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Tom Lydon, ETF Trends (163 clicks)
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In discussing Europe’s financial crisis, Ireland and Greece are often the first names to come up. But now Belgium has entered the conversation, it might be cause for concern about its ETF.

Borrowing costs for Belgium have inched higher, many are watching the economic health of this country as a bellweather for the rest of the eurozone. Matt Phillips for The Wall Street Journal reports that it may not necessarily spell doom for the Flemish; pressure on Belgian bonds, or credit-default swaps, could be a sign that the market is starting to bet on a breakup of the euro.

While Belgium isn’t as dependent on foreign creditors as Greece and Ireland, it has a very dysfunctional political system and a mountain of debt, says The New York Times. Few think that the country will default; the real risk is if contagion spreads, countries with high debt levels will be vulnerable.

In the last month, iShares MSCI Belgium (NYSEArca: EWK) has declined 7.5%, yet it remains 3.3% above its long-term trend line. Is Belgium a safe bet? Recent movements don’t indicate that it is. The situation in Europe isn’t resolved, so if you invest, know the risks and have an exit strategy if things get worse.

Not all of Europe is down in the dumps, either. Northern Europe is fairly solidly positioned and those economies are holding up well, thanks mostly to the fact that they’re not on the euro. If you want Europe exposure, funds like iShares MSCI Sweden (NYSEArca: EWD), Global X FTSE Norway (NYSEArca: NORW) and iShares MSCI Switzerland (NYSArca: EWL) may be more stable bets.

Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article.

Disclosure: None

Source: Belgium as an ETF Play: Another Weak Link?