEEFE: I think it's about preparation. I think the biggest issue women have is a confidence dip because they have been out of the workforce. They come back and everything has, potentially, changed, because it may have been six or 12 months since they were there.

QUEST: So what about this guilt, because I know -- and I've got sisters who -- who, you know, went back to work. This guilt aspect, they feel they're letting the child down, the baby down? O'KEEFE: Right. But there is this well known concept now and it's something, though, that I have to educate my clients on, which is about emotional intelligence. And this has been around in regards to leadership skills for a while, which is whether E.Q. is as important as I.Q. And in the context of guilt, it's about mastering that emotion and overcoming it.

QUEST: So how -- how does -- how does a mother feel, you know, the BlackBerry goes off and they're serving dinner.

Do they take the BlackBerry call and look at the e-mails?

O'KEEFE: I mean it might be a different solution for every individual woman. But it is about discipline and self-management and self-regulation. So it is about having a sense of being organized and having a plan.

QUEST: But, Niamh, I can hear women out there say, oh, it's all right for her. I mean wait, whoa, whoa, she hasn't got four kids, three, divorced and -- and a mortgage to pay.

(LAUGHTER)

QUEST: But you know what I'm saying.

O'KEEFE: I do (INAUDIBLE)...

QUEST: People will say the reality is different from the theoretical.

O'KEEFE: That's right. And that's why, you know, let's let each other off the hook about it and give ourselves 100 days to get this transition right. So let's plan in advance, create a plan in terms of where you want to be at the end of the first 100 days of the new -- of the reentry to the workforce. And then actually ask for help and negotiate.

And one thing I'd like to say, Richard, is women are not powerless. Think about the -- think about the Davis Report. Think about the E.U. Commission. Think about the pressure now on employers to have women in their management teams.

QUEST: Right.

O'KEEFE: So having a woman return from maternity leave is something that everybody wants to get right.

QUEST: And, finally, what does the woman do who meets the disgruntled male colleagues who -- who -- who think, hang on, we -- we've kept this thing going while you've been off having children?

O'KEEFE: She should smile and say, "I'm back. Welcome me."

(LAUGHTER)

QUEST: Many thanks, indeed.

Many thanks, indeed.

Speaking of maternity leave and parenting, one of our Tweets from the Top is on precisely that subject. The author and philosopher, Alain de Botton, has Tweeted today, interestingly. Alain Botton -- Alain de Botton says: "At every new stage of parenting, the worries of the previous stage appear madly exaggerated."

You could say that perhaps about every aspect of working life.

The next Tweet from Alvaro Rodriguez, the managing partner at a Mexican venture capital firm. He says: "What is scarcer in Mexico, talent or capital? As long as there's a bigger shortage of capital, then talent making progress will be difficult."

Finally, the inside scoop from the foreign minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt -- Carl Bildt, who Tweets seemingly incessantly. He talked with the French foreign minister, Juppe, on options in Libya: "A need for new E.U. policies toward the region. We have the same approach."

It would be interesting if he actually Tweeted that they didn't have the same approach.

Our Tweets from the Top.

When we come back in a moment, A Profitable Moment. And it's back to this thorny issue of women, maternity leave and the workplace.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Tonight's Profitable Moment.

The challenge of women returning to work still bedevils the workplace. Women feel they lose out. All right, let me say it and be blunt -- men feel resentful that we've shouldered the burden throughout the maternity leave and the women come waltzing back in again.

What's needed here is an accommodation, both sexes' points of view. And, of course, it's a herculean task for H.R. and for management.

It's tempting to say what right?

What do men have to say on this subject anyway?

But the mere fact that this question is asked shows the trickiness of the situation. We all have to get on, cooperate, work side-by-side. And if either side feels bad about it, that's not a recipe for harmony.

There are women who haven't had children. There are men. There are women who have come back from maternity leave. All have to cooperate. It might not be popular to admit publicly, the facts on the ground mean it takes a bit of give and take on all sides. Neither can believe they have the only point of view.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight.

I'm Richard Quest in London.

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

"PIERS MORGAN" is after the news headlines.

END