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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Obama Lays A Wreath At Ground Zero In New York; Game-Changing Chip; Password Protection; Green Light for Glencore; Striking Gold; Bailout Negotiations

Aired May 5, 2011 - 14:00:00   ET

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


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Good evening.

It was an afternoon of quiet remembrance as the U.S. president joined the families of those killed in 9/11 to pay tribute. The event came almost four days after the announcement that the man behind the attack, Osama bin Laden, was killed. The political fallout of that is still unfolding. Tonight, we take you behind the security victory for the Obama administration to the mounting economic challenges that lie ahead.

From the site of ground zero, President Obama is heading back to Washington for what is likely to be an epic round of political deal making. Without an agreement America could be on the brink of going broke. Talks had just finished in Washington between Vice President Joe Biden and lawmakers from both sides of the political divide.

They discussed what it will take to get Congress to raise the debt ceiling above $14 trillion before the U.S. gets to a point where it can't pay interest on its mountain of debt. It will mean cutting spending over the long term, but Democrats and Republicans are sharply divided about where to make those cuts.

It is not an easy time to save money. The latest jobs numbers suggest that the economic recovery is still fragile. Let's take a look: 474,000 new initial jobless claims. So that was well above expectations. And traders in New York aren't happy, as you can see. We'll take you live to the New York Stock Exchange in a moment, but the Dow industrials are down a 0.5 a percent and the S&P 500 down a 0.34 percent, at 1342. Let's return to New York now where the president has been talking to families of the victims who died on 9/11. Fionnuala Sweeney is at ground zero and she joins me now.

Fionnuala, I know this is a very diverse view or set of viewpoints, internationally, vis-a-vis what was taking place on the ground, at ground zero. How did all this transpire, in your view?

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, New Yorkers are of one mind. Osama bin Laden's killing was a good thing. And there are many who would like to see those photographs published and believe there should be no holds barred.

President Obama is here, as we speak, for another hour or so. It was as low-key a visit as one could possibly make given the high security needed for a visit to New York by the president of United States. And he's now meeting victims' families, those who lost loved ones in 9/11.

Earlier he laid a wreath just behind me here at ground zero, but before that he went to a fireman's house. Many fireman, of course, more than 300 losing their lives on 9/11. And he made some remarks, John, basically about calling for unity, wanting first of all to thank the people who lost their lives and their families, but wanting to pay tribute to those people, but essentially calling for unity.

As you mentioned the political problems in Washington are something he is going to be going back to in less than an hour from now. For the moment they have been put aside, but it is difficult to see given the vitriolic and very polarized political dialogue in this country, whether or not that sense of unity that has been planned (ph), since killing of Osama bin Laden, will actually last. I don't know if the tone in Washington is actually going to change the long-term.

But for now, the day belongs to New York and to New Yorkers, as they pay tribute and remind us once again of what happened here almost 10 years ago.

DEFTERIOS: Fionnuala, it is interesting, I saw his comments at the firehouse, No. 54, where there were 15 members of that brigade lost. And he said, "When we say we will never forget, we mean we what we say." And this was pointed not only at 9/11 and Al Qaeda, but I would imagine pointed also to Mr. Gadhafi and Libya, as well. Did you get that interpretation?

SWEENEY: I think at the moment the focus is on here, in New York. And this is a president who has really placed himself at the heart of what he calls the respect or human dignity for mankind. And in a sense that is what he would be talking about, certainly with Colonel Gadhafi. This is a man who has rapidly becoming known for his foreign policy in the United States, as the "consequentialist", in that he is leading a country that is now retreating, wants not so much to become isolationist, but believes that it has enough problems here at home that need to be dealt with.

Afghanistan, they are still involved in, Iraq, it is an inconclusive result when it comes really, to American's need for absolute winners of results. And also, I think that he is finding himself dealing with each country as it comes. But let's take a listen to what it was he had to say when he was at that firehouse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What happened on Sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home. That when we say we would never forget, we mean what we say. And our commitment to making sure that justice was done is something that transcends politics, transcends party, it didn't matter which administration was in. It didn't matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act-that they received justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SWEENEY: Those remarks very much in keeping with the mood of New Yorkers on this day, John.

DEFTERIOS: OK, Fionnuala Sweeney there at ground zero, there in New York.

Well, Fionnuala made reference to the budget talks that are taking place in Washington. U.S. debt is more than twice what it was back in 2001. Here is the public debt as of Tuesday night, $14.2 trillion and counting. If you include debt that isn't subject to the statutory limit, it is actually even higher, believe it or not. Here is the debt ceiling. You can see that last number was touching distance (ph) at the current pace we likely to hit the limit on May 16. This is all the U.S. can borrow for now, before it has to start dipping into other funds.

Treasury secretary says the U.S. can manage until August 2nd before it must either borrow above the limit, or basically default. A new poll shows that support is growing for Mr. Obama's budget plans in the U.S., but voters still aren't happy about raising the debt ceiling. Dana Bash joins me now from Capitol Hill, in Washington.

This meeting just broke up, Dana. And we didn't expect a huge result, but are we getting a sense of the tone and the closing the gap at this stage?

DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems from all accounts that it was definitely a positive first meeting. And I know that this shouldn't be news. That adults, that senior members of the government can sit down at a table, even though they are from opposing parties, and actually get along and have a civil discussion. But that is what happened and it actually is news in Washington these days, that that can happen.

We are told from the House Republican leader, and also from Democrats who were there, that it was something that really was positive and that both sides definitely laid out their positions, from the Republican point of view we have seen the House Republican budget which includes a lot of cuts to spending and also dealing with entitlements, as well. And on the Democratic side we heard the president give a speech last month laying out what he wants to do long term, in order to bring down the deficit, to cut back on government spending.

You are right, this was just an opening bid, opening gamut. They are going to have plenty of other meetings. And the next one will be on Tuesday.

You mentioned those dates. Certainly May 16th is upon us very soon. But the fact that the Treasury secretary says that he can now move around money until August 2nd, certainly gives this group of lawmakers, and members of the administration, some breathing room.

DEFTERIOS: Dana, just a quick question, on the numbers, where we stand today. The Republicans are looking at $5 trillion of cuts, over 10 years. The president says $4 trillion of cuts over a dozen years, and maybe a $1 trillion in taxes. Isn't that the real point, right here? One's going to raise taxes and the other one is not? And that is the debate stretched out well beyond the election year of 2012?

BASH: Oh, yeah. I mean, that has been historically the debate between democrats and Republicans in the United States. One says that we should-that they believe philosophically the Republicans who favor lower taxes, because they think that will lower the economy. And Democrats say, well look where lowering taxes got us during the Bush years. It certainly didn't help the economy from their perspective at all.

The Republicans coming out of this meeting made clear that that was the one thing that they laid out on the table. We are not going to raise taxes in any way, shape, or form, as part of these discussions. You know, unclear how much Democrats got into that. But we know the president's position now is that after 2012 he wants effectively the tax rates to go up from the Bush years.

DEFTERIOS: Yes, very quickly, we have about 10 seconds. A big bump in the polls, sustainable bump in the polls, for President Obama?

BASH: We'll see, because this bump is effectively about foreign policy, and right now the issue and the issue going forward, ultimately, will be about the economy. One interesting thing is that of the debt ceiling, when people were asked about whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, 60 percent said no. That is very significant. That is why they are having these bipartisan talks and why Democrats are agreeing to sit down and talk about spending cuts. Because they know that it is just not tolerable for the American people, at this point in time, to say, yes, they will raise the debt ceiling. Allow the U.S. government to borrow more money without dealing with spending cuts and reigning in government spending, in general.

DEFTERIOS: OK, thanks very much. Dana Bash, down on Capitol Hill, after the break up of those budget talks at Blair House, across the street from the White House.

Well, for now, traders, as Dana was just talking about are focusing on jobs and the economy as are the voters. There is a major report due out tomorrow and the market doesn't look full of confidence just yet. Let's check in with Alison Kosik. She is at the New York Stock Exchange.

The jobless claims are pretty shocking and we have a lot of tension leading up to the big jobs report.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: We do. And as far as the debt ceiling goes, it is really not the main thing that is moving the markets today. But it really is a concern here on Wall Street. It really is, ever present on investors minds. You know, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said that missing any obligated payments would be catastrophic for Americans. And traders behind me really want it sorted out as quickly as possible. Some saying, though, they don't want to see any strings attached, if the debt ceiling is raised.

In the meantime, as you said, we are seeing stocks lower right now. They are trading off their lows, though, we are beginning to hear that old adage, "sell in May and go away." Traders are beginning to think it could be the end of a recent run up. A very bearish tone on the floor right now, seeing a lot of caution, very low volume. And here, in light of concern about this disconnect happening between what the market is doing and how people on Main Street are doing. So, you combine that with the end of QE2, just around he corner, you know that old adage may hold true this year, John.

DEFTERIOS: Yes, do you-what is the prognosis for jobs in terms of the report, after what we have seen on the jobless claims. There is a discussion over here, at least, about structural change that the economy just cannot create the pace of jobs that the president is looking for.

KOSIK: And that is really the big worry, John, that is here on Wall Street. You know this jobs number that came in today with claims surging by 43,000. We are really getting over the $400,000 mark at this point. That is a huge concern here on Wall Street. It came as a big surprise. You know economists were expecting a sizable drop. Especially after claims had been trending lower over the past year. These claims really need to remain below that 400,000 level for an extended period to show that we're seeing any job creation.

And this report, along with the ADP report yesterday, and the ISM data, showing that the service sector is slowing; especially since it accounts for 80 percent of the jobs here in the U.S. These kinds of reports that we have been getting are really worrying Wall Street that we may not get a good number tomorrow for the big government jobs report, John.

DEFTERIOS: Yes, we'll get an update then. Alison Kosik is live at the New York Stock Exchange.

Well, we are going to turn our attention back to Europe. Portugal's $116-billion bailout is no magic bullet. Next, we'll hear from the country's finance minister about the two-year struggle that is just ahead for the Portuguese people.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEFTERIOS: Portugal has agreed to the terms of this $116-billion bailout but its problems are far from over. The country's finance minister is warning it will suffer two years of deep recession as a result. Fernando Teixeira Dos Santos expects a 2 percent drop in GDP for this year, and next as well, with the recovery only starting in 2013.

The EU has described Portugal's bailout terms as quote/unquote, "severe" and not any easier than those given to Greece and Ireland. But those nations are looking to modify their bailout terms, saying the high interest rates are preventing their economies from getting back on track. Later in the program we'll hear from the Irish prime minister about his plans to renegotiate those rates.

Well, the IMF says the success of Portugal's economic program will require a truly national effort. I asked the country's finance minister, if Portugal is really ready for the challenge?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FERNANDO TEIXEIRA DOS SANTOS, FINANCE MINISTER, PORTUGAL: They are ready. They are expecting really for a package of this nature. And it is a definition moment, because we have a big challenge ahead. And this is a good opportunity for the country to resolve some structural problems.

DEFTERIOS: It sounds like an unrealistic hill to climb. A budget deficit of 8.6 percent, now to get it down to 5.9 percent, and then 3 percent by 2013, and a no growth scenario. It sounds almost impossible.

DOS SANTOS: Yes, but we have alleviated the targets because we were foreseeing, previously, that we would be reaching the 3 percent level by 2012. And so we have one more year to reach that target.

Also, we did a very thorough assessment of all the measures that we need to make this fiscal adjustment. And the conclusions of the technical work involving people from the IMF, the commission, and the ECB, is that we have enough measures. And to assure that the targets will be met despite the macroeconomic scenario.

DEFTERIOS: What can you tell us about interest rates? Greece borrowing around 4.2 percent, the Irish, at 5.8 percent; did you land right in between?

DOS SANTOS: You know, at this moment it is somewhat early to tell about the exact figures. Because as you know we have some kind of formula to calculate the interest rate and that formula will depend on market conditions when the ESFS and the ESFM go to the market to get the funds, to provide us. So, there is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in which we base calculation of interest rates. But at this moment we can't tell, because we have to wait for the appropriate moment.

DEFTERIOS: It is quite fascinating. The Finnish people could scupper this by mid-May, before we have the big meeting to sign this off. Do you see that happening?

DOS SANTOS: No, I know well, the new prime minister. He has been my colleague for the last years, and I know he is very sensitive to euro area issues and I count the Finnish support to our program. And I believe that measures we have in the program really meets their concerns.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DEFTERIOS: The Portuguese Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira Dos Santos speaking to me there, on the phone, about his latest package. No surprise here, Germany is the biggest contributor to the European bailout fund. Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is keeping a keen eye on Portugal's progress right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): We have, of course, followed the whole process but we aren't in a position yet to judge it. What is important from the German side, and I've just clarified this with the finance minister, is that expectations for its economic growth must be realistic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEFTERIOS: Angela Merkel, once again. Europe's central bank is keeping interest rates on hold. No surprise this month. Policymakers decided to keep the benchmark refinancing rate a 1.25 percent after raising it a quarter point last month. ECB president Jean Claude Trichet says with rising prices that move last month was correct.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEAN-CLAUDE TRICHET, PRESIDENT, ECB: We continue to see upward pressure on overall inflation, mainly owing to energy and commodity prices. While the monetary analysis indicates that the underlying pace of monetary expansion is still moderate. Monetary liquidity remains ample and may facilitate the accommodation of price pressures. Furthermore, recent economic data confirm the positive underlying momentum of economic activity in the euro area, with uncertainty continuing to be elevated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEFTERIOS: Reading the tea leaves, there of the ECB president. The Bank of England also kept it key interest rate steady. It is the 27th month that it has been at a record of 0.5 percent. Expectations of a rate rise were dampened last week on the news that the U.K. economy grew just 0.5 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Valentijn Van Nieuwenhuijzen is chief economist at ING Investment Management. I asked him if we are likely to see another rate hike from the ECB this year, or perhaps many more?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VALENTIJN VAN NIEUWENHUIJZEN, CHIEF ECONOMIST, ING INVESTMENT: I think there is little doubt that they will raise rates. So, although, they signaled today that they will not raise them next month, already, it is pretty clear that they will raise rates, at least for another two times later this year.

DEFTERIOS: Why do you say that? Are they really just tracking German inflation, and German growth are the core and they are not so concerned about the periphery right now, in light of this Portuguese bailout and the Greek and Irish bailouts that we have seen?

VAN NIEUWENHUIJZEN: Well, I think they have been very explicit about this. I mean, Taoiseach again, in a Q&A today, pointed out that those concerns are not stopping him from focusing on inflationary risks that he clearly sees. HE is clearly worried over commodity prices, oil prices, creating second round effects and pushing inflation rates higher. So he will not be stopped by problems in the peripheral countries for raising rates.

DEFTERIOS: What do you make of this Portuguese package? Do you believe it can be sustained? Or are we going to come to 2013 when we have the new program in place and then stretch things out in terms of repayment terms?

VAN NIEUWENHUIJZEN: Well, I think it is still a real possibility, most notably for Greece, but also fir Portugal, that there will be maturity extensions. And it is going to be a big if, if indeed, you know the targets that they are setting right now with respect to reform, will be made. But if there is one country where I do see sort of lowing hanging fruit, it is Portugal. It is pretty plain vanilla, the type of reforms that they have to do. And if they follow the fruit, they are really pushing up the growth potential in their economy, and therefore, the optimism that markets will have surrounding that economy.

DEFTERIOS: Yes, I just don't know where the growth is going to come, Valentijn. That is the huge question. We have a contraction right now, but where is the growth going to come from?

VAN NIEUWENHUIJZEN: Well, I mean, even the IMF doesn't see any growth coming in the near term, this year, next and probably the year thereafter. But again the structural reforms, the flexiblization (sic) in the labor markets, the flexibilization (sic) in product in good markets, are really giving you and angle to create a stronger potential growth rate for the Portuguese economy, which is probably much more difficult for example, for the Irish Economy, which is already pretty flexible. So, I do think that the structural reform agenda in Portugal creates the option of significantly higher growth for Portugal in the medium to long-term.

DEFTERIOS: Final question here, Bank of England, can it afford to leave rates where they are right now? Sluggish growth of just around 2 percent. That is the game?

VAN NIEUWENHUIJZEN: Yes, well I mean, it is very tricky. But of course, I think for England it is now clearly becoming more visible that there is a negative impact on the growth dynamics on the back of all the tightening fiscal consolidation that his already ongoing. With that in mind it might be getting more difficult going forward for the Bank of England to tighten policy. But, you know, it is very tricky. We still foresee some hikes by the Bank of England as well. But the recent cyclical dynamics are putting a question mark whether that will be in the summer already.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DEFTERIOS: OK, the interview there from The Hague.

Just a reminder that we are going to have the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, talking about his plans to restructure interest rates for Ireland's debt in the second half of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, tonight.

Let's size up the markets today. European stocks closed mainly lower this Thursday. Banking shares showed the biggest losses. Lloyd's was down 8 percent and held that loss throughout the session. Swung to a first quarter loss. Societe Generale, down 5 percent; profits missed expectations there. Commodity shares also lower as oil and metal prices fall. And Adidas (ph) helped the DAX into the black, as you can see. Shares were up 7.25 percent on strong earnings.

Well, General Motors is back in the fast lane. Next on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS we'll look at what is behind its best quarter in 11 years.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEFTERIOS: America's top three automakers are cruising along to the road to recovery. General Motors is the latest to come out with a strong set of results, putting all of the Big Three firmly in the black for the first time in 7 years. Remember the crisis around 2008 where it got the worst. It is an amazing turn around for the auto giants, which just two years ago looked in danger of driving into the abyss.

Let's go to the library walls, as Richard likes to call it. Take a closer look at the numbers. Not too bad here. We have a profit in Q1 of $3.2 billion for General Motors in the first quarter. Up from $865 million last year. Let's move along. Biggest quarterly profits since the year 2000; 2.2 million vehicles were sold globally for the group. Revenue was up, not bad, up at 15 percent. And despite a strong outlook for 2011, it sounds like investors are looking for a little bit more. The stock trading now at $32.25, the stock is down about 2.25 for the day.

Let's head over here and bring in Poppy Harlow, who has been following the moves of General Motors.

This is quite extraordinary because of where we were during the banking crisis and whether Ford could come out, whether Chrysler could come out, and now, GM proving that, in fact, they can turn it around. What do you think?

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Absolutely. I mean, I would say what a difference 11 years can make. Because, John, that is how long it has been since we've seen numbers like this out of GM. It has been since the year 2000.

You look at that top-line number in terms of their profit, $3.2 billion is that number. About half of that, though, when you dig into the numbers was actually due to the sale of their interests in Delphi. But still, if you exclude that they had a $1.7 billion profit. They still beat Wall Street expectations. They were successful at trimming some of their losses. They have been experiencing year over year in Europe. They say they are going to break even in Europe this year. But a big focus was the strength of General Motors here in the United States.

I want you to look at these numbers. And what they are going to show you is GM sales in the U.S. from a year ago through this past quarter. Look, Chevy sales up 23 percent. Cadillac sales up 41 percent, the same story with Buick, GMC up 32 percent.

Now, when you talk about GM you can't disregard the importance of China. China is critical for GM. For five straight quarters sales in China have beat sales in the United States. And if you take a look at the numbers of vehicles, right there, over 600,000 GM vehicles sold in China. And they are very, very bullish on what China is going to mean for this company in the long term. I spoke with the CEO of GM just a few weeks ago, here in New York. What he told me, John, is he expects the Chinese economy to continue to grow at a very fast clip, about 9 to 10 percent for the next few years and here is how he thinks GM is going to benefit as a result. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN AKERSON, CEO, GENERAL MOTORS: We are on a sort of growth rate that we could double production and double sales over the next four to five years.

HARLOW (on camera): I wonder, how long term your bullish on China, right? You look at China as a massive country. But only 5 percent of the people there own cars?

AKERSON: China, as we all know, is spending tremendous amounts of money on infrastructure, roads, and parking garages, things of that nature. We are very bullish on China. But, you know, we have moved into India as well. We have a number of plants in India. This is a growth area and one we intend to play in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: One GM intends to play in, indeed. They are making a lot of money in China. We'll tell you that when we look at the numbers that just came out today from General Motors, John, they said that their market share increased in every single country where they sell cars around the globe, except for in South America. So, a huge turn around for General Motors, John.

DEFTERIOS: OK, Toyota has had some tough times as we know. What does GM say about knocking on Toyota's door, or nipping at the heels of Toyota right now?

HARLOW: Right. That is the question. Can GM take over the top spot that it used to hold, that Toyota now holds, when you look at global sales? Experts tell me it is a possibility, yes, the Japan disaster, the nuclear disaster there, the tsunami and the earthquake have really, really hurt Toyota's ability to produce cars. It has cut their supply chain. It has hurt them a lot. It has affected GM a little bit, but what their CEO also told me is that they have been able to sustain the blow. They haven't had any supply disruptions. At the same time, there is a lot else that is holding GM back. It is a company that makes a lot more money on its trucks and SUVs, John. Those margins are smaller now, with these gas prices.

And it's also a company that is still owned, in part, by U.S. taxpayers and the United Autoworkers. They've got a long way to go to pay back taxpayers before they start thinking about taking over that top spot -- John.

DEFTERIOS: Well, yes, the taxpayer payments.

We'll have to leave it there.

HARLOW: Don't forget about that one.

DEFTERIOS: But thanks for reminding us. I was going to say, especially during the debt talks right now.

Poppy Harlow joins us from New York on the outlook for General Motors.

We're currently seeing some sharp falls in oil prices. NYMEX crude has fallen below $100 a barrel as of a few minutes ago. It's currently off by more than 8 percent.

Meanwhile, Brent is also down by around 7.5 percent.

We'll continue to monitor those prices throughout the program.

They're invisible to the naked eye and potentially worth billions of dollars.

Could this be the future microchip technology?

Intel seems to think -- think so. We'll ask if they're right, when QUEST MEANS BUSINESS continues.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEFTERIOS:

Hello, I'm Richard Quest, DEFTERIOS MEANS BUSINESS.

This is CNN. And here, whatever the day, we always have the news first.

Welcome back.

I'm John Defterios.

And here are the headlines at the bottom of the half hour.

U.S. President Barack Obama will be leaving New York soon after spending the day there to mark the death of Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden. He laid a wreath at Ground Zero in the September 11th attacks and visited a Manhattan firehouse that lost 15 men in the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers.

Mr. Obama also met with 9/11 survivors and family members of the victims. The president ordered a pre-dawn strike in Pakistan Monday that killed bin Laden. He says the operation proves the U.S. will never fail to bring terrorists to justice no how -- no matter how long it takes.

Some much needed cash is on its way to rebel forces in Libya. At a meeting in Rome, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised to unlock some of the $30 billion in seized Libyan state funds to help forces engaged in a bloody civil war with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Emergency aid is being offered by other allied nations, including Qatar, which was at the meeting today.

Syrian state TV says security forces have started pulling out of the city of Daraa, but the activist group Avaz (ph) says the remaining armored units still pose a threat to anti-government demonstrators.

Amnesty International says more than 500 people have been killed in clashes in Daraa over the past several weeks.

Intel is calling it a microchip revolution. These are the company's new 3D transistors. Intel says that it's a breakthrough that will make everything from Smartphones to microwaves run faster, cheaper and more efficiently.

Kristie Lu Stout explains how they work and what it means for the world of technology these days.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Intel says this is one of the most significant breakthroughs in chip design, the 3D transistor. And the chip giant is hoping the new design will help them make faster chips, but also make an impact on the phone and tablet markets.

Now, the transistor is a basic building block behind every electronic device, including computer processers, like this Pentium 4. But chip makers keep trying to make transistors smaller and smaller because the smaller they are, the more they can pack onto a chip.

Now, there are 125 million transistors in this chip that I'm holding.

So why not just make the chips bigger?

That would mean more power consumption and more heat. Smaller chips are more energy efficient, and, therefore, more suitable for laptops as well as phones and tablets, two of the fastest growing sectors of electronics but two areas where Intel has virtually no presence.

So how does the new transistor work? Well, imagine this model is the original transistor design and the screen part here can only interact with the blue gate on one side. What Intel did was to make them vertical just like this. And it can now interact with the blue gate in three different sides.

Now, that is one breakthrough. The other is just how small the new transistors are. They measure 22 nanometers across. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.

And remember this blue gate right here?

Intel says you could fit 4,000 of them across the width of a human hair.

Now, the transistors are so small, they can easily fit through the filter of this surgical mask. Intel says chips using 3D transistors should appear by the end of the year.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

DEFTERIOS: Pretty amazing stuff.

And what does it really mean?

Let's welcome in Jason Tanz.

He's at the New York bureau for us.

He's the senior editor at "Wired" magazine.

You heard the explanations there by my colleague, Kristie Lu Stout.

What do you think of this?

Intel was kind of nudging against a wall here, because they didn't think they had more capacity to build and voila, a new breakthrough, it seems.

JASON TANZ, SENIOR EDITOR, "WIRED" MAGAZINE: Yes, it's interesting. You know, people are always wondering about the end of Moore's Law. Moore's Law says that every 18 months or so, the -- the power of semiconductors will double. And there's been a real engine for the entire technology industry.

And every couple of years, you hear, oh, is this the end?

We were running into the actual physical limitations of -- of semiconductors. It seemed they couldn't shrink anymore.

So with this breakthrough, Intel seems to have -- to have opened up the possibility that, yes, Moore's Law still stands, we're going to keep cranking out ever more powerful chips and devices will keep shrinking and everything that we've seen so far will -- will continue.

And we saw some of the demand for Smartphones dropping a little bit here.

It's going to revitalize sales of Smartphones, iPads and the rest because of the speed it will provide and the thinness of the device?

TANZ: Yes, well, what we've seen is that -- that the laptop and the desktop are sort of losing their primacy to mobile computing platforms like phones and like tablets.

At the same time, you know, you can't really do everything that you want on a tablet that you can on a laptop. This is going to further blend that distinction. So you're going to be able to do more and more kinds of high powered tasks that you used to need a laptop or a desktop for, you're going to be able to do that stuff right on your tablet or even on a Smartphone now.

DEFTERIOS: OK. A key question here for Intel, AMD, what do they have vis-a-vis what Intel is talking about in terms of getting to the market first and then capturing that market share, which is, of course, the most vital question.

TANZ: Yes, it is a good question. At the same time, Intel has been working on this for about a decade or so. So I don't know, I haven't looked at what kind of patents they have. But I imagine they're going to have a good head start. This does seem to be a geometric leap.

So whatever AMD is working on and whatever Apple is working on with their chip design, obviously, they're working very closely with manufacturers. It may be a little bit of time before Intel makes that kind of penetration. But they're going to have at least a couple of years head start on the kind of breakthrough technology that they've just unleashed.

DEFTERIOS: And two years in this business is a long, long time, right?

TANZ: Absolutely.

DEFTERIOS: Jason Tanz of "Wired" magazine joining me from New York City.

Well, elsewhere in the tech world, the online hacktivist group, Anonymous, has issued a press denial that it was involved in the theft of PlayStation users' data. Investigators found a digital calling card bearing the group's hallmarks embedded in Sony's servers. According to the company's president of computer entertainment, Kazuha Harai (ph), he suggested to the U.S. Congress that Anonymous' attacks helped facilitate the data theft.

At the time of the initial breach, Anonymous posted a blog titled, "For Once, We Didn't Do It." Now, the group has responded to the fresh allegations. A press release now says: "Anonymous has never been known to engage in credit card theft. Whoever did perform the theft did so contrary to the MO (ph) and intentions of Anonymous. We are trying to fight criminal activities by corporations and governments, not steal credit cards.

Whoever was responsible, 100 million Sony customers were told to change their passwords.

So what makes for a password that cannot be hacked?

Ayesha Durgahee took some lessons on how to choose the safest password of all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRAHAM CLULEY, SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CONSULTANT, SOPHOS: Welcome to Password Plus.

I'm going to tell you all about passwords and how to make your passwords more secure.

AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So then what's a good password and what's a really bad password?

CLULEY: A good password is one which is hard to crack, one you wouldn't find in a dictionary. A bad password is a word like password or "let me in" or the name of your favorite football club. Those are rubbish. The hackers know how to crack those. They know them as commonly used passwords.

So you need a password which is easy for you to remember, but hard for the hackers to crack.

So I'm going to show you how to do it. And I'm going to show you how to do it by first of all telling you my password, which is this -- f@wl2hh@a4d, ok?

Easy to remember, right?

DURGAHEE: I would never remember that.

CLULEY: Well, I'm going to show you how I came up with it.

Here is a sentence which I've made up. Fred and Wilma like to have ham and eggs for dinner. And what I've done is I've taken the first letter of each word. So F-A-W-L-T-H-H-A-E-F- D. I've changed the As, the ands, to ampersands and I changed the four to the number four. In that way, I end up with Fred and Wilma like to have ham and eggs for dinner.

That's my password. Really, really hard for the hackers to crack but easy for you to remember.

Unfortunately, you need a different one of these for every Web site you access. Now that's where it gets tricky, right, to remember them all. Normally, the way in which a hacker will try and break into your password is they will use what we call a dictionary attack. So they have dictionaries of every word in the English language and they will run your account against those -- all those words. And if you've used a dictionary word like password or tablecloth or who knows what -- the name of your cat -- then maybe they'll be able to get into your account.

Because of that, there are programs out there on the Internet, there are free programs out there which will manage all of these passwords, remember them for you and you just remember one master password.

There are programs like, for instance, KeePass, which does this, which runs on PCs -- Windows PCs. For Macs, there's another one called Last Pass (ph). And there's one for the Mac called One Password (ph), all of which offer you this kind of functionality and can remember it.

DURGAHEE: What are your top three tips on creating passwords?

CLULEY: My tips are these. You should never use a dictionary word for your password. It always should be a made-up word, preferably with some numbers and weird characters in it, as well.

Secondly, you should use a different password for every Web site which you access, because if you get hacked in one place, you don't want that, then, being used as a skeleton key to hack everywhere else.

And, finally, you need to keep your computer updated with security software. There's so much malicious software out there like viruses and Trojans designed to steal your information. You need that line of defense, too.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

DEFTERIOS: OK. Ayesha Durgahee getting a lesson on the -- the very complicated but secure passwords of the future.

Well, it's about to make a lot of people very rich, indeed. After the break, we'll explain why investors already can't get any more of Glencore.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEFTERIOS: Well, we're still a few weeks away from the biggest IPO of the year. But Glencore's stock market debut already looks like a resounding success.

Can we say that?

After just one day into the sales process, investors already have every single share covered. Not bad. We can call it now almost a $60 billion giant and it's got a whole floor of international investors behind it.

Jim Boulden joins me now.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does, indeed.

It's the latest sensation.

DEFTERIOS: You can't get enough of this, I think.

BOULDEN: You can't get enough of this. And you've got to remember, Glencore is a notoriously private, secretive company. But because of this IPO, it's having to tell us a lot more and we learn a lot more every day.

Let's go so -- through some of the numbers.

First, we -- obviously, we know that Glencore is a global operation. But now we know it has more than 57,000 employees in more than 40 countries. A lot of this has been through acquisitions over the last couple of years.

Now, what does Glencore do?

Of course it isn't just what we'd call a mining company. It has also logistics, financing, supply chains. But look at what it controls. It controls the global market share of cobalt, for instance, 23 percent; nickel, 14 percent; even oil, 3 percent controlled by this huge company that's based, oddly, in Switzerland.

But we'll -- that's for another day.

Now, who's going to get rich out of this?

This is the CEO Ivan Glasenberg. Now, he is going to be worth something close to $10 billion once this IPO goes to the market. But he's not the only one, of course, who's going to do very well out of this. We do know that some 485 partners will be turned into multi-millionaires and the average payout for this, for the partners, right here, look at that -- $100 million -- John.

DEFTERIOS: Not bad. I saw one of the names of the billionaires is a Greek. I was going to call him to see if he was one of my cousins.

(LAUGHTER)

DEFTERIOS: I see Abu Dhabi and Singapore, sovereign funds didn't want to let this pass them by.

BOULDEN: Yes, absolutely. We know that Abu Dhabi, the Aabar Investment Company, close to a billion dollars, $850 million investment will be what they call a cornerstone investment, which means that there will be a foundation, they can't sell their shares for six months or so. Then they're going to go on the market for another $150 million.

Also, Singapore, the state government's sovereign wealth fund, a $400 million investment into Glencore. They don't want to miss out on commodities. That's what their -- their thing is.

DEFTERIOS: Yes, the big question is where -- whether we're at the peak or not, if it's going to go out anyway.

Jim Boulden there following Glencore.

Well, as Glencore prepares to strike gold, the miner Randgold is already counting its riches. Profits more than doubled in the first quarter. Prices might be tumbling at the moment, but they're still well above this time last year. And it's those record prices that helped Randgold rake in more than $1 million in the first three months of this year.

I asked the chief executive, Mark Bristow, about the latest results.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK BRISTOW, CEO, RANDGOLD RESOURCES: We set out to build this company as a profitable gold business some 15 years ago when gold was down at $300 an ounce. And what we are reaping now is the benefits of our expiration success in the early 2000s, back into the 1990s.

DEFTERIOS: Some would say the Democratic Republic of Congo is a risky place to -- to do business, but you're not having problems there nor in Senegal?

BRISTOW: No, I think the -- the whole business philosophy that we have is if you're going to go and exploit national assets in Africa, you really need to ensure that all stakeholders benefit. So there's two ways to do business. You go and do deals with individuals and -- that are in high places or you invest in countries and include the economies and local businessmen. That's our best insurance.

And there's no better example than how we managed the Cote d'Ivoire situation over the last five months compared to the rest of the industry. We -- we kept on budget. We surprised the market today with a very stellar set of results.

DEFTERIOS: You are budgeting now at, what, $800 an ounce in terms of your planning...

BRISTOW: Yes.

DEFTERIOS: -- you can't plan for $1,400 or $1,500 an ounce...

BRISTOW: Right.

DEFTERIOS: -- just like the oil business can't plan for $120.

But do we stay in these sort of stratospheric territory?

BRISTOW: Yes, I think there is a lot of upward pressure on the gold price. One is because the gold industry is a very unique industry and it tends to just follow the price. It doesn't have a fundamental business philosophy. And that's why we went in and said look, there's an industry that values you at a lot higher than your real MPV, a big premium.

So if you keep all the business focused on profitability, you offer shareholders two things -- the play on the gold price, which is the sentiment play, plus a real fundamental profitable business.

And that's what we've set out to do. And I've, you know, certainly if you -- if you look, we plot our share price over five years, 10 years, whatever. We're way ahead of everyone else because the market -- it rewards you for that.

DEFTERIOS: And a final question, though. The tightening in India and China in terms of interest rates, this won't dampen the price severely in the second half of this year?

BRISTOW: No, I think there's -- what drives the gold price is sentiment, which is, you know, at an all time low. And that's good for the gold price, if you look at the global economic situation.

But there's another driver in the gold price that we've never seen before and that is the emerging Asian economies. They're friendly toward gold. A lot of people with disposable income and they're buying gold. And they will continue to buy gold.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

DEFTERIOS: Once again, Mark Bristow, the chief executive of Randgold.

I talked to him afterwards. He said the stock is up better than 4300 percent in the last decade, since they've gone public.

What's driving oil prices today?

A stronger dollar, after all the activities we saw on the security front. It's the biggest decline in two years, a drop of 9 percent. New York NYMEX is trading at $99.33 a barrel. The dollar climbing for the second day in a row. That's the lowest price since mid-March.

Well, after weeks of what seemed like flawless weather across Western Europe, big changes are in the forecast for the weekend.

Let's check in with Pedram Javaheri -- he's at the CNN International Weather Center, for an update -- Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, John, you know, all good things have to come to an end. And unfortunately, they're going to see that across much of Western Europe at least the next 24 to 48 hours.

And let's draw your attention to this feature right here, that linear feature?

That's a front beginning to push in. No circulation. That's a storm system and the immediate impact around Ireland, parts of the U.K., the western areas of France and also Portugal on into areas of Spain going to see some rain showers and perhaps some severe weather associated with this, as well.

Here, we're dealing with some of this -- who's that?

That's the prime minister. The British prime minister, David Cameron, walking down the streets of London after casting a vote for the alternative vote referendum there today.

And, yes, rain showers even for him, as he was walking out there. Someone give this man an umbrella. Maybe he doesn't like that.

But, you know, we're going to get some showers that are going to continue over this part of the world. And as this storm begins to move in, I think, really, the main area of concern right down here, areas around Portugal, around, say, Lisbon, working your way toward Madrid. A severe threat possible now on into Friday. Even Western France not out of the question here. There's about a 5 percent chance for some severe storms, a few areas of wind gusts where you can see, also, excessively large hail stones associated with some of these storms as -- storms, and also, around the Bay of Biscay, an isolated tornado, perhaps a water spout possible right around the western areas of France. And terrorism instability in the atmosphere. And once you get to this time of year, those temperatures begin warming up and if you put it together, it's certainly going to cause a few issues out there.

And as far as travel delays, yes, a few afternoon showers around London, around, say, the Heathrow area that could impact some of the flights out there. Paris looks good at this point. The farther east you travel, the better shape you're in, as high pressure sits in control. But even around Dublin, too, breezy conditions in the afternoon hours, John. And then by the evening, begin to see a few rain showers move in.

So an unsettled weekend certainly on tap her the next couple of days across the UK.

DEFTERIOS: OK, Pedram.

Thanks very much.

Well, that's the weather forecast for Dublin.

Coming up next, Ireland says the terms of its bailout are cramping its style.

We'll hear from the country's prime minister of what he plans to do about it with the European Commission.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEFTERIOS: Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is pushing for better terms on Ireland's bailout.

I spoke to him a short while ago and asked him what will be agreed in the new framework for Ireland.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ENDA KENNY, IRISH PRIME MINISTER: At recently, you know, the heads of government in Brussels, it was agreed in principle that countries within the bailout package of the IMF-EU deal could have a reduction of interest rate applied to them. That would normally be about 100 basis points and 1 percent.

The stress tests of the Irish banks have not been completed. So the heads of government agreed to devolve that negotiation, apparently, to the ministers of finance.

As the Portuguese deal has been concluded, we don't know all of the details yet. Those details will have to emerge because that deal will have to have unanimous support at the meeting of the minsters of finance on the 16th and 17th of May.

Ireland will continue to pursue its case for an interest rate reduction which has been agreed in principle and I assume we will get that in due course.

DEFTERIOS: Do you think you'll get it done before that meeting in mid-May, that you can seal this deal?

KENNY: No, it may not happen before then, John. It might -- it might run through to -- to later on in the year. We're not due to -- to play a serious amount of interest until October and November.

But there is a negotiation period and time opportunity we have to deal with this.

DEFTERIOS: And if I can follow up here, there's two stages. You have 2011, 2012 and then a new regime, as you know, that comes into play at 2013.

Is it at that time that we restructure the maturities and stretch this debt out, that's the reality?

KENNY: Well, the EMS scheme will come in from 2014, which is designed to have sufficient capacity within it to cater for the difficulties of the circumstances that any individual country might have.

It's not so much, actually, the amount of money that's in it. It is the structure and how it will relate to the individual circumstances of any particular country.

So for those who say, well, we got a better deal than you, it's not about better deals, it is about does the scheme and the structure of the scheme fit the circumstances of the difficulties that the individual countries have?

Ireland got into difficulties because of reckless lending, because of a lack of proper supervision and regulation and because of inefficiencies in a number of areas. Yet our -- our exports are only (INAUDIBLE) for the last 21 months, projections are very strong and the inherent potential of our economy, in my -- in my view, will lead us to be able to meet our targets (INAUDIBLE) and play our part.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

DEFTERIOS: Once again, the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, joining me on the phone there from New York today.

Well, the ECB and the Bank of England did not move on interest rates, but oil prices are moving much lower, down 9 percent right now, trading at under $100 a barrel for the first time since mid-March, $99.33.

We see the dollar moving up 2 percent. There's that tight correlation, of course. The latest quote we have on dollar-euro is at $145.20. So a big move down in terms of oil prices. Also related to the security situation, perhaps the fallout after that.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for this evening.

I'm John Defterios in London in for Richard.

"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" is just ahead after a check of the headlines.

END