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TheStreet Open House

Could the European Debt Crisis Haunt ETF Investors This October?

Stocks in this article: EWP EWI FXE

NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- Back on July 26, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, promised to do whatever it takes to protect the euro.

Yet the pledge was not a direct reference to strengthening the region's currency. Instead, it was a signal to the global financial system that -- much like the U.S. Federal Reserve's commitment with quantitative easing -- the ECB was committed to acquiring toxic debt.

As it already stands, the U.S. Fed owns an unhealthy quantity of mortgage-backed securities, while the ECB owns Greek/Portuguese bonds of questionable worth.

Now the ECB expects to expand its balance sheet with Spanish and Italian debts of dubious value.

Where does the ECB get the money to buy Spanish and Italian bonds? Fed Chairman Bernanke's crew electronically printed dollars in attempts to accomplish the Fed's stated goals.

However, on Sept. 6, the ECB claimed that it would offset any bond purchases by taking an equal amount of money out of circulation elsewhere. If accurate, that approach does differ from the Fed's QE policies.

Thus far, though, neither Spain nor Italy have accepted the ECB's open-ended invitation. And investors may be getting antsy.

During the Mario Draghi risk rally (7/26/12-9/6/12), iShares MSCI Spain (EWP), iShares MSCI Italy (EWI) and the Currency Shares Euro Trust (FXE) rocketed without a need to refuel.

Since early September, however, EWP and EWI have drifted back down toward their respective 50-day trend lines. Equally troublesome, FXE is barely holding above its longer-term 200-day moving average.

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