The European debt crisis has been tense for nearly one year now. A majority of market prognosticators and financial pundits are predicting a downright negative outcome, including Greece leaving the eurozone and a severe recession throughout Europe. A doomsday scenario is a possibility, but still an unlikely outcome. Regardless of the eventual outcome, below are five ways to look to profit from the situation.
SEE: Recession: What Does It Mean To Investors?
Invest in Europe
U.S. investors are unique in that roughly half of the sales from firms in the S&P 500 Index already stem from overseas. As such, simply being a domestic investor means significant international exposure. Individuals could use this strategy and let certain domestic firms do the heavy lifting for them in Europe. For instance, semiconductor giant Intel just acquired a large stake in chip equipment supplier ASML Holdings, which is based in the Netherlands. Drug retail giant Walgreens also recently announced its intent to acquire U.K. rival Alliance Boots in two steps over the next few years to boost its own growth prospects. More brave investors may want to invest in Greece, Spain or Ireland directly, but a safer bet may be to rely on other firms or professionals with specific expertise in Europe.
Take Advantage of a Cheaper Euro
The Euro currency has become much cheaper compared to the U.S. dollar because of the financial crisis. This makes it much more affordable to buy European goods. Italy and France have a number of high-fashion handbag, clothing and shoe firms that sell in global markets. The higher-end goods are usually priced the same throughout the globe. However, purchasing directly from Europe could make the shipping costs worth it.
Buy a House in Europe
Just like in the U.S., a housing bust has made residential real estate the most affordable it has been in many years. Hard hit markets include Spain, Greece and Ireland. It may take some more time and Spain is said to be in the early stages of its real estate decline, but low prices and historically-low mortgage rates could end up paying off big for investors with down payment funds and a long-term investment horizon.
SEE: How Interest Rates Affect The Housing Market
Go to School in Europe
Education costs in the U.S. continue to rise at a much higher rate than inflation. Private and prestigious universities can charge at least $50,000 per year for tuition, and public universities costs nearly as much for students that don't qualify as out-of-staters. The cost of heading overseas to attend a four-year university can be a much cheaper alternative. Coupled with depressed currencies in Europe, it may make sense to consider heading there for an education. Study abroad programs could also be worth it and make housing and food costs considerably lower than stateside.
Travel to Europe
A number of value-conscious consumers have decided that now is an ideal time to travel to Europe. Thrill-seeking travelers are even venturing into the Greek Isles while others are taking advantage of a recent cruise mishap off the coast of Italy with the mindset that the crash was a one-off event and cruise operators are paying extra close attention to safety to avoid a similar episode. Many European currencies are also falling against the U.S. dollar, which makes the cost of goods and services lower.
The Bottom Line
Europe will work itself out eventually. It may take a few years and there may be significant ups and downs in the coming months, but the situation will inevitably turn more positive. In the meantime, there are a number of ways for individuals and investors to look to profit from the doom and gloom.
SEE: 5 Affordable Travel Destinations For 2012