Return to Transcripts main page


Key Member Of The ECB Resigns; From The Dow To The DAX, Stock Markets Are Sharply Lower; Technology Against Trafficking; Rugby World Cup; Diversification in Gabon; IVF Clinics in Nigeria

Aired September 9, 2011 - 14:00:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: A stark reminder of market volatility. A key member of the ECB resigns. And from Dow to the DAX, stock markets are sharply lower.

And Cantor Fitzgerald suffered devastating losses on September 11; 10 years on we remember those who lost their lives.

I'm Max Foster in for Richard Quest. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening.

Investors seem to be rushing to the exits, as a top European policymaker heads for the door we are seeing a major sell off on Wall Street this hour. Traders got a nasty jolt from Europe when this man suddenly quit. Down 2.7 percent, as you can see currently. Juergen Stark says he's leaving his seat on the board of the European Central Bank. He says he is going to go for personal reasons. There is speculation he is unhappy with the ECB's bond buying program, though.

You can see the distress in the European markets as well. The DAX was hardest hit. It is now at its lowest level since July 2009. Here's the damage for the week. The two Eurozone markets faired the worst, by far.

Let's go to the New York Stock Exchange now, though, and try to find out what is going on over there.

Alison, please explain.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Max. Yes, we are watching the Dow trade below the 11,000 mark. And we saw the sell off really pick up steam after the open on news that you mentioned. That that executive board member of the ECB is leaving over what is speculated to be conflicts regarding the central bank's bond buying program. And the reason this is a big deal to the U.S. market is because it highlights just how paralyzed and divided European leaders are, concerning the debt crisis there. And you know those debt issues have been weighing over the U.S. markets. It would be like a Federal Reserve member here, in the U.S., would be walking out. So that is why it is a big deal. It is not good to have this type of turbulence, at a time the entire region is in such turmoil.

Some of the losses you can also pin on President Obama's big jobs speech Thursday night. Traders say the speech was a bit of a let down. They don't have much confidence in his proposals. And even if they did, they say it is unlikely to pass in its current form, since Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are strongly against most new spending, Max.

FOSTER: What is going to be the new focus after this? Because obviously everyone was waiting for that speech, weren't they? And then we had this shock news from Europe. But what are people focusing on now then?

KOSIK: They are going to continue to focus on Europe, Max. That is certainly the case. But also, as much as lots of traders are telling me, they aren't thrilled with the proposal that the president came up with in his address from Thursday. They are going to be looking to September 19, where we are going to get more details about what could be in that legislation. So there are still signs of hope, something that Wall Street will be looking to. And, of course, the two-day Fed meeting coming at the end of September. Wall Street is still going to be keeping an eye out on Fed Chief Ben Bernanke to see if he takes any steps to take any stimulus measures, Max.

FOSTER: Alison, thank you very much for joining us from the NYSE.

It all provides a grim backdrop, all of this, doesn't it? For the G7 summit. Finance ministers from the world's leading industrial nations are meeting in Marseilles. The faltering world economy is high on the agenda. The new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, is urging bold action.


CHRISTINE LAGARDE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, IMF: The fundamental problem is that weak growth and weak balance sheets, be that of government, of banks, of households, are feeding negatively on each other. And if growth continues to loose momentum, balance sheet problems will worsen. Fiscal sustainability will be threatened. And scope for policies to salvage the economy will disappear.


FOSTER: Well, Lagarde also said that the U.K.'s fiscally conservative policy stance is appropriate. The British Finance Minister George Osborne took that as an endorsement of his austerity program.


GEORGE OSBORNE, FINANCE MINISTER, BRITAIN: A debt crisis in the banking sector has now turned into a wider crisis of sovereign banking and private sector debt. Then we faced a relatively straight forward battle against the forces of deflation and instability. Now we must contend with competing pressures. Market pressures on indebted sovereigns, continued banking instability, a crisis in the Eurozone, and continuing imbalances in global demand. And just as the problems are different, so must be the international response.


FOSTER: That was George Osborne speaking a little earlier on. Now, whatever the numbers say on the markets, there was only one thing on Wall Street's mind this morning. A moment's silence to remember 9/11. We'll be live in New York after the break, with more on that for you.


FOSTER: We are going to get more on the jobs plan, right now, in the United States. Because it has been a big talking point today. And as Poppy was saying-as we were hearing from New York, a little earlier on- Alison was telling us how that has really dominated the markets, because people were quite disappointed by the news.

Well the reviews of Mr. Obama's plan have been pretty positive in many quarters. And CNN Money's Poppy Harlow has been gauging the reaction around, for us. She joins us from New York.

What did people make of it, that you spoke to, Poppy?


You know, every one tuned in, certainly here in the United States, and many people globally to hear what President Obama had to say in terms of outlining the American jobs act. We know now it is a $447 billion proposal, a huge spending proposal that some like and others don't. But we had a chance to talk to two key business leaders today about that.

First of all, I spoke with Mohamed El-Erian, the CEO of PIMCO. He has been very outspoken on the jobs front, calling it a flat out jobs crisis, in this country. Something unlike something we faced in a very, very long time. Take a listen to what he said, on his initial reaction to the president's speech, and it if went far enough.


MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CEO, PIMCO: I very much welcome the fact that the administration finally gets it. It realizes that this is a crisis and that something gets done. It is also good to see them move away from what has been a very piecemeal, ad hoc approach, to something much more comprehensive and holistic.

The issues, Poppy, are two fold. One is, how are we going to pay for this?

HARLOW: Uh-huh?

EL-ERIAN: So there is going to be a lot of anticipation for the fiscal component of this package. And second, you are absolutely right, can we get enough political unity behind any initiative.

HARLOW: Uh-huh?

EL-ERIAN: My sense is there is a real danger that Washington may make the best (ph) enemy of the good. And that should be avoided.

HARLOW: Yes, absolutely that should be avoided. What do you think is the most necessary component of what was proposed? And the most likely to really get through Congress the way it stands now?

EL-ERIAN: So, I think if we approach this as a technocrat, as an economist, you really don't want to give up on much. Because, if anything, this is just a building block. More is going to be needed as we go forward. So as a technocrat I wouldn't give up on much.

As a political scientist, there may be some need to give up on something. But I would argue that there is enough in common in this package that hopefully we can get enough of a convergence to the center. That is going to be absolutely key. And I would just caution against giving up too much because I would have gone much, much deeper in terms of reforms.


EL-ERIAN: Than President Obama went.

HARLOW: You have said, ahead of this plan, we need something that will remove the structural impediments to growth. You say, you would go much further. What would you have done that you we didn't see from the president? Do you think held back because he knows the politics of the situation?

EL-ERIAN: So remember, Poppy, we cited five areas where you needed to lift structural impediments. And I think all Americans know what they are. They feel it every single day. One is housing; two is the labor markets; three is infrastructure, four is credit; and five is medium-term public finances.

Here, President Obama tries to deal with four of these five issues, but doesn't go as deep as we would have liked. He doesn't go deep enough in housing. So, the 4 percent mortgage refinancing is a good step, but more needs to be done.

On credit what is being put forward is relatively modest. And on the labor market we need a major emphasis, Poppy, and I can't stress this enough, a major emphasis not only on helping the long-term unemployed, which is critical, but also retraining, retooling. So, I see this as a very promising first step. But an incomplete journey, if you like.


HARLOW: Max, he also went on to say that the U.S. is at an even more critical moment now because of the headwinds facing the global economy from Europe's debt crisis. So he said the onus is really even more so on the U.S. Congress right now to get something passed. He says if we don't get something through, some action from Washington, he believes we are going to fall into a deep recession. And that climbing out of that is going to be incredibly difficult at a moment like this. So, I think a very stark warning from El-Erian on this point.

FOSTER: And to climb out of it, Poppy, you would need businesses, don't you? To start hiring, that is the turning point. So is there any chance that businesses were in anyway convinced by Obama to do that?

HARLOW: It is a good question. I mean, we will only see if this passes through Congress and if it plays out. But you could clearly hear in the president's address on Thursday evening that it was aimed as small- and medium-sized businesses, Max. He really didn't address big businesses. And the truth is that small businesses create more jobs in this country, than big corporations, but big corporations are critical. So, I also spoke this morning with the CEO of Manpower, that is one of the world's biggest staffing companies, just to get his sense of how executives are feeling about this address. Take a listen.


JEFF JOERRES, CEO, MANPOWER: We should be realistic about what it actually can do. When it comes down to it the only way to really create massive amounts of hiring, and bring that 9.1 percent down to something more reasonable, is sustainable demand for that product and service. This is not going to create that. What this will create is over the next probably four to five months, as some of those infrastructure products put in place, yes there will be a knock on affect of employment to the market.

So, I think there are some good things in here, but we should not be waiting for this to really bolster or reduce the unemployment in any kind of a rapid fashion, or in any kind of massive amount.

HARLOW: But that is exactly what the administration hopes will happen from this. And listening to the president, it sounds like the administration is optimistic that this will significantly bring down unemployment, rather rapidly.

You are saying what it doesn't do is it doesn't spark demand. Is there anything that could be proposed, that could be done from the government's standpoint, that would spur demand?

JOERRES: Well, there were some issue-or not issues-there were some subjects that were talked about within there. One of them was to ease regulation. Get confidence back. Talk about how we are a place of innovation. Get some of those technical schools putting out some of the right kinds of talents, because we do have a talent miss-match. These things are all important. None of them are for us, kind of that shot of adrenaline, that we would like to see affect the third quarter, or for that matter, the fourth quarter of this year.


HARLOW: So, not the shot of adrenaline that this economy needs, Max. That at least coming from someone who is very in tune with the hiring, the hiring situation in the United States, as it is right now. That said, the Chamber of Commerce came out after the president's address, here in the U.S., which represents many, many businesses and said the president's speech is a step, but it is not fully what the Chamber would like.

Of course, they would have liked to see a lot of talk about expanding oil and gas exploration in the United States, to create jobs. They also want to see the passage of major free trade agreements with countries like Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. And they say those are two things that would spur job creation in the near term, in the United States, without spending.

Of course, this is going to come very split between parties, when it comes to a $447 billion price tag on this legislation, that the president will present next week, Max.

FOSTER: Poppy Harlow, in New York, thank you.

On the last trading day before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the New York Stock Exchange paused for a moment's silence.




FOSTER: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rang the opening bell, just as she did 10 years ago, when the exchange reopened after the attacks. She was joined by others who were there, with her on September 17th, 2001. Clinton was New York's senior senator at the time. She explained her feelings to Alison Kosik.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: On a personal level it is deeply important to me, because it was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life to be a senator when we were attacked and then to devote as much time and effort as I could to working with all the people you see here to try to make sure we came back stronger than ever, but also it is a good signal. I mean, it is-let's not, you know, let's remember the past. Because we have to smart, we have to vigilant. But let's look toward the future. Let's show some confidence and some optimism. Let's get the bells ringing. Let's get some activity going. You know, we are the greatest nation in the world and we need to get up and start acting like it.


FOSTER: Well, that defines American spirit. It is plain to see over at ground zero. Maggie Lake is there for us now.

Hi, Maggie.

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Max. And you are right. That activity is all around us. You know, for so long, all of these 10 years covering this, this is always such a tough emotional day and really steeped in sorrow. But today, standing here at the World Trade Center site, there is a different feeling. We've got families walking by. I'm standing in a park that never existed before, in front of a Jeff Koons art sculpture, with the site behind me. We just had all the construction fellows, men and women in there working in the pit, out here eating lunch. It is a hub of activity.

But you know, in the weeks and months that followed the 9/11 attacks, there were many who said that this entire area couldn't and shouldn't be anything other than a memorial. But there was one man who always believed that this patch of Downtown Manhattan could be a thriving business district again. That is Larry Silverstein and I had a chance to talk to him; here's his thoughts.


LARRY SILVERSTEIN, WORLD TRADE CENTER DEVELOPER: I never thought that-I never lost faith. Yes, very complicated, extremely difficult. Enormously challenging. Enough of a challenges for 10 lifetimes, not just one. But I resolved in the very beginning that this needed to be done. And considering the fact that I had all these obligations that assumed, when I bought a lease for Trade Center, since I had the obligation, I said, let's get on with it and let's do it.

I just never dreamt it was going to take as long as it did and be as complicated as it turned out to be. But the good news is, here we are. And by golly it is going forward. And the fruits of our labors are just beginning to show. And it's very exciting.

You look back and you see, oh, OK, maybe this took too long, or that took too long, but there is something that you can look at. And say, you can point to some government officials and say, OK, they did a good job with that.

LAKE (voice over): This is an animation of what the entire site is expected to look like when it is finished. Silverstein Properties owns Seven World Trade, which is complete, and buildings Two, Three, and Four, which are all under construction. One World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, was handed back to the Port Authority as part of a compromise.

(On camera): Has the dialogue changed now that people see these buildings and see the workers coming in?

SILVERSTEIN: These tenants wouldn't talk to us a year or two years ago, because we had no credibility. Suddenly, our credibility is there. They look at this thing, they say, oh, my god. Look at what is happening. Isn't this exciting? And so it is a different world, and therefore I am very positive and thankful.

LAKE: We are on the 15th floor of, Four World Trade Center, which is obviously still being constructed. When this entire complex is complete it will be millions of square feet to rent. That is a lot of office space to fill in boom times, and of course, right now the economy is weak.

What are your forecasts for occupancy? Are you confident that you are going to be able to fill all these buildings?

SILVERSTEIN: Happily, I have been around for a long time. And I've been able to see these things. I've been able to see these cycles, up down, up down, up down, so forth and so on. You build these things, not for tomorrow, you build these things for many, many generations to come. So this is a long-term prospect, a long-term goal. As these buildings come up, as these buildings move forward, we are going to reach the up end of the cycle. And as we do the timing for these buildings, I suspect, could be just perfect.

LAKE: So, if you build them, they will come?

SILVERSTEIN: I really do believe, because it is happened to me-I've been doing this so many years. And every time we did it, every time we built these buildings, they filled. Didn't fill today or tomorrow, but ultimately it fills.

LAKE: What do you think that the legacy is going to be, for you, and the World Trade Center site?

SILVERSTEIN: I think my life and the Trade Center are tied for eternity. And what I'm hoping for, is that at the end of the next five years, I can look back and see this thing in a completed fashion. That people will look at it and say, you know, we've done a superb job. The buildings are iconic. They are first class. They've leased up. They've financed. The retail, the destination retail is of first class quality, millions of people are coming each year to visit it, and enjoy it. And so, this is my hope and my prayer.


LAKE: And Max, not only are the buildings projected to fill up, there are going to be triple the amount of residents. It is almost double now, it will triple in a few years. There is double the number of hotel rooms, from the time, from just 9/11, so, 10 years ago. So this entire Downtown area is already changing, has already transformed. And these buildings, now rising above the pit, are just the latest sort of evidence, an exclamation point on that.

And I'll tell you from me, one of the really marked things is that you always see the vendors out with their displays of the old pictures of the Twin Towers, and memorials. This time, when I just walked down the street, they have pictures of the projected site, of what the buildings are going to look like complete. They now have as much faith as the memorials. So that is just a telling sign of the progress that has been made down here, Max.

FOSTER: Fascinating. Maggie, thank you very much indeed for joining us from ground zero.

Now, on the highest floors of the old World Trade Center sat Cantor Fitzgerald. What happened to them that day almost obliterated the company. What happened afterwards only made them stronger. Their story is next.


FOSTER: 100 floors up, in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, were office of Canter Fitzgerald. It was one of the world's biggest trading firms on the morning of 9/11. All that changed, though. The first plane hit the tower just two stories below Cantor's floor, trapping all the staff inside; 658 employees died. Canter Fitzgerald's brokerage arm became BGC Partners in 2004. As market analyst David Buik is a good friend of this program, of course, and he was in London when he heard the dreadful news from his New York colleagues that day. He spoke to Richard Quest about his memories of 9/11.


DAVID BUIK, MARKET ANALYST, BGC PARTNERS: At the moment I was having an extremely convivial lunch at the Collin Hotel (ph), with ironically, the managing director of the Ascot Racecourse, and a delightful PR man from Labrets (ph) called Mike Dylan (ph). And I was with a friend of mine called Graham Cowdry (ph) around the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Cantor's, where I was at.

And the phone went-he had to go early-and the phone went at 5 to 2:00. And he was the greatest practical joker of all time, saying that a plane had gone into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

And I used, I'm afraid, some Anglo-Saxon expletive. And I said I thought the comment was in extremely poor taste. And put the phone down. And of course, needless to say, it rang back five seconds later and he said, "I'm being really serious." So the emotions that go through you, Richard, are all human, really, at the time. The 658 people from Cantor Fitzgerald who perished in that terrible atrocity, plus our sister company, which we subsequently bought, Euro Broker, 64 people. You just remember the people that you knew as friends, colleagues, loved ones. And you just feel the indignation. And how dare they?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: When you got back to the office on that day, because I assume you did?

BUIK: Yes.

QUEST: What was going on? Were you, were people in contact with the office in-

BUIK: They had been in contact. Because there was 100 minutes before the plane went into the North Tower, and it actually collapsing. And without being melodramatic, there was some hysterical conversations between-for a short time-because obviously the communications went between people that we had on direct lines into New York, about the hopelessness of the situation and to pass messages onto their families, to their wives and to kids, which was-I can't tell you. It still brings a lump in my throat every time I think of it.

When I got back to the office in America Square to see 200 plus grown men crying, openly; leaving the office, being forced to leave the building for security reasons. In case there was a duplication in London, and obviously the City of London could have been another place that was attacked. It was one of the most depressing and debilitating scenes, I will ever see, and I think anybody else will ever see. Unless you are actually fully involved in what exactly happened.

QUEST: The commitments made on sharing of profits, provision of health care for 10 years, what message did that send, do you think, about, in an industry where everyone thinks that the buck-the almighty buck is what all that counts? We saw a very different side of the financial community. We saw companies helping each other and management helping in different ways.

BUIK: The world changed that day. The world changed completely. And I think it is probably wrong to include inter-broker dealers into the same network as those people who are paid according to what they actually contribute or make for a bank, in terms of being a principle.

Remember, being an agency broker, you are at the whim of your clients, and your ability to be able to do business with him, at the agreeable rate that he wants to do business. What I think it did was show, which perhaps had been missing, through the `70s, `80, and `90s, when it was-that industry was massive (ph) and it was a question of dog-eat-dog, well as the fact is the human side of it came out of it. And that it is all very well, you know, to be ripping the skin off each other's faces to get the business done. But there was something greater in life, and that was, you know, having some feeling and thought pressed towards those people who are less fortunate than perhaps we were.

So, not only did the families of Cantor Fitzgerald benefit hugely, and quit rightly so, from the company subscribing 25 percent of its profits for five years, and now the health care. But also we thought it was an excellent spring board, about seven years ago, that charities all the way around the world should be even more beneficiaries. Because an awful lot has been done for the families, and so it should have been.


FOSTER: David Buik.

Now, in an around an hour and a half's time you can see a special edition of "CONNECT THE WORLD". Becky Anderson will be live at the ground zero in New York, as we continue our special coverage leading up to Sunday's 10th anniversary commemorations.


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Welcome back.

I'm Max Foster in London.


And these are the main news headlines this hour.

Stock markets around the world are deeply in the red. Right now, we're seeing triple digit losses on the Dow and down more than 3 percent.

Libya's new leaders are giving pro-Gadhafi forces less than four hours to surrender in two government strongholds. With the deadline quickly approaching loyalists fired rocket grenades at NTC fighters surrounding Bani Walid and Sirte. Interpol has also issued red notices for the arrest of ousted leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

Security is visibly heightened in New York and Washington as intelligence officials try to confirm information about a potential al Qaeda threat. One administration official told CNN there is credible information about a possible attack to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. A step back for Samsung and its Galaxy tablet computer in the firm's battle with Apple. A court in Dusseldorf upheld a ruling that blocked Samsung's German unit from selling its tablet in Germany. Apple says the Galaxy looks too much like its own iPad. Both firms are suing each other over claims of patent infringement.

Well, all this week on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, we're looking at the role of technology in tackling human trafficking, a part of the CNN Freedom Project, which shines a light on the horrors of modern-day slavery.

Here are a few examples where technology is already being used against trafficking. This poster shows an anti-trafficking hotline in Cambodia. Mobile phones can be used to report crimes or receive warnings, even in remote areas.

In Haiti, encouraging people to txt trafficking information to U.N. officials running camps and shelters.

And it's a sickening thought, but if traffic -- but traffickers can use the disruption after disasters to conceal their crimes. When infrastructure has been damaged or in remote areas without power, this solar phone charging station can make sure that those at risk remain in touch.

Mark Latonero is the research director at the Annenberg Center on Communication, Leadership & Policy at the University of Southern California.

The center is working on ways to create partnerships to get anti- trafficking technology into use.

Mark joins us now live from Los Angeles.

We really appreciate your time.

Just explain, if you will, how mobile phones are so useful in this work, as you st -- as you discovered.

MARK LATONERO, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Well, mobile phones are the fastest growing communication technology in history. And it just so happens that the poor and the vulnerable are the most susceptible to human trafficking. But in the developing world, this population has more and more access to mobile phones.

In Haiti, about 35 to 40 percent of the population has a mobile phone. In Cambodia, where I also went for this research, the population has about 50 percent penetration of mobile phones and in places like Thailand, it's almost -- it almost reaches 100 percent of the population with mobile phones.

So the idea is how we can use these technologies, like mobile, like Internet, in ways which could monitor and combat and disrupt the trafficking trade.

FOSTER: How can you?

Give us an example.

LATONERO: Well, for one, a lot of hotlines are out there in places like Thailand and Cambodia. Some of them can receive text messages, SNS. And so one idea that we are developing is having a central number such that -- that the public, the general public, if they see something that is suspicious about trafficking, they can text into this number. It will reach a variety of NGOs and authorities who can act on that information and perhaps rescue a trafficking victim or investigate a trafficker.

FOSTER: And because the -- the mobile phones are so common in these areas, it probably is the best communications system, isn't it, because it can also be done anonymously and, also, it's cheap?

LATONERO: Right. There -- there's a lot of pay as you go cards that individuals can use. I -- I do have to say, also, that there's a flip side to it, because traffickers are also using mobile phones, the Internet, even social networking sites, to reach a greater population and exploit a greater number of people across geographic boundaries.

So, on the one hand, these technologies can be used to combat trafficking. And on the other, they're actually being used to facilitate trafficking. And that's a very -- that's exactly the line that we are trying to study and research and develop technologies in this area.

FOSTER: So how long do you think until an idea like the one you suggested is going to be up and running?

Because it must be quite simple to do. You just need the support of a couple of companies.

LATONERO: That's what we thought. And there are companies like Digicel in Haiti and some mobile carriers in Thailand and Cambodia who were very helpful and also there's NGOs who also can -- are very helpful and are -- are ready to help us now. The only problem is there are really three things that anyone who is trying to do implementations or interventions in the mobile space have to think about.

One, you mentioned anonymity. Sometimes texting is anonymous. Other -- other times it can be tracked through geo location and other areas. So the safety of whoever is texting in is paramount.

Also, trust -- how to get the public to trust that number that they are going to text in or dial into is someone that they can trust.

And -- so I think those are the two main areas that people always have to think about. And, really, just the security of the -- whoever is texting in is really paramount. So those things has to be thought through. It isn't something that one should just jump into the market with.

FOSTER: It's a great idea, though.

Mark Latonero, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

You can learn more about CNN's year long Freedom Project on our Web site. Do go to There you can get facts about modern-day slavery and what people around the world are doing to fight it. There are also resources on what you can do to help. That's all at


FOSTER: Rugby World Cup host, New Zealand, have knocked off the tournament with a bang. After a glittering opening ceremony, they scored a 41-10 victory over Tonga. New Zealand 2011 World Cup, Martin Snedden, expects the tournament to give a net boost of more than $400 million to the country's economy.

CNN's Alex Thomas looks at how even without the cash factor, it's still a national obsession.



ALEX THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Organizers say the World Cup in New Zealand will be played in a stadium of four million, a phrase summing up the entire country's passion for Rugby Union. Fans braved winter weather to see the World Cup trophy's tour of the host nation earlier this year. And across the planet, Kiwi communities will gather to watch their teams bid to lift rugby's biggest prize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's long overdue, home ground, you know, we've got a -- we've got -- we've got that advantage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Zealand would be a horrible place to be if -- if we don't win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We look at the capital we're going away from (INAUDIBLE) because we -- we don't know now we're going to win it this year, so.


THOMAS: All visiting players are struck by New Zealand's rugby obsession.

DALLAGIO: The last time I was there a few years ago, the cleaning lady knew more about rugby than -- than I did. So it, you know, they are completely obsessed with it. And -- and they -- they have an amazing team and an amazing, you know, culture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will they be good hosts?

DALLAGIO: They will be fantastic. I mean it's -- they're so passionate, the fans, the public. And, you know, it will be an amazing Rugby World Cup.

THOMAS (on camera): The New Zealand rugby team is known as the All Blacks, famed for the players' distinctive kick and their pre-match Maori dance, or Haka. Dan Carter and Richie McCaw are New Zealand's key players and, arguably, rugby's two biggest stars right now. The All Blacks are ranked the best side in the World Cup, but are under pressure to win it for the first time since their maiden tournament back in 1987.

MICHAEL LYNAGH, FORMER AUSTRALIA PLAYER: I think the biggest factor with New Zealand is the -- the amount of pressure that, not only in the buildup, the last four years since they got knocked out of the last World Cup. The whole country is just expecting these guys -- and the rest of the rugby world -- to win.

SEAN FITZPATRICK, FORMER NEW ZEALAND ALL BLACKS PLAYER: New Zealanders (INAUDIBLE) a stadium of four million people that are dying to show the -- the rugby world what a -- what a great country we have got, that we are more passionate about rugby than -- than -- than any other city in the world. And you'll have a great time down there. So, you know, I'm looking forward to it.

THOMAS: Since New Zealand's trial almost a quarter of a century ago, Australia has won the World Cup twice, in 1991 and 1999, and so has South Africa, the defending champions. England, in 2003, is the only winner from the Northern Hemisphere.

(voice-over): Every continent on the planet will have at least one team at the tournament. In total, 20 nations are competing. Russia is making its World Cup debut -- a sign of the sport's global expansion.

BERNARD LAPASSET, RUGBY WORLD CUP CHAIRMAN: Rugby now is a sport for this century. We have opened a new vision for this rugby union around the world. And we have the representation from -- from all continents and -- and this (INAUDIBLE). That's a fantastic moment for rugby. And in rugby, we have an IRB control -- 180 unions now register in IRB from all five continents.

THOMAS: New Zealanders are sure to enjoy hosting the Rugby World Cup. But it's unclear how much the country will benefit economically. The government has estimated around 95,000 visitors will spend a total of $579 million US. But that's only a fraction of the $7.4 billion tourist industry, which attracts 2.5 billion people every year.

Alex Thomas, CNN.


FOSTER: Now, before we go, a quick update on those stock markets for you.

The Dow is down 325 points right now -- 314, actually, looking at the figures, down 2.78 percent.

Now, in Europe, the picture was just as bleak on the news that Juergen Stark was stepping down from the European Central Bank. The Xetra DAX was hardest hit, down 4 percent. It's not at its lowest level since July 2009.


I'm Max Foster in London.

Mai is next on CNN, the world's news leader.



I'm Robyn Curnow.

Now, away from the concrete jungle that is Central Johannesburg to the West African nation of Gabon, which is sometimes referred to as the Eden of Africa, with its vast tracts of rainforests, a natural resources that its president, Ali Bongo, is looking to protect in a new greening initiative in the oil-rich nation.

Well, I recently sat down with President Bongo to talk about his plans for diversification, as well as his family's decades long grip on power in Gabon.


ALI BONGO, GABONESE PRESIDENT: We are a country covered 85 percent by the rainforests. Eleven percent of the country are national parks -- 13 national parks. And that was really the great signal because with that, we decided, you know, that we were going to preserve and more than just thinking of making money.

CURNOW: This program of Green Gabon, who do you want to invest in your country?

And I understand that you want to, in the long-term, open it up as sort of a high end tourist destination.

Who -- who would come to Gabon on holiday and pay a lot of money to do that?

BONGO: You have a fantastic opportunity for tourism. People come. They want to see the real jungle. They want to see the flora, the fauna. You know, we have lots of elephants, lots of gorillas and others, many things to see.

CURNOW: I understand where you're going, because, obviously, eco- tourism, a green, sustainable environment, is a good way to diversify your economy. You're very heavily reliant on oil, particularly selling your oil to China.

BONGO: The Chinese, for us, are just like any other investors. You know, it is just that they have a strong policy, you know, of investing all over Africa.

CURNOW: What's the difference between a Chinese investor and a European investor or an American investor, from your point of view?

BONGO: The aim is still to make money.

CURNOW: Then what's the difference?

What -- why -- why would you say the Chinese have been so successful in -- on the continent?

BONGO: Well, I think that it has to do, probably, with the policy of the Chinese government, you know, coming into a country, investing and not really wanting to get involved. It's just the way, you know, you ask questions.

Can I come, you know, to your house and start littering, because well, this house is now clean, this house is not like that, it's not -- I can't do that.

CURNOW: So you -- so the Chinese don't do that. And you say...

BONGO: Yes, they don't do it. So probably, you know, it's -- it's much more appealing, you know, to some African countries. Again, it's the way things should be said, and especially being lectured -- nobody likes to be lectured, you know. So the Chinese respect that. It's a little bit, you know, offensive for us to be told, you know, watch out, be careful. It's like we are stupid and we don't understand.

So do we need someone to tell us, you know, well, you be careful, because that man is coming, he's not good. He's going to do this, going to do that?

Why people would assume that we Africans are stupid enough not to know what should be our interests and the interests of our people.

CURNOW: Do you think the modern day ruler of a country like Gabon, do you think it's harder or easier now, than, perhaps, when your farther took power 40 years ago?

BONGO: In Gabon, it's going to be harder. It's going to be harder.


BONGO: The younger generation, having the tools, you know, with Internet, connected with the whole world, to know what's happening, to compare. So of course it's much -- it's much more difficult.

CURNOW: So they can hold you accountable in far greater ways than they did your father 40 years ago?

BONGO: Oh, definitely. Yes.

CURNOW: Does that make you nervous?

BONGO: No, not at all.

CURNOW: Does it make you proud?

BONGO: Yes. Of course.


CURNOW: Now, President Bongo was recently invented to the White House by U.S. President Barack Obama. And one of the reasons for that might lie in these numbers.

The World Bank estimates that Gabon is the fifth largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Now, the oil sector accounts for about 80 percent of Gabon's exports. And despite this oil revenue, a third of Gabon's 1.5 million people still live in poverty.

Head over to our Facebook page and let us know your thoughts on my conversation with the president.

Do you think the country's green initiative will work?

We look forward to hearing from you.

Next up, focus on fertility -- how one doctor has helped to make in vitro fertilization more accessible in Africa's most populous country.


DR. RICHARD AJAYI, DIRECTOR, BRIDGE CLINIC: I was surprised by the large number of Nigerians that were constantly coming to the U.K. for the moment. And, you know, after a few years of watching them, you know, my entrepreneurial nerves started to twitch. I thought to myself, well there's a major opportunity in Nigeria.



CURNOW: Making babies in Nigeria is becoming big business. IVF, or in vitro fertilization, has helped countless couples around the world to have a child of their own. But the procedure isn't as accessible in some developing countries, as our Christian Purefoy now reports on one doctor's mission to give Nigerian parents their own bundle of joy.


CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Richard Ajayi is using science to give life to the hopes of would-be parents in Nigeria.

AJAYI: The (INAUDIBLE) will go straight into the England, pass the sperm coming down, OK, and then you inject it.

PUREFOY: Ajayi returned from the U.K. to help set up Nigeria's first IVF treatment clinic in 1999. And since then, business has grown dramatically.

AJAYI: I was surprised by the large number of Nigerians that would constantly come to the U.K. for treatment. And, you know, after a few years of watching them, you know, my entrepreneurial nerves started to twitch. I thought to myself, well there's a major opportunity in Nigeria.

PUREFOY: The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria has on to double the infertility rate of most developed countries in the West. There are now regular 15 other IVF establishments in Nigeria. And Dr. Ajayi himself runs four IVF treatment clinics across the country.

Each of his clinics treats up to 700 patients a year with what he says is an over 30 percent success rate for women under 36 years old, like many Western IVF clinics.


PUREFOY: But overcoming these biological realities ultimately helps couples overcome the enormous social pressure, as well.

AJAYI: First of all is the expectation. I mean, you know, when you get married, the next thing is you're supposed to have children. So the in-laws are all waiting. So...

PUREFOY: (on camera): But that -- that pressure is different from like when you're in the U.K., for example.

AJAYI: Oh, totally. I mean there you have a marriage that's not blessed with children, there's a lot of stigmatization. In fact, some people say infertility is a justifiable reason for divorce. And there are a lot of -- you know, marriages break up where there's infertility.

PUREFOY: None of the families having treatment at this center have agreed to talk to us because of privacy issues and also stigma from society about not being able to have children in Nigeria.

But all of these photos on the wall are children that have been successfully born because of treatment at this center. And if you follow me through here, so far, the Bridge Clinic claims to have had 1,253 live births since the year 2000.

(voice-over): Treatment can cost up to $5,000. But maintaining a professional standard in a country with no IVF trained staff or even a reliable electricity supply, is not cheap.

But health care, he says, is not just a business.

AJAYI: It's not a -- it's not about just making money. It's about actually doing something worthwhile, having a clear vision to solve a problem that the country needs solved -- solving, and, at the same time, building an institution that outlives me.

PUREFOY: And lives on in the happiness of new families.

Christian Purefoy, CNN, Lagos, Nigeria.


CURNOW: Thanks to Christian for that story.

Now, here's what's making business news headlines in actually this week.


Islamic Insurance

South African bank Absa acquires Takafol South Africa, the country's only Islamic insurance provider.

Takafol is expected to earn $400 million this year by providing insurance that complies with Islamic law. Absa aims to expand the business across Africa.

Mobile Movement

Indian mobile carrier Bharli Airtel expands to a 17th African country, announcing new operations in Rwanda. The company intends to invest $100 million in the country over the next three years.

Brewing Business

Brewer Heineken plans a 5-year, $560 million investment in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The company will build a new brewery and expand several others, in a bid to cater to Congo's growing population.

CURNOW: Well, that's it from us here in Johannesburg.

Please do keep in contact. I'm on Twitter, robincurnow.cnn and at our Web page,

But until next week, good-bye.