Like many areas around the globe, Europe is getting crunched hard by the credit crisis, and exchange traded funds (ETFs) focusing on this region are suffering.

Figures released in mid-August showed that the euro-zone economy shriveled to an annualized rate of 0.8% during the second quarter. It was the biggest reversal since 2001.

Purchasing and manufacturing data are reflecting this slump, consumer confidence is low, and business confidence within the three largest European economies – Germany, France and Italy – is lagging, reports The Economist. Germany’s downturn is causing particular dismay, since it was one of the few countries that sidestepped the global house-price boom.

In general, the sentiment for the global credit crunch is blamed on America. Many Europeans, Germans in particular, feel that they do not deserve this reversal of fortune, as they did not create this situation. But one economist says that Germany profited from the credit-fueled boom and were part of the game.

Elsewhere in Europe, housing mania took hold, but Ireland’s bust might be the most dramatic of all. Its GDP grew 6% in 2007, but is on pace to shrink this year.

Euro inflation fell to 3.8% in August from a record high of 4% in June and July, offering some glimmer of hope.

  • Vanguard Europe Pacific ETF (VEA), down 16.8% year-to-date
  • BLDRs Europe 100 ADR Index Fund (ADRU), down 17.7% year-to-date
  • Vanguard European ETF (VGK), down 17.8% year-to-date
  • PowerShares FTSE RAFI Europe Portfolio (PEF), down 20.8% year-to-date
  • PowerShares FTSE RAFI Europe Small-Mid Portfolio (PWD), down 21.6% year-to-date

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.