Europe’s Debt Crisis is Affecting the ETF Market

Read the companion article from European Contagion Fuels Short ETFs.

TOM HUDSON: The troubles brewing in Europe certainly have taken their toll here in the states, but in Europe, some countries’ stock indices are at their lowest level since the financial crisis more than two years ago. That brings us to tonight’s “Word on the Street,” — Europe. Glenn Hall is the editor in chief at and he joins us. Glenn, with the European stock markets down so much, multi-year lows, are there opportunities especially for value investors here?

GLENN HALL, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THESTREET.COM: Well, there’s two ways to play right now especially looking at the ETFs. There are some country specific funds that are down 10, even 20 percent. And if you think that there’s good times to come after the Greek crisis gets resolved, those that might be opportunities to buy while they’re down, upswing opportunity later. The second might be to continue shorting, short those country indices and then you might have an opportunity to see further upside if the recovery takes longer than expected.

HUDSON: Clearly the trouble in the European markets isn’t confined to the specific countries in trouble, in Greece and Italy. One of those specific country ETFs you brought along here is the French exchange-traded fund. EWQ is the ticker symbol on this one, down about 2.25 percent today, down 16 percent over the past couple of months at a new 52-week low. Clearly lots of French concern here.

HALL: Yeah, the French took a hit today because there’s reports that Moody’s (NYSE: MCO) is preparing to downgrade major French banks like BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and so forth because of their exposure to Greek debt crisis. And so as a result, people are now keenly aware that France may take a hit as well as contagion fears spread.

HUDSON: You compare that movement today down to a 52-week low, down 2.25 percent compared to EWG, the Germany exchange-traded fund, down just a fraction, yes down to another 52-week low, but on a price basis, much less for the downside at least today.

HALL: Yeah, that ETF tracking the German shares seems to be responding to Germany’s more neutral position. They’re the player in this whole bailout drama and Germany has been hesitant, balancing its own domestic needs against the needs to help out the rest of Europe. So right now investors are a little less sure where Germany’s going to come out and so they came out with a more or less break even today.

HUDSON: Maybe less business exposure, more policy exposure as the case may be.

HALL: I think that’s the case.

HUDSON: You talked about shorting Europe and maybe opportunities, if you don’t think the downside is in. EPV is the ticker symbol for the proshares ultra short Europe fund. This is twice the opposite of a broad European stock index, meaning if it’s down 1 percent, this fund would be up 2 percent. What’s the opportunity here?

HALL: Well, what we’ve seen is with that French index that we talked about before and this short European index, there used to be exact opposites where the French index was going up and this one was going down. They flipped recently and this one has been rocketing higher. So if you are looking to hedge or you think that Europe is going to have long-term trouble, this is an opportunity to get in and it’s a get against a short term recovery for Europe or Greece.

HUDSON: And twice the volatility as well. Do own any of these funds, Glenn?

HALL: I do not own any of these ETF funds.

HUDSON: You can read Glenn’s article at, a link to it on our web site as well, our guest this evening, Glenn Hall with

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