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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Greece Ready for Bailout; Greek Austerity Push; Former Greek Finance Minister Urges Harsh Spending Cuts; European Markets Review; US Unemployment Rate at Three-Year Low; US Stocks Rise; Implications of US Jobs Report; South By Southwest Media Conference Kicks Off in Austin, Texas; The Millennials: Managing Them in the Workforce; Interview With De Beers Consolidated Mines CEO Philip Barton
Aired March 9, 2012 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NINA DOS SANTOS, HOST: It's a swap, not a gift. Europe warns Greece that it must keep its promises to bring down its debt.
Working in hope. US job numbers beat expectations.
And how to make an idea into a start-up. We're live at the South by Southwest festival in Texas.
Hello, I'm Nina Dos Santos in for Richard Quest, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Good evening. Well, the deal is done, now bring on the bailout. They've twisted the arms of the bondholders, and now Greek hands are fully outstretched and ready and waiting for the EU and the IMF to release new bailout cash on money.
Well, Greece has wiped out $130 billion worth of its privately-held debt. So far, we still don't know whether that will count as a credit event. We're due to hear soon from the International Swaps and Derivatives Association on what they think on that point.
But Greece's finance minister, nevertheless, has said that this debt swap deal is a great achievement for his country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVANGELOS VENIZELOS, GREEK FINANCE MINISTER (through translator): It is important that we can say now that instead of what usually occurred, we are today reducing the debt. We are removing a large burden off the backs of the Greek people of 105 billion euros, 50 percent of GDP, something which we owe to the next generations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Greece's current generation still has its part to play, though, here. Now, the bondholders have swallowed their medicine, well, European leaders are saying that it's time for the Greek people to do the same.
Let's go over to Jim Boulden, who's here with more in our London studio. Jim?
JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Nina. No rest for the weary. Indeed, Greece has got to keep a lot of promises in order to actually get this bailout money that's been promised. And once again, the key word is "implementation."
Now of course, Wolfgang Schauble, who is the finance minister of Germany, has been very tough on Greece, and he said today that Greece cannot waste time or blame others for the crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFGANG SCHAUBLE, GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER (through translator): There's also got to be some kind of discussion in Greece about what the Greeks themselves need to do.
Whoever tells the people of Greece that the root cause of their problems, their suffering, lies with Europe and even in Germany, they're not helping the people of Greece to recognize what has to be done to make sure the hope that's spring up today doesn't wither and fade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOULDEN: There was some very positive words, though, out of the euro group and other finance ministers. Jean-Claude Junker said the euro group is very satisfied with everything that is in place now, and that that should mean the bailout money starts to be agreed on Monday.
But he has urged Greece to have strong commitment. He said, quote, "Keep up the implementation, keep up the momentum." Very important that Greece doesn't slide.
We also heard some other things from Olli Rehn, the European Union Commissioner. He said that this PSI, this debt deal, was indispensable, but that reforms coming from Greece are, quote, "cornerstone." And he said it is rigorous and timely implementation is now needed.
Nina, again, implementation, implementation.
DOS SANTOS: Hang on a second, though. I've been speaking to you for much of the day, I've been speaking to other ministers for much of the day. What is it exactly that Greece needs to do, even if it does get these bailout funds, to avoid a third bailout?
BOULDEN: Well, I don't know that they can avoid a third bailout, but what they need to do is get all the tranches from this second bailout.
You remember back in May 2010? Greece agreed to the first bailout. They made some promises. Those promises were not kept --
DOS SANTOS: Which they didn't keep.
BOULDEN: They couldn't keep them. They couldn't get the taxes raised, they couldn't reform the economy the way the government said that they would. So, a new government has come in, caretaker government, lots of promises.
We're talking about reforming things like pharmacies, taxis, hairdressers. We're talking about getting the tax revenue that they said that they would be getting, raising taxes on properties, for instance. Massive changes to the economy, which are very difficult. And doing all this during austerity, five years of recession.
DOS SANTOS: Yes, and Greece is still the country across Europe that has the highest rate of tax avoidance, standing about 37 percent. Only Italy comes second with 33 percent.
Let me ask you this. If we do find out that the ISDA judges that this is a credit event and, therefore, Greece has defaulted. What is that going to mean? This is going to put Greece in the books of Argentina.
BOULDEN: Yes, it does. It makes -- a developed nation inside of the eurozone being considered a defaulted country. And we couldn't hear about that tonight. Maybe it may come over the weekend.
But what that means, I think, is that Greece will not be able to go back to the markets and be able to sell their bonds in a normal way for years to come. That's why people say Greece will need a third bailout.
That doesn't mean anything failed. It just means that there isn't enough money even now with this $160 billion second bailout in order for Greece to get itself back on track by 2020. That, of course, is the goal.
DOS SANTOS: It's going to be a busy weekend for you if we do get that ISDA agreement. Jim Boulden in our London studio. Many thanks for that.
Now, one of Greece's former finance ministers has been saying that the country desperately needs to cut its spending right to the bone.
His name is Stefanos Manos. He was the man who was actually running the countries finances back in 1992, and that was when the EU as we know it was being carved out in Maastricht.
Earlier today, I got the chance to ask him if Greece could make this rescue package work.
STEFANOS MANOS, FORMER GREEK FINANCE MINISTER: Well, we have now to do a job. We have to cut government spending to the bone, and we also have to do -- go through painful reforms, structural reforms that will improve our competitiveness. That's what we have to do.
DOS SANTOS: Yes, that's the theory. But what about putting that into practice? It seems as though people in Greece are just exhausted of austerity. We've got a potential change of government coming very soon. The likelihood that these kind of targets for the second bailout will be met is minimal, isn't it?
MANOS: Well, first let me -- let's establish the theory, as you said. It's a Greek word. It is doable. We can do it. There's no question we can do it.
Now, if the leadership that we have, the political leadership that we have will do it, that's a question I cannot really answer. I have serious doubts about it. But the Greeks will have now an opportunity to choose a new leadership, and if they do that wisely, one could be --
MANOS: -- more optimistic than one is now.
DOS SANTOS: Now, Greece is currently in selected default, even if we had a resolution when it comes to this private sector involvement talks, the burden of bailing Greece out has been shared with the private sector.
But the reality is, is that your country's not going to be able to make it back into the bond markets for a good decade. Greece's reputation, to a certain extent, is shot. How is the country going to finance itself going forward? You yourself have been a finance minister of Greece.
MANOS: I'll repeat what I said before. If we manage, and that's a big "if," but we can do it. If we slash spending, we will not go to the markets for new funds, as long as we do not produce new deficits.
Which -- it's true to say that for the last 15 years, we've only been producing deficits. But if we now change our ways and if we can introduce structural reforms, then I do not think that we're going to have a problem.
In fact, I would venture to say that if we do these things, we could be -- there could be a very sharp turnaround.
DOS SANTOS: Now, if we take a look at Greece's relationships with the rest of the eurozone, they have been souring significantly.
What about other countries that received bailouts and have to stick to their targets, like Portugal and Ireland? They're not getting a reprieve on their debt. Is this going to be loading up relations between Greece and other countries for a bit of a difficult time here on?
MANOS: Well, I think that to a certain extent, the obligation of each collective action clauses that do not influence very much Greece will have a detrimental effect on the borrowing capability of other countries in Europe, because investors will now be scared that what happened in Greece will also happen in Italy or Spain or Ireland. So, I'm not sure Europeans took a wise decision by approving the collective action clauses.
DOS SANTOS: That was Stefanos Manos, there, who was the Greek finance minister between 1992 and 1993.
There was a fairly muted reaction on the European stock markets to last night's debt deal for Greece, although stocks in Greece did fall sharply on Friday's session. Fitch's decision to downgrade the country to a restricted default rating combined with the nervous wait for the ISDA's ruling has meant that banking shares were down sharply, particularly in Athens.
The Athens composite is the only one of these indexes, though, to actually finish the week on a higher note, if you compile the five days of training. When it comes to the FTSE 100, the DAX, and the CAC-Quarante, they all ended Friday's session up by at least, as you can see, a third of one percent.
Now, the new jobs report is encouraging reading for the US president Barack Obama. So, will it keep him in his job in November, though? We'll get reaction from the United States next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The economy is getting strong. And when I come to places like this and I see the work that's being done, it gives me confidence there are better days ahead. I know it because I would bet on American workers and American know-how any day of the week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: The latest US jobs numbers are out, and they bode pretty well for Barack Obama's campaign to remain in the White House after the elections there.
We saw 227,000 jobs created for the United States in February. That was quite a bit more than was expected. It's also the third month in a row that the United States has added more than 200,000 jobs.
Despite the rise in the jobs on the monthly whole, well, the unemployment rate did remain steady at 8.3 percent in total, and that's mainly because the size of the labor force increased, possibly because as we saw discouraged workers starting for new types of work, and they also entered the labor market again, perhaps gave up their previous job and moved onto another one.
Now, Barack Obama still has more to do here, though, because the United States economy actually lost about 8.8 million jobs during the financial crisis, and so far, what it's done is it's gained about 3.5 million. However, there's still room to make up, here.
Let's have a look at how Wall Street shares have been faring on the back of this report. They did originally rise on the back of that report, also on the back of the positive news coming out of Greece. As you can see, we've got the Dow Jones Industrial Average up about 37, 38 points at the moment, or about a third of one percent.
Let's just point out that today does mark the third anniversary of the current bull market run, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, despite that, has actually doubled in value and, as you can see, it's currently up about a third of one percent.
Let's get a little bit more perspective on this US unemployment number. What we've got is Julia Coronado standing by to tell us all, the chief economist for the United States at BNP Paribas.
Also, somebody who got pretty close to that prediction. You were expecting 225,000. We got 227. You must be feeling pretty proud of yourself, and also proud of the US economy.
JULIA CORONADO, CHIEF ECONOMIST, BNP PARIBAS: I am pretty proud. Absolutely. So, yes, we got the third solid jobs report in a row, and it does look like we reached the point where companies in the US can't fire any more workers, and to expand, they actually need to add people.
So, that whole productivity boom has run its course, and now the recovery has shifted in favor of workers.
DOS SANTOS: How long do you think this is going to last, though, Julia?
CORONADO: Well, there are some seasonal issues here. We had an extraordinarily warm winter here. I know that's different from Europe. But that led to construction jobs and fewer manufacturing layoffs in the winter months than we typically see.
So, we might see some easing in the numbers. Nothing, I think, terrible, but maybe some easing off the recent pace as we move into the second quarter.
That said, I do think the labor market has some resiliency here. I think we've turned a corner. Again, companies need to add workers to operate, so we look at the details, and it's fairly broad-based.
And as you noted earlier, we had the first uptick in the participation rate. So, people are coming back into the labor force, which is an indication that they see better prospects ahead. So, all of those things suggest that there is some staying power to this.
DOS SANTOS: And correct me if I'm wrong, that's one of the reasons why we see this dichotomy. We've got the unemployment rate remaining steady at 8.3 percent despite the fact that for three months in a row, we've had 200,000 jobs added if not more.
CORONADO: That's precisely it. We had a noticeable uptick in the number of workers entering the labor force in February, so that was the reason that the unemployment rate held steady.
And that -- we're probably going to see more of that, actually. The re-entry of workers will limit the downward momentum in the unemployment rate, because -- you were going through the numbers earlier. A tremendous number of people were dislocated through the recession. Many of them just simply gave up looking for work. A lot of them are going to probably come back.
DOS SANTOS: Now, the other thing we should mention is that, really, this US election is going to be partly fought out in the job centers, with all those people looking for work.
If we just take a look at the figures during Barack Obama's presidency, the total number of jobs lost was 4.6 million. The total number gained was 3.8. But that leaves a net jobs loss of about 860,000. Do you think he's going to be able to recoup those numbers at the current pace before the elections get going?
CORONADO: Well, at the current pace, he would get -- he would at least recoup the jobs by the elections, so yes, his prospects are pretty good.
But I think more importantly, it's the direction of the labor market, the fact that the unemployment rate is coming down over the last few months and the fact that jobs are being created certainly bode well for his political prospects.
DOS SANTOS: OK, Julia Coronado, there, from BNP Paribas. Many thanks, great to speak to you. Have a great weekend. Obviously, heading out on this Friday evening on a bit of a high note after those better-than- expected US jobs figures.
Up next, it's the debutante ball for tech start-ups. We're going to be live at the South by Southwest conference in Texas, where the Twitter or Zynga of tomorrow might well be about to hit the big time. Do stay with us.
DOS SANTOS: The South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas is the place to be these days, where tech start-ups go to introduce themselves to the rest of the world. The technology being shown off at this particular event could be the next Twitter of tomorrow.
In fact, it was at this particular South by Southwest event some five years ago that Twitter launched. And it's also a showcase for the latest bands and independent movies, as well. Our very own Ali Velshi is at the conference, your man.
Many people are envious of you, Ali. You're also our resident tech fiend on "World Business Today." What's really grabbed your attention, there, and what's the atmosphere like?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Nina, first of all, we're at the CNN Grill, which is what we do every year, and I wore the hat for you.
But I got off the CNN Express, which I've been on all this week, going through Oklahoma and Texas. I got here right in front of the CNN Grill, and a guy came up to me and said, "Dude, I've got a Swivel in my pocket, want to see it?"
And I said, "What are you talking about?"
And it's a device, a Swivel is a device, you put an iPad into it, and if you use FaceTime or some kind of video chatting, you hang something around your neck, and then you can walk around the room, and this device swivels the iPhone toward wherever you are.
So, there are a lot of neat little consumer things that are going on. But you have to dig a little deeper to get a sense of some of the big ideas.
A whole lot of people who want venture capital money, we had an event last night where they gathered in different venues around Austin, and then a shuttle bus would take the venture capitalists around to talk to them, and deals were getting done.
I asked the organizer of the event, I said, "What are the biggest things -- what are the biggest mistakes these young start-ups make, or what's the thing that they don't really understand when they're trying to attract money and get bigger?" Here's what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: What's the thing that, when they start out, they don't know, and it's always the thing that changes?
JOSH BAER, JOURNALIST, "BUSINESS AND FINANCE": Yes. I work with a lot of technology companies, and they're entrepreneurs, but they're engineers, they're geeks. And they get really excited about the technology, the solution, and their idea. And they're like, "Wow, look at this great idea, isn't that amazing?"
And they think that that's the hard part. As I meet with a lot of these young technology start-ups, I try to encourage them to think about it as that they have to have something just as unique, just as innovative, just as amazing about how they're going to market it and take it to market, how they're going to acquire customers as the technology part that they think is so great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Anyway, in the end, Nina, this is what this place is for. It's a marketing exercise for a company with great ideas. And who knows, it could be the next Foursquare or the next Twitter coming out of here. And I'm just trying to sniff it all out and find out exactly what that thing is going to be.
I'll be back on with you, by the way, on "World Business Today" on Monday, and we'll -- I'll have gathered some of those great ideas.
DOS SANTOS: Now, before you go, though, Ali, is there signs of a bubble bursting here, do you think?
VELSHI: No. I'll tell you why. Because as tough as the environment is, there isn't a shortage of venture capital money. The rules are still the same in venture capital. I was told last night by a guy who said the way they invest, a third of the companies make it big, a third return your investment, and a third go belly-up.
So, they still know what the risks are, but because alternative investments haven't provided as much return, there's still a lot of money here. And by the way, everybody who is trying to pitch VCs on investing with them was also looking for software developers. They can pay them up to $150,000 a year.
So, there's some sense that there's a long way to go. We don't even have the labor to come up with some of the best ideas that we can come up with. There's a real sense here that we're not halfway through the game yet.
DOS SANTOS: Exciting stuff. Ali Velshi, I tell you, there's a lot of people behind there waiting for you to join them at the bar. Many thanks, there, at the South by Southwest event, there, in Austin, Texas.
Well, Ali and myself are just about old enough to remember the last time that we saw a technology bubble bursting back in the year 2000, but there are some people with some pretty important positions these days who were probably at high school then.
The South by Southwest conference is a wash with Millennials. These are young, ambitious, highly-educated, and fairly well-connected people. This week, we introduced you to a few of them in our new series, The Millennials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BURBACH, ASPIRING ACTOR: If you need it and you want it badly enough, you can do it. That's the craziest thing. Because sometimes it seems like an impossible dream, but it's not.
MILISUTHANDO BONGELA, BLOGGER AND BOUTIQUE OWNER: I do feel like I can achieve anything, but I don't have to achieve everything. I don't -- it's not on my shoulders. I don't have to have the most lucrative company, I don't have to have the biggest house or the biggest car. Or I don't have to have a lot. I don't want it all. I just want enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Those are just some of the Millennials who are joining the workforce these days. Generational characters experts Cam Marston says that employers are just going to have to adapt to their methods to get the most out of them, and he joins us now, live, from Miami, Florida via Skype.
Cam, first off, these Millennials are very promising. Yes, it doesn't take them as long as the rest of us perennials, if you like, to learn the technology. But managing them must be complicated.
CAM MARSTON, PRESIDENT, GENERATIONAL INSIGHTS: It is. I think a lot of the technology has created an abbreviated attention span, and a lot of the management challenges are keeping them focused, keeping their eye on the goal, pushing them forward and not distracted by the next flashing thing.
It's a long-term planning, as you know, business requires, and keeping the Millennials focused that way can be a challenge for may managers out there.
DOS SANTOS: Now, just stay with me, here, Cam, because what I want to point out to our viewers is that, what we've done is, we've got on Twitter ourselves, and what we've been asking is whether Millennials really do work quite as hard as they say they do.
And let me just bring in a comment here that's been tweeted in response. Jean Luc Kikunta -- Kitunka, I should say, writes, "I think that the 80 percent rule still applies, 20 percent work really hard here. Of course, just like me, but the rest of them are hardcore slackers."
Now, do you really think that it's fair to say that some people are putting on their CV that they're a technology whiz, they're a Millennial. It all sounds great on paper, but really, when you get them through the door, they don't work as hard as people with more experience who've taken the hard knocks in life.
MARSTON: I don't think they've been tenured in the workplace long enough to know the processes that real work takes, that it takes to really do the job.
It's a generation that's been raised very carefully and coddled and been given awards for 11th place finishes. And oftentimes, when they enter the workplace, it's the first -- their cold dose of reality that long hours, long attention, hard focus creates results.
So, I think it's a big transition that this generation goes through when they enter the workplace to learn that average doesn't succeed there like it did back at home, or average doesn't succeed anymore. To excel, you really need to perform, and many struggle with that transition. And like I said, many of the managers struggle pushing them through those transitions.
DOS SANTOS: Now, Cam, somebody else has tweeted me saying, Jo, in particular, in response to this question, do they work as hard as they say they do, "No," she says, "they work -- they do work hard, but just not as hard as they say they do."
We should also talk about their home lives, as well, because Millennials manage things outside of work quite differently. They don't necessarily buy a house at the same time as other people traditionally would have done, they don't settle down as easily. Does that affect their work-life balance?
MARSTON: Without a doubt. What we're seeing with this generation is that these transitions into adulthood, when it comes to the workplace or the business environment, are happening much later with them than it has in generations past.
And what they are spending a much more -- greater amount of their youth in is in the moment, and living in the now, and enjoying the ride versus preparing for the future.
So, quality of life and work-life balance and commuting from home or working from home, et cetera, becomes a big issue with this generation, because they, as they'll be willing to tell you, at least so many of them will, they don't work -- they live to live. They don't live to work. Work is not the primary motivator for them.
And you heard some of that in the interviews you played a moment ago. So, yes, keeping them focused, keeping them -- the work-life balance is always in front of them. And the question is, will this continue with this generation, or is it a phase of this delayed adulthood? We don't know.
DOS SANTOS: OK, Cam Marston, there, joining us live from Miami, Florida via Skype, which was not invented by a Millennial, but somebody who probably counted himself in the same bracket, then, when that came out. Many thanks for that.
Now, don't forget that you can also join the conversation online. Just use the hash tag #cnnmills, or otherwise you can go to facebook.com/cnnquest. Let us know what you think, we'd love to hear it.
Now, almost a year after Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami, the cleanup isn't over yet by any means. Thousands are still working at the contaminated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Up next, we'll be hearing why one undercover writer has been saying that they're risking their lives.
DOS SANTOS: Welcome back. I'm Nina dos Santos. We'll have more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment's time. But first, let's get you updated on your news headlines this half hour.
The president of the Euro Group says that Greece has now met the conditions for another bailout package. Eurozone finance ministers will be meeting on Monday to iron out the details of a second major loan package for this country.
While Greece's creditors agree to restructure the country's debt just in time to avoid a disorderly default this month.
A failed raid to rescue these two European hostages in Nigeria has turned into an international dispute. A Nigerian operation backed by Britain failed to rescue the British and Italian men, who were then killed by the militants holding them. Italian officials are angry that Britain didn't tell it to me (ph) about the raid in advance, but Britain's prime minister says that it just unfolded too quickly.
The U.N.'s humanitarian chief (INAUDIBLE) Syria's government to respond urgently to her request for, quote, "unhindered aid worker access," and that's while more violence seen emerged (ph) through (INAUDIBLE) videos posted on the Internet.
Well, activists say that at least 70 people have now died just on this Friday in the uprising and the government crackdown that followed.
The U.S. and Afghanistan have reached a deal for the U.S. to transfer control of an infamous prison near Bagram to the Afghan government. Well, the handover of the authority will take place over the next six months to come. Control of the prison and its 3,000 inmates has so far been a sticking point between Washington and also Kabul.
The U.S. jobs report for February has got some analysts singing the praises of the United States and also saying that it may now have turned a corner. While overall unemployment is holding steady at about 8.3 percent with 227,000 were added to the world's biggest economy last month. That's the third straight month in a row of jobs growth of over 200,000 positions.
DOS SANTOS: This Sunday, Japan will pause to remember the thousands who died in the catastrophe of March the 11th, 2011. It'll be a year since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the northeastern coast of Japan. It sent shock waves through the entire Pacific, creating 10-meter high waves that battered Japan's coast.
Well, part of the city (INAUDIBLE) all but washed away then. More than 15,000 people are known to have died in the tragedy. More than 3,000 are still missing. The damage amounts to more than $210 billion according to the United Nations' disaster agency.
After nearly a year of reconstruction, sendai (ph) seems these days (ph) is now surging. A flurry of building work is getting the local economy something of a boost these days. Some local businesses say that they're doing better now than they ever did before the disaster.
The tsunami also triggered the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, causing parts of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to melt down. One year on, thousands of workers are still clearing up the contaminate site.
TEPCO, which owns the plant, says that it's taking every precaution to try and shield itself (ph) from the hazardous radiation. As Kyung Lah now reports, though, one local author says that it's still not enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYUNG LAH, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Inside a nuclear disaster, they are the nameless men cleaning up the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Author Tomohiko Suzuki decided to tell their stories. By disguising himself as a fellow contract laborer, he's looking into a small video camera --
LAH: This is the lens?
LAH (voice-over): -- disguised as a wristwatch. For six weeks, he captured images of daily life as a day hire, the blown nuclear reactors, driving past tanks holding contaminated water, documenting what he saw and the workers he met in a recently published book.
LAH: What is the primary message of your book?
LAH (voice-over): "Stop lying," he says.
LAH: What is this lie that you're talking about?
LAH (voice-over): "There's no way you won't be radioactively contaminated if you work at the nuclear plant," Suzuki says. He says despite disposable protective gear, daily decontamination and controls to check radiation, workers will be exposed to radiation.
The Tokyo Electric Company, or TEPCO, tells CNN it has nothing to say about Suzuki's book, but the company maintains worker safety is a high priority. And protection from radiation exposure has improved since the early days of the disaster.
But Suzuki disagrees and says there's a reason why the men he met at Fukushima are average people, not nuclear engineers.
"The world is survival of the fittest," he says. "There are only weak people working at the plant, people who know nothing. There are no rich or politically powerful people working there."
TEPCO says 3,000 workers are at the plant on average every day, 75 percent of the workers are contracted hires.
LAH: We know little else about the workers cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear plant. Many we've tried to interview say that they're worried they'll lose their jobs if they'll talk. Suzuki says he's heard that again and again, a fear that if the workers tell the public what it's like to work inside the plant, they'll be fired.
LAH (voice-over): CNN was part of a recent media tour of the Fukushima nuclear plant, where TEPCO hand-selected workers for reporters to interview. Satoshi Torumi (ph) is a contracted Toshiba worker for the nuclear plant.
LAH: You're a young man. You're 33 years old. Why do you continue to work here?
LAH (voice-over): "This accident happened at my plant," he says. "It's my mission to keep working here." That sort of hero narrative is what TEPCO wants the public to hear, says Suzuki, not the real story.
LAH: Why are people working there?
LAH (voice-over): "For the money," he says. "They're not worried about the health risks decades down the line. Today's bread, tomorrow's meal, rent for next month, that's what they're worried about. They, he says, "are the ones cleaning up the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Our "Rebuilding Japan" coverage continues here on CNN this weekend. We'll take you live to events underway in Japan. They're marking the one year since the earthquake and tsunami struck the nation.
That's on Sunday, starting at 1:00 in the afternoon in Hong Kong, 2:00 in Tokyo, and 9:00 in the morning if you're watching from Abu Dhabi. That's right here on CNN. In the meantime, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS continues after this.
DOS SANTOS: A French bank has put an entire village up for sale, Courbefy in the heart of the Limousin region in the country, is boasting an 18th century stone houses and also boasts a 13th century chapel. As you could imagine, it's a renovator's delight in need of just a little bit of TLC. Jim Bittermann has the full story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN REPORTER: Lost in the Limousin cattle country in the heart of France, there is the miraculous fountain in the village of Courbefy, where the Catholic faith will have come for centuries to take the waters and pray for divine intervention. But a local mayor who looks after Courbefy says the miracle many around here are praying for these days is someone who will buy the place.
Not so many decades ago, Courbefy was a bustling little community of about 200. But as in other parts of rural France, people gradually moved out of such isolated villages, attracted by the lure of the big city. And in Courbefy, they left behind 18th century stone houses and barns, and the village's 13th century chapel, which now all have been abandoned.
The very last person to actually live in Courbefy was the woman who ran the cafe, here, but getting up in years, she moved out in the early '70s and since the property has gone from one owner to another, who've tried unsuccessfully to turn it into a youth center or a vacation camp.
The last owners finally went bust and abandoned the place in 2008, leaving behind an unpaid mortgage at a local bank, which put Courbefy up for sale, 19 buildings in all, 22 acres of land, including several large reception areas, a restaurant, horse stalls, tennis courts and a swimming pool.
True, all of it needs some work. But Mayor Bernard Guelhem was stunned when Courbefy went up for sale at a land auction in February, and no one would even bid the starting price: 300,000 euros, about $400,000.
MAYOR BERNARD GUELHEM (through translator): It's a catastrophe, especially as an elected official, when you see useful land like this decaying and left to rot. We have to find someone to develop this.
BITTERMANN: In particular, the mayor, who could remember going for a swim in the pool here back in Courbefy's better days, would love to see someone come in with enough money to actually make a go of the place as some kind of resort. But he'd be happy if it were just sold to someone who would restore it properly. A local historian shares the mayor's view.
PIERRE CHATEAU, LOCAL HISTORIAN (through translator): When you lose your locality, you lose your history, and you lose your identity. There is a direct link between your land and who you are.
BITTERMANN: The lawyer for the bank says Courbefy will once again go on the auction block in April or May, but he's hopeful this time the village will be sold. The place has gotten so much publicity, he says, that more than 100 people have written him to inquire about the property.
Indeed, back in the village, even as the mayor was showing CNN around, a prospective buyer showed up, representing Paris investors who were thinking of leveling most of the buildings and turning the area into a cattle farm.
Not, perhaps, the kind of owner the locals were hoping for, but still, someone who might be able to stop the little orphaned village from going further downhill -- Jim Bittermann, Courbefy, France.
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DOS SANTOS: Time for a check on the weather now. It's over to Jenny Harrison, who is standing by at the CNN International Weather Center to tell us all -- Jenny?
JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Nina, a nice weekend. Nothing to stop you of that in London, and though you could see the sunny skies there in central France. There's more nice weather in store there as well.
There are two systems, one coming down from the north and one heading up from northern Africa, snow mixed in with the rain across northern areas of Europe, mostly rain in the south. But it's been pretty fast, as you can see, in the last few hours, also the last few days. High pressure out towards the west.
There go those two systems, and in between those two, some pretty breezy conditions, too, because the two systems are going to butt up next to each other, so we're getting at some very tightly packed isobars. Also some warnings in place for that system, as it pushes off the coast of northern Africa.
We could see some heavy rains at times. That might lead to some localized flash flooding and also some pretty strong winds. But all this talk of no rain out west, it is a bit of an ongoing problem. And, in fact, getting to severe levels in some areas of Spain and no surprise when you're looking at these pictures.
We're looking, of course, at a dry riverbed. And this is the story across much of Spain, also central areas of the Mediterranean, (INAUDIBLE) for example, even across central areas of the U.K. Much of that also under severe drought. But it really is Spain which is suffering the most, northern Portugal as well. And it's been particularly dry since the start of December.
And this is why. High pressure out towards the west (INAUDIBLE), normally allows these systems to head across northern arrows (ph), but it seems very large and it's also been extending to the north. So it's forced all these systems to make a much more northerly route. That has meant no rain, no snow across the southwest in particular.
And in Spain, in Madrid, 16 mm of rain, normally the average is 128. There isn't any more in the forecast. It's snow to the north, that rain in the south. Unfortunately, no sign of anything to break the drought and 22 is the high in Madrid this Saturday, and a very pleasant 15 in London -- Nina.
DOS SANTOS: Great stuff. Jenny, many thanks for that. And that's it for this edition of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. MARKETPLACE AFRICA continues on CNN.
ROBYN CURNOW, HOST, MARKETPLACE AFRICA: These are the most coveted stones in the world, millions of people wear them and some of the most beautiful ones are stored and cut right here in southern Africa. They, of course, are diamonds. We're at a diamond-cutting factory in Johannesburg. You're watching MARKETPLACE AFRICA.
I'm Robyn Curnow, and I'm holding millions of dollars' worth of diamonds. And the reason I'm doing that is because this week on the show, we're going to explore South Africa's role in the diamond industry. We also are going to talk about a nation of consumers who barely 20 years had any interest in these. But nowadays they're one of the industry's biggest customers.
CURNOW: Diamonds were formed millions of years ago, in crushing heat and violent high pressure, deep in the Earth. Fortunately for De Beers, it's taken far less time to create (INAUDIBLE) for diamonds.
Stephen Lussier was the first person from De Beers based in this new diamond frontier.
STEPHEN LUSSIER, CEO, FOREVERMARK: I got into Beijing and, you know, there were no cars, just bicycles, green mail jackets (ph), and not a single diamond for sale in the country. No stores, no products and even with consumers no real attitudes, you know.
They knew a little bit about industrial diamonds from their science class, but beyond that, they didn't know. So we had to build the whole, what we call the diamond dream in China, really from scratch.
CURNOW: China's conversion to the so-called diamond dream has been as swift as the rise of its consumer-hungry marrying middle class. This has catapulted the country into the second biggest consumer of the world's diamonds, with America still holding onto to the top slot (ph).
LUSSIER: It's been a remarkable ride, literally from zero to 20 years later. You know, it's a $3 billion-plus market and growing faster than any other market in the world.
CURNOW: De Beers has clearly fallen in love with this Chinese dream. In 2009, China was chosen to launch the company's latest diamond line, known as the Forevermark, each diamond is engraved with an individual number so consumers can trace its origin.
This 32-carat Forevermark diamond was unveiled at the recent launch of the new line in Johannesburg. The diamond was found in this mine in South Africa. Mpumi Zikalala runs Voorspoed Mine three hours outside of Johannesburg.
MPUMI ZIKALALA, MANAGER, VOORSPOED MINE: So the mine is essentially known for producing a few good stones. But when I say good, I mean very good, so the pinks and the big ones.
CURNOW: Encouraging these lumps of carbon from where they've been entombed for centuries requires patience and explosives. The majority of the Forevermark diamonds come from some of the oldest mines on the planet, which are here in southern Africa. Experts believe the rise in demand from Asia is driving up prices, and this is having a direct impact on Africa.
JAMES ALLEN, DIAMOND EXPERT: Demand for diamonds out of China, coupled with demand out of India is having a positive effect on diamond prices. Diamond prices at the moment are probably higher than they were in the peak of 2007-2008. So a lot of the company in southern Africa are positive on the diamonds' price outlook and are increasing production where they can.
CURNOW: But this growing concern that Africa may not be able to keep up with Asia's demand is becoming increasingly difficult to find new sources of diamonds. And for now, at least, diamond companies are riding the demand wave.
LUSSIER: Without China, you know, it would be a lot less interesting here on the mining side. And in the end, less jobs. It's that simple.
CURNOW: De Beers isn't the only diamond merchant benefiting from China's diamond dream. The Cape Town jewelry chain Shimansky has seen an increase in the number of Chinese business men and tourists visiting the city, hunting for quality diamonds.
ESTER ANDRADE, SHIMANSKY JEWELERS: They're looking for quality. There's definitely no doubt about it. When they walk in, very specific. I need top color, top clarity, and that's nice to see. They use terms that are 35 international laboratories by (INAUDIBLE), that is worth it to people.
CURNOW: Some experts believe that it won't be long until China has overtaken the United States as the lead consumer of this, the most beautiful of Africa's commodities. And for the diamond companies operating here and for the people whose livelihoods depend on this industry, they are hoping that China's diamond dream is one marriage that lasts.
Now demand for diamonds was exceptionally high last year, according to De Beers. After the break, I speak to the CEO of De Beers Consolidated Mines about how China's thirst for diamonds like these is changing the industry.
CURNOW: Well, it can take almost a week to cut a diamond of this size. You can see from the black markings on this one that (INAUDIBLE) split in two separate stones to rather large diamonds (INAUDIBLE).
Now for the past century or more, the diamond industry has been dominated by one South African family, the Oppenheimers.
And recently they decided to sell their 40 percent stake in De Beers to the mining (INAUDIBLE) Anglo American, who recently, one evening, I sat down with Philip Barton. He's the CEO of De Beers Consolidated Mines, and I asked him why he thought the Oppenheimers had made this historic decision.
PHILIP BARTON, CEO, DE BEERS CONSOLIDATED MINES: If you listen to what (INAUDIBLE) Oppenheimers said to us, there come a time that you've got to take a decision. And then when I look at the business, he received a good offer. And as he said, for the family it was a -- it was a good time to exit the business.
CURNOW: How does it impact on your business now?
BARTON: I see the impact of my business in two ways. I see it sad, on the one side, because the Oppenheimer family has been associated with De Beers for many, many years.
But then on the other side of Anglo American coming in, also very positive about that, and looking forward to it. De Beers is -- although we -- we're a big diamond brand, we are a relatively small company globally. Anglo is much bigger all around --
CURNOW: Have things changed?
CURNOW: As you're calling yourself a small company?
BARTON: I think if one wants to be -- to be sort of truly honest, then -- and at De Beers, I've always punched (ph) a way above its web over deed (ph). Other players have come up, and we have shrunk in size. But even at that stage, we measure globally over a fairly small company, but a very big brand.
CURNOW: The Oppenheimers selling out, selling off, do you think it's an indication that diamonds (INAUDIBLE) of an industry is losing its luster?
BARTON: No, I don't. I don't think so. You can't look at a company like Anglo American. You know, they -- they're very astute. And paying (INAUDIBLE) with $1 billion for 40 percent. They --
CURNOW: Many people thought that that was below the market price, though.
BARTON: Who knows? I think (INAUDIBLE) the moment is they're looking at investing (INAUDIBLE) and billion dollars. So let's not forget about the government of Botswana. You know, it is a -- it is a 15percent charter at the moment, which potentially may become a 25 percent charter. And a country that is really built, a country on diamonds, so also very important to us.
CURNOW: With the Kimberly (ph) process, its legitimacy, its credibility being questioned with global witness (ph) being pulled out, I mean, how does that impact in terms of the perception that diamonds are still not as clean as many would like them to be?
BARTON: So if we look at that very small percentage of diamonds that the Kimberly (ph) process is aimed at governing and regulating, and Country (ph) Diamonds is a very small percentage.
CURNOW: A consumer in New York might find that important. You've just opened, I think, another store in China. Does the Chinese consumer care?
BARTON: I think it's quite interesting that the Chinese consumer do, you know, do care. You've got a -- you've got a growing middle class in China that is exciting to most business men.
CURNOW: I think the real sort of breaking point for Global Witness (ph), when they have pulled out of the Kimberly (ph) process was Zimbabwe. I know that you owned a lot of those -- that land, initially, didn't find diamonds. Now, if you had the opportunity, apparently the biggest diamond find this century -- in a century -- this is since Kimberly (ph) days -- would you mine in Zimbabwe again?
BARTON: De Beers is a prospective in Zimbabwe, up to a point. And at this stage, we've withdrawn our (INAUDIBLE) expression, activities and will not mine in Zimbabwe at the moment.
CURNOW: As a matter of principle?
BARTON: As a matter of principle.
CURNOW: At the moment, you say, you might go back if conditions were right?
BARTON: One will go back if the conditions are right.
CURNOW: Looking backward, De Beers, in a way, created the diamond, the brand. It's just another stone, isn't it?
BARTON: You know, you looked at your hand, and you look at it, and then you say --
BARTON: -- it's just another stone. It isn't, not just another stone. You know, that stone was given to you, you know, with a -- as a token of love, as an -- as an emotion attached to it. And I think that is what differentiates a diamond from any other product out there. I think that's why it's so special, and it can never be just another stone.
CURNOW: Now some of the world's most valuable diamonds are cut in this room by these gentlemen. Now the one I'm holding here is over 100 carats, and when it is cut, it'll be sent to Antwerp and be stamped with a Forevermark. It'll then be sold for around $1 million. Well, that's it from us, here in the diamond cutting factory in Johannesburg. I'm Robyn Curnow. See you again next week.