We have seen it in oil, where the world seems to think that European economies are holding down the price of oil with their weakness. In reality, oil is not even down that much, but whatever decline there is seems to be weighted toward European alibis. We have seen it in the chemicals, all of which have been global for some time and are about to have giant estimate cuts if something is not done soon, even as their raw costs here have plummeted. We have seen it in the mineral stocks and mining plays that can't get enough business in China that can make up for European weakness. One look at Alcoa ( AA), which is all the way back down after reporting a decent quarter, tells you that Europe is a millstone that's pulling down the best and drowning the most levered or the most in danger of going into the red. These are huge portions of the U.S. economy that have been held hostage by Angela Merkel. You have to believe that at some level she is even feeling the heat from the U.S. and China, which tire of her worries about hyper-inflation at a time when worldwide deflation is the culprit. What's amazing is that until Merkel changes her views, numbers have to come down for all of these groups of stocks, and they have to come down in ways that do not support the current valuations. You can bet all you want that the Germans will get with the program, but they longer they don't, the worse things will be. So we play this game of chicken where when there are signs of hope, like all of the European stock markets climbing except for Spain, signaling that perhaps today is the day when something good happens, our stocks fly. They are then followed by days of sullenness where the Germans refuse to yield, and all of their stocks go down in all of their markets, and they take us down, too. Of course, all of this could somehow be left at the shores of Europe if we could just get some solid economic growth here. We do have it sporadically. We know that retail has been buoyed by lower gasoline prices. We know that restaurants have been helped by lower commodity prices. One look at the 52-week high list with the likes of Foot Locker ( FL) or Brinker International ( EAT), a.k.a. Chili's, or Bed Bath & Beyond ( BBBY) or Wal-Mart ( WMT) tells you that.
Steve Ricchiuto, MZUHO Securities chief economist, and Bob Michele asset management global CIO with JP Morgan (JPM), joined BloomberTV's 'Bloomberg GO' to discuss the economy and the Fed raising rates.