Goldman exec: Mixed earnings reflect the economy

Seeking refuge in US equities

Big name companies IBM, McDonald's and Coca-Cola took a drubbing in earnings this quarter, while industry heavyweights Dow Chemical and Boeing turned in strong beats. That has left investors looking for a common narrative in this earnings season.

According to Gary Cohn, president and chief operating officer at Goldman Sachs, the only answer may be to look at the story market by market and region by region.

"There are mixed results out there and that's very similar to what we're seeing in the global economy," Cohn told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "I think it tells you a lot about what we're seeing in markets. I think it tells you that the world's not 100 percent sure what's going on economically."

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Cohn said recent earnings results have much to do with companies' business mix and where they are doing business.

While strong results from Boeing are a telltale sign the world economy and air transport are growing in some respects, food services companies such as McDonald's are facing changes in the way Americans eat out.

Likewise, companies with strong exposure to the United States are probably outperforming, while slowdown in Europe will impact those exposed to the continent, said Cohn. That said, he acknowledged that slower growth in Europe and China could eventually impact U.S. economic performance.

"The United States continues to be strong, but the question is how strong can the United States be with our major trading partners being relatively weak," Cohn said.

Keeping America competitive

Despite recent volatility in bond and equity markets, Cohn said he believes interest rates will remain relatively benign and does not expect a major shift in rates in the United States or elsewhere heading into the end of 2014.

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In the near-term, he expects equities will remain a relatively safer harbor as investors seek a refuge for their money. Cohn also sees the dollar rallying into next year as Europe enters a phase of quantitative easing and euro devaluation.

On the issue of new rules regulating tax inversions, Cohn noted that U.S. companies are signaling that tax rates are somewhat of a hindrance to creating jobs domestically.

"At the end of the day, companies need to grow and companies want to create jobs, and they want to create high-paying jobs in America," Cohn said. "It would be helpful if we helped U.S. corporations in creating high-paying jobs."