Japan Won't Derail US Economic Recovery: Rattner

As a global sell-off intensifies on fears of Japan's nuclear crisis, the former U.S. car czar told CNBC Wednesday that nothing will derail our economic recovery except oil.

Steven Rattner
Steven Rattner

"I think oil is the single biggest threat we have to that right this minute from a purely economic point of view," said Steven Rattner, asset manager and former counselor to the Treasury, who led the administration's auto industry restructuring. Rattner wrote a book about his experience as President Obama's car czar, "Overhaul."

In the short run, I think our economic recovery is going to be intact," Rattner said.

"I don't really see, frankly, anything happening in Japan that necessarily derails our economic recovery," he said. "There are long-term ramifications for Japan for nuclear power, which would probably be unfortunate," Rattner went on to say.

The stock market sell-off happening right now is consistent with investors being a bit more frightful about what is going on in the world and therefore people are stepping back from risk, Rattner added.

On the other hand, he said, Europe has a lot of challenges in terms of how the Euro Zone functions.

"But, in the short run, the Europeans—the Germans and the French and other strong countries—are clearly committed to avoiding a euro crisis," Rattner said. "What you see happening now are the chickens, in effect, coming home to roost with Portugal, with Ireland, with Greeceand so forth."

Moody's credit agency downgraded Portugal by two notches late on Tuesday. Spain, by contrast, obtained lower yields at a bond auction and is viewed as less likely to need an EU/IMF bailout, following a surprisingly strong package of debt measures by Euro Zone leaders.

Follow Strategy Session on Twitter: @CNBCStrategy

Watch CNBC's "The Strategy Session" weekdays at Noon ET.