The Globe and Mail published one of the most useless ETF articles I have ever read, stopping just short of calling single-country funds a blight to mankind. It even included a quote from Morningstar that said, "I'm just not a fan of the single-country ETFs, pretty much across the board. I think most long-term investors can do without them." I can't recall Morningstar ever being early, or in this case late, in exploring the positive aspects of anything related to ETFs .
A country fund, and for that matter, sector funds and individual stocks, can be dangerous or docile; it depends how they are used. The article mentions the iShares Singapore Fund ( EWS) going down by 75% in 1997-98 as an example of why country funds are "so" risky. Hmm, I can think of another country fund that nearly cut in half more recently, and that country is still besieged by deficits, debt and possibly a weakening currency. This, too, sounds like a bad bet: the S&P 500. Using the Singapore ETF narrow reasoning, wouldn't the recent blowup in Northfield Labs ( NFLD) be a reason to never own individual stocks? It dropped by two-thirds in just a few days!