Return to Transcripts main page


Fiscal Cliff Negotiations; US Markets Down; Marissa Mayer Off to Good Start With Yahoo!; $550 Million US Lottery Jackpot; Chinese Map Outrage; Past Map Mishaps; Dollar Holding Steady; Sneak Preview of Porsche Cayman

Aired November 28, 2012 - 14:00   ET


RICHARD QUEST, HOST: Fix the debt. Chief executives push for a fiscal cliff deal sooner rather than later.

Fix your debt. A jackpot of $500 million is sparking a lottery fever.

And fixing up the Porsche. The chief executive tonight on this program as they unveil the new Cayman.

I'm Richard Quest, with an hour together, I mean business.

Good evening. Let's start tonight with the fiscal cliff in the United States. President Obama is taking the battle to the people. The president wants Americans to pester politicians using phone, email, tweet, anything they can, until they've agreed a debt plan.

Mr. Obama says more Republicans are taking a balanced view, and with enough public pressure, a deal could be in place by Christmas.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Senate's already passed a bill that keeps income taxes from going up on middle class families. Democrats in the House are ready to vote for that same bill today.

And if we can get a few House Republicans to agree as well, I'll sign this bill as soon as Congress sends it my way. I've got to repeat: I've got a pen.


OBAMA: I'm ready to sign it. Let's go.


QUEST: The president says he may be ready to sign it. If they can't all come to an agreement with Congress, you know only too well those tax hikes and spending cuts automatically take effect.

One of the key figures in these negotiations explained, just in case anyone had any doubt, what will happen if America goes over the cliff.


ERSKINE BOWLES, US COMMISSION ON FISCAL REFORM AND RESPONSIBILITY: If we go over the cliff, you're going to have a slowdown in economic growth of at least 4 percent. That puts us back into recession, that means 2 million people lose their job, it means unemployment goes to 9 percent.

You're going to see these businesses are all talking -- look, we're not waiting to see this happen. They're already slowing their hiring.


QUEST: Now, the House speaker, John Boehner, who's agreement is crucial to any deal says the Republican Party has done its part, now it's time for the Democrats to show their cards on the spending cut side of the equation.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We all know that we've had this spending crisis coming at us like a freight train, and it has to be dealt with. And in order to try to come to an agreement, Republicans are willing to put revenue on the table, but it's time for the president and Democrats to get serious about the spending problem that our country has.


QUEST: The president's also trying to get big business on side. He's meeting with 14 chief executives today, including Goldman Sachs's Lloyd Blankfein and Yahoo!'s Marissa Mayer. The markets are open --


QUEST: -- and doing business and as all this talking takes place, the Dow Jones is off the best part of 70 points. So, you have the talking of the various people involved and you have the way in which the chief executives are at the White House. Maggie Lake is in New York for us now. Maggie?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, what the Obama administration is hoping is that those chief executives can kind of cut through the political rhetoric. We've heard this over and over, it's like a broken record. Obama gets up and Democrats get up and say "We want a deal." Republicans say we want a deal, but they're still apart.

What they're hoping is that getting these people in here who run huge corporations -- and you mentioned Goldman and Marissa Mayer from Yahoo! -- it's also Macy's, Home Depot, AT&T, Pfizer. It is the who's who of corporate America, down at Capitol Hill from the morning until this evening, there were two different sessions.

They want them to tell these congressmen and women and lawmakers, listen, we're not hiring. If you don't get a deal, we're going to have to fire, we're going to have to put off decisions. It's going to have all these negative effects. If you get the deal, however --


QUEST: Right, but Maggie --

LAKE: -- it is going to free us up to make decisions --


LAKE: -- in the real world.

QUEST: OK, but the lawmakers know all this. They know exactly this. They've been talking about it for months, the fact that business decisions -- you heard there, politicians speaking about it. It's grandstanding. What do they hope will happen by putting it to them face to face?

LAKE: Yes, but -- in any negotiations, Richard, a lot of this has to do with public pressure. You're right, they've heard it before. Frankly, they've heard it before from the CEOs. But you have al the television cameras rolling, the CEOs are going down, they are basically threatening to withhold decisions and lay people off, their constituency, that.

And you have Obama on top of that getting out today saying listen, tweet your congress person. Use this hash tag. And it's hash tag #my2k and get the word out, put pressure on them. That's what they want.

Voters want to get something done. If the lawmakers -- they want to keep their job. If they feel enough pressure coming from all sides and have hard numbers given to them, the hope is that that will convince them. But you're right. This is a conversation that has been going on for years now --

QUEST: All right.

LAKE: -- but it's really down to the wire. So, they're going to pull out every stop they can and continue to put the pressure on to see if it'll move the needle at all.

QUEST: Slightly off agenda, one of those chief executives, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo!, very celebrated, very well-known, and very much in the news.

LAKE: And very busy. She's got a lot going on. In addition to going down to Washington, as we know, she just came off having a baby, and she's in the midst of trying to turn Yahoo! around. It is no small feat.

She's off to a very good start, Richard. That stock up 19 percent since she's taken the helm. Goldman just put it on its conviction list this week. She sat down with Patty Sellers from "Fortune" and did her first interview since taking over for Yahoo!, and it will be her last for a while, and she explained what's next or what's in store with the turnaround. Have a listen.


MARISSA MAYER, CEO, YAHOO!: Important things for Yahoo! strategy moving forward is mobile. Right? We have a terrific set of assets on the web. They're all the thing that people want to do on their mobile phones. So those are sort of four big pieces.

There's the verticals that we've always been really strong in that we just need better execution, innovation to really work with. There's a real opportunity for us to partner.


LAKE: Richard, I want to leave you with this intriguing thought. When she's talking about partnering and possibly acquisitions or something to that thought, they need a distribution outlet for all this content. They're not going to get it from Google or Microsoft, they have their own servers, they have their own content.

A lot of people think that is going to steer them near Apple. A lot of people interested in some sort of partnership with Yahoo! and Apple, so watch that space.

QUEST: Maggie Lake is in New York. How many tickets have you got for tonight's Powerball lottery in the United States?

LAKE: Not enough. But you only need one, the winning ticket.


QUEST: All right. Maggie is there. Because as we were talking, we start talking about Washington trying to fix the US national debt, meanwhile, the rest of the country and a great deal more is trying to get rich and fix their own debt.

It's the Powerball lottery. The jackpot's now worth more than half a billion dollars. Half a billion dollars will be won, perhaps. Mary Snow is in New York. Mary, we will talk to you later in the program about the fever, but whilst we are continuing QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight, write these numbers down. This -- because you're --



QUEST: Mary's going to -- Mary is hopefully going to buy a ticket or two. These are the numbers that we think you need to put down. 14, which is the number of chief execs Obama met today. 33, the days until the fiscal cliff. 9, the number of dashes in the disputed Chinese passport map. 17, the number of eurozone countries. 15, the number of Powerball rollovers so far. And number 1, the number of people who'll be keeping the jackpot if this ticket wins. Mary, can you do that for me?

SNOW: I will and hope you will share it with me. These are unique numbers. I haven't seen anybody play these just yet.

QUEST: We're going to -- we've also talked to people and taken some tweets. Mary, if you win, because I'm sure you've bought one or two tickets or indeed perhaps you're about to, what's the one thing you would do if you won? The one thing you would do?

SNOW: I would make sure I made a great investment. Sounds boring, but I want to be set for life. That would be the one thing I would do.

QUEST: Well answered, Mary. Go and buy my ticket. Later in the program, we will tell you -- if you did invest that money, just how much it would make. We've got the numbers for you of how you could invest it and what the money would make. Mary Snow, who is in New York and is about to go and buy my ticket.

What's the one thing you would do if you did it? It's @RichardQuest, @RichardQuest is the one thing that you would do if you were to win the Powerball tonight.

Coming up in a moment, you might want to buy one of these with the winnings. It's Porsche's latest coup-ay. Or coupe, as the Americans say. It's at the LA auto show. It's in about an hour. The chief executive with the new model car.


QUEST: China says the map that it is all a fuss about has nothing to do to get hot and bothered. The nine-dotted territorial line featured in new Chinese passports takes something of a liberty with what China actually owns. It has caused ructions with China's neighbors.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei says the picture of the map should not be over interpreted. As Jaime Florcruz explains from Beijing, for some countries, this is just the latest in a string of provocative acts.


JAIME FLORCRUZ, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: With a few subtle strokes, China has again infuriated some of its neighbors, this time with a map printed on the newly-issued electronic passports that show territories claimed by China and some of its neighbors.

The map includes a border region claimed by China and India and most of the South China Sea, part of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia.

Although these contested regions have been put in official maps before, the move to put them on new passports, however, is seen as a provocative act. Vietnam and the Philippines have lodged official diplomatic complaints. The United States have also weighed in.

VICTORIA NULAND, SPOKESWOMAN, US STATE DEPARTMENT: We do have concerns about this map, which is causing tension and anxiety between and among the states in the South China Sea. We do intend to raise this with the Chinese in terms of it not being helpful to the environment we all seek to resolve these issues.

FLORCRUZ: China's foreign ministry spokesman defended the move.

HONG LEI, SPOKESMAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): Chinese purpose in making these B passports is to improve the passports' technical function and provide convenience for Chinese nationals to travel abroad.

FLORCRUZ: This passport applicant has no problem with the map.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's an accurate map. It's China's map. Is there a problem? No, there's no problem.

FLORCRUZ: This would-be traveler hopes the controversy will be resolved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is an issue between governments. There might be some implications for ordinary Chinese citizens traveling to those countries, but I think the problem will not be too big.

FLORCRUZ: The map on the new passports has put other territorial claimants in a bind. If they affix official stamp on Chinese applications for visas, experts say, it could be interpreted as endorsing China's territorial claims.

Vietnam, for instance, refused to stamp visas on the new passports. Instead, it stamps on a separate piece of paper, this avoiding the appearance of accepting China's territorial claims. The Philippines says it is keeping its options open.

Jaime Florcruz, CNN, Beijing.


QUEST: The Chinese passport isn't the only example of creative map- making. This is the Eurostat's yearbook from 2004. Now, if you look closely, you can see, or rather actually -- you can't see Wales, the country of Wales, part of the United Kingdom. That didn't go down terribly well with the Welsh.

This map, for instance, now this map shows the Sandy Island in the South Pacific. Unfortunately, the island was "undiscovered" last week. A research vessel found out that the island simply doesn't exist, and yet it's been on maps for decades, if not centuries.

And then of course -- ta dum! -- Apple's maps, which replaced Google's on the latest iPhone software. This is how an area of Qatar looks on Google's maps. And now, look at the area -- as you can see, in Apple's version. It is sparse, to say the least.

Not surprisingly, Apple's chief exec, we know, has apologized, admitted the map wasn't ready, heads have reportedly rolled over the fiasco. "Bloomberg" says the manager in charge of the team that made it was fired this week. I'm not expecting anything similar in China over the nine dashes on the passport.

And so, our Currency Conundrum for you. We have been doling out the chocolate dollars in the office with the festive season upon us. My question: has cocoa, it's main ingredient, ever been legal tender? Has cocoa ever been legal tender?

And the US dollar is holding steady against Europe's major currencies this Wednesday, and those are the rates --


QUEST: -- this is the break.


QUEST: Now, I asked you a moment ago what would you do if you won the Powerball lottery, $500 million, @RichardQuest is where you can answer. Laurent Engel has tweeted, "If I win, I would buy the new Porsche coupe. One in every available color."

All right, Laurent. You haven't won, but I've got the man who'll sell it to you, because Porsche is about to take the cover off its new car, the latest version of the Cayman is to make its official debut at the Los Angeles auto show in about an hour. A sneak preview for you now on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Matthias Muller is the president and chief executive of Porsche. He joins me now, live from the LA auto show. Matthias, as we look at this new car, where does this car fit in to Porsche's range, and what's your goals and aspirations for it?


QUEST: We seem to be having --

MULLER: Good morning, everybody. First of all, we are very proud -- we are very proud to be here in Los Angeles again. And it's true that we have the world premier of the all new Cayman. The second generation of the Cayman, which we are very proud of. And it's a very important milestone for the Porsche brand to have the debut here in America.

QUEST: And how worried are you -- that the slowdown, the -- what's happening in the US, makes it much more difficult for luxury car sales like yours at the moment?

MULLER: That statement does not fit for Porsche. Porsche has a very successful year in the United States. We will expect all new record of sales that year, and we expect the same for the next year. So, we are looking forward in a successful future for Porsche in the United States.

QUEST: Right. Interesting, this, because if there's the -- we're reading that the possibility of higher taxes, the possibility of capital gains tax, a lot of people are deciding to spend now before the money might be taken off them in higher taxes in the future. Are you seeing people trying to get one now?

MULLER: Of course, there are a lot of rumors and also discussions about taxes and something else, but nevertheless, Porsche has a very strong brand. And the second point is that we have a very modern product portfolio, so our customers try on Porsche. And as I said before, we are looking forward to having a successful future here.

QUEST: Again, let's talk about the person you're targeting, because between the Boxster and the 911, the Cayman sort of fits nicely in the middle. So, the sort of business that you're hoping to grow through this vehicle extends the range of people who can afford your car. Is that fair?

MULLER: Of course, first of all, Porsche is a sports car company. The icon of our brand is the 911, as you know, since 50 years, since nearly 50 years. And every other model has to stay along with the 911. And the best example for that is the Cayman and also the Boxster, which we have brought into the market during that year.

And as you know, next year, we have announced the all new Macan that will bring us just around 50,000 units a year. And that is the reason why we have committed to about 200,000 units in 2018.

QUEST: Right. Finally, sir, how much will you sell me a Cayman for? Give me your best price. Come on. None of your high prices. How much will you sell me one for?


MULLER: We have announced it in America with $52,600.

QUEST: $52,600. All right. Put one on hold for me in case I win the lottery tonight.

MULLER: OK, I will do that.

QUEST: A nice color. Paint it something suitable. Many thanks, indeed.

As you know, we're following the Powerball. Somebody -- some of you might want to work out how many I can afford. $52,600 is -- I could probably get him down to $50,000. He'd probably take $50,000 for cash. I'm sure he would. Times are hard. Anyway, work out how many Porsches I could buy with that.

When we come back in just a moment, we turn to the serious business: lacking business integrity. With those words, the US has frozen BP out of the supply and exploration contract across the country. The impact after the break. It is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, good evening to you.


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.

Syria's opposition says twin car bombings have killed at least 45 people in a town near Damascus. The population of Jaramana is mainly Christian and Jews and it's traditionally been loyal to the Syrian government. The explosions wounded 120 people, children are amongst those who were killed.

In Egypt, several thousand people are back in Cairo's Tahrir Square where they're protesting against what they call their president's power grab. Mohamed Morsi announced that courts cannot throw out his decrees until a new constitution is in place. A new version could be drafted later this Wednesday and voted on tomorrow.

Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo say they will withdraw their forces from the city of Goma. Regional leaders have been demanding that as part of a larger agreement to open negotiations aimed at ending the conflict. But despite the promise, it's by no means clear the rebels have begun to leave the city.

An independent report says staff at Afghanistan's largest bank looted it of almost a billion dollars. Kabul Bank collapsed in 2010. It triggered a civil unrest and a financial crisis. The bank had been set up to provide a transparent safe place for government workers to deposit their paychecks.

Twenty steel plant workers have been injured in a tornado in southern Italy. Look at the pictures. The twister swept in from the sea and hit the port city of Taranto earlier on Wednesday. One worker at the plant is missing. He was reportedly operating a dockside crane.



QUEST: BP has been temporarily banned from bidding on U.S. government contracts because of what America says is a lack of business integrity.


QUEST (voice-over): The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has criticized the oil company's conduct after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The ban will stay in place until, in their words, "BP can supply evidence to show it meets federal business standards." The company says it's made significant enhancements since the accident and stresses that the ban does not affect any existing contracts.

Jim Boulden's with us.

Hang on, Jim. This is a bit -- rather a bit odd.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, they were convicted or they pled guilty to criminal acts. And under U.S. federal guidelines, the government shouldn't be doing business with any company that has been continually violating or convicted of criminal acts. So the EPA has taken this step.

Here's what I think happened. BP is supposed to be negotiating with the EPA over this, and they just -- either they -- the paperwork wasn't getting done; something happened where the EPA said enough is enough. We need to slap BP on the wrist. And so they did this --


QUEST: (Inaudible) --

BOULDEN: -- temporary ban today.

QUEST: After all that BP's been through, the trust fund that it set up, the changes that it's made, the regulatory changes, the investigations, I mean, the BP that they are punishing is not the BP of Deepwater Horizon.

BOULDEN: And that's why I think we saw the share price fall more than 4 percent in London when this story first came out and the EPA sent out their press release, down a half a percent till the end of the day. People realized temporary and only new contracts at BP were to go for new contracts doesn't affect their bottom line now or anytime in the near future.

And so therefore BP is saying rightly in their press release to remind people that it's temporary and also to say that they're currently in negotiations with the EPA to sort this out. That's what leads me to believe that maybe the paperwork wasn't coming from BP fast enough.

And don't forget, the EPA's under a lot of pressure in the U.S., a lot of people on the Right want to get rid of it altogether. So they might have been flexing their muscles a bit here.

QUEST: Is it your understanding that there was any great contracts that BP was about to bid for that will be now in jeopardy?

BOULDEN: In today was another round of offshore leases for the Gulf of Mexico, coincidentally; today there is the leases that were being auctioned and that reportedly BP cannot take them, cannot be in those leases.

However, they have had leases back in June. They got new releases since 2010. So ironically, BP has been doing normal business in the U.S. until today, despite everything else that's been going on.

QUEST: Does this make any sense?

BOULDEN: Politically, yes.


QUEST: Good answer, Jim.

Good answer. Before you go, one thing that you would do, the one thing that you would do -- because I'm sure you bought a ticket somehow by fair means or foul, the one thing you would do if you win the lotto tonight.

BOULDEN: I'd buy a house in Scarsdale, New York, and live a country life.

QUEST: (Inaudible) two-fifths of 1 percent on Wednesday, enough to (inaudible) other major oil companies. Look at the numbers.

The indices ended the session with modest gains. Luxury goods makers and retailers were amongst the top performers, Burberry up nearly 21/2, M&S up 2.2, LVMH and you can see the numbers for the overall market. The SMI is now roaring ahead.

Britain's former prime minister says the current post holder, David Cameron, is in danger of making a monumental error over the country's E.U. membership. Tony Blair told a business lobby group in London now is not the time to leave the E.U.


TONY BLAIR, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF ENGLAND: Europe is a destiny we will never embrace easily. It will be a monumental error of statesmanship to turn our back on it and fall away from a crucial position of power and influence in the 21st century.


QUEST: The former British prime minister, Tony Blair.

"Business Traveller" update comes after the break.




QUEST: Time for this week's "Business Traveller" update, and to bring you up to date with the news of the travel industry, we start with the travel agency Thomas Cook, which has reported an annual loss of more than $900 million. And that was a significant improvement in the 4th quarter and the new chief executive Harriet Green says she's optimistic for the company's future.

You remember, Thomas Cook had some serious problems with its funding and financing and there were questions about the very survivability of the company. Now (inaudible) back in one piece.

As for the Australian airline Qantas, Qantas has cut ties with Australia's tourism agency over what it says is an argument of a conflict of interest. But tourist board's chairman, the tourist board's chairman is part of a Qantas shareholder group that's putting pressure on the CEO, Alan Joyce. This person's Geoff Dixon, by the way.

Joyce says he will end the relationship between the two; it's worth tens of millions of dollars. One postscript to this nasty row, Qantas first of all says that it will continue to spend. Not a dollar will be lost. And secondly, the man who says -- is at the heart of it all, Geoff Dixon, is the former chief executive of Qantas.

Meanwhile, these are the customers you can see on Air New Zealand's new flight safety video.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome aboard this Air Middle Earth flight. Before we set out on our journey, I would like to impart the story of safety.

QUEST (voice-over): This is, of course, part of the promotion for the new "Hobbit" film, released by Warner Brothers, which is the parent -- which is owned by TimeWarner, the parent company of this network. Air New Zealand has also designed a Hobbit-themed Boeing 777 to coincide with its release.


QUEST: Airbus planes may not be covered in characters from "Lord of the Rings." The company's A380 jet is spectacular -- you know that -- in its own right, if you've flown on one. As the SuperJumbo celebrates its 5th birthday, Ayesha Durgahee went to see taking such a behemoth of the air how it's put together.



AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dawn, the A380, affectionately known as The Whale, peacefully waits for work to commence. But the purpose-built barge ready for its aeronautical cargo.

DURGAHEE: This is the delivery point of the main sections of the A380. When Airbus created it, they broke the mold, not only by the sheer number of people it can carry but also in the way that they build it.

DURGAHEE (voice-over): The A380's component parts are so large Airbus had to create a whole new method to move them. They begin their journey scattered all across Europe where they're made. They brought specially designed ships and sails to Pauillac Harbor, 600 kilometers south of Paris.

Conceived in secret in the 1980s with a single goal: break the dominance of Boeing 747. Airbus' motto is unashamedly "Bigger is better."

So let's put the A380 size into perspective. Compared to a Boeing 747-400, the A380 sits 5 meters taller, nearly 4 meters longer. It's the same length as 71/2 London buses. The A380 has an imposing wingspan of 79.8 meters. That's 18 meters wider than the 747.

JOHN LEAHY, COO, AIRBUS: You'll have 150 more passengers on board. You will burn 20 percent less fuel. You'll take off in a shorter runway and you'll produce half the noise footprint in the surrounding environment.

DURGAHEE (voice-over): Bigger and fuel efficient aircraft is key to airline profitability. To be able to adjust to higher passenger demand and higher fuel prices.

ALEXANDRE DE JUNIAC, PRESIDENT & CEO, AIR France: It's an issue in which we have very few control. The only control, long-term control we can have on this type of issue is to buy fuel-saving aircraft which is seen from us economically wise and clever to improve our results.

If we must compromise between the environmental constraints of airports and flying more people, we'll have to use bigger aircraft. And the A380 is a solution to the problem.

DURGAHEE (voice-over): Eighty-six SuperJumbos are now in service, operated by nine airlines around the world, with Singapore Airlines being the first to fly the A380 in 2007.

Three years overdue and billions of dollars over budget, many say it's doubtful that the A380 will ever be profitable for Airbus, coupled with more setbacks since its entry into service, including cracks in the wing components found in January of this year that led to checks on the worldwide fleet. Even so, Airbus expects to break even on production costs by 2015.

Airbus is now trying to get its production rate up to speed and hopes to hit its long-term target of three planes a month. Pierre Vermande is the head of operations down at the harbor.

PIERRE VERMANDE, HEAD OF A380 SURFACE TRANSPORT, AIRBUS: So at the moment, we have two parts of the fuselage; we have the front fuselage and the center fuselage. These two components (inaudible) arrive yesterday night from Canada and this morning a few minutes before, we moved from the vessel to the barge.

DURGAHEE (voice-over): The parts will carry on 95 kilometers down the Garonne River to Langon, where the trucks roll in, winding their way to the Airbus headquarters in Blagnac, Toulouse, a journey that takes four days and three nights -- Ayesha Durgahee, CNN, Pauillac, France.


QUEST: You may never think it will happen, but if you do win U.S. Powerball lottery, you'll need to know what to do with the money, all $550 million. Up next.





QUEST (voice-over): Time for the answer to today's "Currency Conundrum," has cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, ever been legal tender? Well, yes, it has; early South American civilizations, Mayans and Aztecs, used it as a kind of coin. They were only used as food when they were on their last legs and worn out.


QUEST: As for other forms of chocolate use, well, how about these chocolate coins.


They may not be used by the Aztec, but they are rather tasty, one way or another. Got quite a few of them, half-dollars, in fact.

These are worth just about the price of chocolate. But the hottest investment at the moment isn't these half-dollar coins; it isn't available on Wall Street, unless there's a news agent. It is the Powerball lottery now worth $550 million.

Mary Snow is back in New York.

First of all, come on; show us -- show us the ticket.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is my gift to you, Richard. This is the ticket of the numbers that you asked for. And I have to admit, I've never played Powerball. Well, I picked my own numbers; I've always done Quick Pick. So we filled it out and it's a $2 ticket. And a gift to you, Richard Quest.

QUEST: Really important that it's a gift because I'll explain the legal niceties about that. But because Mary has made that a gift to me and QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, if we win, we can claim.

Mary, let's talk seriously. Is everybody just talking now about Powerball? I can see people just piling in to put money in.

SNOW: Yes, and this is a store that's open 24 hours and the owners are saying people are coming in around the clock.

We've seen a steady stream, people sneaking out of the office. One woman I just talked to said, you know, she bought $10 worth of tickets knowing full well the odds are daunting, but saying it was worth the investment to just have that dream for a day and think of what you would do with that money. But it really is a steady flow of customers coming in.

I talked to the New York State Lottery, and officials there are estimating there's, for every hour, there's nearly $2 million of sales in these tickets leading up to tonight's jackpot.

QUEST: And I mean, so that, the jackpot is tonight. It could be one winner; it's likely to be a syndicate, it's likely to be several winners. But under U.S. rules, you don't -- if you take the money all at once, you don't get the full $550 million, do you? You get a discount if you actually take it as a lump sum?

SNOW: Correct. And you know, I just also want to point out there is the possibility that there will be no winners, right? And that could roll over and make this jackpot even bigger. I mean, the -- some are saying that the odds are that there will be one winner of this jackpot tonight, but you never know.

And it's true. If you don't -- if you do take the lump sum, then you -- of course, all the money you pay in taxes, you don't get the $550 million.

QUEST: All right. All right. And there will be one winner, and you're holding the ticket tonight --

SNOW: Of course --


QUEST: Many thanks indeed, Mary Snow, who is in New York for us tonight.

Now rather than lecture you on what you could buy with this jackpot, we thought we'd tell you how best to invest it.

Let's assume you have the full amount. Well, remember, the discount for cash is what you get. You could put it under your bed, in which case you would literally have the money you got. You'd better be near the ceiling and beyond, through the roof. But you'd have $360 million.

You could put it in a straightforward, ordinary savings account, in which case you would -- at a pathetic rate of interest; JPMorgan Chase, less than 0.1 of 1 percent. You'd have just that at the end of the year.

You could put the money into a mutual fund -- in this case, we chose PIMCO's mutual fund, a straightforward fund, 12 percent annual return so far. You'd have $403 million so at the end of it.

You could go for high yield, $417 million, $417 million if that was what you wanted or you could actually put it all on a -- on the roulette table and put it all on red. If you won, you would have $720 million. If you lost, of course, you would have.


QUEST: Nothing.

Jenny Harrison's at the World Weather Center now for us this evening.

Jenny, I know that you are a woman who likes to take a bit of a risk.

JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, not that much of a risk. I like to play roulette as well, but even I'm not that (inaudible) all that money on the one color.

Anyway, let's have a look at weather conditions. Now we think that that's the honest effect all of us pretty much every day unlike the lottery. But it is a very messy picture across Europe. Now in particular, in the last few hours, it's really been about this storm now across the central Mediterranean. There have been some ferocious winds, some very heavy amounts of rain and a tornado.

Have a look at this video because this storm, it actually developed. The tornado developed just offshore and it came onshore and hit the ports (inaudible) in southern Italy and it did a lot of damage.

And in fact, as many 20 workers were injured at a steel plant and there are also some cranes or a crane that collapsed on the dock side and a few of those workers were rescued, but one man still reported missing from that.

You can see some of the (inaudible) we've been throwing up there, but in fact, this really did cause, as I say, some damage. It sparked a few fires. Of course, it broke some of the transformers, some of the electricity pylons, and they came down as well. So very dangerous system indeed.

Let me show you what else is happening whilst that tornado struck in Taranto in southern Italy. Across into Croatia, a wind gust of nearly 100 kph in Dubrovnik and in Switzerland in the last 48 hours in Locarno, 134 millimeters of rain.

Now this storm system, it's a very slow-moving storm. And so it'll gradually work its way eastwards, still with those threats of the heavy thunderstorms and, of course, also tornadoes. And then on the back side of this system, we have got some bitterly cold air coming down. And that means that a lot of the moisture that's out there -- and there's a great deal of it, it is going to turn to snow.

And in some areas, it will be some very heavy amounts of snow. Now that storm across the central Med, that will continue to work its way slowly eastwards so still, as I say, some more warnings in place for that.

And then the system across these central areas, look at the last 12 hours, you can see the rain, the thunderstorms, the very heavy amounts of snow. And that will continue for the next couple of days. The one place that we've got a bit of a break, just some coastal showers, and they're cold, of course, and that cold air is the U.K.

But look at this cold air, just plunging southward, right the way down into the western end of the Med, temperatures well below average for this time of year. And look at all that snow. At the same time, this little low works its way to the north.

They've got widespread (inaudible) Scandinavia and very heavy across western Russia and then we've got this dividing line across western Russia, where we're going to see some sleet and possibly some freezing rain as well, but just look at these snow totals, Zurich 23, nearly 23.5 centimeters, 20 in Stuttgart, all of that in just the next 48 hours.

And temperatures, well, on the cold side, 5 in Berlin, 6 in London, Richard.

QUEST: Jenny Harrison at the World Weather Center, I'll have a "Profitable Moment" next.



QUEST: Tonight's very "Profitable Moment," in a few hours we'll know how many people, if any, have won the half-billion Powerball lottery in the U.S. So many people have spent a moment or two daydreaming about winning and having hundreds of millions in the bank. We have debated whether we would keep on working, the little luxuries we would buy.

Would we tell anybody? Well, I tell you, there's nothing wrong with this shameless desire to be rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Money buys choices. It buys opportunity. It buys certain economic security.

And provided it doesn't warp values, and become an end to itself, well, being filthy rich is the great enabler. 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.

If I win, I'll still see you tomorrow.



QUEST (voice-over): The headlines: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is banning BP from all new government contracts until it meets federal business standards. The action comes after BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal counts.

Syria's opposition says twin car bombings have killed at least 45 people in a town near Damascus. The population of Jaramana is mainly Christian and Druze, and it's traditionally been loyal to the Syrian government. The explosions wounded 120 people. Children were amongst the dead.

In Egypt, several thousand people are back in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where they're protesting against what they call the president's power grab. President Mohammed Morsi announced that court cannot throw out his decrees until a new constitution is in place.

An independent report says staff at Afghanistan's largest bank looted it of almost a billion dollars. Kabul Bank collapsed last year and triggered civil unrest and a financial crisis. The bank had been set up to provide a transparent safe place for government workers to deposit their paychecks.


QUEST: You are up to date with the main news headlines. Now to New York. "AMANPOUR" is live.