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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Obama's Grand Bargain; Dow Down; Barclay's Balance Sheet Hole; Balancing the Banks; BP Disaster Fund Nearly Drained; European Markets Up; Dollar Gains Ground; Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness Charged for Tax Evasion
Aired July 30, 2013 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NINA DOS SANTOS, HOST: A grand bargain. The US president is making his pitch for more spending on jobs. We'll bring you his speech live.
Plan B for Barclay's. The bank asks investors to help it cover $20 billion gap.
And also on the show, from the Champions League to the courtroom. Bayern Munich's president is charged with tax evasion.
Hello, I'm Nina Dos Santos, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Welcome to the program. President Barack Obama is about to propose, in the words of the White House, what he calls a "grand bargain." It's a promise to work with lawmakers to cut taxes for business in return for investment to try and create more middle class jobs.
Republicans don't seem to be too keen to strike a deal, though, saying that this so-called bargain leaves families and small business behind. These are the live pictures as you can see there at Amazon.com's distribution center in Tennessee. Let's listen in to the president this hour.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The kind of economic growth that's broad-based, the foundation required to make this century another American century.
But as I said last week, and as every middle class family will tell you, we're not there yet. Even before the financial crisis hit, we were going through a decade where a few at the top were doing better and better, but most families were working harder and harder just to get by.
(CROWD MURMURS AGREEMENT)
OBAMA: And reversing that trend should be Washington's highest priority.
OBAMA: It's my highest priority, but so far for most of this year, we've seen an endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, and we keep on shifting our way -- shifting our attention away from what we should be focused on, which is how do we strengthen the middle class and grow the economy for everybody.
OBAMA: And as Washington heads towards yet another budget debate, the stakes couldn't be higher. And that's why I'm visiting cities and towns like this one, to lay out my ideas for how we can build on the cornerstone of what it means to be middle class in America. A good job with good wages. A good education.
OBAMA: A home to call your own.
OBAMA: Affordable health care that's there for you when you get sick.
OBAMA: A secure retirement even if you're not rich.
OBAMA: More chances for folks to earn their way into the middle class as long as they're willing to work for it.
OBAMA: And most importantly, the chance to pass on a better future for our kids.
OBAMA: So, I'm doing a series of speeches over the next several weeks, but I came to Chattanooga today to talk about the first and most important cornerstone of middle class security, and that's a good job in a durable, growing industry.
OBAMA: It's hard to get the other stuff going if you don't have a good job. And the truth is, everything I'm going to be talking about over the next several weeks really is about jobs. Because preparing our children and our workers for the global competition they'll face, that's all about jobs.
A housing finance system that makes it easier and safer to buy and build new homes, that's about jobs in the construction industry.
Health care that frees you from the fear of losing everything after you've worked so hard, and then having the freedom to maybe start your own business because you know you'll be able to get health care, that's about jobs. And obviously, retirement benefits speaks of the quality of our jobs.
And let me say this, something everybody here understands. Jobs are about more than just paying the bills. Jobs are about more than just statistics. We've never just defined having a job as having a paycheck here in America. A job is a source of pride. It's a source of dignity. It's the way you look after your family.
OBAMA: It's proof that you're doing the right things and meeting your responsibilities and contributing to the fabric of your community and helping to build the country. That's what a job's all about. It's not just about a paycheck. It's no just about paying the bills, it's also about knowing that what you're doing is important. That it counts.
So, we should be doing everything we can as a country to create more good jobs that pay good wages. Period.
OBAMA: Now, here's the thing Chattanooga. The problem is not that we don't have ideas about how we can create even more jobs. We've got a lot of ideas out there. There are plenty of independent economists, plenty of business owners, people from both parties, agree on some of the ingredients that we need for creating good jobs.
And you've heard them debated again and again over these past few years. I've proposed a lot of these ideas myself. Just two years ago, I announced the American Jobs Act, full of ideas that every independent economist said would create more jobs.
Some were passed by Congress, but I've got to admit, most of them weren't. Sometimes --
DOS SANTOS: Barack Obama, as you can see, there, speaking in Chattanooga, Tennessee at a distribution center of Amazon.com. That company also announcing plans today to hire about 7,000 new workers.
This is all part of what's being pitched as a "grand bargain" by the White House. You could here, there, the US president saying that he wants to be able to offer people the promise -- middle class people in America the promise of having good jobs.
Which means that they can also afford a good lifestyle, and that includes education, having your own home, as well as access to affordable health care for people who need it most and retirement packages and the chance to pass on something better to the next generation.
Let's bring in Maggie Lake at CNN New York, who's been following this story, and she's also been speaking to key Amazon executives from that particular distribution plant that the US president was talking from just a moment ago.
Maggie, first of all, many countries are taking a look at exactly what it means to be middle class these days, but it's extremely important in America, because there's so many people who lost their jobs in 2008 and still remain under-employed.
MAGGIE LAKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Nina. It is a very big theme. You heard the president mention that phrase already several times. You can expect him to keep hammering home at that point.
This is sort of the theme. He's now out making a series of speeches, pushing his economic vision, agenda, which has pretty much been stalled.
And what we're seeing in this speech, as the one before, and likely will follow the same pattern is he's sort of reminding everyone how far we've come, the fact that 7 million jobs have been created over the last 40 months, sort of ticking off the accomplishments, which a lot of people in the Obama administration feel they don't get enough credit for.
But then sort of setting up the future, which is that much more needs to be done, especially addressing that sort of vacuum in the middle class. A lot of the jobs that have been created are on the lower end of the scale.
We've seen some of those better-paying, what we could consider middle wage -- middle-class wage-earning jobs really not come back in the way that they had existed before. Incomes haven't really been rising. People still feel very strapped. That's a problem for the president.
It's also something that he feels Republicans are vulnerable on. They haven't really been seen to be addressing problems of the middle class, so that's a theme he stays on very much.
And today, sort of presenting what he says is a bargain, a way to jump- start the economic talks in Washington, offering what we believe, according to the administration, is the fact that he's going to -- he's willing to address tax reform, cut those corporate taxes if Congress will agree to spend on investment in jobs. They haven't been very keen on spending.
So, he's trying to sort of reignite the debate in Washington, remind people how much progress has been made. But it's a tough sell, Nina. Republicans responding very coolly to what we believe the president's laying out in this speech right now, saying they don't feel there's anything new here.
DOS SANTOS: And he's continuing to talk this hour, there, in Tennessee from this distribution plant at Amazon.com. They're going to be offering several thousand new jobs here, but again, it all goes back, Maggie, doesn't it, to the issue of whether those jobs can provide that kind of middle-class lifestyle?
LAKE: Yes, exactly. And this is exactly a perfect example of the problem here. They're going to be training 7,000 jobs, but a lot of people have pointed out these are working in these vast warehouses, the salaries that they pay, the type of work it is, really hard to raise a family on.
I actually put that to Dave Clark, an executive at Amazon who oversees that facility there, as well as others, and asked him about that, about the quality of the jobs. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CLARK, VP OF WORLDWIDE OPERATIONS AND CUSTOMER SERVICES, AMAZON: We think these are great jobs. These jobs pay typically 30 percent more than a traditional retail job. They're full-time jobs, they start with benefits on day one. Our employees are stock owners and participate in stock programs for the company. We have 401Ks that are matched by the company.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAKE: Now -- so the base salary maybe not as high, they're trying to upgrade it above the average, but Nina, when he's talking about all those other perks, trying to enhance the package, one of the things he also told me about that will likely really resonate with the president and the administration is that they offer employee education, tuition reimbursement.
So that as you work at that fulfillment center, you can train up, increase your skills so that you'll be able to climb the ladder, not only at Amazon, but leave the company if you want, and get a better job someplace else.
That is the type of thing that Obama is trying to push, not only from Washington, but from the private sector. Re-educate and retool. Easier said than done, but that's one of the things that Amazon and the president are pressing on today.
DOS SANTOS: Yes, Dave Clark certainly seems very much on message. Of course, all of this gears up to a key jobs report later on in the week.
LAKE: That's right, and this, again, is when we're going to be talking about where are the jobs being created? Are they coming from manufacturing? From white-collar segments that have been hard-hit. Financials, et cetera.
Or are they again in the service, in retail -- which is not to dismiss them. A job is a job, especially if you don't have one. But again, what are the wages like in those jobs? Are a lot of people under-employed? Are they working several jobs instead of the one that would allow them to best support their families.
So, we're really going to dig in the details there and talk about not just job creation overall, but the quality of the jobs being created.
And I just want to circle around to show how complicated this is, Nina. When I was talking to Amazon, I also asked them, OK, so you're paying above the industry average, but what do you -- what's your dialogue like with local retailers?
Because you're creating jobs that at the same time, people say killing off some of those small businesses, where traditionally, again, those were well-paying jobs. They say they have a good relationship. They try to giver everyone a platform.
But it's a complicated situation as we really undergo this globalization and this technology revolution that's changing the labor force.
DOS SANTOS: It certainly is. Maggie Lake, there, in New York. Thanks very much for that.
Let's see whether the US president, Barack Obama's speech has actually made any waves on the US stock markets. This is how the Dow Jones industrial average is trading.
As you can see, we're currently down around about 0.19 of one percent, so around about a quarter of one percent on the day, 30 points on the Down, at 15,493 at the moment.
As you can see, it has very much reversed its trend in just the last hour or so. It had been underpinned by better-than-expected housing data in the United States earlier on this session. But since the US president has started talking, it seems as though things have turned south.
Now, after the break, mind the gap. Barclay's is certainly trying to. The British bank is asking shareholders for billions of dollars to help fill a gaping hole.
DOS SANTOS: Hello and welcome back. The British bank Barclay's is asking its investors for around about $12 billion to help it patch a multibillion- dollar hole in its balance sheet, which has been created by a new system of banking rules in the United Kingdom.
So, all banks are actually required to keep back around about 3 percent of whatever they lend out. This will be designed to be a safety net against economic and market uncertainty. But as you can see here, Barclay's is almost $20 billion short.
So, what does it plan to do about this? Well, it plans to raise around about, as you can see here, $9 billion from shareholders in the form of a new share issue, so we're talking about stock offering. That would be placed at a 40 percent discount below Monday's closing price.
Another $3 billion will come from bond issues. That turn into shares eventually, so we're talking about hybrids, here, if the bank's capital falls below a certain criteria.
And also, the bank will attempt to try and shrink its balance sheet down. As a sweetener to investors, Barclay's has promised to hand out around about 40 to 50 percent of its earnings in the form of dividends as of next year.
Well, the cash call is quite a bit larger than many analysts had been expecting. Media reports just yesterday put it at around about $7.5 billion. Barclay's stock closed down nearly 6 percent in London trading today on the back of this news. That's on top of an already 4 percent fall on Monday's session, which is today when media reports first started to circulate about this plan.
The chief executive, Antony Jenkins, says that his plan is, quote, "bold but decisive." He told ITN's economics editor, Richard Edgar, that it'll leave Barclay's in a stronger state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY JENKINS, CEO, BARCLAY'S: Barclay's is absolutely 100 percent safe.
RICHARD EDGAR, ITN ECONOMIC EDITOR: Well, only a 3 percent fall in your assets would wipe the bank out.
JENKINS: Because we have very good risk management, if you look at our risk management all the way through the crisis, look at our impairment number today, the risk number in our accounts, it's a very, good, positive story. That's what banks do, they manage risk, and we've managed it successfully for hundreds of years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Well, Barclay's isn't the only European bank to be struggling to meet new banking standards. Deutsche Bank also today announced plans to shrink its balance sheet down to comply with a new set of rules called Basel III.
For more on this, I'm joined by Christopher Wheeler. He's a director at Mediobanca Securities in London and joins us on the show from our London bureau this evening. Great to have you on the show, Christopher. First of all, let's start out with Barclay's --
CHRISTOPHER WHEELER, DIRECTOR, MEDIOBANCA SECURITIES: My pleasure.
DOS SANTOS: $20 billion. That is quite a surprise here. Three or four years ago, this was one of the most successful investment banks in the British market, not to mention a successful retail bank as well.
WHEELER: Well, that's certainly correct, but I think what's happened here is we've been moving towards much stronger capital rules, and what's kind of crept up on the banks is also the regulators pushing for much stronger leverage rules, where you're much more looking not at the risk-weighted assets, but looking at the total balance sheet of those banks against the capital they have to support it.
So, in a way, as I said, it's playing catch-up on a different kind of ratio designed to try and strengthen the banking system.
DOS SANTOS: So overall, what do you make of these kind of rules? Because I suppose one could argue that those extra amounts of capital put aside will never really be enough. It is, to a certain extent, guess work here.
WHEELER: Well, you're absolutely right. But I think the problem we're having is we're having moving goal posts. For example, with Barclay's, the UK regulator -- actually, for all the UK banks -- has set a very different standard than the one that's been set by Basel III, which you mentioned earlier.
Similarly, the Swiss have a different rule. And of course, a couple of weeks ago, the Fed in the US came with a slightly different rule. I think one of the problems we have is not having a level playing field and also having regulators who, in a way can, as I said, play with the core rules, as the UK's regulator has today.
DOS SANTOS: Now, so, your job is to analyze stocks like, for instance, Barclay's, Deutsche Bank, and recommend whether investors should buy or sell them as part of your research. It must be quite difficult, though, to actually factor all of this into your recommendations, I would assume, not just because of the shifting goal posts, but really because the way how these banks are run today is very different to five years ago.
WHEELER: Yes, I think it's interesting that five years ago, we focused on earnings. Since 2007, we've been focusing on balance sheets, and one of the things we've learned in the last seven years or five years is that actually understanding what the risks are in banks' balance sheets is very difficult, indeed.
And actually making a decision -- you realize whenever you make a recommendation you have to try and put over to the clients what the risks are around that, because there are a lot of unknowns, no doubt about that at all.
DOS SANTOS: OK. Christopher Wheeler, there, from Mediobanca Securities in London. Thanks so much for joining us here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS this evening.
WHEELER: Thank you.
DOS SANTOS: Now, BP has -- now has to pay -- has had to pay out, I should say, almost all of the money that it set aside for compensation claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. An explosion on the BP- contracted oil rig caused around about 210 million gallons of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico. Remember, that disastrous incident occurred in 2010.
Now, out of the $20 billion in the trust fund that's been set up to cope with these kind of claims -- get this -- there are only around about $293 million left. So, we're talking about 2 percent of that total $20 billion that was put aside first.
Businesses still have another nine months to lodge their claims, and BP shares closed down around about 3.5 percent in London on the back of this kind of news, certainly one that we'll continue to watch here on CNN. Because that, many say, is a story that is far from being over.
Now, European stock markets finished mostly higher. Only the Zurich SMI remained in the red in today's session, as you can see, but only down around about 0.05 of one percent on the day.
Upbeat German consumer confidence numbers as well as better-than-expected Spanish economic growth figures -- perhaps not growth, because the economy's shrinking, we should say output figures there -- did manage to boost stocks.
As a whole, well, we saw an improved outlook also for EDF in France, that's a major energy blue chip over there, and that helped to boost the CAC 40, as you can see, which closed the day the best of the bunch, up around about half of one percent.
And when it comes to EDF's own stock, those shares rose around about 7 percent on the day, as I was saying, lifting that market. Otherwise, a bit of a lackluster performance for the European markets on a mixed-note day.
Time for our Currency Conundrum for you out there. What has the Bank of Thailand reportedly banned from being used as a currency in their country? Is it A, gold? B, the digital currency the Bitcoin? Or C, US dollars? We'll have the answer for you later on in the program.
Now, speaking of the dollar, it continues to gain ground against the British pound and also the euro. It's largely flat, though, against the Japanese yen.
DOS SANTOS: The president of the German football club Bayern Munich has been charged with tax evasion. Local prosecutors say that the charges against Uli Hoeness are in relation to a Swiss bank account.
Let's bring in Amanda Davies who's in our studio at the CNN Center for more on this. So, he's a huge figure in Germany. How much has he allegedly avoided, and how did this exactly come to light?
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the latest chapter in a story which started back in April. As you said, the president of Bayern Munich, one of the most powerful figures in German football -- many say the most powerful figure in German football -- he himself reported this undisclosed Swiss bank account back in April because he felt that he might get dealt with a little bit more leniently if he admitted it himself.
He's been charged with tax evasion because he failed to declare interest on this bank account, it's a Swiss bank account based in a Zurich private bank called Vontobel. His lawyers now have a month to respond, and the prosecutors basically need to decide whether or not it will go trial.
They've said any decision is likely to take until at least the end of September because of the vast amounts of information that are involved in this case.
This is a very interesting step, though. Bayern Munich back in April backed Uli Hoeness. He said he would suspend any role with the club, but the board said no, we want you to stay involved. But now, this is a case where he's been charged. Very interesting to see what they do from this point.
DOS SANTOS: But also, this will leave some of the government figures with some pretty red faces, because he had been behind all sorts of campaigns to try and make sure that people were transparent on their tax affairs.
DAVIES: Yes. He is a man who, yes, is a huge figure in German football. He was a World Cup winner, he won European cups, he played for Bayern Munich. He was then the general manager.
He is now the club's president who is really credited with turning it as a football club into one of the biggest European powerhouses there is. He's very instrumental in getting Pep Guardiola, the most sought-after manager in Europe into the club.
But he has also been known as a very morally upstanding member of German society. He, as you said, spoke out against the government and called for them to take firmer action against people known for corruption. Angela Merkel was a friend of his. She has said she is very disappointed by this latest state of affairs. And yes, it's a very big blow for Germany and, indeed, for German football.
DOS SANTOS: And also tax evasion is a hot-button issue, not just in Germany, but right across the eurozone, which is, of course, contending with some pretty severe financial issues. Business issues aside, what does this mean for the club? As you were just saying, it is one of the most successful.
DAVIES: It -- well, we have to keep this clear: it is very much him as an individual who has been charged. There is nothing to suggest that this has any ties to the club. But yes, it is a very, very successful German football club.
They won the Treble, they won the Cup, they won the Champions League last season. They won the Bundesliga. They are known as a real powerhouse who is competing against the top clubs from Spain, the likes of England. And he is very instrumental in that in terms of bringing big names into the club. So, it will be very interesting to see what steps they take.
Now, he could, if the law if followed all the way through, this could end up in a prison sentence. It has to be said, since the German rules back in 2008 said they were going to step up their fight for this, it hasn't really filtered down to actual prison sentences. More suspended sentences for this kind of offense.
DOS SANTOS: And as you said, though, it could go to trial at this stage. So, certainly one to watch. Amanda Davies, there. Thank you so much for joining us with more on Hoeness.
Well, confidence it seems is returning in Europe. After a two-year economic siesta, Spain may be set to return to growth.
DOS SANTOS: Hello and welcome back. I'm Nina dos Santos. These are the top stories that we're following for you on CNN this hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning has been found not guilty of aiding the enemy by U.S. military judge. Manning admitted to giving hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. He was found guilty on several other lesser charges and could be sentenced to many years in prison.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that he doesn't have time for skepticism on the peace process in the Middle East. He's been meeting with Israeli and Palestinian diplomats at the White House, the first time that both sides have actually come face-to-face in nearly three years. He says that the negotiators will meet again in the next two weeks and he hopes that they will reach a deal early next year.
The driver of the train which derailed in Spain was on the phone to railway staff when the crash actually happened. Officials say. Well, the train was going at a speed of 153 kph when it came off of the tracks. That nearly twice the speed limit, 79 people died in the accident.
European Union policy chief Catherine Ashton says that her meeting with the ousted Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsy, was, according to her words, "friendly, open and also frank." The two met at an undisclosed location and Ashton says that she won't talk about Morsy's opinions on the current political turmoil there for fear of misrepresenting him.
U.S. President Barack Obama is proposing to cut U.S. business taxes in return for investment to try and create more middle class jobs. He called the offer, quote, "a grand bargain" in a speech that he just made in the last hour in Tennessee. The president says that jobs were a source of pride (inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Greece's finance minister says that he's optimistic that his country will manage to return to growth next year, despite mounting protests of austerity measures, Yannis Stournaras says that Greece is getting a significant boost from record tourist numbers this summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YANNIS STOURNARAS, GREEK FINANCE MINISTER: I'm optimistic. I mean, up to now, we have done our duty. The economy is performing as expected. Actually, the receipts from tourism are better than expected.
So it might be the case that the recession of this year will be a little bit better than forecast and if the -- the tourists -- if the positive tourist season continues, then we are rather positive that next year the growth rate will have a positive sign in front of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Yannis Stournaras, the Greek finance minister.
Well, the Eurozone is more confident about the economy than it has ever been before, it seems. The European Commission's own measure of sentiment, as you can see on this chart here, was actually higher for a third straight month for the month of July.
That in turn indicates that businesses across this region it seems are feeling quite a bit better about investing and consumers are more willing to spend these days.
The improvement wasn't widespread though, while sentiment improved in four out of the five largest euro area countries -- we're talking about Italy, Spain, France and Germany -- we should point out, though, that it did fall in some of the smaller ones, especially the peripheral ones that have been worse affected by the crisis. We're talking about Greece and Portugal. It also fell in the Netherlands as well.
Let's take a broader look at the state of Europe's economy. Joining us now is the global economist Bronwyn Curtis, who joins us now live from our London studio.
It's great to see you again, Bronwyn; always a friend of this show and CNN generally.
Why do you think the Eurozone stands at the moment here, because we're getting all sorts of mixed figures, mixed statistics, Spain, the GDP seems to be improving there. The jobless rate is coming down, but it's still huge.
What's your overall prognosis?
BRONWYN CURTIS, ECONOMIST: Well, I think we are seeing a trickle of better data, manufacturing data across the Eurozone is up for the first time in two years in July. So that's good. But really, all of this growth is being driven by the core, as you just pointed out.
Now if when we see the GDP numbers or the growth numbers for the second quarter, they might be flat.
We might see better numbers going into the second half of the year. But my concern is going into next year because remember the core, particularly Germany, is dependent on China. And China's slowing down. So I think that the European Central Bank is a long, long way from exiting any of their loose policies.
DOS SANTOS: Do you think, though, that they might cut interest rates once more? It seemed as though they got a little bit closer to that.
CURTIS: Yes, I think they'll cut the refinancing rate again. They'll take the deposit rate on hold. Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, has already told us this.
So they're giving forward guidance, because what they are most concerned about right now is that if the U.S. interest rates got going up further, that European interest rates, longer term interest rates, will be dragged up with them. So they will be looking at trying to supply as much as liquidity as possible and trying to disconnect themselves from what's happening in the U.S.
DOS SANTOS: What do you think that really derail, though, this nascent recovery if, indeed, it is that, that we're seeing?
CURTIS: Well, it really is nascent recovery. I mean, we're talking about contraction this year and perhaps expansion next year. Now the European Central Bank's looking at 1.1 percent next year. You know, it's probably going to be closer to around about half a percent. The trouble is that growth isn't good enough to bring down unemployment. You know, it's around 12.2 percent now. It could be 12.4 percent by the end of the year. So that's still going up.
And none of the growth is enough to bring down debt. So in any of these countries. So that's the biggest problem. So yes, we've got growth. But if we saw the biggest risk, this long-term interest rates go up and growth starts to be hit again. So it's all about growth, one more time, particularly in the periphery.
DOS SANTOS: Yes, and the one thing that hasn't been very forthcoming on the growth front is growth for jobs as well. Do you think that the unemployment rate is likely to sort of sputter at this point?
CURTIS: Well, yes. I think it's going to go a little higher rather than lower, even if growth picks up a bit. It's always a lagging indicator. But we're still looking at an average to next year of say 12.2 percent, 12.3 percent. And that's really high across the Eurozone.
Of course, as we know, in some countries, particularly some of the peripheral countries like Spain, as you mentioned, it's huge still. We've got enormous unemployment. And of course countries get a bit tired of austerity. You know, there's a lot of it going on still. And it's going to go on for a long time in Europe.
So I do think the tensions have gone away for the moment. But I think it's like the lull before the storm. So it will come back, the problems in Europe will come back -- perhaps not this year, but going into next year.
DOS SANTOS: Bronwyn Curtis, many thanks for that.
Well, as you just heard, Bronwyn was talking about Spain and its economy has actually marked two full years of recession, output as measured by GDP, the widest, broadest measure of growth which, of course, Bronwyn also pointed out, is another one of those leading indicators, shrank by 0.1 of 1 percent in the second quarter of the year.
That means that Spain has currently undergone its eighth straight quarter of contraction here.
Now if that sounds bad, it was actually better than expected and shows a significant improvement on the previous quarter for this country. These figures follow other signs of improvement on the data front, because data out just last week showed that Spain's unemployment rate started to fall for the first time in no less than two years.
Well, despite the progress, Spain still has one of the highest jobless rates anywhere in the Eurozone. Finding work has been a struggle for many people out there. But as Al Goodman now reports, not all businesses, it seems, are suffering.
AL GOODMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the midst of Spain's economic crisis, an unlikely business, Liberty Pies and Cakes in Madrid sells American-style pies and much more.
Burton Novack, an American ex-pat here, he's the octogenarian who started it two years ago, importing memorabilia from the United States, even furniture, to add flavor.
BURTON NOVACK, ENTREPRENEUR: Well, I said, well, why don't I go after that making apple pies and cherry pies and things like that. Of course I really didn't know anything about how to do it.
GOODMAN (voice-over): But he knows about business. He built a successful engineering firm over decades, which his oldest son now runs. And this firm is also the administrative hub for Liberty Pies, which is nearly making a profit, even as 200,000 small businesses have closed in the crisis.
Novack isn't the young entrepreneur the Spanish government aims to help with a new law to make it easier to open a business. But even without the help, the pie shop has created seven jobs, in a nation with soaring unemployment.
GOODMAN: The government is trying to get the economy back on track, piece by piece, and at this pie shop they think every slice of apple pie helps.
GOODMAN (voice-over): Novack says job creation is the way to economic recovery. His key hire, this veteran pastry chef.
NOVACK: The labor market has been squeezed so tight they have to find a way to give work to the people because if the people don't have any money, there's little they can buy. Of course, in a moment when things are like this, even restaurants are wanting to offer something that will attract the attention of their clients and our products do.
GOODMAN (voice-over): Sixty-five percent of the desserts are sold and delivered to upscale restaurants and hotels. Novack personally convinced each of these big clients, like this hotel on Madrid's main boulevard.
HUGO VASQUEZ, FOOD AND BEVERAGE MANAGER: We improve our buffet with the pies because the American guests try to find American products in Spain.
GOODMAN (voice-over): Novack plans more expansion, even while he's worried about his own waistline.
NOVACK: I should be fatter because I taste and eat a lot of pies and cakes.
GOODMAN (voice-over): He says he's just lined up 10 more hotels to take his pies; despite the economic crisis, his phone keeps ringing -- Al Goodman, CNN, Madrid.
DOS SANTOS: With all eyes firmly fixed on the Fed's meeting tomorrow, there's plenty of talk about who will take on the leadership role after Ben Bernanke's term comes to an end. We'll (inaudible) potential contenders. That's next here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
DOS SANTOS: The most dangerous piece of software may not be a malicious virus but in fact could be the seemingly harmless spreadsheet which (inaudible) use every day, don't we. In recent years, spreadsheet errors have actually been implicated in some of the biggest data disasters. Let's just run you through some of what we're talking about here.
Now a report by the financial modeling company, F1F9 has listed some of the worst here. Most famously, especially in the world of economics, Harvard University's famous Reinhart & Rogoff Excel error.
A review of the analysis by these two Harvard professors' work revealed basic mistakes in their spreadsheet that government debt-to-GDP ratios were actually used as the fundamental pillar of the arguments for austerity right across Europe. So that was extremely embarrassing.
Speaking of universities making errors, at Oxford University, a spreadsheet model caused chaos with entrants' interviews in 2011.
Administrators mixed up test marks with applicant numbers as well, and this is the other thing that we should talk about, is MI-5 headquarters there. The British security service, it was revealed, had actually bumped the wrong phone numbers after a spreadsheet formatting error, that is the headquarters of the U.K. security and intelligence operations in London on the South Bank.
Kenny Whitelaw-Jones is the managing director of F1F9. He joins us now live from CNN London to run us through what is entitled on his report, "The Monster of All Spreadsheet Blunders."
This is fascinating reading, Kenny.
KENNY WHITELAW-JONES, MANAGING DIRECTOR, F1F9: Thank you.
DOS SANTOS: Now the first one, you have in the number one slot, is obviously this Reinhart & Rogoff one. But even things like MI-5 bogging the wrong phone numbers, how exactly do these errors happen?
WHITELAW-JONES: Well, there's a fundamental problem with the way that we use spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are very complicated and there's not a standardized common, harmonized way of building them. And so it becomes very difficult to review spreadsheets.
And so these errors in this (inaudible) that we've published share a common thread, which is just that it's difficult to review models and so errors creep in.
DOS SANTOS: Errors certainly creep in, and they can cost huge amounts of money. They can also cost people their jobs.
Run us through some of the most expensive ones here. I mean, we're talking about listed companies.
WHITELAW-JONES: That's right. That's right. Well, I mean, I think the one you're referring to is a company called Mushell (ph), a large infrastructure and service provider, where the CEO had to resign as a result of a spreadsheet error. And I think the thing that's interesting about that one is it was not even a spreadsheet within Mushell (ph), the company themselves.
It was a third-party consultant had prepared a spreadsheet and when that error was uncovered, it meant they had to restate their earnings; shares -- the share price collapsed and the CEO had to resign. You know, there's enormous risks within those spreadsheets. And these spreadsheets are ubiquitous.
They underpin -- you know, every major decision in business and government, it is underpinned by some kind of spreadsheet analysis. And we really think it's kind of a capitalism's dirty secret, as we call it, that there - - that these spreadsheets are actually rather badly done.
And there's actually a much better way of putting these spreadsheets together and what we're seeing in the industry, we work with clients all over the world, who share these similar problems. Because what we're seeing in this (inaudible) is really just the tip of the iceberg. These are the ones that made it into the public domain.
But actually, there -- you know, we think this is -- there's a much wider problem here of errors that go unreported and errors that go undetected, actually, which is the more worrying bit. And we work with clients all over the world who are saying actually there's got to be a better way of doing this.
And what we've seen is large financial companies, large accounting companies all over the world coming together and saying actually there is a better way of doing this and drawing up some common standards so that these spreadsheets can be easily reviewed.
DOS SANTOS: Yes, I suppose a little stint of journalism wouldn't go amiss, but as my first boss, never assume. And that is one of the things that I've always stood by. But it just goes to show how assumptions made in spreadsheets, and they feed all the way up through the chain to the CEO.
Kenny Whitelaw-Jones, thank you so much for joining us there from F1F9.
DOS SANTOS: The Bank of England revealed some of its hidden treasures. But they're not quite what you might think. Find out more after the break.
DOS SANTOS: As investors wait for guidance from the world's largest central banks this week, the Bank of England is instead inviting us to take a look back through history. (Inaudible) 80,000 documents from the bank's own archives are now available for the public to access online.
Some of the oldest examples include the minutes of the court of directors meeting all the way back in 1694. Those are the ones you can see there in handwritten script on the left. Never before published records from the First and Second World Wars are also available here to view online, as you can see in the middle there, and a digital archives include the diaries of Montague Norman (ph) seen here on the right.
He was actually the longest serving governor of the Bank of England having been at the helm of what's called the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, as people in the city familiarly call this institution, between 1920 and 1944. And the archives also show that his tenure included a very troubling period in the Bank of England's own history.
It helped Germany's Nazi Party sell gold that it looted from the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939. Officials don't actually say why; however, these kind of records do read at the outbreak of war and for some time afterwards, the Czech gold incident still rankled.
Well, that's it for QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Thanks for joining me. I'm Nina dos Santos. I'll be back with a full check of the world news headlines after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): These are the headlines this hour: former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning has been found not guilty of aiding the enemy by U.S. military judge. Manning admitted to giving hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. He was found guilty on several other lesser charges.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that he doesn't have time for skepticism in the peace process in the Middle East. He's been meeting with Israeli and Palestinian diplomats at the White House. That's the first time that both sides have come face-to-face in nearly three years.
The driver of the train crash which happened in Spain was on the phone to railway staff when the crash actually occurred, court officials have said. The train was going at 153 kph when it came off the tracks. That nearly twice the speed limit, 79 people died as a result of that accident.
"AMANPOUR" is next.