ETF Trends
ETF Trends

The financial meltdown in the United States has wreaked havoc on the markets and exchange traded funds (ETFs). At times, it might have seemed that there would be no end to this, but all anyone has to do is look at Sweden to see how a country can emerge from a collapse of its financial system.

It all sounds so familiar: deregulation in the credit markets in 1985 led to a lending boom. Interest rates were low, supervision was lax and lenders were inexperienced. Real estate skyrocketed. Then in the early 1990s, the bubble burst: property values plunged, unemployment quadrupled in three years.

Although it’s too late to avoid the kind of bust Sweden experienced, it’s not too late for the United States to take a lesson or two from its recovery. Joellen Perry for the Wall Street Journal says Sweden took radical steps to turn things around.

Politicians were united and ensured that a major financial freeze did not occur. Sweden guaranteed its entire banking system of 114 banks from losses, imposed strict credit terms and forced banks getting injections to surrender shares to the government.

The United States isn’t in as much danger as Sweden had been, and can still take steps to avoid a protracted downturn. But our government already appears to be applying the lessons of the crisis, evidenced in the government-backed sale of Bear Stearns. An economist says it’s exactly how Sweden handled things.

Sweden’s economy these days is seen as solid, and the central bank raised its key rate to 4.25% to fight inflation. The country has also managed to dodge the subprime crisis. Year-to-date, iShares MSCI Sweden (EWD) is up 1.9%. In the last month, it has risen 11.8%.

The fund has 23.2% of its assets allocated in the financial sector, the second-largest weighting. The top sector in the fund is industrial materials, which is 35.1% of assets.

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The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.