The Motley Fool

Fear, Frustration, and the Eurozone Crisis

Yesterday, I gave a very brief overview of what’s going on in the eurozone, and Greece in particular. Today we’ll examine how Fools have reacted, and how you can actually benefit from the mess in Europe!

Over the past week, The Motley Fool put out a snap poll asking members what they thought, and how they were reacting to the situation across the pond. Though highly unscientific, the survey revealed some interesting finds; namely, that fear and frustration are dominating.

Fear dominates
Not surprisingly, only 20% of you are investing more today than before the eurozone crisis started back in 2009 (of course, there’s another variable at play here: the Great Recession). And though share prices for companies that do business in Europe have been depressed lately, only 40% have been able to take advantage of the situation.

This highlights why Warren Buffett’s dictum to “be greedy when others are fearful” is so difficult to follow.

Sure, you’d be sitting pretty if you had been prescient enough to pick up shares of Aflac(NYSE: AFL) when they dipped down to $10.83 in 2009 on fears that they were overexposed to European hybrid securities.

But you could just as easily have tried to make a profit by jumping on shares everyone was running from — like the National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG) or Aegean Marine Petroleum (NYSE: ANW) — only to see the shares keep tanking, by 85% and 69%, respectively.

Frustration: Why can’t they get their act together over there?!?!
Fifty percent of our respondents are stressed out by the volatility that the eurozone crisis is creating; more than 75% are tired of Europe’s inability to handle its finances; and a full 90% think plain, old self-interest is preventing a real solution from being reached.

It’s not surprising to see entities acting in their own self-interest. After all, that is the basis for capitalism. The real trouble seems to be from the entanglements that the creation of the eurozone has spawned.

What were once 17 independent countries using their own currencies in the late 1990s have become a behemoth of more than 300 million people of different languages, customs, and — it appears — approaches to fiscal responsibility, all lumped together as one. Because Greece admittedly fudged its numbers to gain acceptance to the eurozone, its people are now being told what they can and can’t do by forces outside of their country, creating an untenable situation for all parties involved.

What’s an investor to do?
In a recent installment of the Fool’s MarketFoolery podcast, our crack team of analysts pointed out that by simply investing in companies with little exposure to Europe, we can mitigate some of the continent’s pitfalls.

Taking a cue from their suggestion, you could easily put your money in OrotonGroup Ltd. (ASX: ORL), with a 9% gross yield, one of the best management teams in Australian retail and plenty of growth opportunities. Hunter Hall International Ltd. (ASX: HHL) and the better known fund manager Platinum Asset Management (ASX: PTM) are both on sale. While their share prices face fearful headwinds, cash will again flow in to their funds.

Or you could simply go for Australia’s best known brand Telstra (ASX: TLS) , which throws off a hefty 13% gross dividend yield.

Finally, if you are looking for a stock you can bet on, readers need look no further than The Motley Fool’s Top Stock For 2012Click here now to request this special report, while it’s still free and available.

Dean Morel is The Motley Fool’s Investment Analyst. Dean holds positions in Telstra and Hunter Hall to provide the cash flow his investing requires. The Motley Fool has an enterprising disclosure policy.

Written by Brian Stoffel and originally published at

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