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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

President Obama Hits Road to Sell Jobs Creation Plan; Merkel Hints at Greek Default

Aired September 13, 2011 - 14:00   ET

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


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Job and a half, U.S. President Obama hits the road to sell his plan.

In Germany, Merkel hints of talk of a Greek default.

And the boss of Mercedes tells us that emerging markets are providing the engine of growth.

Hello, I'm Nina Dos Santos in for Richard Quest. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening.

Faced with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, Barack Obama is counting on public backing for his $447 billion jobs plan. He has been hitting the road to try and drum up support. Tuesday's first stop is the battleground state of Ohio, which is home to the Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Our very own Dan Lothian is traveling with the president and he now joins us live from the state capital of Columbus.

Dan, it's going to be a pretty tough sell this one, isn't it?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really is because there is so much concern about how to pay for all of this. And the president also has to kind of show Americans and Congress that these proposals, that are now part of a bill, will in fact create jobs. And so what we are seeing from the White House is an unprecedented hard push to sell this.

As you pointed out, the president immediately, after unveiling this plan last Thursday, hit the road on Friday, going to Richmond, Virginia. Virginia, of course, being a key election state, a battleground state. Today the president in Speaker John Boehner's home state, in Columbus, Ohio; tomorrow he heads to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

Why is he here today? Well, the last two days the president has been speaking broadly about all the aspects of the jobs bill. Today he's drilling down, specifically focusing on education. He is here at this high school. That is wrapping up a multi-million dollar rehab. And the White House believes that this is a good example of other projects that could take place at some 35,000 public schools across the country. Jobs could be created not only through doing some of the infrastructure work, but also as part of his bill, they could rehire teachers. How much will all of this cost? Well, $25 billion from the president's plan will go toward the public school rehabs. About $5 billion for community colleges and then $30 billion for rehiring some of the teachers, Nina.

DOS SANTOS: Is there a sense, then, that his is going to be an all- or-nothing plan? Or is there room for some maneuver here?

LOTHIAN: You know that is a very good question, because from the very beginning the president was saying that this should be something that Congress should take up in a comprehensive way. And that they should do it quickly. But the White House, and the president himself, have been dialing that back a bit. Saying that if Congress is willing to take up aspects of this bill and pass them, the president would not veto them, but would push Congress very hard to take up other portions of it.

I mean, clearly there is a sense of urgency at the White House that this needs to get done now, because the unemployment numbers are still high. They need to be able to bring that down, and despite everything that has been done up to this point, they have not been able to do that. So there is this sense of urgency. And that is why they want as much of this to be taken up by Congress, but clearly a willingness to take up whatever Congress does send to them.

DOS SANTOS: OK, Dan Lothian, there, joining us from the state capital, Columbus. Many thanks for that.

Well, President Obama's job plan was the key punching bag at Monday night's debate featuring Republican Party presidential candidates. They argued that the $447 billion proposal would be funded by tax increases and in the end fail to create jobs. Two of the candidates at the debate, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry outlined their own ideas on job creation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK PERRY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president does not understand how to free up the small businessmen and women, or for that matter, Wall Street. You give people the opportunity to risk their capital by lowering the tax burden on them, by lowering the regulatory climate, and you will see an American economy that takes off like a rocket ship.

MICHELE BACHMANN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president wanted to borrow money from countries like China, to pay it back, for a stimulus. We have $1.2 trillion already that has been earned by American countries (sic) overseas. If we have a zero percent tax rate, Wolf, we can bring that $1.2 trillion, that is called repatriation, bring that in, you would have $1.2 trillion flooded into the system. Then pass the free trade agreements so that we can move the economy, permanently lower the tax code. I'm a federal tax lawyer, I know how to do that. Repeal Dodd-Frank. Repeal Obamacare. It really isn't that tough if you try.

(APPLAUSE)

It is easy to turn around this economy, just have the backbone to do it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS: Speaking of Rick Perry he has stormed ahead of fellow presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the recent opinion polls. The two remain frontrunners for the Republican nomination. Maggie Lake had a chance to sit down with a top economic official in the Romney camp, and she joins me now, live, from New York.

Maggie, the economy really has been front and center in these presidential debates. Who has most to offer? And what do economists make about it?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Nina, it is extraordinary, because we have go these very serious problems, not only of jobs, or what to do about the budget deficit, happening against a backdrop of such a bitterly divided political system right now, and a very contentious election.

I did get to sit down with Glenn Hubbard, one of Romney's top economic men, to find out what they thought was the best way forward.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAKE (voice over): Republican presidential hopefuls had harsh words for President Obama's handling of the economy.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The world has changed. What is happened over the last 20, 30 years is we have gone from a payphone world to a smart phone world. And President Obama keeps jamming quarters into the payphone thinking things are going to get better. It is not connected, Mr. President.

LAKE: One of Mitt Romney's economic advisors is Glenn Hubbard, dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, and former head of the Council of Economic Advisors, under George W. Bush. Hubbard says Obama's serial stimulus packages are not doing much to get the country back on a growth path.

GLENN HUBBARD, ROMNEY ECONOMIC ADVISOR: What we need to do is have an economy that strengthens the role of two things, business investment, and trade and exports. That kind of pivot is going to require a different kind of tax policy, a different kind of regulatory policy, and we need to get the size of government in check, particularly entitlement programs.

LAKE: The Republicans continue to insist that you cannot-that you can balance the budget and not touch taxes. Taxes are off the table. Is it realistic to think you can have real budget reform, deficit reduction without talking about some sort of increase in taxes?

HUBBARD: Well, it depends on the answer to one other really important question, which is how big should government be? And what do you want it to do? If you are conception of government is a safety net system, plus national defense, education, innovation support, we don't need to raise taxes to support a government that big. If you really want a very large welfare state, with a very big Social Security program and Medicare program, yes, you will have to raise taxes. Either way, we need a conversation about tax reform.

LAKE: When people say smaller government, a more targeted government, Republicans have been saying that for a long time. And it seems that when people sort of roll out the fact check, that the government grows and it is bigger not matter who is in charge. Is that a real conversation about the size of government?

HUBBARD: The question is, what do you want for? Right now the American people are looking at a menu with lots of great entrees, but no prices. And so the question is, if you want a very large welfare state government, we as a country will have to pay for it.

LAKE: Health care, you are talking about?

HUBBARD: Health care is most of it. The Medicare program is probably most of our long-term fiscal issues. And if we want to pay for it, it can't just be by raising taxes on the well-to-do, there is just not enough money there.

LAKE: What do you say to voters who say that Washington is broken? Is it beyond repair? There is one thing when there is political debate, when there is discussion and disagreement. There is another when it is dysfunction. Are we at that point where it is dysfunctional?

HUBBARD: We should be at the point where all of us, as voters, and citizens, should be upset. We should not have observed, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, what we went through. We have real long-term issues facing the country. We need to change the level of discourse. And we are up to it. This country has come together so many times, on big economic policy issues, and we can do it again. But it does require leadership.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAKE: Now, I asked Hubbard if he thought that Romney's background, Wall Street background would hurt him. Remember, there is still a very sort of fervent anti-rich, anti-banker sentiment in this country. And Romney established, founded a private equity firm, Bain Capital. He said that he spun it differently, saying that he is actually run real companies, and that it is one thing to have good public policy ideas, it is quite another to execute them. To get things done. And he believed Romney was the guy for that.

And, Nina, you could see the influence of the Tea Party. Whenever you talked to somebody Romney considered to have the best shot, perhaps, in a general election, and be a bit more to the center than some of his fellow Tea Party candidates, no one can talk about tax increases right now, in the Republicans primary. They have to talk about tax reform. Very, very marked influence of the Tea Party in this process.

DOS SANTOS: Very sensitive topic indeed, Maggie Lake, great stuff. Many thanks for that.

Well, here in Europe we had a number of jitters surrounding the Greek- the potential default for Greece. That, as you can see, is also having its influence on the United States markets. Now, these markets have had quite a choppy session, as you can see. The Dow Jones industrial average up, but only modestly, only about a third of 1 percent, or 37 points at the moment, 11,099 is where we stand. Of course, if we just say-as Maggie, was just saying, the focus is on the economy; and, of course, Barack Obama taking his $447 billion jobs plan on the road now. But, of course, whatever is going on in Europe is affecting these markets as well.

And we have had a pretty choppy session, to say the least, over the last two days. None of the indices made up for their heavy losses on Monday. Banking shares-some of the indices made up for their heavy losses, but when it comes to the banking shares, in particular, those are the ones that were most effective yesterday. Remember that we had companies like Societe Generale and BNP Paribas down in excess of 11 and 12 percent. Banking shares underwent a major rally today as traders went on the hunt for a bargain or two. After taking quite a battering, these stocks, some people are saying are going cheap. Societe Generale, I was just telling you about, jumping 15 percent after that company's CEO told Bloomberg that the bank's exposure to European debt was actually manageable. And in Germany, Deutsche Bank rose by more than 8 percent.

Now, when it comes to RBS, in London, this is Royal Bank of Scotland, also Barclays another major British bank, those are some of the top performers on the FTSE 100, each gaining around about 5 percent. The indices ending the day up, broadly speaking, up in excess of 1 percent. But we have had these markets down to the tune of 2 or 3 or 4.5 percent just yesterday, as well.

While Europe is stuck in reverse gear, the Frankfurt Motor Show is instead powering ahead. We'll be asking the chiefs at Volvo and Mercedes how their concerns about the economy and what they think people should do about it, after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: Hello. Welcome back.

Well, the new models are coming in thick and fast out at the Frankfurt Motor Show. This is the Mercedes F125. It is a concept car designed to mix style with efficiency. The Daimler CEO and Mercedes chief Dieter Zetsche told Max Foster all about this particular vehicle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIETER ZETSCHE, CEO, DAIMLER : Well, it is not just a great looking car, but it has some really revolutionary technologies. It is the combination of fuel cell and battery, which in combination can give this vehicle 1,000 kilometers of range without emissions. And that is absolutely (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to take an F Class type of vehicle to the next century, if you want.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And at what point do you mass manufacture that? When will we see that on the roads as a regular sighting?

ZETSCHE: Well, this will happen within the next 20 years. So, it is the next generation of the F Class.

FOSTER: You are obviously dominant in the luxury sector if I can call it that. The luxury sectors generally seem to be doing quite well. Is that the same for the automotive sector as well? Are you perhaps benefiting because of the nature of your customer right now?

ZETSCHE: I mean, we are definitely finishing a record year, this year. The first eight months were great in all respects. And we basically have the orders already for the remainder of the year. So, yes, definitely we can be compared to the luxury industry, all together. And certainly benefiting from the strong in the luxury markets, among other things.

FOSTER: Can you help us understand that? Why is luxury outperforming other parts of the economy? Because, you know, economic problems in Europe, for example, affect everyone, even the rich.

ZETSCHE: Well, we see in the emerging markets that more and more vehicles-more and more people, tourists, come to a level where there is a kind of a middle class. And out of this middle class very (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there is the top group developing, which is capable and interested in consuming luxury goods. And that development in many of these countries where most luxury goods manufacturers are benefiting.

FOSTER: So, India, China, they are your big fast-growing markets, right?

ZETSCHE: Absolutely. And you can include countries like, Turkey, of course, Russia. Or for instance, Korea, it took us long to get to 1,000 units in there, now last year we came to 16,000 units.

FOSTER: It must be a great relief then, to have that sort of market, when your home market, Europe, is doing so terribly at the moment. It doesn't look as though the European economy is going to come out of that. As a European business leader, what are your thoughts on the way politicians are handling this crisis, right now, in Europe.

ZETSCHE: Well, obviously, the real economy is still doing good. Especially ones that export like the German ones, but of course, we have to recognize the growing tension on the financial markets, generated by the sovereign debt crisis, and we desperately need a clear direction by the politicians who can bring back some confidence into the financial markets. It is lasting too long to come to a consensus whether to the United States, or whether to Europe. And we hope that it will not last much longer, otherwise it will be difficult to keep the real economy not-influenced by these financial markets (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS: Well, the economic slow down is on the minds of every major car maker in Frankfurt right now. A little earlier on I got the chance to speak to the Volvo Cars President and CEO Stefan Jacoby. I asked him if his company was worried about the U.S. debt crisis?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEFAN JACOBY, PRESIDENT, CEO, VOLVO CARS: The message here is today, we cannot see any impact of the turbulances (ph), globally, at the dealerships, at the marketplaces, we remain carefully with our decisions but we remain, also, optimistic for the future.

DOS SANTOS: Then again, we some countries in the Eurozone, particularly Ireland, Portugal, Greece, that are heading back into a recession. The recovery is perilously at risk for the region. What are models indicating? And what are you pricing in as a worst-case-scenario?

JACOBY: Well, again, we don't see any impact yet. The Southern European countries are not as important for Volvo Cars as markets which remain very strong, like the Benelux countries, like the Nordic countries, like Germany. We have a very strong demand and we have filled order books as sell. So for the time being we don't have any indication that our sales are going down. We remain positive and we assume that with strong demand, also, in North America, and in China. We could continue to grow in 2011, and then in 2012, again.

DOS SANTOS: Now, you have said in the past that currencies are a major risk to your business, particularly the dollar, you are planning on trying to counter this by moving some of your manufacturing to the United States, building new plants there. But how worried are you about currencies, like for instance, the U.S. dollar and the euro?

JACOBY: Well, I tell you the currency is a challenge for Volvo Cars. We can manage to be profitable. We have now six consecutive quarters maintained into profitability, we are also generating positive cash. This is good news for Volvo Cars. And we intend to continue to be profitable and generating positive cash flow. But the currency is a problem, is a challenge for us, especially the volatility against the U.S. dollar, and in the long term, as you mentioned, we are looking for a natural hedging by having a manufacturing hub in North America.

DOS SANTOS: Now, we must talk about your motor vehicles. What are you showing at the Frankfurt Auto Show?

JACOBY: We unveil our new technology for the future. We have used the first year of independence to define our technology and new architecture and platform, where we can cover up to 80 percent of our entire volume range and segment range, with that we generate the right economics of sales. We will have up to 40 percent commonality among all these vehicles. And as a relatively small manufacturer, we can actually then generate the right scale of economics.

On top of that, we introduce, also here in Geneva, our new power train generation, which will bring us up to scale with all the demands we have with respect of fuel economy, Co2 objectives, globally. It is reducing us, only to four cylinders in the future. It is time now to stop counting cylinders. With our new power train generation we will be not only fuel efficient, but also offering very powerful, and a joy to drive power trains.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS: Combining public service with profitability. In this week's episode of "The Boss" we check in with two men who are helping their companies and communities through beer and volleyball. Our appointment with "The Boss" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: Benefactors and businessmen, we have met two bosses who have proven you can combine profits with public service. They contribute to their communities in different ways, but the outcome remains the same. Both get gains from their giving. It is time for this week's episode of "The Boss".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Previously on "The Boss": Leading by example. Francis Lui gives his managers room to breathe and room to lead.

FRANCIS, FOUNDER, CEO, GALAXY ENTERTAINMENT: At the end of the day it is the manager who is going to take charge and make all those tough decisions for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And in New York, delivering on a promise. Steve Hindy pays for 48 of his employees to holiday in Europe.

STEVE HINDY, CEO, BROOKLYN BREWERY: It had a great impact on morale and on enthusiasm for the company.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a stormy Tuesday in New York City, Brooklyn Brewery President Steve Hindy has arrived at the historic Brooklyn Academy of Music, better known as BAM. His meeting with BAM President Karen Brooks Hopkins and her team to finalize plans for a unique partnership between the two organizations. A beer called the BAM-Boozle.

HINDY: Well, the beer is in the tanks and should be ready in a couple of months. So we are excited about that. It is going to be a Belgium- style beer. It will be re-fermented in the bottle, 100 percent like champagne. And we added-we are buying honey from a beekeeper in Upstate New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve has created the BAM-boozle beer especially for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this fall.

KAREN BROOKS HOPKINS, PRESIDENT, BROOKLYN ACADEMY OF MUSIC: The Howard Gilman Opera House, it has 2,000 seats. It is one of the great historic theaters in the country. Every presidential candidate used to make big political speeches here, before there was television.

This is the picture of old theater, where they-

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The history of this place makes this project like no other. And Steve knows it. So he's doing what he has done on many occasions. Donating a portion of the proceeds to BAM for each case of beer sold. A win-win deal for BAM and for Brooklyn Brewery.

HINDY: Today's meeting is really kind of to sign the contract, that we arranged with BAM. You know, part of the proceeds from the sale of the beer will go to BAM. And they will be buying beer for their promotional purposes. So this is just kind of to seal the deal.

Good. Thanks.

HOPKINS: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve makes these collaborations a key part of his marketing strategy. With charitable donations comes valuable exposure.

HINDY: I looked at New York City. And it is a very noisy place. It is a very difficult place to get attention. So it seemed to me that rather than spending money on expensive advertising, which probably wouldn't have been that effective, because we didn't have that much money, that we should invest in the community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brooklyn Brewery donates about $200,000 in this way every year.

HINDY: It has enabled us to get a lot of attention for the company. Yes, we are doing good, but it is also good marketing for Brooklyn Brewery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over in Macao, Francis Lui, the vice chairman at Galaxy Entertainment Group is also reaching out to his local community. For the seventh year running, he is sponsoring the Volleyball World Grand Prix in Macao. But he doesn't see this as a business. There isn't any profit to be had here. In his eyes, this is about being socially responsible.

LUI: Galaxy is already one of the few big companies in Macao. And we feel that we have a big responsibility to make sure that we also contribute back to the society and community. And this is a small part of doing it.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE, ON SCREEN TRANSLATION)

In these last few years, the American team has got much better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As he watches the final between Brazil and the United States, Francis is all too aware of the importance of his sponsorship. He knows not everyone backs his industry. So he is trying to send a positive message to the local community.

LUI: While the gaming industry is not for everyone. And this is why we took it upon ourselves that we need to connect with the community, because without that-we need the citizens and families understand that a gaming company can also be a caring company.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By sponsoring this, and other events, like the city marathon, Francis believes he his helping to upgrade Macao's image. He is showing the world that there is more to this city than gaming. Perfect for a company that is counting on Macao's growth as a tourist and leisure destination.

LUI: Of course, I think too, this is really part of the agenda, to make sure that we diversify the economy. So that people have something more to do, something interesting to do. Something they want to belong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For Francis, this is his way of belonging. Showing the community his appreciation for what his company has become. And act of gratitude with an important personal side to it.

LUI: We want to be a good company. We want to go back and look at yourself in the mirror, that you have done the right thing. This is all about feeling good, giving back to the society.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next week, on "The Boss".

SARAH CURRAN, CEO, MYWARDROBE.COM: Work can be all consuming to me. To have that time away, to not be Sarah from MyWardrobe, just be Sarah and to be a mom, for me personally was what something I needed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah Curran, returns to work refreshed and refocused. That is next week, on "The Boss".

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS: It is Angela Merkel doesn't want her government to mention, the possibility of a Greek default. If the worst comes to the worst, we'll look at how it could actually happen. That is next here, on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: Welcome back. Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau figures that show a dramatic rise in the U.S. poverty rate. The senior vice president of marketing at Hotels.com discusses the 3 percent increase in the cost of a room in 2011.

I'm Nina dos Santos.

You're watching QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

And these are the new headlines.

Afghan officials say that three of the four gunmen involved in a high profile attack in Kabul have been killed. The attackers shot at the U.S. Embassy, NATO headquarters and Afghan intelligence offices for hours from a nearby building. Elsewhere, suicide bombers struck smaller targets. Officials say that four people were killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

In Argentina, at least nine people are dead after a train hit a bus, then derailed and was struck by another oncoming train. It happened at a rail crossing in Buenos Aires. More than 160 people were injured. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.

British lawmakers will recall the media executive, James Murdoch, to answer more questions about the massive phone hacking scandal in the United Kingdom. Lawyers for some of the hacking victims will testify, as well. A News Corp spokesman says that Murdoch is happy to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee once again.

A U.S. high court has shot down the age limits on pilots imposed by the German airline, Lufthansa. The court said that prohibiting pilots from flying after the age of 60 is discrimination. But it ruled that governments can impose certain restrictions on pilots in their 60s.

Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, is trying to stamp out any talk of a Greek default within her own government. On a Berlin radio station, Merkel, seen here on Monday with the French president, Nikolas Sarkozy, said that there's already enough uncertainty in the world's financial markets. Mrs. Merkel said that everyone should weigh their words very carefully as the future of the euro and Europe because it's both of those two issues that are currently at stake.

The chancellor's warning comes after leaders of other parties within her own coalition government openly speculated about the possibility of a Greek debt default.

On Monday, the economy minister in Germany, Phillip Roesler, told newspapers "an orderly insolvency cannot or should not be ruled out."

So, two years later and two bailouts on, the same questions, it seems, remain unanswered, namely, will Greece default?

And if it does, how will that actually play out in the markets and technically, how would it work?

Also, could this country decide to leave the Eurozone?

Well, Charles Proctor joins me now to discuss all these issues.

He's a London-based partner with the law firm, Edwards, Angell, Palmer & Dodge.

Good to see you, Charles.

CHARLES PROCTOR, INTERNATIONAL BANKING & FINANCE LAWYER: Good to see you.

DOS SANTOS: These are very complicated issues here. And investors admit to me that they're none the wiser on the legal technicalities. And let's start off with default first.

How could that legally play out?

PROCTOR: Well, I think the -- the statement of Mrs. Merkel against a disorderly default is very timely, because there is no legal structure in the treaties to cope with a default by a member state in the eurozone. And, and like so many things, it was not anticipated. It wasn't foreseen. So there's nothing actually in the treaties telling you where to go when the default occurs.

DOS SANTOS: So are you seeing that voluntarily, a country like Greece couldn't decide to leave legally even if it wanted to, and it couldn't be expelled by others, even if they wanted to expel it either?

PROCTOR: That's right. There's nothing in the treaty that allows member states to expel Greece, even though it may mean breach of default and deficit levels. Equally, there's nothing there that allows Greece itself voluntarily to decide it wants to leave. So any departure would have to be mutually negotiated on a clean sheet of paper.

DOS SANTOS: So that's for exiting the euro.

But we talk about default?

How could that actually play out for investors, because there are questions that remain unanswered, namely, we don't have to collectively band together to try and get their money back or would we have individual claims if we were to see a Greek default?

PROCTOR: Well, in -- in the past, sovereign defaults created serious problems because individual creditors could just decide they would go after assets of a sovereign debtor, even though other creditors wanted to negotiate a restructuring.

However, in the last decade or so, countries have started to negotiate collective action clauses, which means that individual creditors can't pull down -- pull down the ceiling. There has to be some degree of cooperation between the holders of bonds before any default can be declared.

DOS SANTOS: The ramifications of this could be extremely serious, couldn't they, Charles?

And also, what we've seen in the past is when we've had a nation default, vulture funds come in and start dictating the terms even though they got the debt on the cheap.

PROCTOR: Yes. I mean there would certainly be sellers of Greek debt at a very low price. And there may be people prepared to buy it at that price and then to pursue legal proceedings to try and recover that money.

They would, however, have to be very selective about the bonds they bought, because those who have collection action clauses would prevent individual vulture funds from taking that action.

DOS SANTOS: In a time when a country like say, for instance, Greece, were to default -- heaven forbid -- for getting your money back, how long would that take and how complicated a legal process is it?

PROCTOR: Well, in recent times, sovereign defaults have been handled by some form of bond or debt exchange, whereby holders of existing instruments are given new instruments, which push out the maturity date possibly for five, possibly for 10 years.

DOS SANTOS: And we've already seen that for Greece, with its elective default so far?

PROCTOR: Absolutely. And so you would probably see a similar sort of structure. I don't think there will be much interest amongst most creditors in pushing Greece into default. I think one of the important factors here is that a large part of the creditor base are the banks. And if they push Greece into default, then they would devalue their own assets and cause more difficulty for themselves in terms of capital adequacy and solvency ratios.

DOS SANTOS: Now, going back to the topic of potentially a country like Greece exiting the euro, if that were to happen, we've talked about how legally it isn't provided for in the current treaties.

But if they left the European Union, they could, couldn't they?

And there's also a way of doing it that perhaps isn't legal but what are you going to do?

Sue me for drachma?

PROCTOR: Well, I -- I think there's what the treaty says and there is the real world. I mean certainly, the treaties don't provide for this situation. But it has to be coped with all the same.

Now, if Greece did decide that this is too much of a burden, it would be better to default and it would be better to exit the Eurozone. They would simply have to pass a new law in that country substituting the drachma for the euro, or the new drachma or whatever currency they choose to name it, and -- and proceed from there.

DOS SANTOS: Now, you've followed the kind of restructurings of countries like, for instance, Argentina, which did something similar when it was pegged at its currency, the peso, pegged the dollar and then decided to unpeg it, basically overnight. It happened real quickly.

Could we see something happening overnight for Greece if they were to decide to leave the euro ?

And what would be the ramifications?

PROCTOR: Well, I think something like this has to happen overnight, because at the moment, as Mrs. Merkel says, there's a lot of loose talk about possible departure from the zone. And -- and people -- people live with that. But if it became a real rumor that Greece was going to do that and was going to swap all domestic deposits and money for a new drachma currency, then the assumption must be that all of the population would try to get their euro out of the bank, transfer it abroad and avoid being mandatorily converted into the new currency.

So it would immediately, if that rumor went around, it would immediately create a bank run in Greece.

DOS SANTOS: Still, that's what people are talking about, isn't it?

Charles Proctor, many thanks for joining us.

That's Charles Proctor, who's a London-based partner with the law firm Edwards, Angel Palmer & Dodge.

Now, let's go over to Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange -- Alison, we want to ask you what the latest reaction is to all of these concerns surrounding the Eurozone?

It really is front and center where you are, as well, isn't it?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is front and center. But so far on the screen, as you'll see, not really affecting the markets in a negative fashion. We've got all the major averages in positive territory, the Dow up 69, the NASDAQ up 40 and the S&P 500 better by more than 1 percent.

It's been one of those up and down days today, with the Dow even spending time on both sides of the break even mark. You know, investors, they are still nervous about the European debt crisis.

And, you know, there's not much news on the home front for investors to grab onto and move the market with conviction in one clear direction.

Analysts looking at this like it could go one of two ways. Either France and Germany would keep Greece from defaulting or they don't. But it's in the hands of the two European powerhouses. And it could be in their self-interests to keep Greece afloat.

But the market is playing this one very cautiously here in the U.S., helping to keep stocks in positive territory as we get closer to the closing bell is a favorable report on import prices. The data showing less inflationary pressure from imported goods. And that would give the Federal Reserve additional cover if it chose to do another round of stimulus later this month -- Nina.

DOS SANTOS: And lots of talk about Obama's jobs plan hitting the road.

Alison Kosik, many thanks, joining us from the New York Stock Exchange.

Now, a world away from Wall Street, the U.S. faces an urgent problem on its own doorstep. After the break, why millions more women and children are currently living below the poverty line in the world's biggest economy.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: Let's now take you over to Columbus, Ohio, where the U.S. president, Barack Obama, is presenting his $447 billion jobs plan, taking it on the road.

Let's take a listen into what he has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The wealthiest Americans, tell them maybe to fight just as hard, maybe to fight harder, for middle class families. Tell them to pass this jobs bill.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: So the American Jobs Act will lead to new jobs for construction workers, jobs for teachers, jobs for veterans, jobs for young people, jobs for the unemployed. It will provide tax relief for every worker and small business in America and it will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: We will pay for this plan, we'll pay down our debt and we'll do it by following the same principle that every family follows. We'll make sure the government lives with a -- lives within its means. We'll cut what we can't afford to pay for what we really need, including some cuts we wouldn't have to -- we wouldn't make if we hadn't wracked up so much debt over the last decade.

And here's the other thing, Columbus. We've got to make sure that everybody pays their fair share. Fair share, including the wealthiest Americans, the biggest corporations.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: After all, we -- we've got -- we've got to decide what our priorities are.

Do you want to keep tax loopholes for oil companies?

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: No.

OBAMA: Or do you want to renovate more schools like Fort Hayes so that construction workers have jobs again?

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Do you want to keep tax breaks for multi-millionaires and billionaires?

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS:

No.

OBAMA: Or do you want to put teachers back to work and help small businesses and cut taxes for middle class families?

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now, Columbus , we know what's right. We know what -- we know what to do to create jobs now and in the future. We know that if we want businesses to start here and stay here and hire here, we've got to out build and out educate and out innovate every country on earth. We've got to start manufacturing. We've got to sell more goods around the world that are stamped with three proud words, "made in America".

(APPLAUSE)

DOS SANTOS: That's the U.S. president, Barack Obama, there speaking in Columbus, Ohio just in crowd to drum up support for his 40 -- $447 billion jobs plan. As you heard, he said it is a plan that will pay for itself.

But it is a tough sell, though, because the state where he's speaking at the moment is actually home to the Republican House speaker, John Boehner, who, of course, he famously wrangled with for so long over the U.S. debt ceiling issue earlier on this year. Well, as Barack Obama speaks there in Ohio, we have also had news that it's been a terrible economic year in the United States for people who are living below the poverty line. Now, we've got an interesting report coming out a bit later on about this.

But let's go over to CNN's Poppy Harlow, who joins us now with more on the kind of numbers that we've been getting about how many people are living below the poverty line in America.

It's pretty shocking, Poppy, it is, because this is, of course, the world's largest economy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: I think it's absolutely shocking to people that this could happen in America. And on top of that, happen to such an extent, Nina.

What we got today are numbers that we get every year from the U.S. Census Bureau. They're the number of Americans that are living below the poverty line. That's families of four that are living on just about $22,000 U.S. a year.

The numbers show us that over 46 million Americans are in that state. It's a record high since the 1950s, when they started tracking these numbers. And it's 2.6 million more Americans than were living in poverty last year.

We wanted to show you not just the numbers, but also the face of poverty. So we went back to see a woman named Ann Valdez. She's been living in poverty her entire life. She grew up that way. Now she's raising her children that way. And she's really emblematic of the problems that this country is facing when it comes to a lack of jobs and increasing poverty.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ANN VALDEZ, LIVING IN POVERTY: Come outside. Meet the people in your community where you live. Meet the people in the communities where you work. And meet the people in the communities where you represent.

HARLOW: See the face of poverty.

A. VALDEZ: See the face of poverty.

HARLOW (voice-over): We met Ann Valdez a year ago. She was living under the poverty line like millions of other Americans. We decided to come back a year later and see how Ann is doing.

A. VALDEZ: My grandparents were one of the first tenants to live here in 1954.

HARLOW (on-camera): Has the situation gotten better for you?

A. VALDEZ: No. It actually hasn't changed very much. Right now, I'm living on approximately $200 cash a month, $360 food stamps. I do not have a full-time job, on a daily basis, since about 2004.

HARLOW: How important are the safety nets out there for you right now, the things that are paid through -- paid for by the government?

A. VALDEZ: Well, the safety nets are very important and the more that they get cut, the scarier it is, you know, to think about tomorrow.

I buy a lot of non-perishables so that this way, there's always something to eat. Most of the jobs that they try to get for us are minimum wage jobs. So if I get a minimum wage job, it's still going to leave me to have to apply for Medicaid and food stamps. So I'm still dependent on the system.

Sometimes you have to forget about getting what's healthy because you can't afford what's healthy. Food is too high.

HARLOW: Brian, your mom grew up in poverty. You've grown up so far in the same situation.

What are your aspirations?

What do you want to become?

JOSEPH VALDEZ, ANN'S SON: I want for high people in the high chairs like senators and congressmen, even the mayor, to come down here, see what's going on in this neighborhood -- in these neighborhoods, see how destroyed these neighborhoods are, the spirits of these people. They are completely gone.

A. VALDEZ: All right, so what would you like to aspire to?

HARLOW: What are your dreams?

J. VALDEZ: Right now, I have none.

HARLOW: You were telling me before, Brian, firefighter?

J. VALDEZ: Yes. That's the one. I asked mom I could be a firefighter.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HARLOW: So, Nina, this -- this is the problem, that it's this chronic poverty that is not only going on in America, but it -- but it's getting worse, especially in this economic downturn. Ann grew up in poverty. Now she's raising her children in poverty. And that -- that's a major problem here.

When you look at her life, I asked Ann, how long have you been able to go at least without food stamps?

And she said only for one year of her entire life has she been off food stamps. So that really displays how bad the situation is for her. The numbers this morning, I -- I think what was really troubling from them, they show that the poverty rate for children under 18 increased to 22 percent. So for children, it's even higher than the national average. And especially when you look at single mothers, single mothers in America, more than 31 percent of single mothers are living in poverty right now -- Nina.

DOS SANTOS: Moving stuff.

Poppy Harlow, many thanks for that excellent insight into the human side of this economic tragedy we're seeing in the United States.

Now, has your home away from home hiked its rates?

There is a reason for it, according to a global survey of hotels. We're checking out the cheaper options and, of course, the more expensive ones, including the biggest mark-up. That's coming up on this great show after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: Now, you can call it the butterfly effect -- the cost of a hotel room has just gone up 3 percent for the first half of this year, according to Hotels.com. And the changes in price can be decided by some factors hundreds of thousands of miles away.

Take this example, for instance. The Spanish party island of Ibiza. It was the biggest rise in price of any destination worldwide, up no less than 57 percent.

Now, that wasn't because of extra club nights put on. It was actually because families chose to relocate there from nearby resorts in North Africa during, of course, the Arab Spring earlier on this year.

Unrest in the Middle East also meant prices in cities like Doha and Qatar dropped by 39 percent, although we should point out that that was also due to the number of new hotels springing up in some of these places.

And just to complicate matters further, prices didn't fall in every single city in the region. Rooms in Jerusalem, for instance, went up by 30 percent when tourists rushed in on new, low cost airline routes.

The senior vice president of global marketing at Hotels.com, Nigel Pocklington, joins me now live to talk about these interesting trends.

Nigel, good evening to you.

NIGEL POCKLINGTON, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, HOTELS.COM: Good evening.

DOS SANTOS: It seems as though the hotel industry is pretty robust despite the fact that the recovery is on shaky ground.

POCKLINGTON: I think overall, the industry is robust. But the 3 percent rise figure hides two things.

One, there's a lot of volatility. You've been talking about that already.

And, secondly, this is a pretty sluggish recovery from a collapse in prices that really started around the period of the Lehman Brothers crisis that saw us five consecutive quarters of double digit price falls.

And even now, prices are about the same level as they were in 2005.

DOS SANTOS: So we're only just getting back that kind of levels we saw during boom time. You must be pretty worried about the kind of Eurozone situation and talk of going back to a recession, then?

POCKLINGTON: Well, instability is never good for any industry and hotels are just the same. So, yes, the more kind of stability in the market, the more consumer confidence there is, the better.

The other thing that's important is the amount of business travel, which has really driven quite a lot of this price recovery. We think it's up about 9 or 10 percent this year. Now, see if there are significant shocks in the economy, businesses start to cut back on business travel. And that's the thing that really makes prices move up and down.

DOS SANTOS: So that's one of the main risks.

We should also talk about the Arab Spring. That may have been a real thunderbolt for the industry.

How has that affected things?

POCKLINGTON: We've been doing the survey for seven years now. And this is the first time we've really seen this level of impact from political events. So you've been talking about some of the prices already. But generally, across Egypt overall, hotel prices fell by 25 percent in the first half of this year. They fell by 26 percent in Sharm El-Sheikh. And you can see a knock on effect right across the region, even to places like Dubai, which hasn't necessarily been affected, but prices in Dubai are down about 13 percent.

And that's obviously the impact of hoteliers really dropping their rates because the -- the volume of demand they're seeing is much lower than before.

DOS SANTOS: And they've continued on building. We'll talk about that in a minute.

But we should also talk about currency implications. For those of us who live in Britain, like you and me, it's very expensive to go to Europe now.

POCKLINGTON: Yes. I haven't got any good news for British customers on that basis. You're right. What -- one of the things we're seeing is -- is the real impact of currency on the way consumers pick where they're going to go to. So whereas for British people, spending in pounds, even the Eurozone is expensive. For Australians, for example, all of a sudden the world's gotten a lot cheaper. And actually Australia and Brazil, in particular, are exporting tourists like never before, because if you're spending in reals or Australian dollars, prices are falling by sort of 5, 10 percent in (INAUDIBLE).

DOS SANTOS: And -- and there's plenty of Canadians and Americans on the streets of London, near our viewers. We speak in some of the major landmarks.

Let me also ask you about building in this industry.

If you own a hotel, you've committed to a building project, like, for instance, you're talking in Dubai and then, say, the economic cycle falls by the time you've got that finished.

Is that a problem for your industry?

POCKLINGTON: Yes. I mean the -- the interesting thing about the hotel industry is that demand -- the demand side of the equation moves around very quickly, whereas the supply side takes a lot longer to adjust. These projects take five, 10 years to come to fruition sometimes.

So what we've seen throughout the sort of recession and subsequent recovery is the amount of hotel building going on is actually quite high. A lot of these projects were committed to three or four years ago. These are all destinations where there is a lot of demand for hotels still.

So, I think at this point in time, there are 900,000 extra hotel rooms under construction. And the problem will come if there is some sort of additional shock. All of a sudden, you've got supply rising while demand falls away. And that was one of the things that exacerbated the problem for the hotel industry in 2008-09.

DOS SANTOS: And one of the things we were talking about in my introduction, when we were talking about the subject of Jerusalem benefiting from low cost travel routes.

That really had a huge influence on where people go, doesn't it?

POCKLINGTON: Yes. I mean the industry jargon for it is air lift. But the opening up of new routes, which you've seen across Europe right along the Baltic coast cities, as I was saying, can really sort of drive additional demand. And if a city has quite fixed supply, then all of a sudden you'll see prices go up by sort of 25, 30 percent.

Jerusalem is a good example. And some of the big Brazilian cities are also good examples. There's a lot of demand to go to places like Rio and Sao Paolo. No extra hotels. The prices rise 25 percent or more.

DOS SANTOS: OK.

Nigel Pocklington, we're going to have to leave it there, from Hotels.com.

And that's it for this edition of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

I'm Nina dos Santos.

The news continues, though, on CNN.

END