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Female Heads of State and ETF Returns: A 2012 Review

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In 2012, at least 13 women occupied presidencies or premierships across the globe.

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Editor's Note: This content was originally published on Benzinga.com by The ETF Professor, Benzinga Staff Writer.

Shares of the iShares MSCI South Korea Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWY) and the rival First Trust South Korea AlphaDEX Fund (NYSEARCA:FKO) traded higher for most of Wednesday, following news of Park Geun-hye's victory in South Korea's presidential election. Park, the head of the New Frontier Party, will become her country's first female president.

While the US has yet to elect a female president, plenty of other countries have elected women as heads of state. In 2012, there were at least 13 women occupying presidencies or premierships across the globe, according to Time.

Some hail from nations tracked by popular ETFs, giving investors an opportunity to see how equities in those countries perform when a woman is running the show. It is important to note that poor performances by any country ETF cannot be blamed on the sex of that country's president or prime minister. After all, there are plenty of country ETFs that have, at times, struggled under male regimes.

Global X FTSE Argentina 20 ETF (NYSEARCA:ARGT): The dreadful performance of the Global X FTSE Argentina 20 ETF this year, down 15.6%, has nothing to do with the fact that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is a woman. Rather, ARGT's slack performance has everything to do with Kirchner's anti-free market principles and penchant for nationalizing industries.

That ideology has brought Argentina to the brink of its second sovereign debt default this century.

iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWG): As the top elected official in the eurozone's largest economy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has played an often controversial role in the region's efforts to escape one of history's worst sovereign debt crises. Merkel's heavy-handed approach to austerity measures means she probably is not the most beloved politician in Greece or Spain, but those are not the countries where she has to solicit votes.

From a pure performance standpoint, it is impossible to argue with how German equities have performed this year. The DAX is one of the world's top-performing major bourses while the iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund has surged almost 32%.

iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWZ): Brazil has been the laggard of the BRIC quartet this year, meaning EWZ has been the laggard of the four major ETFs tracking the BRIC nations. In fact, EWZ is the only currently sporting a year-to-date loss. That said, EWZ has perked up in recent weeks and it could rally enough over the next few days to finish the year modestly to the upside.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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