Politics aside, there is one area in the eurozone that still may offer opportunities for investors: real estate, both residential and commercial.
House prices have been slowly rising almost everywhere in the single currency area, helping the countries gradually dig themselves out of the debt crisis. Residential property prices have increased by more than 3% in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period last year, although they are still more than 10% below their 2007 peak, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).
The data show that in Spain, where the property sector was hard hit during the financial crisis, house prices have increased every quarter since March 2015. Year on year, they jumped 5% in the second quarter.
Prices in Portugal also have been on the rise since March last year, with the trend accelerating lately. Ireland, too, has seen rapid growth in its residential property sector, with prices jumping every month. Only in Italy property prices have stagnated.
The eurozone's biggest economy, Germany, has seen big property price increases -- of 6% year on year in the second quarter -- despite the Germans' fondness for renting.
France, the second-largest country in the single currency area, saw property prices jump by 2.7% in the third quarter of this year from the second after stagnating for a long time, according to the BIS data.
All this is due to cheaper credit, which the European Central Bank engineered by keeping deposit interest rates for commercial banks at negative levels and buying sovereign and corporate bonds, thus forcing banks to keep interest rates on loans at historically low levels.
French business newspaper Les Echos writes that 2016 is shaping up to be another record year for home purchase loans. In 2015, banks in France extended a total of 203 billion euros ($212 billion) in real estate loans and are well on their way to exceed that amount this year.
In the first 10 months of 2016, banks in France already had disbursed 188.8 billion euros in real estate loans, which was 17 billion euros more than the same period of last year.
For investors seeking exposure to this growing market without going through the hassle of going to each country and buying a property there (all the while incurring transaction costs such as hiring local lawyers to make sense of local laws plus fees such as notaries, and tax), an alternative is to research companies that deal with the real estate market in Europe.
In Germany, one such company is Deutsche Wohnen (DWHHF) , a property developer and manager headquartered in Berlin. Year to date, its shares are up more than 16%. The company saw rental income rising to 526.1 million in the first nine months of this year, an 11% year-on-year jump.
In a call with analysts back in November, management noted the catch-up potential for the prices of its properties in Berlin, which at 2,000 euros per square meter for residential property are still well below such places as Munich (5,000 euros), Amsterdam (2,900 euros), Milan (4,100), Paris (8,000 euros) or London (8,500 euros).
French company Gecina (GECFF) , a real estate investment trust that rents out commercial and residential buildings around the Paris area, is one to consider as well. Year to date, the stock price advanced by almost 15%. The company was upgraded by Moody's last week to A3 from Baa1, with the rating agency highlighting the quality of the company's property portfolio.
For Spain, commercial rather than residential property might be a better bet to take advantage of that country's accelerating recovery. Spanish retail sales rose by 3.3% in November from October's 2.1%; retail sales have increased for the past 28 months in a row in the country.Merlin Properties ( MRPRF) is a good place for investors to start their research. The company went public two years ago and deals with the acquisition and management of commercial property such as high street shops, shopping centers and offices.