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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Barclays Shares Down Sharply as LIBOR-Rigging Scandal Revealed; Supreme Court Upholds ACA; E.U. Leaders Seek 'Euromess' Solutions at Summit; Murdoch to Split NewsCorp Empire; US-China Trade Examined
Aired June 28, 2012 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, Michael Holmes at the CNN Center with your headlines to the minute. E.U. leaders meeting in Brussels. They're hoping to find some common ground on some of the most critical issues facing the Eurozone. They include long-term proposals such as a single union who control the euro currency. But among the more immediate concern, the dangerously high borrowing costs of Spain and Italy.
Big story in the U.S., the Supreme Court has upheld the health care reform law known as "Obama-care" to some. The Affordable Care Act is the official name. Now what it does is require every American to carry health insurance. The court ruling that while the federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance, it does have the power to impose a tax on those who don't -- or a fine, rather.
The Red Cross says the non-stop violence in Homs, Syria, has made it impossible for aid workers to reach trapped civilians. Now that video you're watching, posted online, appears to show recent shelling in that already ravaged city.
Meanwhile a Syrian opposition group says security forces have killed 100 people this Thursday.
Officials in the U.S. state of Colorado say hundreds of homes have now been destroyed in that huge, still untamed wildfire. The fire, near Colorado Springs, was only 5 percent contained at last report. The U.S. Forest Service says it could be mid next month before it is fully under control.
And in just a few hours we'll know whether the Azurri or the Germans will advance to the Euro 2012 Final. Germany has yet to lose in this tournament. The game gets under way in about 45 minutes. The winner will face Spain in the championship game.
Those are your headlines. I'm Michael Holmes at the CNN Center. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, live from CNN London, right now.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The rate rigging unravels. Barclays boss and Barclays shares are pummeled today. "Obama-care" stands and the only way to get rid of it seems to be to get rid of the president.
And Murdoch does the splits. News Corp. will become two. I'm Richard Quest. Of course, I mean business.
Good evening. He's Britain's most unpopular banker. And tonight, Barclays's Bob Diamond is feeling the anger of the British government. After Barclays record fine for fiddling interest rates, the prime minister, David Cameron, says its chief executive has serious questions to answer. The U.K. finance minister says criminal charges are not out of the question.
George Osborne, the finance minister, says the market manipulation was typical of an age of irresponsibility. And he will be looking into making a criminal offense that would have serious consequences for Barclays. It was fined $450 million by the regulators in the U.K. and U.S. on Wednesday.
Barclays manipulated interest rates. The interest rates on loans between banks, it's know as LIBOR, London Interbank Offered Rate, it was doing it for years to fit its own financial interest.
David Cameron, the U.K. prime minister, said Barclays management must explain itself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: This is a scandal. It's extremely serious. They paid a very large fine and quite rightly. But, frankly, the Barclays management team have some big questions to answer. How did this happen? Who was responsible? Who is going to be held accountable for it? That is -- those are issues they need to determine, and determine quite rapidly.
In terms of what happens next, I would say that the regulators should use all the powers and means at their disposal to pursue this in the ways that they feel are appropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now shareholders would also want an explanation for Barclays's dismal performance on the stock market, particularly today. Look at the graph over the last month, and you really do see, whoa, let's just pull this into a bit of context for you.
This is -- Barclays is one of those shares that has performed very well post the crisis. We bought some shares, remember, when they were down at 60 pence. They went up to over 3.50 pounds. Now they've come back again. And this is the very sharp fall that they've had, some 15 percent drop.
Actually up slightly on Wednesday, but by and large, the scandal is clearly not going away. And that is why Barclays is under such pressure at the moment.
Banking stocks overall in the U.K. fell very sharply with the LIBOR scandal. It sent shockwaves through the sector. Barclays had the biggest one day full, but other than that, the Royal Bank of Scotland lost more than 11 percent. HSBC and Lloyds also fell back.
There are rumors, and it has been said that other banks are being investigated into this whole. Those other banks would not comment.
LIBOR is one of the most important tools in the world of finance. So what does LIBOR mean, as we alluded to?
LIBOR, London Interbank Offered Rate, LIBOR, it is the rate that banks charge each other for their loans overnight or for six-month money or as it is. So the banks get together and put in their bids for how much they will do to each other.
It's a barometer of financial stability. And the rate that LIBOR is set each day, at 11:45 London clock time. The rate affects other securities such as mortgages, bonds, yields, and the like.
LIBOR is a market worth hundreds of trillions of dollars because so many, so many contracts specify LIBOR, LIBOR plus two, LIBOR minus one.
Tiny movements can be worth millions of dollars, which is why the British Bankers' Association, which sets LIBOR -- that officially does it, its outgoing CEO, Angela Knight, said Barclays actions weren't a proper representation of the City of London.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA KNIGHT, CEO, BRITISH BANKERS' ASSOCIATION: We do have to not only do the job well, but be seen to act with integrity. There is more than half a million people that are employed in the banking industry, and there are lots of others. They have families and there are lots of other jobs that are dependent on it as well.
The overwhelming majority of those people, they operate with integrity. They operate in an ethical manner. They are people who live in your street or my street and others streets.
And, you know, we have to remember that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Angela Knight there. So emails uncovered during this investigation shows just how cozy relationship between the Barclays traders who needed the help and who has made the bet on the interest rates, and the bankers who actually set the rates.
One trader wrote to his banking colleague: "Your annoying colleague again, we would love to get a high one-month."
Basically he wants a high LIBOR number because he has got a deal that he is about to do that's going to be based on an increased number for LIBOR.
"Also, if possible, a low three-month." So, in other words, put the bid in lower. That's what that's all about. We don't know what the specific request was to the question (INAUDIBLE) or how cozy the whole thing became.
"Done for you, big boy." While another grateful trader said: "Dude, I owe you big time. Come over one day after work and I'm opening a bottle of Bollinger." The champagne, of course.
David Cameron's former senior economic adviser says some Barclays shareholders will be calling for Bob Diamond to resign. Matthew Hancock MP told me earlier the Barclays CEO has serious questions to answer.
MICHAEL HANCOCK, CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Well, there are two questions I think for Bob Diamond. Firstly, what did he know? And what did he do about that? But then there's a wider question. Because this wasn't just one or two rogue people. It was a culture in Barclays of devil-take-the-highmost, you know, chumminess with the authorities who were setting LIBOR.
And that culture is clearly the responsibility of senior management in Barclays. And, of course, it was part of a wider culture of irresponsibility.
QUEST: Should Bob Diamond resign?
HANCOCK: Well, I think that he is going to come in front of the select committee in the House of Commons, and we're going to hear his answers then. But unless he has got some very good answers to the difficult questions, absent, of course.
QUEST: Right. But is somebody going to ask him, are you going to resign? And should you resign?
HANCOCK: I've no doubt that those questions will be asked, and not only by politicians, but also by shareholders, you know, there's a 16 percent drop in the Barclays share price today on the back of this. And it's clear that that share price performance hasn't been particularly good over the last couple of years.
So, you know, it's shareholders who own the bank, and they need to be and are indeed asking the questions as well.
QUEST: Do you believe -- and we know the FSA is talking about systemic failures within the U.K. system, do you believe that, for want of a better unflattering phrase, what Barclays was up to, the rest of them were all up to as well?
HANCOCK: Well, we've certainly heard rumors of that and no doubt there will be more details in the future. But what we do know about is that the wider culture of irresponsibility and of not -- yes, certainly not thinking about the customer.
You know, that culture was there across the city here and across finance and Wall Street as well.
QUEST: Couldn't happen at a worse time for David Cameron, the British prime minister. We have Van Rompuy's report on banking union, hoping to move towards the whole E.U. 27, very difficult for the British to say, well, no, we're going to stand aside, because we regulate our banks better through the FSA or now the BOE, when, frankly, you've got a festering sore and a cesspit on your hands.
HANCOCK: Well, I would take the opposite response, which is that we've already got legislation going through the House of Commons to change the regulatory structure. We're abolishing the FSA and putting regulation into the Bank of England and giving them more clout. We're making the changes that are necessary. And that will happen in London.
So I don't think we need to be part of a banking union, which will be, after all, to support the single currency, which thank goodness we're not part of. So making sure we fix our regulatory system here is vital. It's work that's already in progress. And that's best done out of London rather than out of Brussels so we can really on and grip these things.
QUEST: The problems of Barclays.
European stocks closed mostly in the red. Investors see no new ideas from today's European Union Summit. German unemployment is rising. Spanish bond yields are also hovering again at that dangerous 7 percent mark.
In Madrid strong energy stocks helped the IBEX buck the trend. And it was the IBEX that really was the only one of the majors that were up.
Coming up next, President Obama said it's a victory for the people of America, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, "Obama-care," has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. We're in Washington after the break.
QUEST: Barack Obama's landmark health care law has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. It's a huge victory for the president. "Obama-care" is the signature legislation of his time in office. CNN's congressional correspondent Kate Bolduan joins me now from Washington.
So he gets this through. The Supreme Court approves it. And, you know, the practicalities are health care, the law becomes a law. But now it's very much a political football for the November election.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. That's really what it becomes. It becomes a central political football for the November election. Just -- we're going to roll some sound for you in a second, but just a back and forth that quickly came not only from where I was outside the court right as the ruling was coming down and the reaction from lawmakers that were there as well as supporters and -- supporters on both sides of this debate, their reaction was swift.
And when we hear from lawmakers right away, Republican lawmakers made it very clear that their first priority then was to move to repeal the president's health care law as quickly as they could.
Of course, in a divided Congress, Republicans have the majority in the House, Democrats have the majority in the Senate, that's not likely to go anywhere any time soon. That's why all eyes turn to the November election.
Listen here to the swift reaction from President Obama as well as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As you might imagine, I disagree with the Supreme Court's decision and I agree with the dissent. What the court did not do on its last day in session I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States. And that is I will ask to repeal "Obama-care."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: If you need just another -- more evidence of where this goes from here, Richard, the top Republican in the Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell said that this doesn't mark the end of the debate, but instead a fresh start on the road to repeal. So you can be sure both sides are using this to try to motivate voters to get to the polls for November.
QUEST: And that's the interesting point, isn't it, Kate? Because now there is a -- and there aren't that many of them in any election, but now there is a very firm large single policy that both sides can point to, to their supporters, to get them on-board one way or 'tother (ph).
BOLDUAN: One way or the other. I mean, even going -- even before the ruling came down, in the weeks prior, Republicans in the Hill had even acknowledged that if the ruling was -- if the ruling was that the law was upheld, that does provide, in a very backwards way (INAUDIBLE) in politics, does provide for a much cleaner, clearer political message going forward.
Our international viewers, to remind them, in 2010, in the mid-term election, many -- the wave Republican election that brought in the Republican majority in the House, they ran much on the passage of the health care law.
So this, once again, will become a very important aspect of the November election.
QUEST: Finally, and maybe esoterically, if, if, if, if, I'm throwing lots of ifs in just in case anybody thinks I'm being partisan, one way or the other, if Mitt Romney were to win, the practicalities of repealing "Obama-care," which will be several years old, I mean, the train has left the station, it would be a Herculean task to reverse it?
BOLDUAN: I think that is an excellent point. The individual mandate requiring that nearly all Americans have health insurance, or pay a penalty, that kicks in in 2014. So that's really right around the time when the president would -- whoever the president is after the November election will be kind of getting the administration going.
It would be a Herculean effort regardless, because the president can't just do it in and of himself. He needs the House and the Senate to work together to move forward with a repeal. And if there is a divided Congress, as there is today, we can see how fast things move around here in Washington right now.
QUEST: It's nice day, or at least it looks a nice hot day. We thank you, Kate, as always, making good sense and helping us understand what is happening in Capitol Hill -- today at the Supreme Court.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Richard.
QUEST: We thank you for that.
OK. The markets that are open and doing business, there's the bell, it's the Dow Jones up -- oh no, down -- good lord, I was overwhelmed, down 169 points.
And later in the program we'll be talking to Alison Kosik. You will see how certain health care stocks responded as a result of the "Obama- care" decision. And that's having its effect on the market.
The currency conundrum, (INAUDIBLE) Thursdays. One of the U.S. dollar's nicknames is the "buck," the question is, why? The buck stops here. Is it named after a deerskin? After the U.S. economist John Lossing Buck? Or James Buchanan Jr., America's 15th president? Why is it called the "buck"? The answer later in the program.
Now to the (INAUDIBLE), the euro is at a three-and-a-half week low against the dollar, down around two-fifths of one cent. The euro buys $1.24. Sterling is down a half a percent. The yen is now a third of 1 percent off. Again, I beg your pardon, those are the rates (INAUDIBLE). This is the break.
QUEST: Right now in Brussels, Europe's leaders are in crisis talks, deep into their summit meeting where the aim, as you will know, is to come up with a single vision on how to keep the Eurozone together. It's another of those summits.
They arrived in Brussels bringing opposing views on just how the escalating crisis should be solved. And you can see from new data that shows Germany, Europe's economic driving force, now affected. Unemployment rose unexpectedly from 6.7 to 6.8 percent.
Chancellor Merkel says a Europe-wide plan to create new jobs has been drawn up and could be ratified by the end of the day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): We will talk about the growth pact and employment pact. We have worked out a good program, especially about future chances for employment, especially for young people. I hope we can ratify this pact today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now everybody is looking to see, not just people, politicians, but the markets. The Swedish prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, says investors now need answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREDRIK REINFELDT, SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: I think the market reactions are still due to the fact that they do not believe that they have fully the answers on what kind of potential losses we are looking at in Southern Europe, and who is paying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: There are the long-term issues, the short-term, there are the difficult, and there are downright impossible. Bob Parker is the senior adviser at Credit Suisse. He told me that the Euro leaders shouldn't focus on the medium and the long term when frankly there are short, more pressing issues.
BOB PARKER, SENIOR ADVISER, CREDIT SUISSE: What the markets want is some resolution to the short-term problems. And the short-term problems are obviously upward pressure on Spanish and Italian government bond yields. And if there is no clear resolution on E.U. aid or package to get those bond yields down, then clearly the pressure just continues. That is obviously worrying.
QUEST: Is Van Rompuy's plan -- his seven-page plan, is that plaster (ph) short term, or banking union and budget/fiscal union medium to long term?
PARKER: No, those are very much medium to long term issues.
QUEST: So that's not what -- so the market wants something basically, money on the table.
PARKER: Well, what the market wants to see is clear evidence that we are not going to see 10-year Spanish bond yields spiral up to 8 or 9 percent, which would then make the cost of borrowing by Spain completely uneconomic and would force them into a bailout fund.
And then the market also wants to see details of the support package to recapitalize the Spanish banks. And I think the final point in the short term is action to prevent contagion risk onto Italian government bonds and onto Italian banks.
QUEST: There is only one or two ways that those major areas, particularly on Spanish bonds, could be done. You can finagle it any which way you like when they come in the summit. But it basically means there has to be a bond support operation or.
QUEST: . firewall to prevent contagion.
PARKER: You're right. The way to do it is obviously if you have one of the two E.U. bailout programs currently, the EFSF, and then first of July, the ESM, is set up, you have basically got to have them coming in, first of all, as a recapitalizer, not a lone lender, but providing capital to the Spanish banks, and also intervening directly in those government bond markets.
We haven't moved one jot over six months in this debate, really, have we? In the sense that the same arguments and the same issues are still bedeviling us that were at the beginning of the year.
PARKER: Well, the longer term issues, you know, whether we have a banking union, whether we have pan-European deposit guarantees, whether we have a fiscal union, you know, to what extent that links into democratic political change in Europe, all of those issues, statements are coming out, statements of intent, but is there clear progress to resolving the structural problems of the Eurozone. The answer is no.
QUEST: Do we see an upset in the market -- well, let's go through market reactions and potential market reactions. If they do no harm, and they do -- basically do nothing, the market just trades sideways.
PARKER: Well, I think the interesting question is what is the market discounting? And the market action this week suggests that the market is prepared to be disappointed.
Now if we get a very strong communique coming out of the E.U. Summit, plus we get action coming back to these short-term problems of Spanish bond yields and Italian bond yields, then I actually think that would allow the European Central Bank to cut interest rates in July, and probably come out with another long-term refinancing operation.
And that would support the market. So the market is discounting bad news. The market is not discounting good news. If we get -- you know, we're not going to get a major a long-term resolution. But if we get a decent communique which allows the ECB to take action, then you'll have a market rally.
If the summit results in a very unsatisfactory situation where there is no resolution whatsoever, no action, then inevitably we see a further sell-off.
QUEST: Bob Parker there talking to me earlier.
Coming up, Rupert Murdoch plans to divide -- he wants to divide in order to conquer, and he's going to do it by chopping up News Corp.
QUEST: Hello. I'm Richard Quest. More QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment. This is CNN, and on this network the news always comes first.
The United States Supreme Court has upheld Barack Obama's controversial health care legislation. The law requires every American to carry health insurance on pain of penalty. The court ruled that while the federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance, it does have the power to impose a tax on those who don't.
The Hague has dropped one charge of genocide against the Bosnian-Serb Radovan Karadzic. He still faces 10 other charges, including one of genocide. It relates to the massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and the ethnic cleansing during the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
European leaders are holding crisis talks in Brussels. They are divided on how to tackle spiraling debt and borrowing costs. Though Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, says a pact to boost growth and create jobs could be ratified by the end of the day.
Opposition activists say at least 100 people have been killed across Syria today. Most died in the Damascus area. State media say three people were wounded when twin bombs exploded in a parking lot outside the Palace of Justice in the heart of the capital.
QUEST: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is very likely, almost certainly, absolutely to be broken in two. The movement was first voted on Tuesday, means the very lucrative films and entertainment division, which includes 20th Century Fox, will be split apart from the newspapers and book publishing arm.
Murdoch becomes the chairman of both companies, assuming the board and shareholders get their final approval.
Maggie Lake is in New York for us tonight.
So you savvy you, you quite rightly forecast this, although I suspect that's (inaudible) and you forecast it. What happens now? Who becomes the CEO?
MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Of the publishing arm, the CEO of course of the TV and film is going to remain Murdoch, which is sort of interesting. He's staying where the money is. Who becomes the publishing CEO, that is a really wide-open question.
Immediately rumors started swirling, it might be one of his sons, maybe Lachlan, but Rupert Murdoch put that to rest pretty quickly, saying that he thought that was unlikely, that is a direct quote. He said that Lachlan's pretty happy in Australia.
Of course, that could change. The Murdoch family still has controlling interest of this company. And there is no succession plan. I'm sure Murdoch would like to keep it in the family. So that's going to be a space to watch closely.
Of course, that is a harder part of the business, Richard. You know the newspaper industry is tough, the revenues all came from TV and film. How do they thrive, now that they're not under that roof with that business as a benefactor, really, remains to be seen.
QUEST: So the core question is, has Murdoch lost, not legal control; is there the feeling that the power has ebbed away?
LAKE: Yes, you know, I certainly think people were speculating about that. We talked about it
the other day when this news first broke. But what was interesting was to watch Rupert Murdoch today. You know, we saw him during the Leveson inquiry and related to the U.K. phone hacking, his appearances in front of Parliament, very somber, apologetic, you know, looking his age, if I can say that. Today we saw the old Rupert Murdoch. He was confident. He was joking. He was extremely blunt.
Let me play -- let's play part of an interview he did on FOX Business News. That is, of course, a Murdoch property. When he was asked about whether now that they're separate companies, he was reconsidering or they would reconsider their strategy when it came to BSkyB. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUPERT MURDOCH, CHAIRMAN, NEWS CORP: -- moved on in our own thinking now from that.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX HOST: OK. The world itself --
MURDOCH: There are billions and billions of dollars. No, Britain didn't want them. There are good places to put them here. I'm much more bullish about America than I am about England.
CAVUTO: Oh, really? So you're -- are you pulling back on --
MURDOCH: I will be a lot more reluctant to invest in new things in Britain today than I would be here. You know --
CAVUTO: As a result of what you went through? Because of what you went through?
MURDOCH: No, not at all. Just the English.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAKE: (LAUGHTER). There you go, Richard. That's certainly vintage Murdoch. He did go on to say -- he didn't say he didn't mean it, but he did go on to say, really, it was the recession in Europe. That's why he was more bullish.
But the idea that the U.K. phone hacking scandal has had nothing to do with this, I'll leave it to your judgment. But Murdoch certainly seemed to be sort of his feisty old self, whether or not, though, he still maintains that iron grip of control, I think that's up for debate. Chase Carrie Starr (ph), as we've talked about, certainly rising. They got their way and some of the board members with this blip (ph).
QUEST: Maggie Lake, who's in New York tonight, Maggie, many thanks for that.
Coming up next, ObamaCare -- beg your pardon -- it sparks a Wall Street selloff. The market numbers after the break and the Dow Jones and (inaudible) why are we up so heavily today, 170-odd point, in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST (voice-over): Time for the answer to today's "Currency Conundrum." We asked how the U.S. dollar got its buck nickname. I've got this all wrong today. After it was Buchanan (ph). The answer is A, the name (inaudible) for buck skins. They were commonly (inaudible) in trading between Native Americans and early European settlers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Your bucks are less than they were, as U.S. stocks have been sinking since the health care legislation was upheld. Alison Kosik's in New York. Before, Alison, (inaudible) 162, before we talk about that, would -- did you know that the answer to the buck? Did you know that was the answer?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I didn't know that. I've learned something today. I'll be better at Trivial Pursuit.
QUEST: I wouldn't go that far.
All right. Listen, there was confusion after the way Chief Justice Roberts brought -- gave the results -- gave the verdict decision in the U.S. Supreme Court in the ObamaCare. And it was interesting to see the way in which stocks moved, didn't it? But we have now got a direction.
KOSIK: It is. Yes, they were all over the place. If you look right when that ruling came out and sort of all that confusion ensued, because it is a very complex decision, isn't it? So, you know, it took time for the media to funnel through all that, as they were funneling through all that, you saw the markets in a kind of in a state of confusion.
In fact, you like at United Health Care even, an insurance company, their shares just tanked. And then you saw the shares kind of come back, just moments after they initially tanked, that kneejerk reaction, come back up when you heard that the Supreme Court had actually upheld the mandate. So, yes, interesting to see the reaction instantaneously here on Wall Street, Richard.
QUEST: We are up 163. I suppose we could blame this fall on any one of five or six different reasons, bearing in mind the euro summit ,the this -- what would you blame it on?
KOSIK: I would blame a good portion on Europe and I would blame a good portion on health care. Look, even though the Supreme Court had come down with the decision, the operative phrase in this entire law, Richard, is for now. For now, this law stands. But guess what the wild card is? The wild card is the election.
If the Republicans take the White House and Congress in November, the entire thing could be overturned. So traders are telling me it's a huge reason why stocks are falling. Look, they're happy to have clarity on this individual mandate, but so many questions still remain.
QUEST: I understand that argument, and I understand that logic, Alison. But, you know, a meteor could fall on the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow. I mean, you know, November's November. You -- that's -- we were talking about this earlier today. We've got a second or two.
So we were talking about this earlier with (inaudible). You'd have - - you've got to get a Romney victory. You've then got to get a unified House and Senate, a unified government. And then you've got to pass the whole thing through.
KOSIK: Look, it's -- hey, everybody's surprised that this even passed. So you know, nothing really surprises me. So when you put that to me, I would say, you know what, I wouldn't count anything out.
KOSIK: Anything's possible.
QUEST: You're the sort of person who probably always carries an umbrella in her handbag in case it just happens to rain.
KOSIK: I don't.
QUEST: But she says -- Alison --
KOSIK: I take my chances.
QUEST: Oh, she does take her chances? The whole theory off. Alison, good to see you. There's that now. I've completely lost where I was going with this.
Shareholders are waiting for a message from BlackBerry after the closing bell today. RIM, Research in Motion, which makes the BB, has warned it will reveal an operating OS in Q1. Its revenue from the BlackBerry has been falling for the last three consecutive quarters. The shares were at a nine-year low. They've dropped 11 percent so far this month. When that happens, we will bring that your attention.
While we're on the subject of gadgets, Google is rolling out some new devices that are turning heads. It's Google's first tablet. It's the Nexus 7. It pitches Google against Apple, Amazon and the rest. Here's the point, though. It's $199, which is the same as Amazon's Kindle Fire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST (voice-over): And never to be outdone, take a look at this video promoting the Google Glass. It's got (inaudible) technology. It's (inaudible) that records videos. We've talked about it on this program. It's just a prototype for now. The company hopes to have it on the market in less than two years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see if we can get it here in a hurry. All right. Here we go. First (inaudible). (Inaudible).
QUEST: Here we go. Look at what happens here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: All right. One critic said basically it was nothing more than a camera that has glasses but OK.
The weather forecast now, Jenny Harrison is at the World Weather Center for us this evening.
JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Richard, good evening to you. I'm going to --
HARRISON: -- talking about the weather, actually across the U.K., but also northern France, some really ferocious storms have been coming through in the last few hours. You can see a few of them here on the radar across France, working their way into Germany right now. And then the U.K. as well, but this is what it's led to.
Now we've been dealing with areas of sort of isolated floods across the U.K., over the last couple of weeks. This time it is the case, the chance -- the chance -- it is the turn of Shropshire (ph). And this is what's happening, you can see. And this really is the flashfloods because the rain has been coming down so very fast and furiously.
But environment agency have got warnings out because of the risk which will remain of these flash floods. You can see there are thunderstorms been moving very swiftly. But even so, still pushing up through Scotland right now, still really to clear off the northeast coast. So when it comes to what came down, well, look at this, 37 millimeters in just six hours.
The hail, this is some of the biggest hail we've actually ever had reported in Europe, 9 centimeters in diameter. It did do a lot of damage to many cars that were in that area. That's in Burbage. And then across in France, a wind gust of 134 kilometers an hour. So different storms, of course, that were coming through causing these problems. But really coming from that same area of low pressure.
Now right now in London, you've been very lucky. No sign of any rain. It's 24 degrees Celsius, been a very, very warm day. Don Riddell, sports anchor, was saying that apparently people have been fainting at Wimbledon throughout the day, probably just not used to the temperature. Well, I can tell you, it's a bit of a one day off, because the next few days, the temperature is back down to this sort of level.
So the high teens Celsius and we've still got that chance of showers Friday and Saturday. It will also be quite windy as well. But at least not as warm as it was to date. Now right now in Warsaw, 20 degree Celsius and no problem with the heat there. We've seen a few showers come through. But the conditions right now are actually clear, more rain will be heading in.
But not until after the match, which of course is due to take place any moment now. So what you can see there, Germany against Italy, partly cloudy skies, temperatures (inaudible) the mid- to high teens Celsius. There's that low producing the rain but also severe thunderstorms. It'll sweep through Scandinavia. It will lose some of its power once it does that.
And temperature wise, the heat really shifting across into central Europe, so 28 in Berlin and 30 Celsius in Vienna. Now talking about Wimbledon, obviously those temperatures and the conditions (inaudible) have been OK. We haven't had any rain stop play.
The average temperature is 21 degrees Celsius, about a 51 millimeters of rain throughout the tournament, 11 days actually when we can see some rain, that's millimeters 0.25 or more. What we saw on record was 1976.
We've not got that yet -- there yet, 31 was the average high and also a very, very wet day. The other thing just to talk about is the heat, which is extending across the U.S. Richard, this -- the warnings back over 1.5 million square kilometers, an area the size of Spain, France and Germany, 75 million people under those warnings for the next two days.
QUEST: Thank you for that. Jenny Harrison at the World Weather Center.
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable.
QUEST: From Beijing, this is MARKETPLACE EUROPE. I'm Richard Quest in the Chinese capital. The trade relationship between the E.U. and China is amongst the most important in the world. For years, the European companies have come here to set up business and take advantage of lower costs.
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QUEST (voice-over): Now with a booming economy here and rising prices, that advantage has just about disappeared. But Europe's companies, it means trading has become much more difficult.
Coming up, the rise of machines, how China's new workforce are German robots. And I talked to the E.U. ambassador to China about the trade tensions between these two trading giants.
MARKUS EDERER, E.U. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: I think the basic issue for European business -- and that's what companies tell us -- is a level playing field. They want a level playing field access to the Chinese market.
QUEST: Despite the fact that manufacturing is slowing down in China, the country remains one of the most important engines of global economic growth. So prices and wages are still rising, which means companies are having to cut costs and try and find new, cheaper workers, as Julia Mann reports from Germany. They're discovering employees of a different kind.
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JULIET MANN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Meet the workforce muscle of the future, an orange robot army, which further down the production line are even programmed to make bits of each other. Kuka is Europe's largest maker of industrial robots.
This production line in Augsburg, Germany, produces up to 17,000 a year, mainly for the European and U.S. markets. Now the firm has expanding production in China to serve a market where manual labor costs are rising.
TILL REUTER, CEO, KUKA ROBOTICS: Every production must get more efficient. So today you have many people (inaudible) and if you have new processes, you want to automize (ph) (inaudible) robots.
MANN (voice-over): Automation is growing because of wages, speed and quality.
REUTER: There we see big potential in China because China has moved towards being deep production, deep manufacturing, which for the world, people were (inaudible) strategies to China. And now with increasing rates from China, we see a big automation wave coming.
MANN (voice-over): Salary increases in China stopped that automation wave, but the country is also playing catch-up. The International Federation of Robotics says for every 10,000 people employed in manufacturing industries worldwide, there are around 50 robots. In Japan, that number soars to 306. Germany has 253. But China trails way behind with just 15 robots per 10,000 workers.
MANN: The International Federation of Robotics says that last year global sales of products like these were up 30 percent. That's around 150,000 industrial robots. It's a market currently estimated to be worth $17.5 billion. And although still predominantly driven by the auto industry, demand for robot technology from other sectors is on the up.
MANN (voice-over): Other sectors like the manufacture of medical equipment, plastics and food products. Kuka's new regional hub in China can harness those trends, because while famed for turning out cheap copies of almost anything, China can't yet compete on robot brains.
REUTER: Our products consist of the hardware, which you can see here, but also the software component.
And while someone can maybe rebuild the hardware component, software is much more the softer nucleus it is (inaudible) protected. But I think in the end is we have an advantage because of our innovation. We have to work on next generation, and this gives us the advantage in China and in the whole world.
MANN (voice-over): And if these rigorous robot workouts are anything to go by, wait till this thing over several hours to test your ability and strength. Kuka could well have their site at the business all wrapped up.
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QUEST: Juliet Mann with the next generation of robotic workers.
European companies want a level playing field when doing business here. After the break, the E.U. ambassador to China tells me how he's going to help them get it.
QUEST: Welcome back to MARKETPLACE EUROPE in Beijing. We all know that China is the most populous country in the world, and now the second largest economy. It was here that gunpowder, the magnetic compass, the calculator and paper money were all invented.
Last year, the Europeans increased exports to China by 20 percent. Even so, the Chinese still send twice as much in dollar value terms the other way to Europe. So the Europeans now have to work out how to increase sales here in China.
EDERER: I think the basic issue for European business -- and that's what companies tell us -- is a level playing field. They want a level playing field access to the Chinese market, which is often lacking.
QUEST: By that and by saying there's not a level playing field, what do you mean? What sort of market access barriers are there?
EDERER: Well, if you look at it, there are whole sectors which are pretty much closed to European, but not only European, also American and other companies, for instance (ph), tourism, logistics, postal services. They're basically sectors which are not open to foreign companies. There are issues of public procurement.
There is a huge disbalance (ph) of access to public procurement (ph) in Europe and in China. There are the perennial issues like IPr, intellectual property protection and so on. So there's a range, lack of transparency, opaque business environment. These are the issues which are being brought to our attention.
QUEST: Do you get the impression that the Chinese understand how angry and frustrated the Europeans are? And not just the Europeans, the Americans as well, by this IP question? And/or have a commitment to change more than lip service?
EDERER: I must say, Richard, this is a very ambiguous situation. If you look at last year's trades, European trades went up by 20 percent. But Chinese exports to Europe only went up at 3 percent. So there is a gradual, you know, upwards more on that. The European companies who are here and who do export to China are still not entirely unhappy. I mean, otherwise you wouldn't see these figures.
QUEST: The trade numbers last year with respect, Ambassador, are totally skewed by the economic situation. The Chinese exported less to Europe because the European economy is in trouble.
EDERER: Well, but if you look at the previous year, we had a similar situation, where European exports soared by 34 percent. And in the first quarter of this year, again, you had a huge increase in European exports. And, frankly, the situation is not as bleak. European businesses are making profits here as well, with all the problems, you know, we are working on.
QUEST: But companies still don't necessarily always want to bring their best technology here, either because they're forced to transfer to a local J.V., there are costs. Or it's just simply stolen.
EDERER: It's true. And it's a major issue which we are constantly addressing. There is, in many cases there, they are forced to -- when they're going to joint ventures. And sometimes they are forced to share their technology and they oppose it; we oppose it.
QUEST: If there is a slowdown in the Chinese economy, is that a major concern for you?
EDERER: Yes. I think since we're also interdependent, the European Union, being China's biggest export market and China being European companies' second biggest export market, I think we all have to concern -- we have to be concerned about slowdowns on either side.
QUEST: With that in mind, how are you explaining to the Chinese, as best you can, the current Eurozone crisis, when they must be wondering whether the euro and the Eurozone is about to collapse?
EDERER: I think it's a legitimate concern for them, as it is for us Europeans, what happens next. I am telling my financial interlocutors (ph) they should not underestimate Europe. And it has been very -- made very clear by European leaders that they will do everything within their means to keep the euro and to keep the Eurozone intact.
I've heard much more encouraging news, and including report from the Chinese leadership then for many other countries outside the Eurozone.
QUEST: When European businesses came here first 20, 15-20 years ago, it was as a low-cost production base. Now they've got to rethink that strategy, haven't they?
EDERER: That's absolutely true. And there was a very interesting business confidence survey by the European Chamber of Commerce. And it said while 80 percent of the companies want to stay invested and even expand investment here, 22 percent of the companies are thinking about divesting and moving elsewhere. And I think they are the ones who feel the cost pressure through rising wages.
QUEST: What would your advice be to business in Europe, coming here to do business?
EDERER: I think you have to take into account that we have a changing economic environment here. We have a maturing economy. The times of low- cost, low margin mass production chances for European business are over. China wants to move up the value chain. So you come here really for the market access to what in terms of numbers is the biggest market in the world.
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QUEST: The E.U. ambassador to China. And that's MARKETPLACE EUROPE for this week. I'm Richard Quest in Beijing, home of the Forbidden City, but a forbidden market no more. Whatever market you're in, I hope it's profitable. And I'll see you next week.