When I visited Cyprus several years ago, I had no idea this tiny, beautiful nation would one day play a pivotal role on the international financial stage.
This country is slightly larger than Delaware, yet its debt issues have the eurozone scrambling for a solution. Cyprus has long been suspected of operating as a money-laundering hub for wealthy Russians, which meant the European Central Bank has not been as keen to provide a Cypriot bailout as it has been for Greece.
But eurozone leaders settled on a last-minute bailout on March 25. The deal will provide Cyprus $13 billion in emergency loans from an international lending group.
But the terms are extremely onerous: The country must close its second-largest bank, and large depositors will take a hit in their accounts.
After closing for more than 14 days, Cyprus banks reopened on March 29; meanwhile, many depositors haven't been allowed to withdraw more than $130 from ATMs per day.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the bailout will hold responsible those who caused the failure. The repercussions are harsh -- bank deposits above $130,000 are being wiped out at Cyprus's second-largest bank, and about 30% to 40% of big deposits are being confiscated at the largest bank.
Since these funds are primarily Russian, this action has caused a rift between Russia and Germany. This may force Cyprus to leave the eurozone.
In addition, the precedent set by the government's seizure of bank deposits, even if the money is suspected of being dirty, is highly irregular and poses extreme danger to free markets worldwide. Other eurozone nations fear the government may decide to seize bank accounts. This fear has sent the euro sliding lower.
No one knows what the end game will be for the Cypriot crisis, let alone the eurozone. One thing is certain: Things will likely get worse before they get better. And that's to going create opportunities for investors.
In fact, I've found a unique opportunity to profit from the Cypriot crisis.
As you can see from the chart, the euro has weakened dramatically during the crisis.
A weak euro aids international companies exporting items from Europe becaue those items become comparatively less expensive to buy with other currencies. Therefore, as the crisis worsens, the euro weakens, which helps bolster eurozone nations' exports. Also, a weak euro helps tourism; therefore, a tourist mecca such as Greece should see benefits from greater numbers of visitors attracted by favorable exchange rates.
Italy has many manufacturing firms that export; therefore, the MSCI Italy Index Fund (EWI) makes sense as a Cypriot crisis investment.
As you can see from the daily chart, Italian political issues have knocked down the price of this exchange-traded fund (ETF) to a technical support level of just above $11 a share. A breakout above $12 would make a great entry point with a 12-month target price of $15.
Greece's economy will also benefit from the falling euro, which makes Global X FTSE Greece 20 ETF (GREK) a sensible choice right now. Like the Italian-based ETF, this one has also been knocked lower to technical resistance in the $15 range. A breakout close above $16, combined with improving economic conditions, may push this ETF to $20 a share within the next 12 months.
Risks to Consider: Both ETFs are highly speculative because of major internal issues within Italy and Greece that may supersede the benefits of a weaker euro.
Action to Take --> I like these ETFs as speculative investments based on the weakening euro and technical support being hit on the downside. Buying both on a breakout close above my suggested prices makes solid technical sense.
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