Supplier ESG illustrated with delivery man by 28819275 from Pixabay

Supplier ESG – Researchpost #144

Supplier ESG: 17x new research on SDG, green behavior, subsidies, SMEs, ESG ratings, real estate, risk management, sin stocks, trading, suppliers, acting in concert, AI and VC by Alexander Bassen, Andreas G.F. Hoepner, and many more (#: SSRN downloads on Sept. 21st, 2023)

Too late? Earth beyond six of nine planetary boundaries by Katherine Richardson and many more as of Sept. 13th, 2023: “This planetary boundaries framework update finds that six of the nine boundaries are transgressed, suggesting that Earth is now well outside of the safe operating space for humanity. Ocean acidification is close to being breached, while aerosol loading regionally exceeds the boundary. Stratospheric ozone levels have slightly recovered. The transgression level has increased for all boundaries earlier identified as overstepped. As primary production drives Earth system biosphere functions, human appropriation of net primary production is proposed as a control variable for functional biosphere integrity. This boundary is also transgressed. Earth system modeling of different levels of the transgression of the climate and land system change boundaries illustrates that these anthropogenic impacts on Earth system must be considered in a systemic context“ (abstract).

Ecological research (corporate perspective)

Social measures: How useful are convenient measures of pro-environmental behavior? Evidence from a field study on green self-reports and observed green behavior by Ann-Kathrin Blankenberg, Martin Binder, and Israel Waichmann as of Aug. 20th, 2023 (#12): “We conduct a field study with n = 599 participants recruited in the town hall of a German medium-sized town to compare self-reports of pro-environmental behavior of our participants with observed behavior (green product choice and donation to real charities). Our results indicate that self-reports are only weakly correlated to incentivized behavior in our sample of an adult population (r = .09∗ ), partly because pro-environmental behavior measures can conflate prosocial and pro-environmental preferences. … Our results … cast some doubt on the validity of commonly used convenient measures of pro-environmental behavior“ (abstract).

Expensive subsidies: Converting the Converted: Subsidies and Solar Adoption by Linde Kattenberg, Erdal Aydin, Dirk Brounen, and Nils Kok as of July 25th, 2023 (#18): „… there is limited empirical evidence on the effectiveness of subsidies that are used to promote the adoption of such (Sö: renewable energy) technologies. This paper exploits a natural experimental setting, in which a solar PV subsidy is assigned randomly within a group of households applying for the subsidy. Combining data gathered from 100,000 aerial images with detailed information on 15,000 households … The results show that, within the group of households that applied for the subsidy, the provision of subsidy leads to a 14.4 percent increase in the probability of adopting solar PV, a 9.6 percent larger installation, and a 1-year faster adoption. However, examining the subsequent electricity consumption of the applicants, we report that the subsidy provision leads to a decrease in household electricity consumption of just 8.1 percent, as compared to the rejected applicant group, implying a cost of carbon of more than €2,202 per ton of CO2”.

Regulatory SME effects: The EU Sustainability Taxonomy: Will it Affect Small and Medium-sized Enterprises? by Ibrahim E. Sancak as of Sept. 6th, 2023 (#52): “The EU Sustainability Taxonomy (EUST) is a new challenge for companies, particularly SMEs and financial market participants; however, it potentially conveys its economic value; hence, reliable taxonomy reporting and strong sustainability indicators can yield enormously. … We conclude that the EU’s sustainable finance reforms have potential domino effects. Backed by the European Green Deal, sustainable finance reforms, and in particular, the EUST, will not be limited to large companies or EU companies; they will affect all economic actors having business and finance connections in the EU“ (p. 14).

ESG rating credits: Determinants of corporate credit ratings: Does ESG matter? by Lachlan Michalski and Rand Kwong Yew Low as of Aug. 19th, 2023 (#25): “We show that environmental and social responsibility variables are important determinants for the credit ratings, specifically measures of environmental innovation, resource use, emissions, corporate social responsibility, and workforce determinants. The influence of ESG variables become more pronounced following the financial crisis of 2007-2009, and are important across both investment-grade and speculative-grade classes” (abstract).

Climate risk management: Climate and Environmental risks and opportunities in the banking industry: the role of risk management by Doriana Cucinelli, Laura Nieri, and Stefano Piserà as of Aug. 18th, 2023 (#22): “We base our analysis on a sample of 112 European listed banks observed from 2005 to 2021. Our results … provide evidence that banks with a stronger and more sophisticated risk management are more likely to implement a better climate change risk strategy. … Our findings underline that bank providing their employees and managers with specific training programs on environmental topics, or availing of the presence of a CSR committee, or adopting environmental-linked remuneration scheme, stand out for a greater engagement towards C&E risks and opportunities and a sounder C&E strategy” (p. 16).

Generic ESG Research (investor perspective)

ESG dissected: It’s All in the Detail: Individual ESG Factors and Firm Value by Ramya Rajajagadeesan Aroul, Riette Carstens and Julia Freybote as of Aug. 25th, 2023 (#29): “We disaggregate ESG into its individual factors (E, S and G) and investigate their impact on firm value using publicly listed equity real estate investment trusts (REITs) as a laboratory over the period of 2009 to 2021. … We find that the environmental factor (E) and governance factor (G) positively predict firm value while the social factor (S) negatively predicts it. … Further analysis into antecedents of firm value suggests that our results are driven by 1) E reducing cost of debt and increasing financial flexibility, operating efficiency, and performance, 2) S leading to a higher cost of debt as well as lower financial flexibility and operating performance, and 3) G increasing operating efficiency. … We also find evidence for time-variations in the relationships of E, S and G with firm value and its determinants” (abstract). My comment: This is not really new as one can see in my publication from 2014: 140227 ESG_Paper_V3 1 (

Greenbrown valuations: The US equity valuation premium, globalization, and climate change risks by Craig Doidge, G. Andrew Karolyi, and René M. Stulz as of Sept. 15th, 2023 (#439): “It is well-known that before the GFC (Sö: Global Financial Crisis of 2008), on average, US firms were valued more highly than non-US firms. We call this valuation difference the US premium. We show that, for firms from DMs (Sö: Developed Markets), the US premium is larger after the crisis than before. By contrast, the US premium for firms from EMs (Sö: Emerging Markets) falls. In percentage terms, the US premium for DMs increases by 27% while the US premium for EMs falls by 24%. … the differing evolution of the US premium for DM firms and for EM firms is concentrated among old economy firms – older firms in industries that have a high ratio of tangible assets to total assets. … We find that the valuations of firms in brown industries in non-US DMs fell significantly relative to comparable firm valuations in the US and this decline among brown industries in EMs did not take place. Though this mechanism does not explain the increase in the US premium for firms in DMs fully, it explains much of that increase. It follows from this that differences across countries in the importance given to sustainability and ESG considerations can decrease the extent to which financial markets across the world are integrated“ (p. 28).

Sin ESG: Does ESG impact stock returns for controversial companies? by Sonal and William Stearns as of Sept. 2nd, 2023 (#35): “We find that the market perception of ESG investments of controversial firms have changed over time. For the 2010-2015 period, ESG investments made by sinful firms are rewarded positively by increasing stock prices. However, for the sample period post 2015, increases in ESG no longer result in positive stock returns. We further find the maximum change for the oil and gas industry“ (p. 11/12). My comment see ESG Transition Bullshit? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Portfolio ESG effects: Quantifying the Impacts of Climate Shocks in Commercial Real Estate Market by Rogier Holtermans, Dongxiao Niu, and Siqi Zheng as of Sept. 7th, 2023 (#251): “We focus on Hurricanes Harvey and Sandy to quantify the price impacts of climate shocks on commercial buildings in the U.S. We find clear evidence of a decline in transaction prices in hurricane-damaged areas after the hurricane made landfall, compared to unaffected areas. We also observe that …. Assets in locations outside the FEMA floodplain (with less prior perception about climate risk) have experienced larger price discounts after the hurricanes. … Moreover, the price discount is larger when the particular buyer has more climate awareness and has a more geographically diverse portfolio, so it is easier for her to factor in this risk in the portfolio construction” (abstract).

ESG investors or traders? Do ESG Preferences Survive in the Trading Room? An Experimental Study by Alexander Bassen, Rajna Gibson Brandon, Andreas G.F. Hoepner, Johannes Klausmann, and Ioannis Oikonomou as of Sept. 19th, 2023 (#12): “This study experimentally tests in a competitive trading room whether Socially Responsible Investors (SRIs) and students are consistent with their stated ESG preferences. … The results suggest that all participants who view ESG issues as important (ESG perception) trade more aggressively irrespective of whether the news are related to ESG matters or not. … More importantly, SRIs trade on average much less aggressively than students irrespective of their ESG perceptions and behaviors” (abstract). … “Investors mostly consider macroeconomic and id[1]iosyncratic financial news in their investment decisions. Updates on the ESG performance of a firm are perceived as less likely to move prices by the participants. In addition to that, we observe a stronger reaction to positive news compared to negative news” (p. 26). My comment: I prefer most-passive rules based to active investments, compare Noch eine Fondsboutique? – Responsible Investment Research Blog ( or Active or impact investing? – (

Supplier ESG research (also see Supplier engagement – Opinion post #211)

Supplier ESG shocks: ESG Shocks in Global Supply Chains by Emilio Bisetti, Guoman She, and Alminas Zaldokas as of Sept. 6th, 2023 (#38): “We show that U.S. firms cut imports by 29.9% and are 4.3% more likely to terminate a trade relationship when their international suppliers experience environmental and social (E&S) incidents. These trade cuts are larger for publicly listed U.S. importers facing high E&S investor pressure and lead to cross-country supplier reallocation …. Larger trade cuts around the scandal result in higher supplier E&S scores in subsequent years, and in the eventual resumption of trade” (abstract).

Sustainable supplier reduction: A Supply Chain Sourcing Model at the Interface of Operations and Sustainability by Gang Li and Yu A. Xia as of Aug. 25th, 2023 (#204): “This research investigates … how to integrate sustainability with sourcing planning decisions and how to address the challenges associated with the integration, such as the balance between operational factors and sustainability factors and the quantitative evaluation of sustainability performance. … Our model suggests that while increasing the number of suppliers may cause additional sustainability risk in supply chain management, decreasing the supply base will decrease the production capacity and increase the risk of delivery delay. Therefore, a firm should carefully set up its global sourcing network with only a limited number of selected suppliers. This finding is particularly true when the focus of sourcing planning gradually moves away from decisions based solely on cost to those seeking excellence in both supply chain sustainability and cost performance“ (p. 32).

Empowering stakeholders: Stakeholder Governance as Governance by Stakeholders by Brett McDonnell as of August 31st, 2023 (#64): “… American stakeholder engagement is limited to soliciting (and on occasion responding to) the opinions of employees, customers, suppliers, and others. True stakeholder governance would involve these groups in actively making corporate decisions. I have suggested various ways we could do this. The focus should be on employees, who could be empowered via board representation, works councils, and unions. Other stakeholders could be less fully empowered through councils, advisory at first but potentially given power to nominate or even elect directors” (p. 19).

Impact investment research (supplier ESG)

Anti-climate concert: Rethinking Acting in Concert: Activist ESG Stewardship is Shareholder Democracy by Dan W. Puchniak and Umakanth Varottil as of Sept. 13th, 2023 (#187): “… the legal barriers posed by acting in concert rules in virtually all jurisdictions prevent institutional investors from engaging in collective shareholder activism with the aim or threat of replacing the board (i.e., “activist stewardship”). Perversely, the current acting in concert rules effectively prevent institutional investors from replacing boards that resist (or even deny) climate change solutions – even if (or, ironically, precisely because) they collectively have enough shareholder voting rights to democratically replace the boards of recalcitrant brown companies. This heretofore hidden problem in corporate and securities law effectively prevents trillions of dollars of shareholder voting rights that institutional investors legally control from being democratically exercised to change companies who refuse to properly acknowledge the threat of climate change” … (abstract).

Other investment research

AI investment risks: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Future Retail Investment by Imtiaz Sifat as of Sept. 12th, 2023 (#20): “I have analyzed AI’s integration in retail investment. … The benefits spring from access to sophisticated strategies once exclusive to institutional investors. The downside is that the opaque models which facilitate such strategies may aggravate risks and information asymmetry for retail investors. To stop this gap from widening, proper governance is essential. Similarly, the ability to ingest copious alternative data and instantaneous portfolio optimization incurs a tradeoff—too much dependence on historical data invokes modelling biases and data quality cum privacy concerns. It is also likely that AI-dominated markets of the future will be more volatile, and new forms of speculation would emerge as trading platforms incentivize speculation and gamification. The combined forces of these concurrent challenges put a heavy stress on orthodox finance theories …“ (p. 16/17). Maybe interesting: AI: Wie können nachhaltige AnlegerInnen profitieren? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Venture careers: Failing Just Fine: Assessing Careers of Venture Capital-backed Entrepreneurs via a Non-Wage Measure by Natee Amornsiripanitch, Paul A. Gompers, George Hu, Will Levinson, and Vladimir Mukharlyamov as of Aug. 30th, 2023 (#131): “Would-be founders experience accelerated career trajectories prior to founding, significantly outperforming graduates from same-tier colleges with similar first jobs. After exiting their start-ups, they obtain jobs about three years more senior than their peers who hold (i) same-tier college degrees, (ii) similar first jobs, and (iii) similar jobs immediately prior to founding their company. Even failed founders find jobs with higher seniority than those attained by their non-founder peers“ (abstract).


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Supplier Engagement table by CAF as example

Supplier engagement – Opinion post #211

Supplier engagement is my term for shareholder engagement with the goal to address suppliers either directly or indirectly. I provide an overview of current scientific research regarding supplier engagement. I also explain my respective recommendations to the companies I am invested in. Supplier engagement can be very powerful.

The other two stakeholder groups which I address with my “leveraged shareholder engagement” are customers and employees (compare HR-ESG shareholder engagement: Opinion-Post #210 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Supplier emissions can be very high

Supplier relations have become much talked about in recent years. Climate change is one of the reasons. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are one of the prime shareholder concerns if they are interested in environmental topics. To compare more or less vertically integrated companies with their competitors, evaluating GHG emissions of suppliers is important. Often, GHG emissions of suppliers (part of so-called scope 3) are much higher than the (scope 1 and 2) emissions of the analyzed company itself.

Relevant research (1): Managing climate change risks in global supply chains: a review and research agenda by Abhijeet Ghadge, Hendrik Wurtmann and Stefan Seuring as of June 13th, 2022: “The research … captures a comprehensive picture of climate change and associated phenomenon in terms of sources, consequences, control drivers, and mitigation mechanisms. … The study contributes to practice by providing visibility into the industry sectors most likely to be impacted; their complex association with other supply chain networks. The drivers, barriers, and strategies for climate change mitigation are particularly helpful to practitioners for better managing human-induced risks …” (p. 59).

Supply chain becomes more important for ESG-analyses

COVID and geopolitical changes such as the Russian attack on the Ukraine also showed that the management of supply chains is crucial for many companies. Even before, many supplier related incidents such as the Foxconn/Apple discussions had significant effects on company ESG perceptions and potentially also on ESG-ratings. Also, supply chains are becoming more in many countries.

Relevant research (2): ESG Shocks in Global Supply Chains by Emilio Bisetti, Guoman She, and Alminas Zaldokas as of Sept. 6th, 2023: “We show that U.S. firms cut imports by 29.9% and are 4.3% more likely to terminate a trade relationship when their international suppliers experience environmental and social (E&S) incidents. These trade cuts are larger for publicly listed U.S. importers facing high E&S investor pressure and lead to cross-country supplier reallocation …. Larger trade cuts around the scandal result in higher supplier E&S scores in subsequent years, and in the eventual resumption of trade” (abstract).

On the positive side, many suppliers have great knowhow and can help their clients to become better in ESG-terms.

Relevant research (3): Stakeholder Engagement by Brett McDonnell as of Nov. 1st, 2022t:  “Suppliers, like employees, also provide inputs to the production process of companies. Retaining the loyalty of suppliers may be important for companies, depending in part on how firm-specific inputs are. Where inputs are fungible, they can be bought on the market for the prevailing market price, but where they are firm-specific, the buying firm will have more trouble replacing a supplier that decides to withdraw. Suppliers have information about the quality of what they supply, and about conditions which may affect future availability and prices” (p. 8).

Supplier engagement: How investors can indirectly engage

Investors in publicly listed companies do probably not want to directly with the often many important suppliers of their portfolios companies. But they can indirectly leverage the knowhow and energy of suppliers. Here is what Brett McDonnell suggests:

Relevant research (4): Stakeholder Governance as Governance by Stakeholders by Brett McDonnell as of August 31st, 2023: “… American stakeholder engagement is limited to soliciting (and on occasion responding to) the opinions of employees, customers, suppliers, and others. True stakeholder governance would involve these groups in actively making corporate decisions. I have suggested various ways we could do this. The focus should be on employees, who could be empowered via board representation, works councils, and unions. Other stakeholders could be less fully empowered through councils, advisory at first but potentially given power to nominate or even elect directors” (p. 19).

In my opinion, too, advisory councils of suppliers could be helpful to improve listed companies. I prefer other forms of ESG engagement with suppliers, though. First, companies could regularly survey most of their direct and even some important indirect suppliers in a regular way regarding ESG topics. With regular surveys companies can find out how happy their suppliers are with the companies ESG activities and ESG-improvement ideas by suppliers can be collected.

Example (1): Surveys from Stakeholders Make Good Business Sense by Terrie Nolinske from the National Business Research Institute (no date) mentions The Body Shop and Michelin who use supplier surveys.

Example (2): AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard from Accountability as of 2015 “provides a … practical framework to implement stakeholder engagement and … Describes how to integrate stakeholder engagement with an organization’s governance, strategy, and operations”.

I specifically suggest to regularly ask suppliers the following questions: 1) “How satisfied are you with the environmental, social and corporate governance activities of company XYZ?” and 2) “Which environmental, social and corporate governance improvements do you suggest to company XYZ?”.

Systematic supplier engagement using ESG evaluations

In my view, even more important to improve the full supply chain ESG-profile is that companies regularly, broadly and independently evaluate the ESG-quality of their suppliers. Independent ESG-ratings can be very useful for that purpose, since they systematically cover many environmental, social and governance aspects.

I try to invest in the 30 most sustainable publicly listed companies globally (see Active or impact investing? – (, but even most of these companies do not have such a supplier ESG evaluation process. Here are the two best examples of my portfolios companies:

Supplier ESG evaluation (1): Watts Water Sustainability Report 2022 p. 63: “In 2022, we met our goal of reviewing suppliers representing approximately 30% of our global annual spend using the Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) ESG Rating Service. The service is a web-based ratings platform that assesses the ESG operations of suppliers across 70 key topics, including through peer benchmarking and using leading sustainability frameworks …. Through our expanded use of this tool, we gained increased insight into our suppliers’ sustainability practices, including that suppliers making up one-sixth of the global spend we assessed already have advanced ESG systems in place”.

Supplier ESG evaluation (2): CAFs 2022 Sustainability Report: “… the evaluation effort focuses on 349 target suppliers out of a total of approximately 6,000 suppliers. The evaluations are carried out by Ecovadis …. Ecovadis adapts the evaluation questionnaire to each supplier based on the locations in which it operates, its sector and its size to evaluate 21 aspects of sustainability alligned with the most demanding international norms, regulations and standards …. Suppliers‘ responses are evaluated by specialised analysts … This analysis results in a general rating with a maximum score of 100 points …. If the result of an evaluation does not meet the requirements established by CAF (a general score of 45 out of 100 in sustainability management), the supplier is required to implement an action plan to improve the weaknesses identified. If the supplier does not raise its assessment to acceptable levels or does not show a commitment to improve, it is audited by experts in the field” (p. 83).

“By the end of 2022, the activities … have assessed … 78% of the prioritised suppliers (118 business groups) …. The assessed suppliers have an average overall rating of 58.6 out of 100 … which is 13 percentage points higher than the average of all suppliers assessed by Ecovadis worldwide (45/100). In addition, 71% of CAF suppliers reassessed in the last year improved their general rating … As a result of these assessments it has also been identified that 2% of the Group’s total purchases are made from suppliers with average or lower sustainability management and an improvement plan has been agreed with all of them”(p. 84).

The picture of my blogpost summarises the results of the 2022 supplier assessment campaign of one of my portfolio companies: Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF Sustainability Report 2022, p. 85):

But even Watts Water and CAF currently only cover a relatively small share of their suppliers with these evaluations.

Better fewer suppliers?

Such a sustainability-oriented supplier evaluation approach could result in fewer and therefore more important suppliers.

Relevant research (5): A Supply Chain Sourcing Model at the Interface of Operations and Sustainability by Gang Li and Yu A. Xia as of Aug. 25th, 2023: “This research investigates … how to integrate sustainability with sourcing planning decisions and how to address the challenges associated with the integration, such as the balance between operational factors and sustainability factors and the quantitative evaluation of sustainability performance. … Our model suggests that while increasing the number of suppliers may cause additional sustainability risk in supply chain management, decreasing the supply base will decrease the production capacity and increase the risk of delivery delay. Therefore, a firm should carefully set up its global sourcing network with only a limited number of selected suppliers. This finding is particularly true when the focus of sourcing planning gradually moves away from decisions based solely on cost to those seeking excellence in both supply chain sustainability and cost performance“ (p. 32).

Supplier engagement: Powerful supplier ESG disclosures

I think that is very important to make the supplier engagement activities transparent. Only transparent activities can be controlled by stakeholders. It is very useful for stakeholders, too, to know the identities of the major suppliers.

Relevant research (6):  Green Image in Supply Chains: Selective Disclosure of Corporate Suppliers by Yilin Shi, Jing Wu, and Yu Zhang as of Sept. 9th, 2022 (#2015): “We uncover robust empirical evidence showing that listed firms selectively disclose environmentally friendly suppliers while selectively not disclosing suppliers with poor environmental performance, i.e., they conduct supply chain greenwashing. This is a prevalent behavior in the sample of more than 40 major countries or regions around the world that we study. … we find that customer firms that face more competitive pressure, care more about brand image and reputation, and have larger shares of institutional holdings are more likely to conduct such selective disclosure. … we find that information transparency reduces such behavior. Finally, we study the outcomes of selectively disclosing green suppliers and find that customers benefit from the practice in terms of sales, profitability, and market valuation“ (p. 22/24). 

A supplier engagement proposal and first engagement experiences

Based on my engagement policy (Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (, I try to make it as simple as possible for my portfolio companies to implement my suggestions. Comprehensive and regular supplier ESG surveys would be a rather simple and low-cost approach and I certainly encourage them.

Given the importance of the supply chain for ESG-topics and the risks of greenwashing, I especially recommend a more demanding supplier ESG-rating approach to all my portfolio companies. Specifically, I tell them: “Favoring suppliers with better overall/comprehensive ESG scores is probably the way to go. Reporting aggregated information such as percentage of suppliers with XYZ ESG-scores can be one first step regarding transparency”. I also inform them about current relevant research and the two examples mentioned above.

No supplier engagement results yet

I started my respective engagement activities only at the end of 2022. Some companies answered that they like my suggestions and plan to analyze them, but I cannot report implementations so far (compare 230831_FutureVest_Engagementreport-2830ab605a502648339b4f8f58fa2ee2dce539ef.pdf).

I am only a small investors and cooperative engagement can me more powerful. Unfortunately, my attempts for cooperative engagement with other investors have not been fruitful yet. One reason is that I could only find very few sustainable investment funds with a dedicated small-and midcap focus such as mine. With the few such funds I have typically very little company overlap. The asset managers and the shareholder organizations which I have asked so far want to cooperate with larger asset managers and not with such a small entity as mine.

Nevertheless, I will continue to ask my portfolio companies for such stakeholder engagements and the publication of their results. I am confident, that at least a few companies will adopt such surveys and evaluations and thus position themselves even more as ESG-leaders. Research such as “A Test of Stakeholder Governance” by Stavros Gadinis and Amelia Miazad as of Aug. 25th, 2021 is one of the reasons for optimism on my part. And, maybe, with publications such as this blog post, I can encourage other companies, investors etc. to support such broad stakeholder engagement activities as well.

Social research illustration with picture by Sabine Kroschel from Pixabay

Social research: Researchpost #143

Social research: 9x new research on immigration, human resources, activists, transition investing, carbon prices and taxes, ESG performance and female entrepreneurs by Moritz Drupp, Gilbert Metcalf, James Stock and many others

New social research

Good immigration: Immigration and Nationalism in the Long Run by Valentin Lang and Stephan A. Schneider as of June 8th, 2023 (#248): “Drawing on a natural experiment from Germany, we show that the massive inflow of forced migrants after World War II reduces voting for nationalist parties more than 70 years later. Voters in municipalities that experienced this historical immigration shock are significantly less likely to respond to current immigration waves by voting for nationalist parties. … Individual-level evidence from a customized survey with a randomized experiment aligns with these results and shows that immigration-friendly attitudes in the regions that experienced the expellee inflow result from norm transmission within families and local communities. The long-term electoral effect is driven by both descendants of expellees and descendants of natives. Experimentally evoking memories of the historical experience also leads to more pro-immigration responses. … In many countries, the nationalist backlash against immigration is regionally concentrated; interestingly often in regions with relatively few immigrants. Our results offer an explanation for this particular phenomenon and suggest that the lack of experience with immigration in such regions is an important mechanism behind hostile political reactions. Second, the results highlight that the short- and long-run political effects of immigration can go in opposite directions“ (p. 39/40).

ESG keeps people: Effect of Corporate Environment Social and Governance Reputation on Employee Turnover by Ming Leung, Chuchu Liang, Ben Lourie and Chenqi Zhu as of August 20th, 2023 (#72): “We investigate how a firm’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reputation, as measured by the ESG sentiment of news articles, affects employee turnover. … Regression analyses on a firm-month panel of 1,822 publicly listed US firms from 2008 to 2018 reveal that a better public ESG reputation is associated with lower employee turnover and … this effect is stronger among female employees. … ESG reputation affects both men and women in states that have more Democratic voters …” (abstract). My comment: Here are some more employee related sources and ideas HR-ESG shareholder engagement: Opinion-Post #210 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Good narcissists? Understanding Involvement in Environmental Activism: Relationships to Pathological Narcissism, Virtue Signaling, Dominance, and Sensation Seeking by Ann Krispenz and Alex Bertrams as of Sept. 8th, 2023 (#14): “Results support the validity of the DEVP (Sö: dark-ego-vehicle principle) by showing that higher pathological narcissistic grandiosity was related to greater involvement in environmental activism, even above and beyond relevant covariates (i.e., pathological narcissistic vulnerability, age, and gender). Also, we found positive relationships between involvement in environmental activism and typical correlates of pathological narcissistic grandiosity (i.e., virtue signaling, dominance, and sensation seeking)“ (abstract).

New ecological research

Urgent transition: The Road to Paris: Stress Testing the Transition Towards a Net-Zero Economy by Tina Emambakhsh, Maximilian Fuchs, Simon Kordel, Charalampos Kouratzoglou, Chiara Lelli, Riccardo Pizzeghello, Carmelo Salleo, and Martina Spaggiari from the European Central Bank as of Sept. 7th, 2023 (#42): “… By comparing different transition scenarios, the results of the exercise show that acting immediately and decisively would provide significant benefits for the euro area economy and financial system, not only by maintaining the optimal net-zero emissions path (and therefore limiting the physical impact of climate change), but also by limiting financial risk. An accelerated transition to a carbon-neutral economy would be helpful to contain risks for financial institutions and would not generate financial stability concerns for the euro area, provided that firms and households could finance their green investments in an orderly manner. However, the heterogeneous results across economic sectors and banks suggest that more careful monitoring of certain entities and subsets of credit exposures will be required during the transition process“ (abstract). My comment regarding transition investments see ESG Transition Bullshit? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Good competition: Competitive Pressure and Emission Reduction: Unravelling the Link by Simone Cenci, Hossein Asgharian, Lu Liu, Marek Rei, and Maurizio Zollo as of Selt.9th, 2023 (#16): „We analysed data of 2 300 publicly traded firms from 47 countries and across all (GICS) sectors from 2011 to 2020. The main results of our analysis show that competitive pressures induce firms to increase their sustainability initiatives and to diversify their sustainability effort across different actions and SDGs. Sustainability behaviour diversification is in turn associated with lower future emissions. … We also find a significant heterogeneity in the magnitude of the effect across sectors and geographies“ (p.18/19).

Scientist disagreement? Heterogeneity in Expert Recommendations for Designing Carbon Pricing Policies across the Globe by Frikk Nesje, Robert C. Schmidt, and Moritz A. Drupp as of Sept.8th,2023 (#13): “… we present recommendations from a global survey of more than 400 experts to inform key design issues for carbon pricing policies. We find that almost twice as many experts favor a carbon tax over a cap-and-trade scheme for unilateral carbon pricing, and three-quarters strongly recommend using border carbon adjustment to address competitiveness concerns. Recommendations on the usage of revenues from carbon pricing exhibit a substantial degree of heterogeneity. While transfers to particularly affected households and equal lump sum transfers are among the options most favored, these account for only around 40 percent of recommendations …“ (abstract).

Good taxes? The Macroeconomic Impact of Europe’s Carbon Taxes by Gilbert E. Metcalf and James H. Stock as of July 10th, 2023 (#34): Placing a price on carbon pollution is widely viewed as the most cost‐effective approach to reducing emissions. … Using variation in the use of carbon taxes in European countries that are all part of the EU Emission Trading System (ETS), we find no evidence to support claims that the tax would adversely impact employment or GDP growth.  We find modest evidence for emissions reductions arising from the tax”.  (p. 24).

New ESG investment and other social research

Differentiated ESG performance: ESG and Global Investor Returns Study by Kroll as of September 2023: “Global portfolios of companies with higher ESG ratings earned a better annual compound return, when compared to portfolios of worse-rated companies over the 2013−2021 period. … with the notable exceptions of Brazil and Germany, 10 out of the 12 countries/markets analyzed individually saw companies rated as ESG Leaders outperform … Industries within the World portfolio also saw ESG Leaders generally outperform Laggards, except for Consumer Staples and Health Care. When industries were analyzed within regions or individual countries/markets, the relationship between returns and ESG ratings was less pronounced. … U.S. Laggards in the Energy, Health Care and Communications Services sectors significantly outperformed their better-rated counterparts“ (p. 40). My comment: Regarding industries I currently have a similar experience see ESG gut: 1. Halbjahr gut für ESG- und schlecht für SDG-Portfolios – (

Female tools: Female Entrepreneurs, Digital Tools, and Work-Life Balance: Evidence from Small Businesses around the World by Elizabeth Lyons and Laurina Zhang as of Aug. 14th, 2023 (#14): “… we find that men and women do not differ in their extent of digital tool use for managing business activities that involve external stakeholders, but women are significantly less likely to use digital tools to manage internal business activities. This gender gap persists even in relatively gender equal countries and in industries where the benefits of using internal digital tools are high” (p. 12/13).


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Illustration for HR-ESG is graphic Teamwork by Geralt from Pixabay

HR-ESG shareholder engagement: Opinion-Post #210

HR-ESG is attractive: Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) aspects are becoming more important for companies who need additional capital, for those who want to increase sales, and also for hiring and keeping good employees (HR for “human resources”)[1].

In addition, employees can help companies to become more sustainable[2]. The Boston Consulting Group, for example, published recently that new ideas generated by employees helped to “overcome roadblocks in reducing Scope 3 emissions”[3].

Little scientific HR-ESG and employee engagement research

Unfortunately, I find very little comprehensive scientific research on HR-ESG[4]. A study by Hoa Briscoe-Tran from the University of Alberta[5] is one of the rare exceptions. Briscoe-Tran writes: “I analyze 10.4 million anonymous employee reviews and find that employees have useful information about firms’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. Employees discuss ESG topics in 43% of reviews, thereby providing substantial information about firms’ ESG practices. The employees’ inside view predicts various indicators of a firm’s future ESG-related outcomes, beyond the existing ESG ratings, particularly on the S and G dimensions. Using the inside view, I show that a firm’s stated ESG policies often differ from its employees’ view of its practices. … ESG rating agencies could consider incorporating employee reviews into their rating methodology more broadly” (p. 33).

Companies should use the broad employee interest for ESG in a systematic way. And Shareholders should address this change potential when they engage with their portfolio companies.

Even though I have studied scientific publications regarding shareholder engagement quite thoroughly[6], I have found very little engagement with a broad HR-ESG perspective going significantly beyond rather limited diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) issues.

Broad HR-ESG activation is easy

With my mutual fund I try to invest in 30 of the most sustainable companies worldwide. Most of these companies actively address the typical HR-ESG-topics such as DEI, workplace safety etc.. I read their sustainability reports and also directly asked them, but I could not find one single company which tries to broadly engage its employees regarding ESG topics[7].

In my shareholder engagement strategy[8] I propose a very simple and efficient approach to activate employees for ESG-issues. Specifically, I write to all my portfolio companies: 

I think that regular and broad questions such as “How satisfied are you with the environmental, social and corporate governance activities of your company?” and “Which environmental, social and corporate governance improvements do you suggest to your company?” plus the (anonymous) publication of the main results of the answers in the sustainability report would be very helpful in seriously engaging employees and getting valuable structured feedback”.

Leveraged shareholder or stakeholder engagement

Most of these companies use regular broad as well as specific pulse employee surveys and typically have high participation rates. Implementation of my questions therefore should be simple and cost-efficient.

In addition, I suggest asking the same questions to customers and they also could be asked to suppliers. Interestingly, “surveys are already very common among employees, but many companies do not yet use them for customers (or at least, they don’t report on it if they do) and surveys of suppliers may be worth adopting as well“[9]. Therefore, the implementation of my suggested regular ESG surveys of customers and suppliers might be somewhat more time-consuming and expensive than employee surveys. But I think that it may well be worth the effort.

If companies regularly ask these questions to employees, customers and suppliers, shareholders can leverage their engagement activities to several stakeholder groups.

I started my respective engagement activities only at the end of 2022. Some companies answered that they like my suggestions and plan to analyze them, but I cannot report implementations so far.

I am only a small investors and cooperative engagement can me more powerful. Unfortunately, my trials for cooperative engagement with other investors have not been fruitful yet. One reason is that I could only find very few sustainable investment funds with a dedicated small-and midcap focus such as mine. With the few such funds I have typically very little overlap. The asset managers and shareholder organizations which I have asked so far want to cooperate with larger asset managers and not with such as small entity as mine.

But I will continue to ask for such surveys and the publication of their results. I am confident, that at least a few companies will adopt such surveys and position themselves even more as ESG-leaders[10]. And, maybe, with publications such as this one, I can encourage other companies, investors etc. to support such broad and easy to implement HR-ESG activities as well.

[1] see Effect of Corporate Environment Social and Governance Reputation on Employee Turnover by Ming Leung, Chuchu Liang, Ben Lourie and Chenqi Zhu as of August 20th, 2023

[2] see Engaging your people as the advocates and enablers of ESG change by Jessica Norton and Hannah Summers from Willis Towers Watson as of July 13, 2020

[3] see People Make the Difference in Green Transformations by Alice Bolton, Marjolein Cuellar, Kristy Ellmer, Elina Ibounig, Camila Noldin, Nick South and Astrid Vikström from The Boston Consulting Group as of August 23rd, 2023

[4] For a broad overview see e.g. Stakeholder Engagement by Brett McDonnell – SSRN as of Oct. 31st, 2022

[5] Do Employees Have Useful Information About Firms’ ESG Practices? by Hoa Briscoe-Tran – SSRN as of Aug. 2nd, 2023

[6] see for example Stakeholder engagement and ESG (Special Edition Researchposting 115) by Dirk Soehnholz as of Feb. 3, 23

[7] compare Active or impact investing? By Dirk Soehnholz as of July 21st, 2023 and 230831_FutureVest_Engagementreport-2830ab605a502648339b4f8f58fa2ee2dce539ef.pdf

[8] see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan  by Dirk Soehnholz as of Feb. 8th, 2023

[9] see Stakeholder Engagement by Brett McDonnell – SSRN as of Oct. 31st, 2022, p. 48

[10] this study is one of the reasons for optimism on my part: A Test of Stakeholder Governance by Stavros Gadinis and Amelia Miazad as of Aug. 25th, 2021

Soccer picture from Blue Hat Graphics from Pixabay as Impact Strategies illustration

Impact strategies: Researchpost #142

Impact strategies: 12x new research on AI, education, diversity, insiders, compensation, impact investing, collaborative engagement, voting and analysts by Olaf Weber and many more (#: SSRN downloads as of Sept. 7th, 2023)

Social and ecological research (Impact strategies)

Good and bad AI: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love AI: Analyzing the Rapid Evolution of Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT) and its Impacts on Law, Business, and Society by Scott J. Shackelford, Lawrence J. Trautman, and W. Gregory Voss as of Sept. 6th, 2023 (#108): “There is ample reason to believe that novel AI-driven capabilities hold considerable potential to drive practical solutions to address many of the world’s major challenges such as cancer, climate change, food production, healthcare, and poverty. … Even so, there are equally significant warning signs of serious consequences, including the threat of eliminating humanity. These warnings should not be ignored“ (p. 94). My comment: For responsible investing see How can sustainable investors benefit from artificial intelligence? – GITEX Impact – Leading ESG Event 2023

Educational tools: The Emergence of An Educational Tool Industry: Opportunities and Challenges For Innovation in Education by Dominique Foray and Julio Raffo as of May 4th, 2023 (#16): “… an educational tool industry has emerged; that is to say a population of small firms is inventing and commercialising instruction (mainly ICT-based) technologies. … However the main commercial target of these companies is not the huge K12 public school system. This market does not satisfy most conditions for attracting and sustaining a strong entrepreneurial activity in the tool business. … But other “smaller” markets seem to be sufficiently attractive for entrepreneurs and this connection explains to a certain extent why we have observed the patent explosion and some increase in the number of firms specialised in the tool business“ (p. 19/20).

ESG investment research (Impact strategies)

Unflexible Diversity? Are Firms Sacrificing Flexibility for Diversity and Inclusion? by Hoa Briscoe-Tran as of Aug.14th, 2023 (#181): “I analyze data from thousands of companies dating back to 2008 and find that diverse and inclusive firms (D&I firms) tend to have lower operating flexibility. Exploration of mechanisms suggest that D&I firms have lower operating flexibility due to their slower operating efficiency in their response to unexpected economic shocks“ (p. 25).

Bad competition? Competitive Pressure and ESG by Vesa Pursiainen, Hanwen Sun, and Yue Xiang as of Sept. 1st, 2023 (#95): “… Our results suggest that a firm’s exposure to competition is negatively associated with its ESG performance. … The effect of product market competition on ESG performance is higher for firms that are more financially constrained and in more capital-intensive industries. Taken together, our findings suggest that companies face a trade-off in investing in ESG versus other investment needs …” (p. 18).

Bad insiders: Executive Ownership and Sustainability Performance by Marco Ghitti, Gianfranco Gianfrate, and Edoardo Reccagni as of Oct. 19th, 2022 (#167): “Our results indicate that executive shareholding is negatively associated with corporate E&S (Sö: Environmental and social) performance, indicating that the pursuit of non-financial returns is penalized when executives are more financially vested in the company. … We analogously observe that inside trading intensity is inversely associated with the sustainability footprint, thus confirming that when executives’ primary focus is on financial gains, E&S activities diminish. … we use an exogenous shock in capital gains taxation that specifically affected executive ownership in US public companies. The quasi-natural experiment confirms that it is the degree of executive ownership that affects the E&S footprint“ (p. 12).

CSR compensation: Empirical Examination of the Direct and Moderating Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Top Executive Compensation by Mahfuja Malik and Eunsup Daniel Shim as of Aug. 9th, 2023 (#18): “Using a sample of 4,193 firm-year observations and 1,318 public U.S. firms, we find that CSR (Sö: Corporate social responsibility) performance positively moderates the relationship between firms’ total and long-term compensation, along with its direct association with CEO compensation. However, firms’ separate CSR report disclosures are not associated with CEO compensation. … we find that CSR has no moderating role in the relationship between CEO compensation and accounting-based performance. Interestingly, we find that CSR performance plays a moderating role in weakening the positive relationship between executive compensation and firm size“ (p. 18/19). My comment: see Wrong ESG bonus math? Content-Post #188 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Costly greenwashing: Does Greenwashing Pay Off? Evidence from the Corporate Bond Market by Nazim Hussain, Shuo Wang, Qiang Wu, and Cheng (Colin) Zeng as of Sept. 7th, 2023 (#127): “Using 3,810 public bonds issued by U.S. firms, we find a positive relationship between greenwashing and the cost of bonds. We identify the causal relation by using the Federal Trade Commission’s 2012 regulatory intervention to curb misleading environmental claims as an exogenous shock to greenwashing. We also find a more pronounced relation between greenwashing and the cost of bonds for firms whose credit rating is adjacent to the investment/speculative borderline, firms within environmentally sensitive industries, and firms with opaque information environments. Moreover, we show that greenwashing leads to higher environmental litigation costs and a higher chance of rating disagreements among credit rating agencies … “ (abstract).

Impact strategies research

Green claims: Market review of environmental impact claims of retail investment funds in Europe by Nicola Stefan Koch, David Cooke, Samia Baadj, and Maximilien Boyne from the 2 Degree Investing Initiative as of August 2023: “27% of all in scope funds were associated with environmental impact claims. No fund with an environmental impact claim could sufficiently substantiate its claim according to the updated UCPD Guidance indicating a substantial potential legal risk. … Of the environmental impact claims deemed to be false or generic, there were 3x more appearing in Art 9 fund marketing materials compared to Art 8 fund marketing materials. … Most environmental impact claims deemed false equated “company impact” with “investor impact”, most environmental impact claims deemed unclear were not substantiated by sufficient information and most environmental impact claims deemed generic were fund names including the term “impact” with insufficient additional information” (p. 3). My comment: see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (

Impact strategies? New bottle or new label? Distinguishing impact investing from responsible and ethical investing by Truzaar Dordi, Phoebe Stephens, Sean Geobey, and Olaf Weber as of July 27th, 2023: “… how does the subfield of impact investing differentiate itself from more established ethical and responsible investing … Adopting a combination of bibliometric and content analyses, we identify four distinct features of impact investing – positive impact targeting, novelty of governance structures, long time horizons, and the importance of philanthropy” (abstract). … “This differs from responsible investing, which mainly relies on modern portfolio theory and capital pricing models for research …” (p. 22). My comment: see No engagement-washing! Opinion-Post #207 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Engagement impact strategies: Tailor-to-Target: Configuring Collaborative Shareholder Engagements on Climate Change by Rieneke Slager, Kevin Chuah, Jean-Pascal Gond, Santi Furnari, and Mikael Homanen as of June 15th, 2023: “We study collaborative shareholder engagements on climate change issues. These engagements involve coalitions of investors pursuing behind-the-scenes dialogue to encourage target firms to adopt environmental sustainability practices. … we investigate how four coalition composition levers (coalition size, shareholding stake, experience, local access) combine to enable or hinder engagement success. We find that successful coalitions use four configurations of coalition composition levers that are tailored to target firms’ financial capacity and environmental predispositions, that is, target firms’ receptivity. Unsuccessful configurations instead emphasize single levers at the expense of others. Drawing on qualitative interviews, we identify three mechanisms (synchronizing, contextualizing, overfocusing) that plausibly underly the identified configurations and provide investor coalitions with knowledge about target firms and their local contexts, thus enhancing communication and understanding between investor coalitions and target firms” (abstract).

Other investment research

Bad delegation? Voting Choice by Andrey Malenkoy and Nadya Malenko as of Aug. 27th, 2023 (#346): “Under voting choice, investors of the fund can choose whether to delegate their votes to the fund or to exercise their voting rights themselves. … If the reason for offering voting choice is that investors have heterogeneous preferences, but investors are uninformed about the value of the proposal, then the equilibrium under voting choice is generally inefficient: it features either too little or too much delegation. … In contrast, if the reason for offering voting choice is that investors have information about the proposal that the fund manager does not have, but all investors preferences are aligned, then voting choice is efficient: the equilibrium level of delegation is the one that maximizes investor welfare. … However, if information acquisition is costly, voting choice can also lead to coordination failure: if too few votes are delegated to the fund, the fund has weak incentives to acquire information, which discourages delegation even further and may result in insufficiently informed voting outcomes“ (p. 28/29).

Analyst advantage: Behavioral Machine Learning? Computer Predictions of Corporate Earnings also Overreact by Murray Z. Frank, Jing Gao, and Keer Yang as of May 24th, 2023 (#184): “We study the predictions of corporate earnings from several algorithms, notably linear regressions and a popular algorithm called Gradient Boosted Regression Trees (GBRT). On average, GBRT outperformed both linear regressions and human stock analysts, but it still overreacted to news and did not satisfy rational expectation as normally defined. … Human stock analysts who have been trained in machine learning methods overreact less than traditionally trained analysts. Additionally, stock analyst predictions reflect information not otherwise available to machine algorithms” (abstract).


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Ungreen banks: red bank in the floods as picture by Hans from Pixabay

Ungreen banks: Researchpost #141

Ungreen banks with 13x new research on gas, smart cities, green innovation, auditors, esg news, greenwashing, dividends, investor education by Markus Leippold, Zacharias Sautner, Matthias Sutter, Sascha Steffen, Alexander F. Wagner and many more (# of SSRN downloads on Sept. 1st, 2023):

Social and ecological research: Ungreen banks

Ungreen banks (1): Climate Transition Risks of Banks by Felix Martini, Zacharias Sautner, Sascha Steffen, and Carola Theunisz as of Aug. 29th, 2023 (#116): “… we propose a new bottom-up approach that utilizes syndicated loan portfolio data to measure banks’ exposures to transition risks through their corporate loan books. … we empirically analyze a sample of 38 prominent U.S. lenders spanning the period from 2004 to 2019. … the average exposure in the U.S. banking system gradually declined after the ratification of the Paris Agreement in 2015. … Transition risk exposure is larger at bigger and more leveraged banks, and at banks with fewer female directors on the board“ (p. 25).

Ungreen banks (2):  The Green Energy Transition and the 2023 Banking Crisis by Francesco D’Ercole and Alexander F. Wagner as of August 28th, 2023 (#91): “In March 2023, several U.S. banks collapsed … Specifically, firms at the forefront of environmental technologies significantly suffered from this banking crisis. Like in most crises, however, firms with lower leverage outperformed. … poor financial management, particularly in banks, can dramatically affect the energy transition …” (p. 8).

Gas risks: European Equity Markets Volatility Spillover: Destabilizing Energy Risk is the New Normal by Zsuzsa R. Huszar, Balazs B. Kotro, and S. K. Tan Ruth as of Aug. 2nd, 2023 (#9): “… we examine oil and natural gas price changes in relation to equity market returns for 24 countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) … We find that during the 2003-2022 sample period, the major sources of market volatility primarily emanated from economic or political uncertainty of a specific country or group of countries, e.g., from Greece during the European sovereign debt crisis, from Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) after the 2004 EU expansion, and from Norway during the oil rout. Energy risks, measured by large crude oil and natural gas price shocks, have become major volatility providers since 2019, with increasing volatility risk arising from natural gas, a green labelled energy source. Lastly, we also show CEEC markets with weakening currencies are more sensitive to oil and gas price shocks” (abstract).

Unsmart cities? SDG-11 and smart cities: Contradictions and overlaps between social and environmental justice research agendas by Ushnish Sengupta and Ulysses Sengupta as of Jan. 4th, 2023 (#37): “This paper focuses specifically on SDG-11 “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” and how cities are increasingly incorporating ICT (Sö:  Information and Communications Technology) toward this goal. … An increased use of ICT has its own energy and resource impacts that has implications for sustainability beyond the geography of individual cities to global impacts. The lifecycle and supply chain impacts of advanced ICT projects are being identified and documented. The end user of the Smart City projects may benefit significantly from the increased use of ICTs, while the environmental costs are often borne by disparate communities” (abstract). My comment: Currently, I only have one public transportation stock in my SDG-aligned mutual fund ( which can still improve ecologically and I try to promote that via engagement (see Active or impact investing? – ( but should cause little negative impacts on non-users.

Responsible investment research: Ungreen banks

Hot stocks: Temperature Shocks and Industry Earnings News by Jawad M. Addoum, David T. Ng, and Ariel Ortiz-Bobea as of Jan. 9th, 2023 (#1752): “We find that the effects of temperature extremes are relatively widespread, affecting earnings in over 40% (24 out of 59) of industries, and are not confined to only agriculture-related firms. We … find that revenue effects drive the profitability results in about 75% of cases. … temperature shocks are associated with earnings surprises relative to analyst forecasts. Finally, we find that analysts’ earnings forecasts and stock prices do not immediately react to observable intra-quarter temperature shocks …” (p. 33).

Sensitive green: The Green Innovation Premium by Markus Leippold and Tingyu Yu as of Aug. 7th, 2023 (#342): “Using patent abstracts and earnings call transcripts, we construct a firm-level measure to capture firms’ dedication to climate technology development and investors’ attention to green innovation…. A portfolio that is long on firms with low greenness and short on those with high greenness generates an average return of about 6% per year. … This indicates that investors require lower returns from firms demonstrating substantial green innovation endeavors. … Following Trump’s election victory, firms with a higher degree of greenness underperformed, likely due to the expectations of loosening environmental regulations. Conversely, these firms demonstrated positive performance in response to Biden’s election win, the Russia-Ukraine war disruption, and the IRA’s announcement“ (p. 28).

Audit deficits: Do auditors understand the implications of ESG issues for their audits? Evidence from financially material negative ESG incidents by Daniel Aobdia and Aaron Yoon as of Aug. 28th, 2023 (#32): “We find that during the post SASB (Sö: Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) guidance period, auditors are less likely to detect a material weakness after firms experience financially material negative ESG incidents relative to those that do not experience material negative ESG incidents. … we find an increased probability of misstatements in the post SASB-standards period when material ESG issues are reported. … Overall, the evidence suggests that auditors, especially the larger ones, may not yet fully understand the implications of material ESG issues from a financial reporting standpoint …” (p. 37/38)

ESG risks: News is Risky Business by Kari Heimonen, Heikki Lehkonen, and Vance L. Martin as of Aug. 25th, 2023 (#37): “… the empirical results provide evidence that responsible investors hedge ESG risks resulting in relatively lower expected returns than achieved by less responsible investors. This result holds for the broad ESG risk index as well as its E, S and G subcomponents. The empirical results also provide evidence that risk prices can change over time as is the case with the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2008-09 GFC, but not necessarily during the more recent COVID-19 pandemic” (abstract). … “The empirical results corroborate the importance of ESG news on stock returns, revealing a negative impact from ESG news shocks which is not captured by traditionally used risk factors and macroeconomy related variables. … the empirical results also show that ESG investments may not completely override the brown companies’ share in investors’ portfolios” (p. 39). My comment: With my own investments I focus only on responsible investments, see 30 stocks, if responsible, are all I need – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Green expectations: Financing Emissions by Dominique Badoer and Evan Dudley as of Aug. 30th, 2023 (#69): “We examine how investor expectations about the timing of transition risk related to climate change affects the debt financing costs of greenhouse gas emitting firms in the corporate bond market. We find that yield-spreads increase less with maturity for firms that are more exposed to transition risk … Our results imply that investors expect climate related transition risks in some industries to be resolved in the short term” (abstract).

Fund-Greenclean: Do Mutual Funds Greenwash? Evidence from Fund Name Changes by Alexander Cochardt, Stephan Heller, and Vitaly Orlov as of Aug. 24th, 2023 (#192): “We find that small, old, and less attractive funds attempt to regain investor capital flows by changing their names to include ESG terms. Following the name change, funds actively rebalance their holdings, begin to hold more stocks and invest less in each stock, while reducing their exposure to firms with severe and high ESG issues. Consequently, aggregate salient portfolio ESG scores and peer-adjusted ESG ranks increase, attracting significant abnormal flows of over 13% in the 12-month period following the name change toward ESG. … these funds do not change their pre name-change voting patterns, but also become even less supportive of ES proposals when their votes are more likely to be pivotal“ (p. 21). My comment: More holdings can be criticized, too, see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (

Other investment research

Dividend research: Corporate Dividend Policy by Mark Leary, and Vasudha Nukala as of July 29th, 2023 (#134): “We survey the empirical literature on corporate dividend policy, with emphasis on developments over the last two decades. … In the second part, we focus on the unresolved question of why dividends matter … such as the channels through which dividends impact firm value. Payout policy can alter a firm’s market value by affecting its future cash flows or its cost of capital (in which case it impacts intrinsic value) or by signaling value-relevant information to investors (affecting only the timing of when that value is reflected in market prices). We organize the survey around these three possibilities, highlighting relevant empirical evidence and areas of remaining uncertainty” (abstract).

Educational profits: Skills, Education and Wealth Inequality by Elisa Castagno, Raffaele Corvino, and Francesco Ruggiero as of Aug. 13th, 2023 (#15): “We document a positive and sizeable effect of education on both the level and returns to wealth due to the impact of education on stock market participation, after controlling for unobserved, individual ability. Our results suggest that policymakers can exploit the role of education to alleviate wealth inequality by promoting the stock market participation of unskilled individuals“ (abstract).

Good education: Financial literacy, experimental preference measures and field behavior – A randomized educational intervention by Matthias Sutter, Michael Weyland, Anna Untertrifaller, Manuel Froitzheim und Sebastian O. Schneider as of May 9th, 2023 (#67): “We present the results of a randomized intervention to study how teaching financial literacy to 16-year old high-school students affects their behavior in risk and time preference tasks. … we find that teaching financial literacy makes subjects behave more patiently, more time-consistent, and more risk-averse. These effects persist for up to almost 5 years after our intervention. Behavior in the risk and time preference tasks is related to financial behavior outside the lab, in particular spending patterns”(abstract).


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Smiling robot as illustration for AI risks by MIM326 from Pixabay

AI risks: Researchpost #140

AI risks: 16x new research on AI, job risks, migration, climate, food, GHG accounting, biodiversity, broadband, return measures, listed private equity, Ethereum etc. by Lars Hornuf, Marc Elsberg and many more (#: SSRN downloads as of Aug. 24th,2023)

Social and ecological research: AI risks

Firing risks: Does Climate Risk Affect Employment Decisions? International Evidence by Claude Francoeur, Faten Lakhal, Hamza Nizar, Zvi Singer as of Aug. 13th, 2023 (#32): “Using a cross-country sample of 31,200 observations for the period 2011–2019, we find that climate risk due to extreme weather events is positively associated with underinvesting in labor and, in particular, with over-firing employees. … The results also show that the underinvestment behavior is less severe for firms that are more socially responsible” (abstract).

AI risks for jobs: The Short-Term Effects of Generative Artificial Intelligence on Employment: Evidence from an Online Labor Market by Xiang Hui, Oren Reshef, and Luofeng Zhou as of Aug. 21st, 2023 (#203): “This paper studies the short-term effects of generative AI and LLMs (Sö: Large language models) on labor outcomes by estimating the effect of ChatGPT on the employment of workers in a large online labor market (Sö: Upwork). Across the board, we find that freelancers who offer services in occupations most affected by AI experienced reductions in both employment and earnings. The release of ChatGPT leads to a 2% drop in the number of jobs on the platform, and a 5.2% drop in monthly earnings. …. top employees are disproportionately hurt by AI” (p. 13). My comment: I include HR service companies with good E, S and G-Ratings in my SDG-aligned portfolios because they help many people to find temporary and permanent new jobs.

AI risks (2): The Algorithmic Explainability “Bait and Switch” by Boris Babic and I. Glenn Cohen as of Aug. 20th, 2023 (#15): “Explainability in artificial intelligence and machine learning (“AI/ML”) is emerging as a leading area of academic research and a topic of significant regulatory concern. … We argue that for explainability to be a moral requirement — and even more so for it to be a legal requirement — it should satisfy certain desiderata which it currently does not, and possibly cannot. … the currently prevailing approaches to explainable AI/ML are (1) incapable of guiding our action and planning, (2) incapable of making transparent the actual reasons underlying an automated decision, and (3) incapable of underwriting normative (moral/legal) judgments, such as blame and resentment. This stems from the post hoc nature of the explanations offered by prevailing explainability algorithms. As we explain, that these algorithms are “insincere-by design,” so to speak” (abstract).

E-deficits: Is advanced digitalisation the philosopher´s stone or a complex challenge? – Experiences from Austrian and German EA practice by Birthe Uhlhorn, Gesa Geißler, Alexandra Jiricka-Pürre as of June 28th, 2023 (#9): “… While research increasingly discusses digital developments and their influence on procedural steps, the uptake of advanced digital tools remains limited amongst planning professionals in Germany and Austria. Practitioners still share concerns related to data quality, causalities and legal securities among others. … In addition, EA practice (Sö: Environmental assessment) in Germany and Austria lacks strategic discussion on the opportunities and challenges of digitalisation so far … this paper confirms the potential of digital solutions to improve the quality of EA processes and accelerate EA practice … ” (p. 15).

Pro/Con Migration: Attitudes to Migration and the Market for News by Razi Farukh, Matthias Heinz, Anna Kerkhof, and Heiner Schumacher as of Aug. 21st, 2023 (#6): “For Germany, we found that most national news outlets adopt an attitude to migration that is in between the two ideological extremes, but closer to pro- than to anti-migration campaigns. … Only the largest newspaper in Europe – the tabloid newspaper Bild – changed its attitude to migration from very positive to fairly negative within a few months, most likely in order to cater to readers’ political preferences. For Hungary, we found that the attitude to migration is on average more negative than in Germany. … for the US, we found that, the average attitude to migration in the market for news is comparable to that in Germany. However, both the most positive and the most negative news outlet in the our US sample are fairly large, which suggests that the degree of polarization in this market is substantial“ (p. 29).

Food risks: Coping with Climate Shocks: Food Security in a Spatial Framework by Diogo Baptista, John Spray, and D. Filiz Unsal of the International Monetary Fund as of Aug. 23rd, 2023 (#6): “… we show that (i) climate shocks are already having large negative impacts on GDP, nutrition and welfare, (ii) these impacts are disproportionately harming those households which are remote and food insecure, (iii) poverty and food insecurity exacerbates the impact of shocks. We go on to show that policy to lower the cost of trade and migration can lower the impact from climate shocks by allowing households alternative sources of income and affordable food“ (p. 34/35).

Responsible investment research

Green risks: Greening the Economy: How Public-Guaranteed Loans Influence Firm-Level Resource Allocation by Bruno Buchetti, Ixart Miquel-Flores, Salvatore Perdichizzi, and Alessio Reghezza as of July 14th, 2023 (#185): “First, we established that European banks face a ”green-transition-risk,” as less polluting firms have higher probabilities of default (PDs) than their more polluting counterparts (browner firms). … This higher implicit risk, called ”green transition-risk,” leads to a natural preference for lending to more polluting firms (browner firms). Secondly, we discovered that deploying PGLs (Sö: Public-guaranteed loans) during the pandemic resulted in a relative increase in lending to greener firms … PGLs eliminate (or drastically reduce) the ”green-transition-risk“ (p. 25).

GHG data: A rapid review of GHG accounting standards by Jimmy Jia, Kaya Axelsson, Abrar Chaudhury, and Evan Taylor as of July 29th, 2023 (#52): “We did a rapid systematic review of GHG (Sö: Green house gas) accounting standards to find that all are derivative works of the GHG Protocol. Further, commonly used GHG accounting standards are based on three methodologies. We found that the field converges quickly and there are fewer options than expected …“ (abstract).

Biodiversity-hole: Biodiversity Confusion: The impact of ESG biodiversity ratings on asset prices by Wei Xin, Lewis Grant, Ben Groom, and  Chendi Zhang as of Aug. 14th, 2023 (#35): “The biodiversity components of ESG ratings are analysed …. biodiversity ratings are largely uncorrelated to firm characteristics other than via firm size, and do not predict stock returns. … A suite of tests suggests that biodiversity as measured in ESG ratings does not appear to provide useful additional information for financial decision makers“ (abstract).

Rules or fiduciary? EU ‚Rule-based‘ ESG Duties for Investment Funds and their Managers under the European ‚Green Deal‘ by Sebastiaan Niels Hooghiemstra as of Aug. 15th, 2023 (#269): “This contribution focusses on explaining that the recently introduced “ESG duties” for European investment funds and their managers under European financial regulatory laws can be classified as “rule-based ESG duties,” largely substituting traditional corporate law “ESG fiduciary duties” applying to European investment funds and their managers” (abstract). My comment: My fund is compliant with Article 9 SFDR and has a social focus. For investors many of the current reporting requirements are not very helpful.

Other investment research: AI risks

Social broadband: Broadband Internet and the Stock Market Investments of Individual Investors by Hans K. Hvide, Tom G. Meling, Magne Mogstad, and Ola L. Vestad as of Aug. 2nd, 2023 (#422): “We find that broadband use leads to increased stock market participation, to improved portfolio allocation for existing investors, and to increased participation in bonds, bond funds, and unlisted stocks. We do not find adverse effects of internet use; for example, access to high-speed internet does not lead to excessive stock trading among existing investors, except possibly for the very most active investors. … Over the broadband expansion period, we observe a broad trend towards increased internet-based information acquisition and learning. … the effects of broadband on stock market participation are stronger for younger, lower-income, and lower-wealth individuals, who have the lowest stock market participation rates and likely the lowest financial literacy to begin with …“ (p. 34/35). My comment: This is one reason why I include telecom infrastructure providers and servicers in my SDG-aligned portfolios.

Wrong measures? How Should Returns to Long Term Investors be Measured? by Hendrik Bessembinder, Te-Feng Chen, Goeun Choi, and John Wei as of Aug. 2nd, 2023 (#131) “Widely studied databases contain stock returns measured at the monthly horizon. The most common method of aggregating this information across multiple months is to compute arithmetic means of the monthly returns. … However, arithmetic mean returns are potentially very misleading as to investors’ experiences across multiple months. … We use a broad sample of over 71,000 stocks to demonstrate the extent to which conclusions regarding long-term investment performance can differ across measures, with the goal of guiding market observers to the measure that is most relevant for the task at hand”.

Listed PE: Thematic Investing With Big Data: The Case of Private Equity by Ludovic Phalippou as of March 13th, 2023 (#1159): “Using natural language processing, we score companies based on the frequency with which news articles contain both their names and terms Private Equity and Leveraged Buy-Out. An index is then created … with the weights set as a function of a company exposure to this theme. … this listed private equity index is highly correlated to commonly used private equity fund market indices …. In addition, our index has similar returns as non-tradable LBO fund indices” (abstract). My comment: Since many years, I include listed private equity in my alternatives allocations for traditional ETF-portfolios.

Good reporting: The Value of Publicly Available Information on Acquired Firms in Corporate Acquisitions by Dan Givoly, Songyi Han, and Sharon P. Katz as of July 5th, 2023 (#62): “Acquiring privately held firms enables acquirers to benefit from liquidity and information risk discounts extracted from the owners of private firms. The information risk arises from the information asymmetry between the acquirer and the private firm due to the lack of public information. … Our study analyzes the outcomes of acquisitions of three types of target firms: private firms, public firms, and quasi-private firms, i.e., privately-owned firms that are subject to financial reporting obligations. …. the outcomes of acquisitions … are significantly more favorable for the acquisition of quasi-private firms than for acquisitions of both public and private firms. Further, despite all the measures employed by acquirers to mitigate the higher information risk involved in acquiring private firms, including potential price discounts, they do not fully compensate for this added risk“ (p. 26/27).

Fin-MaL = Fin-Good? Financial Machine Learning by Bryan Kelly and Dacheng Xiu as of July 25th, 2023 (#22312): “We survey the nascent literature on machine learning in the study of financial markets. We highlight the best examples of what this line of research has to offer and recommend promising directions for future research. This survey is designed for both financial economists interested in grasping machine learning tools, as well as for statisticians and machine learners seeking interesting financial contexts where advanced methods may be deployed” (abstract). My comment: See my recent publication AI: Wie können nachhaltige AnlegerInnen profitieren? – Responsible Investment Research Blog ( or How can sustainable investors benefit from artificial intelligence? – GITEX Impact – Leading ESG Event 2023

OK crimes? Cybercrime on the Ethereum Blockchain by Lars Hornuf, Paul P. Momtaz, Rachel J. Nam, and Ye Yuan as of Aug. 15th, 2023 (#557): “We identify more than 1.78 million transactions that are externally verified to be linked to cybercrime, corresponding to an aggregate amount of $1.65 billion of funds lost. … we find that victims increase their overall risk-taking … we show that victim and cybercrime addresses differ systematically, leading to variation that can be exploited in predictive models to screen for cybercriminals ex ante“ (p. 39).

Geo-Engineering: oC Celsius (kostenpflichtig) ist der neueste Öko-Polit-Thriller von Marc Elsberg vom März 2023. Dabei geht es um Geo-Engineering und dessen potenziellen ökologischen und politischen Chancen und Risiken. Celsius ist kein wissenschaftliches Buch, aber es sollte zum Nachdenken anregen.


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Grüner Chip als Bild von Chenspec von Pixabay für nachhaltige AI

AI: Wie können nachhaltige AnlegerInnen profitieren?

AI (Artificial Intelligence oder KI für künstliche Intelligenz) kann theoretisch helfen, mehr, bessere, aktuellere und kostengünstigere Informationen für nachhaltige Investments zu generieren. Die Frage ist, wie das erreicht werden kann. Hier sind meine Ideen:

………. ….. Hinweise: Ich nutze Daten von und ESGBook und berate Allindex, die auch Search4Stocks anbieten. Der Text basiert auf einem Beitrag für GitexIMpact (siehe How can sustainable investors benefit from artificial intelligence? – GITEX Impact – Leading ESG Event 2023), der mit Hilfe von Deepl übersetzt wurde und auf LinkedIn als Artikel veröffentlicht wurde. Das Foto des zugehörigen Blogbeitrags stammt von Pixabay. …………………………………..……

KI ist nicht klar definiert. In diesem Artikel unterscheide ich nicht zwischen maschinellem Lernen, Deep Learning und KI. Vereinfachend unterscheide ich auch nicht zwischen Umwelt-, Sozial- und Governance-Investitionen (ESG) sowie Impact Investing oder anderen nachhaltigen Investitionsansätzen.

Gleiche Renditen mit geringeren Risiken durch AI?

Die wichtigste Frage aus AnlegerInnensicht ist meistens, ob KI dazu beitragen kann, die Renditen zu verbessern. In der Vergangenheit wurden enorme Mengen an Gehirn- und Computerleistung und Geld investiert, um höhere Renditen als die Märkte zu erzielen. Viele quantitative traditionelle Investoren mit teilweise tiefen Taschen haben meistens vergeblich versucht, passive Benchmarks zu übertreffen (vgl. Kapitalanlage – Kann man den Markt schlagen? Teil 5 ( Ich erwarte nicht, dass die KI daran etwas ändern wird.

Aber KI kann dazu beitragen, Geldanlagerisiken zu verringern, insbesondere Nachhaltigkeitsrisiken. Diese Risiken können zum Beispiel mit Umwelt-, Sozial- und Governance-Ratings gemessen werden. ESG-Ratings beruhen oft auf einer Vielzahl von Daten und unstrukturierten Informationen aus allen möglichen Formaten, wie z. B. Videokonferenzen von Unternehmen mit Aktienanalysten. Mit KI ist es einfacher, mehr Emittenten von Anlageprodukten und mehr ratingrelevante Daten pro Emittent zu erfassen sowie die Ratings häufiger zu aktualisieren. ESG Book und sind frühe Anbieter solcher KI-basierten ESG-Ratings.

Wenn KI dazu beiträgt, Anlagerisiken zu verringern, können die risikobereinigten Anlegerrenditen besser werden. Ich bezweifle jedoch, dass das (Overlay-)Risikomanagement von Portfolios durch KI wesentlich verbessert werden kann. In der Vergangenheit haben häufigere oder komplexere Risikosignale zur Änderung von Portfolios in der Regel nicht zu einer höheren Portfolioperformance geführt (vgl. Abschnitt Risiko-Overlay in Asset Allocation, Risiko-Overlay und Manager-Selektion: Das Diversifikationsbuch | SpringerLink).

AI ermöglicht andere Portfolios und zielgerichteteres Marketing

Durch die Nutzung der KI-basierten ESG-Daten von Clarity kann ich mein Portfolio aus etwa zwanzigtausend Aktien mit umfassenden ESG-Daten zusammenstellen (vgl. Noch eine Fondsboutique? – Responsible Investment Research Blog ( So kann ich Portfolios aus Aktien mit geringen Kapitalisierungen (Small Caps) zusammenstellen, für die traditionelle ESG-Rater typischerweise keine Daten liefern. Durch die KI-basierte häufige Aktualisierung der ESG-Daten kann ich zudem schneller reagieren als es bei traditionellen ESG-Ratings mit jährlichen Aktualisierungen der Fall ist. KI kann natürlich auch mit nicht-Nachhaltigkeitsinformationen helfen.

Mehr Auswahlmöglichkeiten bedeutet auch mehr Individualisierungsmöglichkeiten. Es ist bekannt, dass Kunden länger in maßgeschneiderte Anlagen investiert bleiben als in Standard-Anlagen. Insgesamt kann deshalb eine auf KI basierende individuelle Portfolioanpassung für Anleger und Anbieter gleichermaßen attraktiv.

Es liegt auf der Hand, dass KI dazu beitragen kann, Marketingaktivitäten besser auf individuelle Bedürfnisse, auch die von nachhaltigen Investoren, abzustimmen. Maßgeschneidertes Marketing könnte durch KI so billiger und inhaltlich besser und damit überzeugender werden.

KI kann wahrscheinlich auch dazu beitragen, die Finanzbildung und Anlageberatung zu verbessern. Mit Hilfe von KI sollte es für AnlegerInnen einfacher werden, die vielen verschiedenen Facetten nachhaltiger Anlagen besser zu verstehen. Dies könnte zum Beispiel durch KI-basierte Antworten auf Anlegerfragen erreicht werden. Large Language Modelle (LLM) wie Bing, ChatGPT oder Google Bard sollten für solche Themen gut geeignet sein. Einfachen Fragen wie „Kann man mit ESG-Investments Outperformance erreichen“ können mit Standard-Antworten auf häufig geäußerte Fragen (FAQ) beantwortet werden. AI kann aber helfen, wenn es darum geht, zum Beispiel SRI- mit ESG- oder SDG-Fonds zu vergleichen.

Außerdem kann KI dazu beitragen, häufigere und detailliertere Berichte über nachhaltige Anlagen für Kunden zu erstellen. Auch das könnte dazu beitragen, den Umsatz zu steigern und Kunden zu binden. Aber mehr und häufigere Informationen können auch ein Verkaufsrisiko darstellen. In der Regel gibt es zu jeder Anlage auch negative Informationen. Wenn Anleger zusätzliche (KI-basierte) Negativinformationen über mehrere Portfoliobestandteile erhalten, werden sie möglicherweise ganz auf den Versuch verzichten, nachhaltig zu investieren. Meine Empfehlung für solche Fälle ist: Versuchen Sie, so nachhaltig zu investieren, wie Sie können. Auch wenn dies nicht perfekt ist, so ist es doch nachhaltiger als traditionelles Investieren.

Direkte AI-basierte ESG-Indexierung und Portfolio-Selbstanpassung

Meiner Meinung nach gibt es ein noch attraktiveres Angebot als die anbieterbasierte Portfolioindividualisierung, nämlich Portfolioanpassungen durch Anleger selbst. Ich plädiere für die Selbstanpassung besonders für nachhaltige Geldanlagen (vgl. „Custom ESG Indexing Can Challenge Popularity Of ETFs”).

Portfolios auf der grünen Wiese zu erstellen, dürfte für die meisten Anleger schwierig sein. Doch auch dafür gibt es schon KI-Angebote. Search4Stocks von ist ein Beispiel für ein entsprechendes kostenloses KI-basiertes Tool. Alternativ können Standard-Portfolios als Ausgangsbasis für Individualisierungen genutzt werden.

Direkte bzw. benutzerdefinierte ESG-Indizierung ermöglicht es Anlegern, ein regelbasiertes nachhaltiges Startportfolio („Index“) individuell anzupassen. Man könnte zwar auch mit nicht-regelbasierten Portfolios starten, aber die sind für Anleger meistens schwieriger nachvollziehbar. Auch eine starke Vorselektion der Ausgangsportfolios ist sinnvoll, damit Anleger ihre Anpassungen auf Basis von wenigen Dutzend und nicht einigen hundert Investments starten.

Für die Selbstanpassung können Nachhaltigkeitsinformationen genutzt werden. Portfolioanbieter können (KI-basierte) aktuelle Informationen zu ESG-Ratings oder Kontroversen in Bezug auf Portfoliobestandteile zur Verfügung stellen. Basierend auf solchen Informationen sollte es auch ohne detaillierte Finanzbildung einfach sein, Aktien aus den Startportfolio auszuschließen. KI kann auch eingesetzt werden, um Stimmrechtsausübungen und individuelle Engagements von Anlegern oder Aktionären bei Zielunternehmen zu unterstützen.

Selbst-angepasste nachhaltige Portfolios können wahrscheinlich sogar noch „klebriger“ sein als maßgeschneiderte Angebote von Anbietern und deshalb trotz des zusätzlichen Aufwands auch für Anbieter attraktiv sein.

Künstliche Intelligenz mit Nachteilen, aber positive Aspekte überwiegen

Da es nicht genügend gut ausgebildete ExpertInnen für nachhaltiges Investieren gibt, kann KI helfen, Lücken zu füllen und so zu mehr nachhaltigen Investments führen. Arbeitsplätze bei traditionellen Finanzunternehmen könnten durch KI jedoch gefährdet sein. Negativ sind auch Daten- und Knowhow-Sicherheitsprobleme und dass KI-Anwendungen viel Energie verbrauchen können, insbesondere wenn sie Bilder und Videos erstellen. Aber insgesamt könnte KI für nachhaltige Investitionen mehr Vorteile als Nachteile bringen.

Technology risk illustration with nuclear risk picture from Pixabay by clkr free vector images

Technology risks: Researchpost #139

Technology risks: 17x new research on SDGs, nuclear, blockchain and AI risks, innovation, climate, carbon offsets, ESG ratings, treasuries, backtests and trading, big data, forensic finance, private equity and other alternatives by Patrick Behr, Richard Ennis, Christian von Hirschhausen, Thierry Roncalli, Bernhard Schwetzler and many more (# shows SSRN downloads on August 17th, 2023):

Social and ecological research (Technology risks)

SDG or green? Take a Deep Breath! The Role of Meeting SDGs With Regard to Air Pollution in EU and ASEAN Countries by Huynh Truong Thi Ngoc, Florian Horky, and Chi Le Quoc as of July 10th, 2023 (#26): “First, the results show that in ASEAN countries, Goal 10 (Reduced Inequalities) has a negative correlation with most other SDGs while in the EU it shows a broadly positive correlation. … air pollution, particularly SO2 and CO emissions, is positively connected to most SDGs in ASEAN while the trend in the EU is not clear. This could be due to the rapid economic development in ASEAN nations as well …” (p. 19).

Nuclear risks: The Potential of Nuclear Power in the Context of Climate Change Mitigation -A Techno-Economic Reactor Technology Assessment by Fanny Böse, Alexander Wimmers, Björn Steigerwald, and Christian von Hirschhausen as of July 27th, 2023 (#17): “… we synthesize techno-economic aspects of potential new nuclear power plants differentiating between three different reactor technology types: light-water cooled reactors with high capacities (in the range or above 1,000 MWel), so-called SMRs (“small modular reactor”), i.e., light-water cooled reactors of lower power rating (< 300 MWel) (pursued, e.g., in the US, Canada, and the UK), and non-light water cooled reactors (“so-called new reactor” (SNR) concepts), focusing on sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors as well as high-temperature reactors. … Actual development .. shows an industry in decline and, if commercially available, lacking economic competitiveness in low-carbon energy markets for all reactor types. Literature shows that other reactor technologies are in the coming decades unlikely to be available on a scale that could impact climate change mitigation efforts. The techno-economic feasibility of nuclear power should thus be assessed more critically in future energy system scenarios“ (abstract).

Blockchain risks: On the Security of Optimistic Blockchain Mechanisms by Jiasun Li as of August 15th, 2023 (#68): “Many new blockchain applications … adopt an “optimistic” design, that is, the system proceeds as if all participants are well-behaving … We point out that such protocols cannot be secure if all participants are rational” (abstract). “Given that alternative solutions are still technically immature, … the community either has to deviate from its pursuit of decentralization and accept a system that relies on trusted entities, or accept that fact their systems cannot be 100% secure” (p. 33).

AI chains: Determining Our Future: How Artificial Intelligence Creates a Deterministic World by Yuval Goldfus and Niklas Eder as of Aug. 9th, 2023 (#22): “… we demonstrate that AI relies on a deterministic worldview, which contradicts our most fundamental cultural narratives. AI-based decision making systems turn predictions into self-fulfilling prophecies; not simply revealing the patterns underlying our world, but creating and enforcing them, to the detriment of the underprivileged, the exceptional, the unlikely. The widespread utilisation of AI dramatically aggravates the tension between the constraints of environment, society, and past behavior, and individuals’ ability to alter the course of their lives, and to be masters of their own fate. Exposing hidden costs of the economic exploitation of AI, the article facilitates a philosophical discussion on responsible uses. It provides foundations of an ethical principle which allows us to shape the employment of AI in a way which aligns with our narratives and values” (abstract). My comment: My opinion regarding AI for sustainable investments see How can sustainable investors benefit from artificial intelligence? – GITEX Impact – Leading ESG Event 2023

Musical therapy? The Value of Openness by Joshua Della Vedova, Stephan Siegel, and Mitch Warachka as of July 5th (#48): “We construct a novel proxy for openness using MSA-level data (Sö: US Metropolitan Statistical Areas) from radio station playlists. This proxy is based on the adoption of new music and varies significantly across MSAs. Empirically, we find a robust positive association between openness and proxies of value creation such as the number of new ventures funded by venture capital, the number of successful exits by new ventures, the proportion of growth firms, and Tobin’s q. … An instrumental variables procedure confirms that openness is highly persistent with variation across MSAs being evident more than a century before the start of our sample period. … our results are especially strong for young firms that are more likely to depend on new products“ (p. 26/27).

ESG and impact investing research

Climate stress: From Climate Stress Testing to Climate Value-at-Risk: A Stochastic Approach by Baptiste Desnos, Théo Le Guenedal, Philippe Morais, and Thierry Roncalli from Amundi as of July 5th, 2023 (697): „This paper proposes a comprehensive climate stress testing approach to measure the impact of transition risk on investment portfolios. … our framework considers a bottom-up approach and is mainly relevant for the asset management industry. … we model the distribution function of the carbon tax, provide an explicit specification of indirect carbon emissions in the supply chain, introduce pass-through mechanisms of carbon prices, and compute the probability distribution of potential (economic and financial) impacts in a Monte Carlo setting. Rather than using a single or limited set of scenarios, we use a probabilistic approach to generate thousands of simulated pathways” (abstract).

Disaster flows: Flight to climatic safety: local natural disasters and global portfolio flows by Fabrizio Ferriani,  Andrea Gazzani, and Filippo Natoli from the Bank of Italy as of July 5th, 2023 (#35): “… we find that local natural disasters have significant effects on global portfolio flows. First, when disasters strike, international investors reduce their net flows to equity mutual funds exposed to affected countries. This only happens when disasters occur in the emerging economies that are more exposed to climate risk. Second, natural disasters lead investors to reduce their portfolio flows into unaffected, high-climate-risk countries in the same region as well. Third, disasters in high-climate-risk emerging economies spur investment flows into advanced countries that are relatively safer from a climate risk standpoint“ (abstract).

Carbon offsets: Portfolio Allocation and Optimization with Carbon Offsets: Is it Worth the While? by Patrick Behr, Carsten Mueller, and Papa Orge as of Aug. 10th, 2023: “We explore whether the integration of carbon offsets into investment portfolios improves performance. … our results show that investment strategies that include such offsets broadly achieve higher Sharpe Ratios than the diversified benchmark, with the long-short strategy performing best”.

Useless ratings? ESG Ratings Management by Jess Cornaggia and Kimberly Cornaggia as of July 27th, 2023 (#92): “We use data from an ESG rater that incorporates feedback from firms during the rating process and produces ratings at a monthly frequency. We … find that when the rater changes the weight it applies to certain criteria in the creation of its ESG ratings, firms respond by adjusting their reported ESG behavior in the same month. … we do not observe real changes in the likelihood that firms are embroiled in ESG controversies, or that they reduce their release of toxic chemicals because of these adjustments. Rather, it appears firms “manage” their ESG ratings for the benefit of ESG-conscious investors and customers” (p. 26/27). My comment: I do not use market leading MSCI or ISS or Sustainalytics ratings and also because of my custom rating profile (Best-in-Universe with specific approach to treat missing data) the risk of such ratings management should be low, see Noch eine Fondsboutique? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

AI and other investment research (Technology risks)

ETFs effect Treasuries: ETF Dividend Cycles by Pekka Honkanen, Yapei Zhang, and Tong Zhou as of Aug. 10th, 2023 (#340): “… in the “ETF dividend cycle,” ETFs accumulate incoming corporate dividends in MMFs (Sö: Money Market Funds)  gradually but withdraw them abruptly in large amounts when they themselves have to pay dividends to investors. … This … leads to large, sudden outflows from MMFs, forcing these funds to liquidate some of their underlying assets. We find that these liquidations are concentrated in short-term Treasury bonds. … in the aggregate time series, an ETF dividend distribution event of average size leads to increases in short-term Treasury yields by approximately 0.38-0.58 basis points. … The total value fluctuation in the Treasury market could be considerable, as ETFs distribute dividends on 205 trading days in 2019, for example” (p. 9/10).

Backtest-problems: Market Returns Are Estimated with Error. How Much Error? by Edward F. McQuarrie as of July 24th, 2023 (#30): “For periods beginning 1926, it is conventional to suppose that historical market returns are known with reasonable accuracy. This paper challenges that comfortable certainty. Multiple indexes of market return are examined to show that return estimates do not closely agree across indexes and are unstable within index over time. The paper concludes that two-decimal precision—to the whole percentage point, with an error band of plus or minus one percentage point—would better reflect the accuracy of historical estimates of annual market return” (abstract).

Easy profits: Intraday Stock Predictability Everywhere by Fred Liu, and Lars Stentoft as of July 5th, 2023 (#1167): “First, we demonstrate that the market and sector portfolios are highly predictable. … we show that portfolio profitability mostly remains high after accounting for transaction costs, and is largely orthogonal to common risk factors. … we further exploit machine learning forecasts of individual stocks by constructing machine learning intraday portfolios, and demonstrate that a long-short portfolio achieves a Sharpe ratio of up to 4 after transaction costs. … demonstrate that less liquid firms are more predictable and firms which are more actively traded and volatile tend to be more profitable … intraday predictability and profitability generally decrease as the time horizon increases” (p. 28/29). My comment: If this is so easy, why do Quant funds typically disappoint? The information is important for stock trading, though (for my trading approach see Artikel 9 Fonds: Sind 50% Turnover ok? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Satellite vs. people: Displaced by Big Data: Evidence from Active Fund Managers by Maxime Bonelli and Thierry Foucault as of Aug. 2nd, 2023 (#325): “We test whether the availability of satellite imagery data tracking retailer firms’ parking lots affects the stock picking abilities of active mutual fund managers in stocks covered by this data. … we find that active mutual funds’ stock picking ability declines in covered stocks after the introduction of satellite imagery data for these stocks. This decline is particularly pronounced for funds that heavily rely on traditional sources of expertise, indicating that these managers are at a higher risk of being displaced by new data sources“ (p. 29/30).

AI bubble? Artificial Intelligence in Finance: Valuations and Opportunities by Yosef Bonaparte as of August 15th, 2023 (#65): “First, we display the current and projected AI revenue by sector, technology type, and geography. Second, present valuation model to AI stocks and ETFs that accounts for AI sentiment as well as fundamental analyses. Our findings demonstrate that the AI revenue will pass $2.7 trillion in the next 10 years, where the service AI technology stack will contain 75% of the market share (as of 2023 it is 50% of the market share). As for AI stock valuation, we present two main models to adopt when we value stocks“ (abstract).

Bad finance: What is Forensic Finance? by John M. Griffin and Samuel Kruger as of Aug. 10th, 2023 (#467): “We survey a growing field studying aspects of finance that are potentially illegal, illicit, or immoral. Some of the literature is investigative in nature to uncover malfeasance that is recent and possibly ongoing. … The work spans newer areas such as cryptocurrencies, financial advisor and broker misconduct, and greenwashing; and newer research in established fields that are still developing, such as insider trading, structured finance, market manipulation, political connections, public finance, and corporate fraud. We highlight investigative forensic finance, common economic questions, common empirical methods, industry and political opposition, censoring, and the importance of avoiding publication biases“ (abstract).

Specialist PE: Specialization in Private Equity and Corporate Financial Distress by Benjamin Hammer, Robert Loos, Lukas Andreas Oswald, and Bernhard Schwetzler as of Aug. 7th, 2023 (#384): “We investigate the impact of industry specialization of private equity firms on financial distress risk of portfolio companies … Difference-in-differences estimates suggest an increase in distress risk through private equity backing. The effect is stronger for specialist-backed firms than for generalist-backed firms relative to a carefully matched control group. However, specialist-backed firms can afford the increase in distress risk because they are less risky than generalist-backed firms before the buyout. Overall, our findings are consistent with the idea that greater idiosyncratic risk in specialized PE portfolios induces more risk-averse target selection” (abstract).

Costly diversification: Have Alternative Investments Helped or Hurt? by Richard M. Ennis as of August 3rd, 2023 (#135): “This paper shows that since the GFC (Sö: Global Financial Crisis in 2007/2008), US public-sector pension funds’ exposure to alternative investments is strongly associated with a reduction in alpha of approximately 1.2 percentage points per year relative to passive investment. While exposure to private equity has arguably neither helped nor hurt, both real estate and hedge fund exposures have detracted significantly from performance. Institutional investors should consider whether continuing to invest in alts warrants the time, expense and reduced liquidity associated with them” (p. 11).


Advert for German investors:

Sponsor my research by investing in and/or recommending my global small/midcap mutual fund (SFDR Art. 9). The fund focuses on social SDGs and uses separate E, S and G best-in-universe minimum ratings and broad shareholder engagement with currently 28 of 30 engaged companiesFutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T; also see Active or impact investing? – (

Noch eine Fondsboutique mit Bild von Pixabay von Thomas G.

Noch eine Fondsboutique?

(„Noch eine Fondsboutique“ ist am 15. August 2023 zuerst auf LinkedIn veröffentlicht worden).

Es gibt schon so viele Fonds und Fondsboutiquen. Noch eine Fondsboutique zu gründen, scheint wenig Sinn zu machen. Trotzdem habe ich das im August 2021 auf Wunsch eines Geschäftspartners gemacht, nachdem ich ursprünglich nur Modellportfolios anbieten wollte. Ziel war es einen Fonds zu starten, der sowohl besonders gut auf ökologische aber auch auf soziale Entwicklungsziele der Vereinten Nationen (SDG) ausgerichtet ist und der zudem besonders geringe Umwelt-, Sozial- und Unternehmensführungsrisiken aufweist.

Nachhaltigkeit wichtiger als Überrendite

Ich habe viele Jahre als Fondsselekteur gearbeitet und weiß, wie schwer es ist, passive Benchmarks zu schlagen. Ich werbe auch bewusst nicht damit, Outperformance liefern zu können. Mein Ziel ist es, so nachhaltig wie möglich zu investieren. Damit strebe ich eine aktienmarkttypische Performance an. Das Modellportfolio, auf dem der Fonds basiert, hat das seit dem Start Ende 2017 weitgehend erreicht. Im Vergleich zu aktiv gemanagten Fonds funktioniert das trotz einer relativ schlechten Rendite im ersten Halbjahr 2023 durch das gute Jahr 2022 bisher auch für den Fonds.

Mein Ansatz ist sehr untypisch: Ich selektiere meine Aktien fast nur anhand von Nachhaltigkeitsinformationen. Die Diversifikation beschränke ich bewusst auf 30 Aktien, weil eine höhere Diversifikation meine Nachhaltigkeitsanforderungen verwässern würde. Trotzdem sind die Risikokennzahlen des Fonds gut.

Konsequente Nachhaltigkeit ist leichter von Small- und Midcaps erfüllbar (noch eine Fondsboutique)

Mein Fonds ist auf Unternehmen fokussiert, deren Produkte und Services möglichst gut mit mindestens einem SDG vereinbar sind. Das trifft eher auf kleinere als auf größere Unternehmen zu. Auch meine zahlreichen konsequenten Ausschüsse sind eher von spezialisierteren als von diversifizierten Unternehmen erfüllbar, so dass der Fonds überwiegend Small- und Midcaps enthält.

Unternehmen mit Hauptsitz in Ländern, die meinen Anforderungen an Gesetzmäßigkeit nicht entsprechen, bleiben unberücksichtigt. In meinem Fonds haben die USA aktuell einen Anteil von leicht über 50%. Der Eurolandanteil liegt ebenso wie der Australien-Anteil derzeit bei etwa 10%. Gesundheits- und Industrieunternehmen machen den Hauptbestandteil aus und auch (Sozial-) Immobilien und (nachhaltige) Infrastruktur sind überdurchschnittlich vertreten. Technologieunternehmen sind dagegen unterrepräsentiert im Vergleich zu traditionellen Aktienbenchmarks.

Große Unterschiede zu anderen Fonds

In Deutschland werden nur wenige global investierende Fonds mit Small- und/oder Midcap-Fokus angeboten. Im Juni habe ich mir die Portfolios potenzieller Wettbewerber angesehen und maximal vier Aktien Überscheidung gefunden.

Unterschiede zu anderen Fonds gibt es vor allem in Bezug auf das Nachhaltigkeitskonzept. Ich kenne keinen anderen Fonds mit so strengen und so vielen Ausschlüssen. Ich kenne auch keinen anderen branchendiversifizierten Fonds, der strenge Best-in-Universe ESG-Ratings nutzt. Dabei werden nur Unternehmen mit besonders geringen absoluten ESG-Risiken ausgewählt. Fast alle anderen Fonds nutzen einen laxeren Best-in-Class ESG-Ratingansatz, bei dem – abhängig vom jeweiligen Marktsegment – relativ gute ESG-Risiken ausreichen.

Viele Fonds haben zudem nur Mindestanforderungen an aggregierte ESG-Ratings und nicht explizit separate Mindestanforderungen an Umwelt-, Sozial- und Unternehmensführungsratings, wie es bei meinem Fonds der Fall ist. Auf Basis eines detaillierten Nachhaltigkeits-Engagementkonzeptes, das auch auf andere Stakeholder wie Mitarbeiter einbezieht, bin ich zudem aktuell mit 28 von 30 Unternehmen in einem aktiven Dialog.

Für die meisten Fondsselekteure ist mein Fonds aber noch zu jung und mit knapp über 10 Millionen Fondsvermögen noch zu klein. Durch meinen regelbasieren Ansatz kann ich aber auch als Ein-Personen Fondsboutique gemeinsam mit meinen Fondspartnern Deutsche Wertpapiertreuhand und Monega sowie mit meinem Beratungs- und IT-Partner QAP Analytic Solutions und meinem Datenlieferanten alle Anforderungen gut erfüllen.

Ich bin sehr zuversichtlich, dass mein Fonds eine gute Zukunft hat und möchte dauerhaft in großem Umfang im Fonds investiert bleiben.

Weiterführende Informationen siehe und z.B. Active or impact investing? – (

Disclaimer zu „Noch eine Fondsboutique)

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