“Leverage in the corporate sector has declined in the past few years and default rates remain low. Even in a slow-growth economy, we don’t expect much increase in defaults,” Kathy Jones, fixed income strategist at Charles Schwab, said in the FT article.

U.S. equities were among the few global markets that showed positive gains. U.S. stock ETFs saw a 10.3% increase to $41.2 billion in assets in 2011, with the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) garnering $6.3 billion. Dividend plays also brought in their fair share, with the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (NYSEArca: VIG) adding $4.1 billion. [Global ETFs See Record Inflows]

The weakest performing areas were commodity ETFs, which saw outflows of $45 million in 2011, and currency ETFs, which only attracted $1.5 billion.

For more information on ETF performance, visit our ETF Performance Reports category or take a look at our ETF Analyzer for more up-to-date numbers.

Max Chen contributed to this article.