Get used to slow growth, spotty world economy: CEO

Focus on cost, capital and cash: Dow CEO

"We're living in a slow growth world." That's how Dow Chemical Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris described the global economy on CNBC Wednesday, following his company's release of better-than-expected earnings and revenue.

The pre-2008 economy should be viewed as a bubble, he said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "This 5 percent world economy, I think, is very much in the past. If we've got a 3 percent, 3.5 percent world economy we'll all be very happy."

"But we don't tend to have that. We have this very uneven global economy," he argued. "This post 2008, 2009 period for a couple of years we had a head-fake that the growth might have returned, but it didn't."

Last month in its twice-yearly economic prospects report, the World Bank to 2.8 percent this year, below its prior forecast of 3.2 percent made in January.

"The United States is the economy I feel best about," said Liveris. "But still 1.5 percent, 2 percent, 2.5 percent—it's still not strong enough for all of us."

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At its June meeting, the Federal Reserve cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth this year to a range of 2.1 percent to 2.3 percent from an earlier projection of around 2.9 percent.

"If you don't focus in on cost, capital, cash in this economy you won't grow margins, no matter what you're innovation agenda," Liveris said.

Dow CEO's point about Third Point

On Wednesday, Dow Chemical said it earned 74 cents a share excluding one-time items in the second quarter, beating estimates by 2 cents. Revenue of $14.92 billion also came in higher than expectations.

"We're a large, global, very integrated company but we're exposed to a lot of macros, we've had to readjust our operating template and begin to accelerate the shedding of ever-increasingly commoditizing businesses," Liveris said.

The company as much as $6 billion from non-core asset sales by the end of 2015, putting its epoxy business and some chlorine and derivatives assets up for sale. It's also looking to shed non-core businesses in its functional materials and performance materials units.

"There are now sacred cows here. We're divesting chlorine. We've been in chlorine for 117 years. That's not an easy divest," Liveris said.

Activist investor Daniel Loeb, founder and CEO of New York-based hedge fund Third Point, has urged the company to separate its commoditized raw materials businesses from its specialty chemicals operations, a demand that Liveris has repeatedly rejected.

But Liveris told CNBC Wednesday that he's had constructive conversations about releasing shareholder value in other ways with Third Point and other knowledgeable investors.

In January, Third Point announced that it had taken a $1.3 billion stake in Dow Chemical.

—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Reuters contributed to this report.