Weak U.S. data — including lower consumer confidence and a still-sluggish housing market — plus new upheaval in Europe have brought back "old and big question marks" about the global economy, Evercore Partners Chairman Roger Altman told CNBC Tuesday.
"Three or four weeks ago it seemed conditions were in place for a steadily improving equity market environment for the rest of the year," he told Squawk Box. "The macro environment seemed to be stabilizing."
But that has changed, and it has him worried. One of his favorite indicators, the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond, is down again, a "fundamentally bearish signal."
There is also the "so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year" where the U.S. government must make mandated budget cuts across the board to cut the deficit, and "the degree to which it will cause market volatility well in advance of that," Altman said.
"I'd like to see it differently but the consensus forecast for 2012 is 2.4 percent" GDPgrowth, "and that continues to be profoundly weak," Altman said.
Then there's Europe, rattled by increases in Spanish and Italian bond yields, the collapse of the Dutch government , and the French election, which Altman called "a rebuke to austerity" at a time of spreading recession.
Can it get worse? Yes, Altman said, but he doesn't think his two worst-case scenarios — Israel and Iran in a war or an "outright implosion" in Europe — are "playing through the markets right now, but they are big risks."