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Mideast Still Biggest Worry for Markets: Cantor CEO

A rebel fighter greets a crowd of comrades while heading towards the frontline in Ajdabiya, Libya.
John Moore | Getty Images
A rebel fighter greets a crowd of comrades while heading towards the frontline in Ajdabiya, Libya.

Despite a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the escalating violence in the Middle East still poses the biggest threat for investors, according to Shawn Matthews, CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, a privately-owned investment bank.

"The [Mideast] political strife is the more interesting story, and that really takes time to work its way out and creates a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace," Matthews told CNBC Monday.

Matthews said the unrest in the Middle East will retake its role as the dominate story by next week as long as there isn't a significant worsening of the tragedy in Japan.

The reason, he explained, is people can look at the devastation in Japan and understand its financial implications. In the Middle East, in contrast, outcomes and their effect are less certain, according the Matthews.

"Scenarios like Japan are horrendous, but can certainly be modeled in a pretty quick fashion," he said.