5 Big ETFs That Still Aren’t Back To Pre-Crisis Levels

by on October 7, 2013 | ETFs Mentioned:

There is no denying that Wall Street has certainly come a long way since the unprecedented financial crisis of 2008; both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 continue to push into uncharted territory as bullish momentum finally returns to the markets. Equities, in particular, have surged in the last year with investors being lured once again to the riskier asset classes in hopes of capturing lucrative returns. And though five years have passed since the crisis, there are still some corners of the market that haven’t fared as well [see ETFs That Lost 50% In a Single Year].

Emerging markets and certain corners of the commodity world, for example, have struggled to gain traction, with both the financial crisis and global economic slowdown weighing heavily on these markets. Below, we take a look at five of the biggest ETFs that still have not returned to their pre-crisis levels:

MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (EWZ, A-)

In 2008, this popular Brazil ETF took a steep nose dive, and since then it has struggled to recover lost ground. EWZ did manage to pick up steam during 2009 and 2010, inching closer to is pre-crisis highs. By 2012, however, EWZ along with a slew of other emerging market ETFs began to feel the weight of the global economic slowdown. The BRIC countries in particular (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) have been hit hardest, as these once booming economies struggle to return to pre-crisis growth levels [see 7 Emerging Market ETFs Crushing It In 2013].

DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (DBC, A)

This PowerShares offering, which tracks an index comprised of 14 of the most heavily-traded futures contracts in the world, was one of the hardest hit ETFs, losing more than 55% between June, 2008 and February of 2009. From its bottom in 2009, DBC has managed to inch slightly higher, though nowhere near its pre-crisis highs. Currently, the fund is heavily tilted toward crude oil, gasoline, and natural gas futures – all commodities that continue to struggle to make up lost ground.

Market Vectors TR Gold Miners ETF (GDX, B+)

This popular ETF, which offers exposure to gold miners across the globe, tumbled more than 50% between the months of March and October of 2008. Shortly following its drop, however, the fund skyrocketed in 2010 and 2011 as gold bugs and safe-haven proponents began piling into the precious metals and their miners. At its peak, GDX pushed the $65 mark, surpassing its pre-crisis high, but by the end of 2012, the fund took a steep tumble, falling just above its lowest low. Year-to-date, GDX has lost nearly 47% [see The Best (And Worst) Performing ETFs For Every Quarter].


Though the U.S. financial industry has recovered fairly well since 2008, not all corners of the finance vertical have managed to recover losses incurred during the crisis. Regional banks, thrifts, and mortgage finance stocks were some of the worst hit securities during the crash. Prior to the crisis, these financial companies–along with KBE–enjoyed lucrative returns, but as the majority of their assets turned toxic so did their share price. Over the trailing two-year period, KBE has managed to regain some lost ground – rising more than 70%, though still well below its pre-crisis highs [see 5 Years After Lehman's Collapse, Where Are Big Banks Now?].

United States Oil Fund (USO, B)

Prior to its steep decline in 2008, this West Texas Intermediate tracking fund was trading near the $120 level, but by February of 2009, the fund had tumbled to under $30 – an 80% decline. Since its bottom, USO has only managed to reach the $44 level, well below its pre-crisis highs. Year-to-date, however, the fund has managed to gain nearly 9%.

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.