The “PIIGS” acronym refers to the economies of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain. The term became popular during the European sovereign debt crisis in highlighting the weaker performance of these economies coming out of the economic downturn. As shown in the image, the PIIGS economies have yet to fully recover from the 2007 financial crisis and the subsequent European sovereign debt crisis. In fact, an initial $1,000 invested in Greek stocks at the start of 1992 would have yielded a mere $592 by the end of 2011 (a 41% decline in value).

If an investor desires to invest in international markets, it is important to remember to diversify across not just asset classes, but also country exposure. Diversification may minimize the financial impact to your portfolio if a specific country or region ends up in financial distress.

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