NEW YORK (TheStreet) -The European sovereign debt crisis has once again taken center stage as Ireland becomes to second member of the Euro bloc to seek aid from the European Union and the IMF.
While the situation appears dire and staggering hurdles remain for the currency bloc heading into the future, I do not believe that we are witnessing the end of the EU, nor do I believe the continent is on the verge of falling into ruin.
On the contrary, even amidst all the doom and gloom, there are areas of Europe which still may hold promise for long-term, risk-tolerant investors. Using ETFs, it is possible to gain access to these nations and gain a front row seat to the region's eventual resurgence.
iShares MSCI Netherlands Investable Market Index Fund
iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund
have been highlighted as options in 2010 to play the strongest members of the European Union.
These two nations have cooperated well through the financial turmoil and, as mentioned late last week, are currently in the process of putting together a plan to resolve the crisis.
Year to date, EWN and EWG have shown strength in the face of the region's debt issues, returning 3% and 9% respectively through Nov. 22. Comparatively,
iShares MSCI Spain Index Fund
which tracks the troubled Spanish marketplace has struggled, losing 16% in 2010.
iShares MSCI Italy Index Fund
has seen similarly dismal performance, dipping 12% year to date.
While EWN and EWG provide promising plays on the EU's recovery, beyond this 16-nation bloc are countries which should also prove strong heading into the close of 2010 and start of 2011.
The Nordic region is another portion of the European continent which holds promise. Unlike Germany and the Netherlands, many nations from this region, including Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, are not tied down by the euro.
Thanks to their independence from the EU, these nations have managed to largely avoid the economic storms sweeping the consortium. Norway, in fact, has performed markedly well despite the crisis and currently boasts the lowest default risk of any other country in Europe.
Although members of the Nordic region boast more solid fundamentals than their EU neighbors, the ETF industry has been largely dismissive of this part of Europe.
Up until recently, the only products with heavy dedicated to these countries were the
iShares MSCI Sweden Index Fund
and the lightly traded
Global X FTSE Nordic 20 Index ETF
. In November, this family of funds saw the entrance of new member: the
Global X FTSE Norway 30 Index ETF
Mutual fund investors have had an easier time capturing the promise of the Nordic nations. Like GXF, the
Fidelity Select Nordic Fund
is designed to track a basket of companies across this region. Commanding a 37% slice, Sweden represents the largest geographic slice of the fund's assets. Denmark, Finland, and Norway represent close to 20% of the fund each.
Because it takes a broader approach to tracking the Nordic region, the mutual fund option is likely the most stable vehicle for investors looking to venture into this part of the globe.
There is little doubt that Europe will see some rough times ahead as troubled members of the EU sort out their respective sovereign debt issues. While these headwinds are daunting, I do not feel that risk tolerant investors need to write off the region entirely.
Rather, there are still pockets of strength which could be in for a lift when the storms eventually subside.
Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management did not own any of the equities mentioned.
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.