Transcript: Nightly Business Report – May 27, 2019

ANNOUNCER:  This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Sue Herera and Bill Griffeth.

SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special edition of NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.

BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Memorial Day, of course, is considered the unofficial start to the summer season.  It`s the time of year when you hit the road or the airport and head off on vacation.  

HERERA:  So, tonight, since the market is closed, we decided to do something different and take a look at the condition of those roads and airports and other parts of America`s infrastructure.  

GRIFFETH:  But before we do that, we want to talk about the stock market first.  Every year when the weather does turn warmer, investors are reminded of an old Wall Street adage, “sell in May and go away”.  But as 


BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Sell in May and go away.  You know, it`s that time of year again, but this year you may not want to sell and get out not just yet and the best six-month strategy has become legendary on Wall Street.  Sell in May and go away means investing in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from November 1st and April 30th, and cashing out, switching to fixed income for the next six months.  That has dramatically outperformed just owning the Dow from May 1st to October 31st.  

So, here`s an example, if you invested $10,000 in the Dow in 1950 from May 1st to October 31st, you`d end up with a little over $11,000 today.  That`s a measly gain of a little over $1,000 in 69 years.  But if you invested the same $10,000 from November 1st to April 30th, you would have a return of over $1 million and that`s according to the Stock Trader`s Almanac.  That`s So why does it do better between November and May, first, there are some clear seasonal trends in market trading, the slower trading activity in the summer, back to school and the end of the portfolio window dressing that`s caused stocks to sell off in September and sometimes October, which is why September and sometimes October typically bad months for the year.  But when you move into November, company`s efforts in the fourth quarter to beef up their numbers can help drive the market higher as do holiday shopping and an influx of year-end bonus money.  

The bottom line is this, sell in May does not necessarily mean may will be down or even that the next six month period will be down.  It doesn`t mean that.  The point is that most of the market`s gains occur November through April and that the market tends to drift sideways and it`s more prone to sell-offs in the May through October period.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.  


HERERA:  So, with summer unofficially here, many of us will head out on vacation.  The problem, our infrastructure is crumbling.  We have several reports on that issue tonight and we`ll start with the backbone of the economy — roads and bridges.  

Frank Holland is in Columbus, Ohio.  


FRANK HOLLAND, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Our roads getting a “D” in the most recent report card of America`s infrastructure.  The primary reasons: congestion and structural deficiencies.  

BRIAN PALLASCH, ASCE INFRASTRUCTURE INITIATIVE:  Our transportation network, I think, is slowing in some ways, our economy and making it less efficient.  

HOLLAND:  The estimated impact by 2025, more than $2.3 trillion in business sales lost, more than $1.2 trillion in lost GDP, and more than 1 million lost jobs.  

PALLASCH:  It becomes the inability of the economy to grow with the rate at which it should grow.  

HOLLAND:  The nation`s bridges getting a C-plus from the American Society of Civil Engineers and its failure to act and report.  That study also estimating there will be a funding gap of more than $1 trillion by 2025, half the money needed to fix our roads and bridges, and taxpayers will likely pay for problems one way or another.  

PALLASCH:  Motorists on average in this country spend about $600 a year in additional maintenance on their cars just because of the poor road conditions.  

HOLLAND:  Driverless cars are expected in coming years just outside of Columbus, Ohio, on U.S. 33, they`re preparing by lining the roadway by fiber optics like these and building a 35-mile, Wi-Fi highway that can connect with the cars of the future.  

At the end of U.S. 33 is the Transportation Research Center where connected and autonomous vehicle technology is being tested to make it safer.  The state also investing in smart lights like these designed to send and receive data from vehicles.  

VOICE:  Warning, red light ahead.

JIM BARNA, DRIVE OHIO EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:  Ultimately, our goal is to eliminate the serious crashes at these intersections.  Twenty percent of all our fatals in Ohio occur in these intersections, so this technology has the ability to eliminate them, not reduce, but ultimately eliminate them once all the vehicles and the signals are outfitted with the technology.  

HOLLAND:  Nationally, fatal crashes have increased by 7 percent over the past five years.  

PALLASCH:  The cost of the economy of those fatalities and crashes is billions and billions of dollars and that`s something we also can address through improving our infrastructure.  

HOLLAND:  The cost for families, even greater.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Frank Holland in Columbus, Ohio.  


GRIFFETH:  In fact, more Americans will be hitting the road this summer.  According to the GasBuddy`s 2019 summer travel survey, 75 percent of Americans say they are planning a classic road trip.  That`s a 16 percent increase compared to last year.  But will high gasoline prices be a problem?  

Joining us right now, Patrick DeHaan.  He`s the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.  

Good to see you again.  Welcome back.  


GRIFFETH:  You know, some parts of the country are already paying $4 a gallon plus.  How much higher can you see it happening going higher this summer?  

DEHAAN:  Well, I think, thankfully so far, based on what we see now, gas prices have started to recede and that may continue for the time being as the U.S. obviously continues to battle China in the trade war and it could continue as long as there is no trade war.  Refineries have ramped up production that`s allowing gas prices across much of the country to decline and that should continue into the month of June at least for now.  

HERERA:  We do have a lot of headline risk, don`t we, Patrick, though?  I mean, Iran and the U.S., there are increased tensions there.  What might the impact be if those tensions continue or ramp up a little bit?

DEHAAN:  That`s right.  We`re looking at a summer of volatility.  As you mentioned, Iran is just one of those issues that could flare up at any moment.  Of course, Middle East destabilization could happen as a result.  

We`ve already seen some rumors and some sabotage in Saudi Arabia.  So, the market is very on edge and that could certainly cause gas prices to flare back up as we progressed towards the end of the summer and keep in mind really starts to ramp up, as well.  

So, there could be additional price pressure for motorists towards the mid and end of the summer.  

GRIFFETH:  By the way, 75 percent of Americans planning a road trip.  That`s a 16 percent increase than last year.  Have you asked anybody, why this year?  Why this sudden interest in road trips? 

DEHAAN:  Well, I think what we`re seeing is the strength of the U.S. economy.  A lot of us are complaining about the second largest rise average from the start of the year is only second to 2011`s increase.  But the resiliency of the U.S. economy is continuing to drive interest in hitting the road this summer even as gas prices have gone up.  

HERERA:  So you need to shop around, I would think.  

DEHAAN:  Absolutely.  If you`re hitting the road this summer, gas prices all over the map, still over $4 a gallon in much of California where it could be below the $2 a gallon range in much of the South.  So, quite the spread this summer.  

GRIFFETH:  Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy, again, thanks for joining us tonight.

DEHAAN:  My pleasure.  

HERERA:  If flying is more of your thing, here`s some unwelcome news.  For the first time since late last year, domestic airfares in the U.S. are going up.  Phil LeBeau has more on how much more you`ll pay to ply.  


PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  If you`re booking a trip in the U.S. this summer, get ready to pay more.  Airlines have raised fares, $5 each way on most flights in the U.S., the first industry-wide fare hike of the year.  

HAYLEY BERG, HOPPER ECONOMIST:  We`ve seen prices increasing since April and we expect them to continue increasing until about mid-June, end of June, and then they`ll slowly fall back down until the early fall.  

LEBEAU:  With the typical domestic round-trip ticket going for just under $230.  The average airfare today is still far lower than a few years ago, partially because ultra low-cost airlines like Spirit have added more routes and flights.  

So traditional airlines have responded by offering more low-priced basic economy fares and overall, the industry has steadily added more flights and that is holding down fares.  The big question is what impact, if any, will be felt by American, United and Southwest parking more than 70 Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737 MAX airplanes, forcing them to adjust their schedules?BERG:  So what we`re seeing them do is shift capacity to their highest demand routes and cut back or cancel routes in the short term that are lower demand.  

LEBEAU:  Which means, airfares on high-demand routes like L.A. to New York may not go up much, but on a route like Pittsburgh to L.A., flights may be Overall, airfares remain relatively low, but passengers are finding they`re paying more for certain parts of their trip like checking bags.  In the last year, many airlines have raised the cost of checking a bag from $25 to $30.  



GRIFFETH:  Adding to the issue, many of the nation`s airports are getting busier and upgrades are badly needed.  But a handful are building new, better terminals.  

Phil LeBeau also has us covered on that front, as well, from New Orleans.  


LEBEAU:  The big addition at New Orleans airport is almost done, a billion dollar terminal with 35 gates and plenty of restaurants and space to handle the city surging air traffic.  Since 2009, the number of people flying out of New Orleans has jumped more than 50 percent, topping 6 million travelers in 2017.  

KEVIN DOLLIOLE, NEW ORLEANS DIRECTOR OF AVIATION:  As this market continues to grow, we are in a better position to handle the growth in its market, and also, we`ve done this in a way that keeps the costs of plane passengers to airlines on the low side.  

LEBEAU:  New Orleans airport, like others in the U.S., is bursting at the seams.  Airlines have added more flights to feed America`s appetite for travel.  Increasingly, tarmacs are crowded, terminals are packed and airports are struggling to keep up with booming business.  

RAY LAHOOD, FORMER U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY:  In terms of new airports in America, while we haven`t seen one built in decades.  And you go to China, all they`re doing is building rail and airports.  These are economic engines for the economy of these countries, and we are way, way far behind.  

LEBEAU:  Some airports like New York`s LaGuardia and Salt Lake City are building all new terminals, while Dallas has added new gates, upgraded facilities to handle more flights and passengers.  But billions more is needed and travelers are tired going through old, worn down airports.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That was very important.  Great dining, we need shopping.  We need comfortable places, we need places to be able to have our phones, places to take our kids when we have to wait for delayed flights.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know, like a long layover and there`s nowhere to eat and kind of hang out and you`re stuck sitting on the ground.  

LEBEAU:  When this new terminal in New Orleans is finished later this year, it will cap a five-year project, but it won`t be the end of airport construction in the U.S., as more cities realized they`ll need to expand to handle more people flying.  

Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, New Orleans.  


HERERA:  As the weather heats up, everybody needs water handy, but another area in need of upgrading is the nation`s water system.  

And as Contessa Brewer tells us, some agencies aren`t waiting for the federal government to take action.  She`s in Bridgewater, New Jersey, for us tonight.  


CONTESSA BREWER, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Thousands of dams and levies are on the brink of failure and the drinking water for millions of Americans is at risk.  The nation`s water infrastructure system gets a grade of “D” by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which blames failures in investment, leadership and planning.  

PAUL RUSH, NYC D.E.P. DEPUTY COMMISSIONER:  What`s required is really good planning.

BREWER:  But New York City is tackling the problem of aging infrastructure.  Much of the system is at least a century old, but it`s spending nearly $20 billion over 10 years on projects to repair, maintain and improve the water and waste water infrastructure.  

The Delaware aqueduct that brings water from the Catskill Mountains to the city.  It`s the world`s longest tunnel, but it`s old.

RUSH:  We have a leak, so we`re going through fixing that right now.  It altogether is going to cost about $1.5 million to get this fix done.  

BREWER:  New York City has the money to pay for these kind of repairs because it`s operated by an independent water agency, but sets the rates customers pay and finance authority that sales bonds to raise capital money.  New York`s rates are 15 percent lower than the national average, in part because there`s almost no cost associated with pumping and filtration.

RUSH:  It`s definitely a world leader in saltwater (ph) protection.  

BREWER:  New York is not alone if trying to stay ahead of the infrastructure curve.  American Water is the nation`s largest publicly traded water company operating in 46 states.  It`s spending $8.5 billion over the next five years, upgrading treatment plants, replacing thousands of miles of water mains.  

CHERYL NORTON, NJ AMERICAN WATER PRESIDENT:  Many of those projects are tied to resiliency.  With the climate variability that we`re starting to see across the nation and the world, frankly, it`s very challenging to make sure that we can get through those climate issues, through those natural disasters, and make sure that we can still sustain in service to our customers.  

BREWER:  That means investment in flood control barriers and levies.  In new reservoirs like this one in Bel Air, Maryland, to collect storm water when it`s available and distribute it during dry times.  It means grappling with chemical contaminants showing up coast to coast.  

NORTON:  We routinely test for compounds that are not regulated and we actually install treatment for compounds before they`re regulated if we know that they`re there.  

BREWER:  The complicated tack of repairing, improving and maintaining the nation`s water system requires big money.  And, in fact, an advocacy group, the American Waterworks Association, estimates it will take a trillion dollars for drinking alone.  

And the American Society of Civil Engineers says Americans need to pay rates and fees that accurately reflect the true cost of infrastructure.  

In Bridgewater, New Jersey, Contessa Brewer, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.  


GRIFFETH:  Still ahead, a warning for entrepreneurs on how your profitable idea can be knocked off.  We`re going to show one company that`s now finding itself vigorously fighting imposters.  

But, first, words of wisdom for new graduates from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook.  


TIM COOK, APPLE CEO:  There`s a saying that if you do what you love, you`ll never work a day in your life.  In Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), I learned that`s a total crock.  You work harder than you ever thought possible, but the tools will feel light in your hands.  


HERERA:  It started out as the American Dream, FinalStraw which makes an environmentally-friendly straw raised nearly $2 million in crowdfunding and was even on shark tank, but the dream turned into a nightmare unfolding half way around the globe in China.  

Andrea Day has the story.  


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is FinalStraw, the world`s first collapsible, reusable, totally badass straw.  

ANDREA DAY, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  A totally badass idea — a straw designed to save the planet and set to make millions. Emma Cohen and co-founder Miles Pepper even pitched the idea on “Shark Tank”.

EMMA COHEN, FINALSTRAW CEO & CO-FOUNDER:  Not in my wildest dreams could I have ever thought that we would have done anything like that.

DAY:  While attorneys work to secure patents and trademarks for the invention, the team launched their idea on crowdfunding site Kickstarter.  

COHEN:  We were just hoping and praying to solve enough straws that we wouldn`t have to make them ourselves.  

DAY:  But the little straw went viral.

COHEN:  Within 48 hours of launching the Kickstarter, we raised over $200,000.

DAY:  And it didn`t take long before backers shelled out nearly $2 million in funding.  But as the cash rolled in, backers weren`t the only ones taking notice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And just, uh-oh, where`d it go?

DAY:  It went here to factories in China who were ready to rip off her big 

idea.COHEN:  It took us about nine months to create the tooling get the product ready to manufacture.  They were able to do it in a matter of weeks.

DAY:  She had no clue anything was brewing overseas until she spotted fakes for sale online at major retail sites and phony websites that even ripped off images of her dog Burrita.

COHEN:  These straws sold like crazy.  

AMEDEO FERRARO, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ATTORNEY:  There are hundreds of people that are copying the very exact product, the same straw.  

DAY:  Amedeo Ferraro was one of the attorneys now fighting to keep FinalStraw afloat.  How brazen are some of these imposters?  

FERRARO:  Absolutely brazen.  They have complete disregard for all rules.  I believe that they`re going to do whatever they want to do and ask for forgiveness later.

DAY:  On this site Alibaba, we found plenty of listings for what looked like final straw knockoffs.  This factory`s saying ready to ship to the United States for just dollars a straw and the description looks familiar, totally badass.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Totally badass straw.

DAY:  We reached out to a woman listed as a contact for the factory but she declined to speak with us.  We sent a team from CNBC`s Beijing bureau to Shenzhen, China, it`s just outside of Hong Kong and where other companies are listed on Alibaba.  

The team discovered at least one was not at the address shown online.We tracked down a manager for another business advertising this straw online.  He agreed to talk only by phone.

He admits the idea for the straw that`s being made at his factory came from a crowdfunding site online.

Bruce Chen (ph) is a product designer in China and says even his own work has been ripped off by local factories.

BRUCE CHEN:  Without the Chinese patent, you probably would be copycatted.

DAY:  We went to Kickstarter`s headquarters in Brooklyn to see what advice they give new creators.

CLARISSA REDWINE, KICKSTARTER SENIOR DESIGN & TECH OUTREACH LEADER:  It depends on the product, but if you`re coming to Kickstarter to raise funding, you probably want to have all of your protection in place before you launch.  That is very important.  You know, once you launch, your product is out there in the world.

DAY:  We scheduled an interview with Alibaba, but the Chinese e-commerce site cancelled just hours before and sent us a statement saying in part: Protecting the IP of rights holders around the world is critical to our business.  We remove any IP infringing listings, period.  Rights holders can enforce their IP rights outside China, U.S. patent rights on our cross-border platforms.

After we contacted the online retailer Alibaba began helping FinalStraw, including removing fake listings. 

But it wasn`t just online retailers.  The fakes went viral on social media, with hundreds of posts for the copycats.  

COHEN:  It was a photo of me with the straw and, you know, I was furious.

DAY:  And followers directed to buy knockoffs for less than half the price.  

COHEN:  Social media is a weapon for these imposters.  They can use it at their discretion, however they want and there`s no body out there that`s really enforcing it.  

DAY:  We tracked down an influencer who got paid to post ad on her meme account.  A meme account typically posts funny images or videos and the person behind is not always revealed.  The woman who runs this one has more than a million followers.  She agreed to talk only by phone and said she had no idea she posted for a knockoff until we reached out.  

INSTAGRAM INFLUENCER:  I guess if I would — were to have googled it or something, I could have seen that, hey, this isn`t the actual company, but, you know, it is so hard to only do so much digging and figuring out this answers.

DAY:  Joey Hickson is an Instagram influencer, and this is his manager, 

Justin Keller.  He has 17 million followers across three accounts, including a meme page.  Is it tough to evaluate every post before it goes out?  

JOEY HICKSON, INSTAGRAM INFLUENCER:  Yes, it is, and there`s a lot of work into it, and I think if you have the time and you`re willing to do it between myself, and my team, then that`s what separates us from other people.  

DAY:  But they admit, it`s tough to be totally sure what you`re posting is the real deal.  

HICKSON:  So many times in so many different products and it`s all about who can get there quicker and who can make it cheaper.  It`s just a game.  

JUSTIN KELLER, JOEY HICKSON`S MANAGER:  That`s the industry like playing in pictures and living that lifestyle.  It`s — a lot of it`s fake.  

DAY:  And they say meme accounts especially can be loaded with fraud.  

HICKSON:  I`ve been turning down more business now than ever because most of the business I get has phony products.  

DAY:  We reached out to Instagram for comment.  The social media giant tells us in part: We review every IP report we receive and take action to protect rights holders when someone has used their IP without permission.  

And regarding influencer posts, when it comes to partnering with brands, we encourage creators to act responsibly and with integrity.  



GRIFFETH:  Coming up, the unique financial challenges facing some of our country`s military families.  

But first, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty`s message for new graduates at North Carolina State.  


GINNI ROMETTY, IBM CHAIRMAN & CEO:  If you`re going to build great technologies, like I believe we do, you have a responsibility to prepare society for them, and creating pathways, so lots of people from every different socioeconomic background can participate.  


GRIFFETH:  On this Memorial Day, we are looking at the unique challenges that face the men and women of our military.  A new study shows that nearly nine in ten active service members worry about their personal finances.  In fact, an increasing number are more concerned about meeting basic household needs than just a few years ago.  

Sharon Epperson takes a closer look.  


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There you go.  Good job!  

SHARON EPPERSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Like many military families the Wanners are used to bouncing around.  They`ve moved four times in the last 12 years.  Most recently to Fort Meade in Maryland all while raising a family on a single military income.  

ERIC WANNER, ARMY SERGEANT FIRST CLASS:  You`re trying to provide for more than one person and all of a sudden you have to furnish a house.  You have new bills.  

EPPERSON:  Some of those bills have been costly.  

J. WANNER, MILITARY SPOUSE:  When we came back from overseas, we had to rent a car for two months while we waited for the other car to get shipped, and that was a massive expense.  

EPPERSON:  Nearly 11,000 active duty service members and their families can shop at the exchange at Fort Meade.  Like many military families they face unique challenges when it comes to managing money, long deployments, moving expenses, cost of living adjustments and one of the biggest hurdles facing military families today — debt.  

E. WANNER:  Altogether?

J. WANNER:  Yes.

EPPERSON:  Eric and Janna got into trouble when they started spending extra money they received from Eric`s deployment bonus while he was serving in Afghanistan.  

E. WANNER:  We got comfortable with it.  So, when it ended, all of a sudden, it`s like taking a big pay cut?  

EPPERSON:  Marine Corps veteran and financial adviser Rene Bruer says low starting salaries and the structured world of military pay make it difficult for service members to dig themselves out of debt.  

RENE BRUER, SMITH BRUER ADVISORS:  Once you get promoted, naturally, you get a pay raise, but if — you need to make the $20,000 difference in a year, it`s not like another service will knock on your door and say, let me take you in and take you up three ranks.  

EPPERSON:  Today, most military families are more worried about money than going into battle.  In a recent survey, service members and their spouses ranked financial stress as a greater concern than even deployment.  

For military spouses, it was the number one worry, with 49 percent saying it`s their top concern.  

J. WANNER:  It was a struggle.  We were moving things around, trying to figure out, what do we pay now, what do we put off?  

EPPERSON:  But Breuer says, like being a good soldier, it takes financial discipline to turn it around.  

BRUER:  You want to throttle back lifestyle if it got out of control and get yourself back out on the right path.  

EPPERSON:  That`s exactly what the Wanners did.  

J. WANNER:  We sat down and we made a budget together and we stuck with it, and we didn`t do anything fun because we figured it would be less fun to be deeply in debt.  

A valuable lesson they`re hoping to pass along to their children and share with other military families.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Sharon Epperson in Fort Meade, Maryland.  


HERERA:  Thanks for watching NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight.  I`m Sue Herera.  

GRIFFETH:  And I`m Bill Griffeth.  Have a great evening, everybody.  We`ll see you tomorrow.


Nightly Business Report transcripts and video are available on-line post broadcast at The program is transcribed by ASC Services II Media, LLC. Updates may be posted at a later date. The views of our guests and commentators are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Nightly Business Report, or CNBC, Inc. Information presented on Nightly Business Report is not and should not be considered as investment advice. (c) 2019 CNBC, Inc.

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