The euro-zone has endured a rough economic year, as an ongoing debt crisis puts downward pressure on the 16 countries who have adopted the euro as their common currency. Back in May, it was announced that Greece would receive a bailout, and the world thought that this would put an end to the issue, but it has since resurfaced in a number of nations. Just weeks ago, it was announced that Ireland would be receiving a bailout from the IMF and EU, as they were unable to overcome their immense financial woes. Now it seems that both Portugal and Spain are next in line for turmoil, but this time the EU is looking to take action in order to stop the currency from sinking yet again and hopefully restore confidence to the battered region heading into 2011.
Late yesterday, European leaders started a two day meeting in Brussels to discuss how they can direct the euro-zone out of its debt crisis, and what actions need to be taken. The meeting was called just in time, as both Spain and Belgium were given credit warnings this week, and many fear that they will suffer the same fate as Greece and Ireland. Earlier in the week, violent demonstrations broke out in Greece due to the poor economic conditions that still hang over the nation as a whole. While this may seem bleak, German Chancellor Angela Merkel attempted to abate these fears by stating that ” nobody in Europe will be left alone, nobody in Europe will be left to fall…Europe only succeeds as one.”
Merkel also stated that the solution will not be found be simply issuing massive amounts of debt, but rather by a collaboration of all nations to work back to prosperity. Still, it is not expected that the numerous leaders will be able to reach a solid decision as to their next big move. “Backs will be against the wall. Choices will be forced upon countries, simply because there seems to be no alternatives. But a genuine cooperative solution strikes me as being very unlikely in the near future” said professor Irwin Collier of Berlin’s Free University. Investors can only hope that the heads of the euro-zone nations will formulate some sort of solid strategy to help guide these countries out of amassing debts.
With this meeting wrapping up, its effects should trickle down to equities today, which is why the iShares MSCI EMU Index Fund (EZU) will be today’s ETF to watch. This fund tracks an index that measures the performance of equity markets of the members of the European Union who have adopted the euro as their currency. From a country standpoint, this ETF focuses on France (31%), Germany (26%), and Spain (12%). EZU has lost over 5% this year, but at the same time it pays out a juicy dividend yield of 4.2%. Whether or not the major euro-zone leaders make a decision will weigh heavily on this ETF today, as it has already had a tumultuous year to say the least.
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