If you're caught up in the falling dollar and ailing credit markets, you might be tempted to do what South Park did a few years back: Blame Canada.
The Canadian economy has been on a tear, driven in part by high energy prices. The government reported that the GDP grew 3.4% in the second quarter of 2007, more than double the average pace in the last three quarters of 2006. In August, the country's unemployment rate of 6% was at its lowest level in 30 years. Since 2002, the Canadian dollar has skyrocketed against its U.S. counterpart, to the point where Canada's currency is actually worth more. And in stark contrast to the Fed's latest decision to ease rates, the Bank of Canada actually raised its overnight rate in July.
The iShares MSCI Canada Index exchange-traded fund
Surprisingly, iShares Canada's biggest holdings are in financials, beating out the strong energy and materials sectors. This financial focus carries through in the top stocks held by the fund, which include Royal Bank of Canada
With an expense ratio of just 0.54%, iShares Canada is a relatively inexpensive way to buy Canadian stocks. Although the fund owns more than 100 stocks, its focus on a single country, of course, gives it the potential for higher volatility than a more diversified fund. There are also the usual risks associated with investing outside the U.S., including the potential for a reversal in exchange rates and economic conditions. But if you are looking to invest outside the U.S. without straying far from the border, iShares Canada may be the answer you're looking for.
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Fool contributor Zoe Van Schyndel lives in Miami and enjoys the sunshine and variety of the Magic City. She does not own any of the funds or securities mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.