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Markets Dive after Tariff Announcement; Immigration Dominates Italy's National Election Sunday; Putin Boasts of Invincible Nuclear Capability; Preacher Brought Message to Korean Peninsula. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 2, 2018 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:09] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour:

Global trading partners threaten retaliation, after the U.S. President said he'll impose tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Flexing his missile -- Vladimir Putin claims his new weapons are invisible (ph), and sends a message with an animation showing his nukes raining down on Florida.

And the reason far right neo-fascist parties are expecting a strong result when Italy votes on Sunday.

Hello, everybody -- we'd like to welcome our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us, I'm John Vause, the first hour of NEWSROOM L.A. starts now.

Governments around the world have reacted with anger and threats after the U.S. President announced a blatantly protectionist trade move which sent markets tumbling.

Donald Trump says he will impose a 25 percent tariff on imports of steel and 10 percent on aluminum as soon as next week. The tariff, he says, will shore up struggling American industries.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When it comes to a time when our country can't make aluminum and steel, and somebody said it before, and I will tell you, you almost don't have much of a country because without steel and aluminum, your country is not the same.


VAUSE: One Republican senator called it a tax hike on the American people. And sources say the news caught even members of the White House staff off guard. But true to form, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claims that's just not the case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: This is something, again, that the President has been talking about for a long time. It's not a surprise, and we're going to continue doing what we can to protect American workers.


VAUSE: The Dow lost 420 points by the close on fears that prices will surge on cars and other products. New duties also raise the risk of a trade war should other countries carry out their threats to retaliate.

So let's bring in Democratic strategist Robin Swanson, CNN political commentator and Republican consultant John Thomas, and global business executive Ryan Patel. Ok.

Ryan -- I'm no financial expert, but you are. And it's often debatable whether or not a president can have a direct impact on the stock market either positively or negatively. But on Wednesday, the Dow fell about 500 points as this announcement was being made. Shares in Ford closed down 3 percent by the end; GM was down 4 percent; U.S. Steel was up almost 6 percent.

There is no doubt about it, what Donald Trump did on Wednesday is directly responsible for what we saw on Wall Street.

RYAN PATEL, GLOBAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: I couldn't agree with you more. And I think typically I would agree that, you know it's not really rational but today, because it has a long-standing implication on what he did today, that's what you saw.

It was, this is going to cause the -- not just from the international trade, but companies. You think about Boeing and those companies that are the biggest exporters, they took a huge hit today; and automobile companies as well.

So for me, it's seeing what are the new countries coming in. And this is not a -- you know, to get into more detail, it's not just about China, this is about Canada. This is about --

VAUSE: And it's not just about steel -- or aluminum or aluminum as we like to say in Australia. This is about the potential for what this could cause.

PATEL: Yes, yes. And for me, when I see the market take a hit like that, you kind of have to take a step back and go, is this 25 percent on -- let's pick steel, for example -- that is a huge hike.

And again, it's not unheard of. The Obama administration actually did make steel -- they did an import kind of taxation on certain countries and China.

But this has taken a new level. And when you have retaliation behind that, it's going to hit-effect the consumers as well.

VAUSE: Yes, I remember George W. Bush trying something like this back in 2002. They tried it for I think a couple years and have cost him about 100,000 I think was the final result. John -- here's the view from the "Wall Street Journal" editorial board. "Donald Trump made the biggest policy blunder of his presidency Thursday by announcing that next week he'll impose tariffs on 25 percent of imported steel, 10 percent on aluminum. This tax increase will punish American workers, invite retaliation that will harm U.S. exports, divide his political coalition at home, anger allies abroad, and undermine his tax and regulatory reforms."

You know, the biggest policy blunder is a big call considering what this administration has gone through in the last 12 months. But right now it seems difficult to find anybody who actually supports this move by the President, apart from Bernie Sanders.

[00:04:58] JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean it's very populist. And it's something the President ran on. The spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was right when she said this is nothing new. This is something he said he's going to do and now he's finally doing it.

Now the free trader in me isn't happy about it. But look, it's something he said he was going to do. It's part of his pledge to bring back jobs or keep jobs here. He's following through on it.

Time will tell. It's a big risk. If he ends up killing a bunch of jobs in the process, his political career will be killed as well.

VAUSE: Absolutely. Robin -- you know, this has been a highly contentious issue inside the White House. Many of the President's senior advisers very much opposed to this move.

But the President went ahead with it anyway on Thursday. He made this announcement. It was hastily arranged. It seems to me that amidst all the turmoil which is currently underway within the White House, the President decided to do this in some ways simply because he could to prove that he's still calling the shots.

ROBIN SWANSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. I think that's right, at least on this issue. I think, you know, he subscribes to the chaos theory but I think this is just chaos. And I think what must be scary if you're inside the White House, is that the President is doing these things without much thought to messaging, bringing everybody on board, and he's unintentionally causing a trade war.

So I think having messaging that goes with the policies that he's laying out off the cuff as a staff member, that must be very frustrating for them. I mean if you're looking at companies like Toyota responding and saying it's going to drive up the cost of cars, you're seeing beer companies saying that beer is going to cost more. Talk to Middle America about beer costing more.

VAUSE: Yes. Especially those Trump Democrats --

SWANSON: That's right.

VAUSE: For everyone, that's a big issue. THOMAS: But I think for Trump, this is consistent with what he's

saying, putting America first, stop Americans from being taken advantage of, trying to bring jobs back, and we'll see if that actually happens in practical reality.

VAUSE: Ryan -- (INAUDIBLE) the President uses authority under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act which deals with imports and national security. Now, the U.S. gets most of its steel from Canada. So with that in mind, listen to Canada's minister for international trade.


FRANCOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE, CANADIAN MINISTER FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE: What we need to remind ourselves is that the United States has, in fact, a trade surplus with Canada (INAUDIBLE) with steel about $2 billion. That Canada buy more U.S. Steel than any country in the world and any suggestion that Canadian steel would cause a threat to national security is completely, obviously misplaced.


VAUSE: Right, misplaced seems a very polite way of saying this because this excuse seemed so flimsy that that experts and analysts say that just opens the door for everybody else to retaliate and impose their own tariffs.

PATEL: Yes. I mean you think about Canada has got about 18 percent, Brazil's got 16 percent, north of 25 percent together that of importing of steel, specifically.

And I would also disagree with, you know, is it going to create jobs? It's already a low demand in the steel industry already right now. A lot of it is automation that's going on in that industry. So it's not really necessarily going to bring in more jobs.

And this tariff piece -- again, Canada -- I'm surprised, typically you would see the Canadian government wait a little bit to take a direct message back to the Trump administration. They didn't waste any time to say we are going to retaliate.

And I think, you know, Japan came out to say something similar that 25 percent across all is not something that's really, really smart.

VAUSE: Australians and New Zealanders have also said --


VAUSE: -- made comments on this -- all, you know, negatives.

PATEL: Why this is -- why this becomes an issue right now because they've done stuff with solar -- with washing machines. They've imported taxes on that. Those are small players. Now you're talking about steel and aluminum where it does affect not just those companies, it affects all -- importing and exporting and multinational companies right now -- they're going to get hit hard with tariffs in other countries when they're doing this. VAUSE: Ok. We have to move on very quickly because this has been part

of the ongoing turmoil inside the White House.

CNN is now reporting another Trump is under investigation. This time it's the first daughter, Ivanka and her international business dealings. "The FBI has been looking into the negotiations and financing surrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. According to a U.S. official, a former U.S. official, the scrutiny could be a hurdle for the first daughter as she tries to obtain full security clearance in her roles as adviser to the President.

A spokesman for Ivanka Trump says there's no issues for her Security clearance but Robin, this comes a day after the "New York Times" reported that her husband's company, Jared Kushner's company basically received half a billion dollars in loans from CEOs who he'd met at the White House. It came on the same day that the Housing Secretary Ben Carson had to return that $31,000 dining room table.

You know, this does sort of beg the question, what's happening with all that swamp draining?

SWANSON: Yes, that's exactly right. What about the swamp right there at home in the White House? I do think it's concerning for folks that, you know, it starts with him hiring his daughter, and the nepotism. But I think he has set the bar so low for ethical standards, and set the bar so low for having a moral compass.

[00:10:00] I mean, you know, when I worked on Capitol Hill we had a limit of $50 of gifts that we could accept. And half a billion dollars --

VAUSE: It's a little bit more.

SWANSON: Just a little bit. So the fact that his family believes that they're above the rules, that comes from the top. Donald Trump didn't play the rules so why would his daughter have to play by the rules? Why would Jared Kushner have to play by the rules?

And it's very disturbing. And I don't know that that's what Middle America voted for when they were put Donald Trump in office.

VAUSE: And we are waiting for the eventual departure of Jared Kushner from the White House. And John -- we now have word that the national security advisor H.R. McMaster could also be the next one to go because he's had disagreements with the President.

THOMAS: No surprise. I mean McMaster -- I've been waiting for him to leave. I mean there have been public disagreements over a variety of issues. Look, certainly to say that it's a smooth operation inside the White House I think is probably an overstatement but what --

VAUSE: Or delusional?

THOMAS: But what I think we can take away here is I think it's healthy that they're starting to cull the herd. VAUSE: But it's not a normal operating White House.


THOMAS: No, it's not in that sense. But what's good about it is, even if Ivanka did nothing wrong, the appearance of an impropriety is just as bad.

VAUSE: But what about the instability and the uncertainty and the chaos and the lack of morale which is there at moment? You know, this cannot be good for the country when the White House is continually operating in such turmoil?

SWANSON: That's right. I think there's nothing stable. There is nothing healthy about having four or five different communications directors. There is nothing stable and nothing healthy about going through a couple of different chiefs of staff.

People are fleeing the Titanic. The Titanic is sinking. The iceberg is ahead.

THOMAS: If that's what it takes to get record unemployment and things like that -- bring the instability.

SWANSON: Record turnover in staff, it's not -- that's not how you grow a company. That's not how you grow a country. That's now how you actually build a stable country. That's how you get this very disassociated policies from what he's trying to accomplish. It's not -- this isn't how you function as a government.

VAUSE: I mean John -- the length of job -- the length of stay for a communications director, on average, is 87 days.

THOMAS: Well, the average has probably been reduced by The Mooch who stayed for 48 hours, or whatever it was.

VAUSE: Well, Miller stayed for two days, Mooch stayed for ten.

THOMAS: Right.

THOMAS: Well, the Hope Hicks position though was always supposed to be temporary. As soon as Mooch left I think they felt like they needed somebody who was a recognizable figure. She was never -- she was never intended to be there permanent. She is not a formally trained communications specialist.

SWANSON: No one there is formally trained on any of the things that they're doing.

VAUSE: 114 days is temporary in the real world -- maybe not the White House but in the real world.

Ryan and John and Robin -- thank you so much.

SWANSON: Thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you.

VAUSE: Ok. British Prime Minister Theresa May wants the E.U. to work with her on trade in a post-Brexit world and she's about to lay out her thoughts on this touchy issue in a long-awaited speech.

According to her office, Mrs. May will say she believes Britain and Europe should be able to build a free trade agreement deeper and stronger than any other in the world. This, despite the European Council president Donald Tusk warning Mrs. May on Thursday that there's no way a post-Brexit trade agreement could be, as he put it, frictionless.

Mrs. May will argue that everybody can win here because free trade would benefit both Britain and the E.U. but I guess not the United States. It's all linked in, isn't it?

Ok. Italy is gearing up for national elections on Sunday and European leaders are keeping a very close eye on this one.

Forty percent of voters are still undecided and many of them are frustrated by high levels of unemployment. They're angry also about immigration. That's giving an opening to far-right neo-fascist parties.

Here's CNN's Ben Wedeman.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Migrants from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are learning the essentials of Italian in a cold classroom in Rome. More than 600,000 immigrants and refugees have arrived here since the last election in 2013 sparking a backlash that has dominated this year's election campaign.

"Italians first, Italians first", proclaims Matteo Salvini, leader of the rightwing anti-immigrant Lega Party.

His call is echoed on the far right.

At a rally, the leader of the neo-fascist CasaPound Simone Di Stefano, declares "Italy belongs to the Italians, and no one else".

This heated rhetoric has spilled into violence. In February Luca Traini, a failed candidate for the Lega, is accused of going on a shooting rampage in the town of Macerata, wounding six African migrants.

[00:15:04] The remnants of the once-powerful Italian left recently demonstrated in Rome against the rising tide of fascism and racism. But the far-right has latched on to the issue of migration.

"Here we are on our national land called Italy, and for us Italians come first," says Mauro Antonini (ph), CasaPound's candidate for the regional elections in Rome.

He shows me around the once-middle class, now multi-ethnic district of Esquilino.

"If you look at the names on the doors, Italian surnames are rare," he says. "The businesses here are all Indian, Pakistani and Chinese." Antonini isn't shy about his political leanings. "If they ask me if I'm fascist, I respond absolutely yes," he says. "Migrants run most of the stalls in Esquilino's main market, and most of the customers are also migrants."

For all the mounting hostility, Italy depends on workers from abroad. According to one study in 2016, 2.4 million migrants worked in Italy, producing 9 percent of the gross domestic product.

Naim from Bangladesh works overnights in a bakery. "Italians don't want the kind of work foreigners do," he says, "the jobs are more tiring, more sweaty, and pay less."

But it's a lesson some Italians have yet to learn.

Ben Wedeman, CNN -- Rome.


VAUSE: Coming up here on NEWSROOM L.A., a fiery speech from the Russian president may just have signaled the start of a new cold war.

Also, America's pastor will be buried in the coming hours, and when we come back, we'll have a closer look at Billy Graham's visit to the hermit kingdom.


VAUSE: Well, Vladimir Putin says the world has ignored Russia's nuclear capability, and says now it better listen. The Russian President claims to have a new arsenal which will make NATO's defenses completely useless. He say's Russia has developed an invisible (SIC) missile that can deliver a warhead at hypersonic speed.

[00:20:00} Mr. Putin was speaking before parliament on Thursday, just a few weeks before Russia's presidential election.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): No other country in the world has this kind of arsenal. There were absolutely no secrets about it. We said it absolutely publicly to all our colleagues.

Russia still has the greatest nuclear potential in the world, but nobody listened to us. Listen now.


VAUSE: Nikolai Sokov is with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He joins us from Monterey in California. Nikolai -- thanks very much. The Russian president made it very clear all of this is directed at the U.S., and to make certain the message was not missed there was that video with the animation showing nuclear warheads falling on Florida.

Take a look at this.

VAUSE: Computer animation and all the scary music. So should we mark our calendars, March 1, 2018 as the day the new Cold War began?

NIKOLAI SOKOV, JAMES MARTIN CENTER FOR NONPROLIFERATION STUDIES: I would not say that we're talking about the Cold War beginning this year. You can say it's Cold War by the Russian calculation so in 2011 and that would be Libya. By the U.S. calculation 2014 and that would be Ukraine, Crimea. And I would say that what we heard today really dates back to 2002 when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty on the limited missile defenses.

So a lot of things that were heard about today really began then. And today we see the new year completed two or three programs. All the rest is just really starting, and we're talking about ten years from now when they might get deployed.

VAUSE: So, I mean, how credible though, is that claim by Putin that all of these weapons have been successfully tested, and he's warning that this is not a bluff?

SOKOV: Some of them are in testing, definitely. The ICBM, the intercontinental missile Sarmat -- yes, it's entering the testing phase. And we have known about that missile for a number of years. It's in fact been delayed several times. So it's developing slow.

The new warhead, the hypersonic warhead that can maneuver in flight is in fact, a very old program that was launched still the Soviet Union back in the 80s as a response to Reagan's Star Wars that got resurrected in Russia about 20 years ago. It once again has been developing very slowly.

Most of the rest of the programs we actually never heard about. And many people will not believe me, but I do have my doubts about the two new missiles with nuclear propulsion. I think it's really just up on the drawing board.

Ok, Nikolai -- we appreciate you being with us. Nikolai Sokov there, giving us some insight into Vladimir Putin and the history here. I guess, as you say, for Vladimir Putin maybe it didn't start on Thursday, it started many, many years before that. We appreciate you being with us, sir. Thank you.

SOKOV: Thank you. >

VAUSE: Well, the body of the Reverend Billy Graham is being moved from Washington to North Carolina where the beloved American preacher will be buried on Friday. Graham was the fourth private U.S. citizen to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol. He earned that honor preaching to hundreds of millions of people over his 99 years. He also prayed with U.S. presidents dating back to Harry Truman.

A private funeral is planned. Graham will be buried next to his wife, Ruth. Billy Graham's impact was felt far beyond the United States and religious circles. At the close of the Cold War he gained rare access to North Korea, even helped shape U.S. policy.

CNN's Will Ripley has more on the preacher's Korean legacy.


BILLY GRAHAM, EVANGELIST: In that terrible moment God took your sins and your sins and your sins --

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: America's pastor Billy Graham drew the kind of crowds in Asia usually reserved for the Pope, famously preaching to more than a million people in South Korea in 1973.

[00:25:05] But there's another story. A largely untold story of Graham's groundbreaking works in the secret state of North Korea.

GRAHAM: Love one another.

RIPLEY: Billy Kim was Graham's translator during his massive crusade in Seoul, and even made headlines in the North Korean capital Pyongyang.

BILLY KIM, BILLY GRAHAM'S TRANSLATOR IN SOUTH KOREA: The North Korean response was the witch doctor from America came and performed a witch act.

Ripley: Two decades later, the anti communist pastor was invited to Pyongyang, Graham an honored guest of North Korea's late president Kim Il-song. The nation was reeling from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Looking to improve ties with the U.S., Graham brought a private message from President H.W. Bush and a bible for the North Korean leader.

KIM: My wife went to school in North Korea. That was one of the reasons that they could get in and talk to the leaders that made it possible for us to go.

RIPLEY: Ruth Graham's parents were Christian missionaries in Pyongyang, a city once called the Jerusalem of the East, today possessing a bible can lead to criminal charges.

Graham was the first foreigner ever to preach at Pyongyang's Bungsu Church, one of the handful of Christian churches in North Korea. Human rights and religious groups accused of being state propaganda.

Graham's two trips in 1992 and 1994 helped shape U.S. policy. He offered insight to U.S. Presidents and peacemakers.

KIM: I said, Jimmy, what they're looking for is a friend.

RILEY: He paved the way for other Americans and aid workers to visit North Korea. GRAHAM: We come as your friends.

RILEY: Including Graham's son Franklin whose charity Samaritan's Purse provided badly-needed aid. Graham's popularity in South Korea helped make the Yongsung (ph) Mega Church in Seoul the largest Presbyterian Church in the world. Weekly attendance -- around 100,000 people.

Do you think that there are lessons that we can learn today from what Billy Graham did in North Korea?

"We certainly believe that we need to follow the legacy of Billy Graham," says senior pastor Kim Song-won. What he did in North Korea really pushed us to go to the people who are suffering.

GRAHAM: The bible says that he was --

RIPLEY: Billy Graham never realized his dream of bringing Christianity to the North Korean masses, but he did crack open the door of a closed society, allowing aid and perhaps faith to trickle in.

Will Ripley, CNN -- Seoul, South Korea


VAUSE: Well, the Dow took a nose dive after President Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as he said that's what he wants to do. When we come back, we'll check the reaction on the Asia markets and also how China may retaliate.

We will be live in Hong Kong.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN, I'm John Vause with the headlines.


VAUSE: Andrew Stevens joins us now from Hong Kong.

Andrew, we say aluminium; the Americans say -- it's kind of tough -- aluminum. OK, what is the aluminum tariffs and the steel tariffs, what is that doing to the Asian markets right now?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Not unexpectedly, John, the markets in Asia are all taking a big hit today after the Dow finished own 1.7 percent after Donald Trump's basically threat to start a trade war, not only a trade war against U.S. rivals in the trade world but also against its allies as well.

We should caveat all this, of course, by saying that we don't know yet whether this will go through. This was floated by Donald Trump but there's no details. We expect them in a week or so. See the numbers there, just quickly, the Nikkei down more than 2 percent; Hong Kong down 1.4 percent and Seoul KOSPI (ph).

So Seoul and Japan are steel traders with the U.S. So he really has created a storm, an international storm. It's been universal condemnation as well amongst U.S. trade allies, countries like Canada, which sends about 16 percent or supplies about 16 percent of the U.S. steel demand.

Canada coming out saying they will take action, the E.U. saying they will take action, Australia saying they're very, very disappointed, will defend their position and so on. So really it is a universal condemnation in the world trade picture against this decision or this line from Donald Trump.

VAUSE: Yes, everybody seems pretty much unhappy with this move around the world.

I guess the question is, what do they plan to do?

And that's what we're all watching right now and we still have yet to hear from Beijing. But there was a statement from China's foreign ministry last month. Here's part of it.

"China urges the U.S. to use trade protection tools with restraint and comply with multilateral trade rules so as to make positive contribution to the international economic and trade order.

"If the final decision of the U.S. affects China's interests, China will definitely take necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate rights."

That's pretty much all she wrote. It's very open ended.

But what sort of action do you think they're talking about here?

STEVENS: Well, there's a couple of things China could do. It could go to the World Trade Organization, which is the international sort of arbitration body on trade disputes. And other countries could join China. So you could end up with this rather bizarre situation, where the Western world is joining up with China to go after Donald Trump's U.S. trade policy in the World Trade Organization.

Now that's one. That is a less sort of hardcore response from China. What China could do and what has been talked about repeatedly over the months, as a way of retaliating against the U.S., is to target Chinese -- American soybeans, $12 billion worth of U.S. soybeans are bought by China every year, John. It's low hanging fruit, so to speak.

The Chinese could find a way of investigating an antidumping plan like they're doing with U.S. sorghum. And if they did that, that could directly hit farmers in the United States.

And these farmers are in many of the red states, the Donald Trump voting red states. So that's one. And also the World Trade Organization. But if you look around there

are -- these countries can take individual actions against U.S. products.

So who loses?

U.S. consumers lose. The consumers in those countries lose. A trade war essentially is a war in which everyone loses -- John

VAUSE: Andrew, in a much more limited way --


VAUSE: -- the U.S. has been down this road before, at least with China. George W. Bush imposed tariffs, I think, on Chinese steel for a couple of years, ended up costing thousands of U.S. jobs, at least according to one study.

We saw Barack Obama, I think it was tires back then, imposing these tariffs on tires. You know, the Chinese hit back, I think they hit chicken products being imported from the U.S. Eventually, you know, the U.S. gave in because nobody wins.

So and that's on a limited scale. What we're talking about here is a much, much bigger picture.

STEVENS: Well, absolutely. There are several ways this can play out. Apart from those tit-for-tat sanctions which hurts everybody, you also look at what could happen to the U.S. economy from this because those sorts of tariffs are going to be passed on to U.S. consumers.

There's no way the steel companies are going -- the steel companies that export to the U.S. are going to wear those extra 25 percent tariffs, that will pass on to U.S. consumers. Things will become more expensive. If you look at some numbers here, the U.S. steel industry employs about 140,000 people directly and indirectly.

The steel related industries, industries that use steel, industries like the automakers, for example, like the big machinery makers, like energy suppliers, that's -- combine those, you're talking about millions of people, more than 6 million people, who could directly or indirectly be affected by higher steel prices.

So is there a win here, even for the United States?

Domestically, the answer is probably no, there isn't. So you add that into what it would do to the global trade picture, the global economic growth picture, and you have a real -- a real crisis here that could, you know, send the world's growth, which has been looking really strong, really sustainable for the first time since 2008, you could throw that back into a downward spiral.

VAUSE: Yes. The thing is -- we're out of time but we've got to remember, this is the announcement of the intention for these tariffs to be put into place. It's yet to happen. We don't know what it's going to look like. It could not actually happen at all. But again it's why "The Wall Street Journal" may have described this

as the biggest policy blunder of Trump's presidency.

Andrew, thank you. We'll catch up with you next hour.

STEVENS: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: CNN is partnering with young people around the world for a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery. That is on March 14th. In advance of My Freedom Day, CNN's Nima Elbagir explains what freedom means to her.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To me, freedom means the freedom to dream, the freedom to believe that those dreams are attainable. And it sounds like such a simple thing.

But there are so many boys and girls around the world who, whether it's for lack of education or opportunity or a lack of that fundamental human right, are brought up with the narrowest of horizons. And so I think that freedom to believe that you can be anything that you want to be really is the ultimate freedom.


VAUSE: Millions have already shared with us what freedom means to them on social media. Join them and share your story using the #MyFreedomDay.

OK. Greta Gerwig's official directorial debut is her Oscar nominated film, "Lady Bird," but she's been telling stories since childhood. Up next, reflections from the Oscar nominee.





VAUSE: Hollywood will be toasting and backslapping on Sunday when the Academy Awards are handed out. Today's CNN's "Creators" series profiles Greta Gerwig, the first woman to earn a Best Director nomination for her debut film, "Lady Bird," is nominated in four other categories including Best Original Screenplay for Gerwig. And she tells us she's always been a storyteller.


GRETA GERWIG, FILM DIRECTOR: I think I've been a storyteller since I was a little kid.

(MUSIC PLAYING) GERWIG: My very first memory of being a storyteller was, my dad had a business trip in New York and we went and we saw musicals, we saw "42nd Street" and we saw "Starlight Express" and we saw "Gypsy," which I was probably too young for.

And I remember I came back to Sacramento in my -- in kindergarten. And I tried to organize all of the other kids in a production of "Starlight Express," which was proving difficult because our playground had gravel on it.

And I thought, no, how will they roller skate on the gravel?

This is going to be a challenge and nobody else was interested in it. But I felt like that was always my way into the world, that was always what I wanted to do. And I basically just kept doing a variety of that moment for the rest of my life.


GERWIG (voice-over): The story of "Lady Bird", really, I wanted to tell the story of home and how home is something that you only really understand as you're leaving it. And I wanted the central story to be a love story between a mother and a daughter.


GERWIG (voice-over): I wanted this story of a mother letting go and a daughter coming of age, I wanted to give it as much weight as we give those male stories, as much weight as a man's coming of age and a man's, you know, conflict with a father.

And I think we give those very -- a lot of seriousness and a lot of space and I thought, well, we should do the same for a woman's story.

And the character of "Lady Bird" was actually the opposite of how I was. I was not like her. She makes everybody call her by a different name, which is Lady Bird; she dyes her hair bright red, she's kind of a rebel in a way and I was very much a rule follower.

I think it kind of came out of wanting to explore something that I didn't have access to as a person.

I've always believed in the stories that we tell collectively as explaining to ourselves who we are and what's important and what the world looked like from where we stood. This is a difficult moment, but I think, hopefully, a transformative moment.

And I am proud of the film that we made together with my collaborators. And I'm proud to stand with all of the women who have made films this year.


GERWIG (voice-over): What I'm hoping for is that this will be the moment where we say, oh, the numbers started increasing. I am hopeful, I have to be hopeful. I think I have to feel hopeful

because when I meet girls, especially young women who are teenagers or in their early 20s who want to do this and I see how creative they are and how brilliant they are, I have to be hopeful for them. And also I know how many stories they have inside of them to tell.


VAUSE: And please join Isha and me, well, maybe just me, who knows?

For a special coverage of the Academy Awards. We'll have all the winners and the losers, the scandals, the controversies, all the frocks and the gowns from Hollywood's biggest night, that's right after the Oscar telecast, 1:00 pm Monday in Hong Kong, 5:00 am in London, right here on CNN.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause, "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.