Global financial risks dissipated last year as fears faded that the euro currency would collapse and China's economy avoided the sharp slowdown that many had feared. That's made investors more optimistic, boosting stock markets around the world.
Even Greece, where unemployment ended the year at 26 percent, saw stocks rise. Its benchmark stock index jumped 33 percent, though that came after it fell by half in 2011.
But leading U.S. economist Barry Eichengreen warns that the debt crisis that has shaken Europe to its core could easily erupt again this year unless European leaders move faster to solve their problems.
Here are the 2012 returns for major stock indexes in 29 leading economies: Stock index return, 2012 ( Turkey 52.6 Greece 33.4 Germany 29.1 Denmark 27.2 Austria 26.9 Poland 26.2 India 25.7 Japan 22.9 South Africa 22.7 Belgium 18.8 Mexico 17.9 Argentina 15.9 France 15.2 Switzerland 14.9 Australia 14.6 United States 13.4 Indonesia 12.9 Sweden 12 Norway 10.9 Finland 10.5 Netherlands 9.7 South Korea 9.4 Italy 7.8 Brazil 7.4 United Kingdom 5.8 Russia 5.2 Canada 4 China 3.2 Spain -4.7 Source: FactSet
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