Global financial risks dissipated last year as fears faded that the euro currency would collapse and China's economy avoided the sharp slowdown that many had feared. That's made investors more optimistic, boosting stock markets around the world.
Even Greece, where unemployment ended the year at 26 percent, saw stocks rise. Its benchmark stock index jumped 33 percent, though that came after it fell by half in 2011.
But leading U.S. economist Barry Eichengreen warns that the debt crisis that has shaken Europe to its core could easily erupt again this year unless European leaders move faster to solve their problems.
Here are the 2012 returns for major stock indexes in 29 leading economies:
|Stock index return, 2012 (|