CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

World Economic Forum Opens; Europe's Transaction Tax, Franco-German Friendship; Gunman in Texas College; IMAX's Ambitious Vision; Confidence at the Top; Shooting at Lone Star College

Aired January 22, 2013 - 14:00   ET

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


RICHARD QUEST, HOST: A tax on all your trade. Europe hails a new trading milestone.

Stock markets may be rising, CEO confidence is falling. We have the chief exec of PwC.

And when it comes to managing risk, they know a thing or two about it here in Davos.

I'm Richard Quest, I mean business.

Good evening. The World Economic Forum in Davos officially open for business. It is slow but sure. The delegates are trickling in, steeling themselves for the serious task of restoring trust and stability to the global economy.

On tonight's program, we'll hear from some of the early arrivals. We have the president of Azerbaijan. We have the chief executive of IMAX, and the heads of two of the world's top consultancy and accountancy firms, PwC and Ernst and Young. And of course, we have our riskometer as well.

Policymakers are counting on bold and unconventional measures to nurture growth around the world. Today, the Bank of Japan doubled its inflation target -- doubled it -- to 2 percent.

And it's extended its quantitative easing program indefinitely beyond 2013. Another case of QE -- quantitative eternity. Spending its way of a crisis could be risky for Japan. It has a public debt equivalent to twice annual GDP.

Here in Switzerland, the ILO, International Labor Organization, has called for a bold, coordinated action to break a jobs crisis, predicting global unemployment of 202 million people this year. And developed economies must work together, not individually, addressing these problems.

And the European Union, pressing ahead with a financial trading tax without the full support of all members. Only 11 states signed up for the plan. It could cause a rift within the union. CNN's Jim Boulden has been looking at the plan. Jim joins me now from London.

Jim, as we look at this trading plan, I know the UK, the city of London, isn't involved. So, does that make the whole thing a waste of time?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't, Richard, because 11 EU states have agreed to tax these financial transactions, and the goal, of course, is to raise extra funds to plug the budget gaps and cut back on risky trades.

The tax will apply to those buying or selling shares, currency trades, or even commodity swaps at a minimum of a tenth of one percent.

So let's see who is in. Well, most of the eurozone's major economic players have agreed on the plan. That includes Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, and they have the option to individually raise these taxes further if they like.

But who is out? Well, the majority, including the financial capital. The United Kingdom will not be adopting the new levy. Neither will the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Malta. In fact, the majority of the EU countries are out for now.

And this is the first time the EU has allowed a limited number of states to press ahead with a joint tax plan. It's called enhanced cooperation, and those who don't want to go along with it don't have to, just like the UK.

And the tax does, though, have a potential, still, to raise serious money. Let's look at some of the potential here. The plan could raise something like $49 billion a year.

It's interesting, Richard, the transactions could be double taxed. In other words, if you're a bank in France and you do a deal in Germany, both sides will tax, both sides will get that income. The idea is to have it go -- start January 1st, 2014. So, in the next year, during the next couple months, Richard, the details will have to be hashed out.

QUEST: Jim, as we look at this, at the same time as they've been talking of a financial tax, you have President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel, who have been getting together, they are, of course, celebrating the Elysee Treaty.

So, we have at the -- we have this interesting event -- don't we? -- moving forward controversially. At the same time, we have a reminder of history.

BOULDEN: Yes, exactly. And I think what you see is France and Germany taking the lead on the transaction task and also, as you say, celebrating 50 years since the Elysee Treaty. The idea of that, of course, was to tie the two economies, the two countries closer together after two devastating world wars.

And today, of course, the two leaders were together in Berlin and they were asked and they talked about this idea, and they talked about all the problems Europe's been through lately. Let's hear what the two leaders had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): We are aware of our great responsibility to improve the situation in the European Union, to overcome the euro crisis, to make economic growth possible, and to make the European model a livable model in the future, one of competitiveness, economic strength, and social fabric.

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): We took a look at what the next steps could be in bringing Europe forward. In the last months, we have made progress on financial stability, on budget regulations, on bank unions, and we work on the competitiveness issues. And as Angela Merkel has said, we want the social partners to be ready to take on this task.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOULDEN: Richard, that's it from London. Back to you in Davos.

QUEST: Right, thank you. Jim Boulden, there. We are, of course, following the latest events in Texas, where there's been a school shooting. Now we join our colleagues at CNN USA.

(BREAKING NEWS - CNN SIMULCAST)

QUEST: And there we will leave our sister network, CNN USA. But as we await more details of this shooting in Texas, Eastern Texas, be assured, we will be rejoining them. We will be bringing you up to date with the developments.

It seems to be, at the moment there's a certain waiting pattern as they're waiting for more information, and they're waiting to see just exactly how serious that situation -- it's obviously serious, but the entire gravity of what's taken place.

We will bring that to you, as we will continue our nightly discussion on business and economics. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, we're in Davos. We're back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Welcome back, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, we are live in Davos for you this evening. We will, of course, return to Texas the moment there's more information to be bringing you.

We need to talk to the chief execs and the business leaders and those people who are here. Now, 2012 was a very good year for the company of IMAX. These are the five top-grossing films of last year, and all were screened in IMAX cinemas. 2013 is shaping up rather nicely as well.

IMAX will show the second Star Trek film, "Into the Darkness," and the latest installment of the hugely successful "Iron Man" franchise as well, as also Christopher Nolan's Superman remake, "Man of Steel."

And this year, the company hopes to expand its presence in emerging markets, with the first Bollywood and Russian language films. And Rich Gelfond is with me. Wee know we've got to talk these issues. Good evening.

RICHARD GELFOND, CEO, IMAX: Good evening, Richard.

QUEST: Chief executive of IMAX with me. Now, are you shifting the focus of the company into these new emerging markets because that's potentially your biggest growth area?

GELFOND: Very much so, Richard. We think there's a lot of globalization of content going on, so we're showing Chinese films in China, Russian films in Russia, Bollywood films in India. All over the world, local films as well as Hollywood films.

QUEST: Can you make money on this expensive form of making movies?

GELFOND: Well, you don't only make the movies in IMAX, you convert them using special technology. Of course you can make money on it. In addition to pleasing audiences, we like to please our investors as well.

QUEST: OK. If we look at the -- the confidence level of CEOs at the moment, a survey out this evening shows that confidence, those who are highly confident, is actually falling. Where would you be on the spectrum for confidence in 2013.

GELFOND: Somewhere in the middle, Richard. I think some markets, like the US and China, will do well. I think Brazil and India are OK. I'm worried about Europe, I'm worried about some of the other developing nations.

QUEST: And what is your fundamental worry? Is it that the recession could return? Is it that they haven't got a grip on -- I mean, we know, for example, in the United States, the problem of the budget deficit and the budget problems.

GELFOND: I think it's a problem of politics, I think it's a problem of currencies, I think it's a problem of jobs, I think it's a question of consumer demand. Are the consumers going to be there?

QUEST: All right. Again, if we look at the question of the US versus -- and we'll put -- we're not using the riskometer tonight, but we will put your answer on it -- where would you be on that overall?

GELFOND: I think Europe presents a much greater risk than the US right now, and I'm worried about Europe.

QUEST: Why? Because --

(CROSSTALK)

GELFOND: I just --

QUEST: -- they're back from the brink from what they were -- from where they were.

GELFOND: But they're not where they need to be.

QUEST: Really?

GELFOND: I don't -- I'm worried about the currency, I'm worried about the union, I'm worried about the politics, I'm worried about a lot of things in Europe.

QUEST: Right. Finally, Davos. You and I talk about Davos every year. Still worth coming?

GELFOND: Absolutely.

QUEST: Why, though?

GELFOND: Because you get to talk to people like you and world leaders and other CEOs and you get to know what's going on in the world around you, which for a global company is super important.

QUEST: Super important. We thank you as always, and I'll put you on the riskometer later in the evening.

GELFOND: OK.

QUEST: Thank you very much, indeed --

GELFOND: Thank you, Richard. Nice to see you.

QUEST: -- for joining us. Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX joining me.

We were talking there about that survey and that study. Now, barely a third of chief execs say they are very confident about the year ahead. According to PwC's annual survey, only 36 percent of chief execs are sure their companies will see short-term growth. It's down from 40 percent last year, 48 percent the year before that.

This is very worrying because of all of this at a time when the economy should be coming out of recession. Western European CEOs are the least optimistic. Russians are the most. Only the heads of Lat Ams are more positive than last year. So, I've traveled to the Belvedere Hotel to meet PwC's chairman, Dennis Nally.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DENNIS NALLY, CHAIRMAN, PwC INTERNATIONAL: Pretty challenging environment that's out there. It started off with a view coming from the CEO community that basically says caution, concern, as it relates to the next 12 months. Confidence levels down.

QUEST: In an era of risk, what are they most worried about?

NALLY: Well, I think it starts with just the overall economic picture that we're all dealing with. Clearly a slowdown in growth. I think it's a recovery that is very, very slow to get on the fast track. So, you start with the economic picture.

But I think it's broader than that. That's just one. I think you talk about the concern of governments and the inability to really deal with the fiscal crisis, deficits, taxes, et cetera.

QUEST: One of the biggest worries for them was rising taxes.

NALLY: Absolutely. Well, look. This is fundamental. You've got large government deficits. How are you going to close the deficit? Cut spending, raise revenue. And so, most places around the world, as you know, are doing both.

QUEST: What about the extraneous events? Because in your report -- fascinating -- major social unrest in the country in which you're based, 75 percent --

NALLY: Yes.

QUEST: -- of respondents said they were concerned about that.

NALLY: Well, it's -- it really speaks to, I think, number one: the fact that with social media that's out there today and the internet age, you can see what's going on. The Middle East is a great example of that in terms of how groups -- large groups of people can come together to really deal with issues that are important to them.

You have youth unemployment. A big issue all around the world. And so, when you think about issues that CEOs can control, they're OK. When you think about issues that are outside of their control, that becomes a real concern and a real caution.

QUEST: So, if you pull the strands together, would you say you are optimistic, having heard what the CEOs say in the survey?

NALLY: Well, I tell you what. I was actually surprised this year. I was surprised that the level of CEO confidence is actually down this year versus the prior year. I would've said I think things are getting better. I think Europe is getting better, I think the issues in the United States are getting better, we avoided the fiscal cliff.

I think you saw growth rates coming out of China in the fourth quarter which are much more positive than what many had predicted. So, I would have been, quite frankly, more optimistic than maybe what our survey results suggest.

QUEST: If things are looking better, how do you square that circle with the result?

NALLY: I would sum it up by saying I think we're in a period which is a stubborn recovery. Many have said that this recovery would be much more fast-paced. I don't think we're seeing that for all kinds of reasons, and I think that's affecting the CEO confidence levels in terms of how they think about the next 12 to 18 months.

QUEST: So, this is your confidence, and it shows this fall, which is really worrying at a point of recovery, as opposed to the recession itself.

NALLY: Absolutely, yes.

QUEST: But if you come to my riskometer --

NALLY: Riskometer, ah!

QUEST: So, in 2013, put your cross where -- and move -- where would you like? Which is the biggest risk? The US with its budgetary problems, the EU with its continuing debt and political problems? Where are you going? Put a nice, big cross.

NALLY: A nice big one, huh?

QUEST: Well, move the arrow and put a cross.

Whoa!

NALLY: Europe.

QUEST: You really think that's still the number one issue?

NALLY: I think -- Europe has done a great job over the last six months managing its way through the crisis. They're not out of it yet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: Now of course, we'll be talking a great deal more about that issue and exactly where and what is happening in the next 13 months. But now I need to bring you up to date with events taking place in Texas.

You'll be aware that there is a shooting incident underway at a college outside Houston in eastern Texas. It is Lone Star College, and it's confirming that the North Harris campus of the school has a report of a gunman on the campus, and the students in the campus have been asked to shelter in place.

The school is currently in session. We believe that the hospital has received already one or two casualties, but the exact nature of that -- one patient has been taken to the local hospital. We are waiting for further details. These pictures came to us a short while ago.

We do not know any more details on casualties or, indeed, the status of the shooting -- the shooter. And we will have more details of that in a break -- after we've had a short break. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, we're live in Davos tonight, good evening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. There is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS live from Davos in just a moment. This is CNN and, on this network, the news always comes first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST (voice-over): You'll be aware we are following reports of a shooter on a campus at a community college in Texas. Police are at the Lone Star College in north Harris County. Students have been told to take shelter. Local media are reporting that several people have been shot. And medics have been seen treating at least two people.

The local hospital says it has received one patient. We do not know any more details about the severity and the gravity of those injuries or, indeed, the status of the shooter themselves. The school, which is a higher education college, is currently in session.

There are more than 10,000 students on campus. It's been just over a month since a gunman killed 26 people at a -- 26 children, more, at an elementary school in Connecticut. The hospital has received one patient, according, at the moment.

Other news that we're following, Israelis have just half an hour left to cast their ballots in an early parliamentary election. The vote was called by the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to break a budget impasse. Analysts expect Mr. Netanyahu to easily hold onto power. But he'll do so with a conservative coalition government.

Authorities in northeastern Nigeria have confirmed a mass shooting, killing of at least seven people on Monday. Between seven and eight people were wounded in the attack and officials now say the gun believed to be from an Islamic group, Boko Haram. They opened fire in a market in Damboa, killing 18 people on Monday night.

The group has carried out attacks, including assassinations and suicide bombings in the region yesterday. On Monday, the other suspected Haram members had warned them not to sell pigs or monkeys, which goes against Islamic teachings.

Those are the new headlines. You're up to date.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Now much like the ski slopes here in Davos, the world economy is getting more and more interconnected. Ernst & Young says globalization is increasing amongst most of the world's leading economies. Jim Turley is the chairman of Ernst & Young and he joins me now live.

Good evening to you. Before we talk matters of economics, which we will get to in a second, we do need to talk about the serious issue of obviously what's happening in Texas and the reason I want to talk to you about that, Jim, is you are the trustee of a college in Texas at the moment.

Now you're not familiar with this one, of course, and this particular incident. But you are familiar with the issues that schools are having to face at the moment.

JIM TURLEY, CHAIRMAN, ERNST & YOUNG: Yes, Richard. When I was trustee at Rice University, a great institution in Houston, and this is just tragic, what we're hearing from Lone Star College.

But it's a broader issue that, you know, on the heels of Sandy Hook, as you just reported, the country has to deal with and the world has to deal with is, yes, about guns. It's about how the country deals with mental illness.

It's about perhaps other elements of society, movies, games, kids are brought up with. Universities today, all institutions, have to put youth protection and safety first. And that's what all of us are hoping.

QUEST: In your university, obviously you've been following closely -- where does this debate go, though? So many incidents -- because the rest of the world, I can tell you straight out, the rest of the world looks and says, fine. You've got the 2nd Amendment. But it's -- whatever you're doing is clearly not working.

TURLEY: Well, clearly, you're right, because there is a propensity for this to happen. And it seems to happen in waves. And so I think there's policy issues taking place that President Obama is leading.

But then at a micro level, institutions have to make sure that they deal with the protection on campus. And so how they deal with that -- we're each learning from each other right now -- is it's happening in real time. But it is issue number one.

QUEST: And we'll talk about this (inaudible) you'll be following this very closely now as we continue to follow the events taking place in Texas.

Let us maybe inelegantly but we need to do it anyway. Let us turn our attention to the questions of the economy.

TURLEY: OK.

QUEST: There's no doubt that risk is the issue that people are talking about here. So what is it for you? Where is that risk?

TURLEY: I think the risk is in multiple places. I think there's risk that as the economies do improve and they are improving, that some countries can get more protectionist. That could be in trade policy; it could be in currency issues. It could be in taxation enforcement -- there's a lot of different ways to be protectionist.

I think there's some policy risk and regulatory risk that might keep companies uncertain as to what actions to take. I think all of these things need to get bedded down so that entrepreneurs can actually do what they do best, which is build jobs.

QUEST: OK. But risk and we are -- I mean, if your clients, your customers, what are they saying? Are they worried? What's their fundamental worry?

TURLEY: Their fundamental worry right now is actually focused around Europe. The U.S. got a little bit past the fiscal cliff, lots of issues that politicians still have to deal with in the United States. But the worry right now is a lack of growth in the Eurozone. They --

QUEST: So you still believe that after the Eurozone could be at risk?

TURLEY: I think that the risk of the Eurozone falling apart is much less than it's been in the recent past. But the concern is there's no real growth story in Europe when you look at the demographic issues, when you look at the societal issues.

QUEST: Ah. But then if you balance that risk with the United States, with its budgetary problems and all those issues.

TURLEY: You're absolutely right. But the United States is generating growth. And we have a lot of faith that the politicians will somehow pull together and realize they're not going to drive this train into the wall. And so I think the presence of growth in the United States is why the business's community's risk is more focused today in Europe, because the growth is not there.

QUEST: Good to see you. (Inaudible). Thank you for talking on these other matters about (inaudible).

TURLEY: Thank you.

QUEST: Good to have you on the program, Jim Turley joining me to talk on these other issues.

So competition between emerging economies, it's clear to see here in Davos, not only the developed world, but there are posters and adverts for Russia, for Malaysia and Azerbaijan. They are everywhere. And putting the country's potential, there's certainly room for more foreign investment in Azerbaijan.

While major capital investment increased by 18 percent in 2012, nearly 80 percent of that was domestic. I spoke to the president of Azerbaijan earlier today. And I began by asking the president, look, frankly, why is his country putting adverts on the buses and on the buildings, why such a big presence here?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ILHAM ALIYEV, PRESIDENT OF AZERBAIJAN: Well, country's developing. Development is very rapid. And of course, we want to present ourselves broadly to international business community, particularly to those who are not still working (inaudible). We opened our doors wide. And want to invite our friends, partners, to work in Azerbaijan to invest, to be our partners.

QUEST: And you find the World Economic Forum is a suit -- is a good place to do that? You've been coming here, you were saying, many years. So you know what the game is here.

ALIYEV: Yes, of course. It is the best place to do it, the best, because you get here the elite of international business, politicians. So represented it's the leaders of major international companies are here. Therefore, this is the best place to present your country.

QUEST: Very much in the news at the moment, of course, is BP. And the question now, it's got its relationship with Rosneft and the worries, of course, about the Russian government, through Rosneft, through BP interfering in your own country because of the -- of BP's relationship with Azerbaijan.

Is this something of which you are concerned, that BP could be used by the Russians to interfere?

ALIYEV: First of all, of course, we are not concerned. First of all, BP is a company which is present in Azerbaijan almost since the very beginning of our independence.

Since 1994, it's a history of relationship for almost 20 years, and very friendly relationship, partnership relationship, and also the relationship which will continue for at least 20 years more because the projects which we are now implementing jointly with BP aimed at the future. Therefore, I am not concerned about any other issues which BP is pursuing with other partners.

QUEST: So what, for you, sir, is the issue here in Davos? Obviously we know there's a question of slow global growth and how that will affect emerging markets and emerging countries. How does it affect you and where's your real concern?

ALIYEV: Actually, our economy's very stable and we manage to develop even in the years of economic crisis. Azerbaijan's economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. We manage to triple our GDP in less than 10 years, more than 300 percent growth.

And now the economy's more diversified. It's not only energy. So my main objective now is to attract investments into a non-energy sector of Azerbaijan, particularly in high-tech, I.T. and services.

QUEST: Finally, sir, back in my studio, I have a chart. The best way I can show it is to show a little diagram. Now if you imagine that's what it looks like, it's got an arm that moves to the left and the right, that's the U.S. and that's the E.U.

ALIYEV: So I should put the arrow where the risk is higher or -- ?

QUEST: Yes, where the risk is higher.

ALIYEV: OK.

QUEST: Just put where you'd like to put it.

ALIYEV: Where the risk is higher, I think it's -- would be -- would be.

QUEST: All the way over there?

ALIYEV: (Inaudible) this, from economic point of view, I think that U.S. is now much stabler than E.U. E.U. still has problems, still there are countries which big European countries have to take care of, have to, you know, provide some financial assistance.

It's not easy. It creates some, you know, irritation, even in those countries which are being supported. Therefore, taking that into account, I would say that U.S. is -- looks much stable from economic and political point of view.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: That's the president of Azerbaijan talking to me earlier.

We are, of course, following very closely the events taking place in Texas. And we now rejoin our colleagues at CNN U.S.A.

(CNN SIMULCAST)

QUEST: And there we leave our colleagues at CNN U.S.A., reporting that multiple people have been shot at the Lone Star College in Texas. The school spokesman's referring to two people as shooters. The medical personnel as we've seen, treating at least two people. Hospitals in Houston confirmed it received one patient and more than 10,000 students are on the campus.

Other schools in the area are on a so-called lockdown. Instead of a shooter gone wild in a school, it now appearing or seeming as if this was a battle between two people, in which others got caught in the crossfire. The full details, of course, will only really become clear in the hours ahead. We will take a break. This is CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Good evening, live from Davos this evening, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. In the United States, there are the latest numbers from DuPont, Verizon, J&J -- Johnson & Johnson -- and the market has been giving its own reaction, somewhat muted.

Alison Kosik's with me. She's at the New York Stock Exchange where we normally find Alison.

Alison, I've been somewhat busy in Davos and haven't got a chance to digest the minutiae of the latest numbers. So give me an overview and factor it into a quarterly reporting.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: OK, so I'll rattle through some of the top earnings reports that came in today. Let me start with Travelers Insurance. This is a U.S. insurer, Richard. It crushed Wall Street estimates, even though there were higher costs associated with claims from Hurricane Sandy, revenue also fell short.

But those were offset by an increase in premiums and more renewals. And what analysts are saying about this is that the strong signal for the insurance industry as it tries to raise prices because of uncertain weather patterns.

OK. DuPont topped forecasts in the final three months of 2012 and also raised its guidance for 2013 and that's despite reported weakness in demand for a paint pigment the company makes, which is used to color paper and plastics. So DuPont shares right now are up 2 percent on that news.

As for Johnson & Johnson, even though earnings were better than expected in the 4th quarter, J&J took a big charge because of a recall of the artificial hips that it makes and revenue and guidance for the year fell short of forecast.

Finally, Verizon posting a loss in the 4th quarter. It was double the loss Verizon posted in the 4th quarter of 2011, partly because of pension costs. It was also hurt by Hurricane Sandy-related expenses.

But there's some good news in this. More people, Richard, signed wireless contracts and bought phones. Plus the average amount Verizon makes off each customer rose. Overall revenue grew more than expected as well. Verizon shares right now are up about a quarter of a percent.

QUEST: Now, Alison, I've been asking people here where they see the balance of risk between the E.U. and the U.S. in 2013. You in the U.S. have had some very encouraging home sales numbers, which would suggest economic growth picking up.

KOSIK: Exactly. And this -- these numbers that we keep getting about the housing market, they really showed that the recovery in the housing market continues to gain momentum. Now we did find out on the other hand that existing home sales, they fell 1 percent in December, missing Wall Street expectations.

But here's the good news with this, because even with the dip last month, sales of existing homes are up more than almost 13 percent over the year. Prices are up, too, and there are fewer homes for sale. So the housing market here in the U.S. is being helped by lower mortgage rates. We're seeing this momentum gain speed as well.

QUEST: Alison Kosik, who is at the stock exchange for us this evening.

You can keep in touch with us here in Davos two ways, as always. It's @RichardQuest, which is the Twitter address, help us keep up with the charts on that. And the #Quest is at the bottom left of your screen, if I can remember which is the bottom left as I look left to right. But wherever it is, you can, of course, follow it on and we can have a dialogue throughout the course of the week here at Davos.

When we come back, a "Profitable Moment," and we'll be talking about CEOs (inaudible).

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment," despite all the perceived decadence and the dynamism of Davos, there is a crisp uncertainty in the air and I don't mean because of the meteorology.

As the World Economic Forum begins, BWC reminds us that the men and women at the very top, the chief executives are more pessimistic than they have been for years. And this at a time when economies are supposedly growing. They are the people with the capital to kickstart our struggling economies.

And they're telling us tonight the future is difficult and worryingly with a prospect of downward trend. Finally, then, tackling the risks ahead will be crucial. And that is why here we have our risk-ometer, where we gauge where the true danger lies for the global economy, whether it's in the E.U. or the United States, or somewhere entirely different.

The E.U. seems to have most of it so far. Three guests tonight, all of them going for the European Union and say that's where the problems are in the future.

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.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

QUEST (voice-over): The headlines at the top of the hour: officials say they believe two students were shot in crossfire as two people shot at each other at a community college in Texas. A spokesman for Lone Star College says one suspected shooter is in custody. Another has fled the campus.

Medics have been seen treating at least two people. The local hospital says it has received one patient. Polls have just closed in Israel's early parliamentary election. The vote was called by the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to break a budget impasse. Analysts expect Mr. Netanyahu to easily hold onto power with a conservative coalition government.

Authorities in northeastern Nigeria have confirmed a mass shooting, killing at least seven people on Monday. Between 8-10 people were wounded. Officials say gunmen believed to be from Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, opened fire in the market.

Russian planes have landed in Beirut in Lebanon to pick up Russian nationals who want to leave Syria, according to the state-run Lebanon national news agency. These pictures show buses transporting the Russians from Syria. A Russian official was quoted as saying today that he fears a protracted conflict in Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Those are the stories we're watching for you tonight. Now "AMANPOUR" from New York.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

END