Archiv der Kategorie: Asset Allocation

Halbjahres-Renditen Illustration von Gerd Altmann von Pixabay

Halbjahres-Renditen: Divergierende Nachhaltigkeitsperformances

Halbjahres-Renditen Illustration von Gerd Altmann von Pixabay

Halbjahres-Renditen der Soehnholz ESG Portfolios: Vereinfacht zusammengefasst haben die Trendfolge-, ESG-ETF- und SDG-ETF-Aktienportfolios relativ schlecht rentiert. Dafür performten passive Asset Allokationen, ESG-Anleihenportfolios und vor allem direkte SDG Portfolios und der FutureVest Equity SDG Fonds sehr gut.

Halbjahres-Renditen: Passive schlägt aktive Allokation

Halbjahres-Renditen: Das regelbasierte „most passive“ Multi-Asset Weltmarkt ETF-Portfolio hat +7,2% (+5,4% in Q1) gemacht. Das ist ähnlich wie Multi-Asset ETFs (+7,0%) und besser als aktive Mischfonds mit +6,0% (+4,8% in Q1). Das ebenfalls breit diversifizierte ESG ETF-Portfolio hat mit +6,5% (+4,2% in Q1) ebenfalls überdurchschnittlich rentiert.

Nachhaltige ETF-Portfolios: Anleihen gut, Aktien nicht so gut, SDG schwierig

Das ESG ETF-Portfolio ex Bonds lag mit +9,3% (+6,1% in Q1) erheblich hinter traditionellen Aktien-ETFs mit +14,7% (+10,6% in Q1) und aktiv gemanagten globalen Aktienfonds mit +13,7% zurück.

Mit -0,9% (-0,3% in Q1) rentierte das sicherheitsorientierte ESG ETF-Portfolio Bonds (EUR) wie aktive Fonds mit -0,9% (-0,7% in Q1). Das renditeorientierte ESG ETF-Portfolio Bonds hat mit +1,6% (+1,6% in Q1) dagegen nennenswert besser abgeschnitten als vergleichbare aktiv gemanagte Fonds (-1.2%).

Das aus thematischen Aktien-ETFs zusammengestellte SDG ETF-Portfolio lag mit -1,4% (-0,2% in Q1) stark hinter diversifizierten Weltaktienportfolios aber noch vor einem relativ neuen Multithemen SDG ETF, der -4,8% im ersten Halbjahr verlor. Besonders thematische Investments mit ökologischem Fokus liefen auch im zweiten Quartal 2024 nicht gut.  

Halbjahres-Renditen: Sehr gute direkte ESG SDG Portfolios und Fonds

Das auf Small- und Midcaps fokussierte Global Equities ESG SDG hat im ersten Halbjahr mit +8,4% (1,4% in Q1) im Vergleich zu Small- (+1,4%) und Midcap-ETFs (+0,6%) und aktiven Aktienfonds (+5,8%) sehr gut abgeschnitten. Das Global Equities ESG SDG Social Portfolio hat mit +6,3% (+3,7% in Q1) ebenfalls sehr gut abgeschnitten.

Mein auf globales Smallcaps fokussierter FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R Fonds (Start 2021) hat im ersten Halbjahr 2024 eine ebenfalls sehr gute Rendite von +6,8% (+2,6% in Q1) erreicht (weitere Informationen wie z.B. auch den aktuellen detaillierten Engagementreport siehe FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T und My fund – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com).

Für Trendfolgeportfolios haben die zur Risikosenkung gedachten Signale vor allem Rendite gekostet, weil die Portfolios nach dem Marktausstieg aufgrund negativer Signale nicht von dem schnellen und starken Marktaufschwung profitieren konnten.

Mehr Details sind hier zu finden: Soehnholz ESG, siehe auch Excel-Download: Historische Zeitreihen der Portfolios.

Brown banks: clker free vector images from Pixabay

Brown banks? Researchpost 180

Brown banks picture from clker free vector images from Pixabay

Brown banks: 9x new research on CO2-costs, climate policy effects, Mittelstand climate, stock prices, ESG, CSR, gender diversity, green projects, and listed real estate (# shows the number of SSRN full research paper downloads as of June 13th, 2024)

Social and ecological research

Correct CO2 costs? Synthesis of evidence yields high social cost of carbon due to structural model variation and uncertainties by Frances C. Moore, Moritz A. Drupp, James Rising, Simon Dietz, Ivan Rudik, Gernot Wagner as of June 10th, 2024 (#9): “Estimating the cost to society from a ton of CO2 – termed the social cost of carbon (SCC) – requires connecting a model of the climate system with a representation of the economic and social effects of changes in climate, and the aggregation of diverse, uncertain impacts across both time and space. … we perform a comprehensive synthesis of the evidence on the SCC, combining 1823 estimates of the SCC from 147 studies with a survey of authors of these studies. The distribution of published 2020 SCC values is wide and substantially right-skewed, showing evidence of a heavy right tail (truncated mean of $132). … we train a random forest model on variation in the literature and use it to generate a synthetic SCC distribution that more closely matches expert assessments of appropriate model structure and discounting. This synthetic distribution has a mean of $284 per ton CO2, respectively, for a 2020 pulse year (5%–95% range: $32–$874), higher than all official government estimates … “ (abstract).

Strict policy effects: Climate and Environmental Policy Risk and Debt by Karol Kempa and Ulf Moslener as of April 25th, 2024 (#95): “… we find that policy determines how firms’ externalities, such as CO2 emissions and different types of environmental pollution, translate into credit risks and corporate bond pricing. The size as well as direction of the effect of externalities on credit risk and bond spreads depends on the stringency of policy. Ambitious policy increases the credit risk and costs of debt for dirty firms and decreases both for clean firms. Lenient regulation can have the opposite effect. … Finally, we find that a higher likelihood of stringent climate policies in the future increases the impact of CO2 emissions on credit risk“ (abstract).

Mittelstandsklima: Die unternehmerische Akzeptanz von Klimaschutzregulierung von Markus Rieger-Fels, Susanne Schlepphorst, Christian Dienes, Rodi Akalan, Annette Icks und Hans-Jürgen Wolter vom 3. Juni 2024: „Nur eine starke Volkswirtschaft kann die für den Klimaschutz erforderlichen Ressourcen aufbringen. Die Unternehmen sind dabei in der Mehrzahl bereit, diesen Weg mitzugehen. Speziell die mittelständischen Unternehmerinnen und Unternehmer weisen tendenziell eine hohe intrinsische Motivation auf, zum Schutz der Umwelt und des Klimas beizutragen. Das ist wichtig, da den Unternehmen stets ein strategischer Spielraum in der Umsetzung bleibt. Das Spektrum reicht dabei von einer Standortverlagerung über eine Produktionseinstellung und dem bewussten Ignorieren von Vorgaben bis hin zur freiwilligen Übererfüllung von Regulierungen …“ (p. 26/27). My comment: The reaction of global “Mittelstand” companies regarding my shareholder engagement activities (see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (prof-soehnholz.com)) is more open than I thought

ESG investment research (in: Brown banks)

Brown banks? Banking on climate chaos – Fossil fuel finance report 2024 by Urgewald as of May 13th, 2024: “The 60 biggest banks globally committed $705 B USD to companies conducting business in fossil fuels in 2023, bringing the total since the Paris agreement to $6.9 T. These banks committed $347 billion in 2023 and $3.3 trillion total since 2016 to expansion companies – those companies that the Global Oil & Gas Exit List and the Global Coal Exit List report having expansion plans. … Total financing committed for companies with methane gas (LNG) import and export capacity under development, increased from $116.0 billion in 2022 to $121.0 billion in 2023. … 15.4 % of the financing by dollar value issued in 2023 matures after 2030; 3.7 % matures after 2050. Financing for fossil fuel extraction or infrastructure that matures after 2030 faces a risk of becoming stranded … several banks, including Bank of America and PNC, rolled back their previous exclusions in 2023 (see p. 32). Banks continue to prioritize net zero targets, though early research suggests that these targets, like other bank policies, leave loopholes for ongoing fossil fuel finance (see p. 35)” (p. 4). My comment: Check out you bank based on the detailed data: Banking on Climate Chaos 2024 – Banking on Climate Chaos

Climate correlations: The Cold Hard Cash Effect: Temperature’s Role in Shaping Stock Market Outcomes by Yosef Bonaparte as of April 15th, 2024 (#8): “The analysis conducted across 67 countries …highlight that warmer climates are linked to lower stock market returns, with a notable economic significance exceeding 9.12%, and reduced volatility, demonstrating an economic significance of at least 36.9%. Conversely, the Sharpe ratio, serving as a gauge of risk-adjusted returns, displays a positive co-movement with temperature change, indicating an economic significance surpassing 1.63%. Furthermore, cold countries earn greater stock market returns but are more negatively affected by temperature changes” (p. 16).

ESG or CSR? Combining CSR and ESG for Sustainable Business Transformation: When Corporate Purpose Gets a Reality Check by David Risi, Eva Schlindwein and Christopher Wickert as of June 7th, 2024 (#135): “ESG is a compliance-driven and metrics-oriented idea for stimulating sustainable business transformation. It focuses on reducing negative impacts and improving performance in specific areas. Moreover, it provides a reality check on how a firm is doing in light of increasing societal expectations for greater sustainability. By contrast, CSR is often viewed as a more values-based and internally driven approach to sustainability. It provides a strategy for developing a sense of meaning and purpose for responsible business conduct that reflects a firm’s values and identity… In their mutual integration, CSR and ESG create synergy since they can compensate for their respective weaknesses” (p. 12/13).

Good diversity: Board Gender Diversity and Investment Efficiency: Global Evidence from 83 Country-Level Interventions by Dave (Young Il) Baik, Clara Xiaoling Chen, and David Godsell as of May 4th, 2024 (#177): “We document increases in firms’ investment efficiency after the adoption of BGD interventions relative to firms in countries that do not concurrently adopt BGD interventions. Our results are economically significant, suggesting that treatment firms reduce inefficient investment by 0.6 percent of total assets or 6.5 percent of total investment and are 4 percentage points more likely to have above-median investment efficiency after interventions relative to firms in countries not concurrently adopting interventions“ (p. 33). My comment: I recently divested from a company because the social rating declined which was mainly due to low gender worker and board diversity

Impact investment research

Small climate steps: Inside the Blackbox of Firm Environmental Efforts: Evidence from Emissions Reduction Initiatives by Catrina Achilles, Peter Limbach, Michael Wolff and Aaron Yoon as of June 7th, 2024 (#35): “This study uses granular data at the firm’s project level, provided by the Carbon Disclosure Project, to present primary evidence on what large U.S. firms actually do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. … the majority of emissions reduction projects require small investments – the median investment per project is $127,000, with the median of firms’ total annual investment in such projects amounting to only 0.2% of net income. Second, 63% of all projects have payback periods of at most three years, while just about 10% of all projects pay off after more than ten years. These short-term projects mostly target energy efficiency in buildings or production, and typically do not involve new transformative technology and low-carbon energy. … our results suggest that short-term emissions reduction projects generate more CO2e and monetary savings per year, yield greater NPVs, and predict higher environment-related ESG ratings in the near future. However, total CO2e savings over the projects’ lifetime are at least 25% lower for short-term payback projects. Firms that exhibit the most CO2e savings have a mix of short- and longer-term projects, while firms exclusively implementing only short-term or longer-term projects save significantly less CO2e. We also study how characteristics of firms’ emissions reduction projects, such as their payback period and efficiency in saving CO2e, evolve over time and show which firms implement more short-term projects …. the evidence presented in this paper suggests that the majority of large U.S. firms do not act … long-term oriented” (p. 31/32).  

Other investment research (in: Brown banks)

Real estate hedge: U.S. and European Listed Real Estate as an Inflation Hedge by Jan Muckenhaupt, Martin Hoesli and Bing Zhu as of May 28th, 2024 (#27): “This paper investigates the inflation-hedging capability of an important asset class, i.e., listed real estate (LRE), using data from 1990 to the end of 2023 … Listed real estate provides an effective hedge against inflation in the long run, both in crisis and non-crisis periods. In the short term, listed real estate only hedges against inflation in stable periods. LRE effectively serves as a hedge against inflation shocks, particularly protecting against unexpected inflation from the first month and against energy inflation during stable periods. While stocks surpass LRE in long-term inflation protection and LRE has short-term benefits, gold distinguishes itself from LRE by offering reliable long-run protection, but only in economic downturns” (abstract). My comment: My “most-passive” multi-asset ETF portfolios have a target allocation of 10-12% Listed Real Estate, 5 to 6 % Listed Infrastructure and 5% US Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities

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Werbehinweis

Unterstützen Sie meinen Researchblog, indem Sie in meinen globalen Small-Cap-Anlagefonds (SFDR Art. 9) investieren und/oder ihn empfehlen. Der Fonds konzentriert sich auf die Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung (SDG: Investment impact) und verwendet separate E-, S- und G-Best-in-Universe-Mindestratings sowie ein breites Aktionärsengagement (Investor impact) bei derzeit 29 von 30 Unternehmen:  My fund – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com). Zur jetzt wieder guten Performance siehe zum Beispiel Fonds-Portfolio: Mein Fonds | CAPinside

Private company ESG: Illustrated with picture of baby shoes by armennano from Pixabay

Private company ESG: Researchpost #178

Private company ESG: 10x new research on climate risk and nudging, private company ESG, ESG rating changes, AI and greenwashing, transformation, political engagement and impact asset allocation (# shows number of SSRN full paper downloads as of May 30th, 2024)

Social and ecological research

More climate risks? The globalization of climate change: amplification of climate-related physical risks through input-output linkages by Stephan Fahr, Richard Senner, and Andrea Vismara as of May 21st, 2024 (#164): “While global supply chains … risks across countries has received surprisingly little attention. … The findings suggest that direct GDP loss estimates can severely underestimate the ultimate impact of physical risk because trade can lead to losses that are up to 30 times higher … than what looking at the direct impacts would suggest. However, trade can also mitigate losses if substitutability across country-sectors is possible“ (abstract).

Easy climate nudging: Misperceived Social Norms and Willingness to Act Against Climate Change by Peter Andre Teodora Boneva Felix Chopra Armin Falk as of May 21st, 2024 (#237): “Americans vastly underestimate the prevalence of climate norms in the US …. We show that a relatively simple, scalable, and cost-effective intervention – namely informing respondents about the actual prevalence of climate norms in the US – reduces these misperceptions and encourages climate-friendly behavior. Importantly, we find that this intervention is depolarizing and particularly effective for climate change skeptics, the group of people who are commonly difficult to reach. Our results suggest that informing people about the behavior of relevant peers constitutes a particularly effective tool to target, reach, and convince skeptics“ (p. 29/30).

Private company ESG? Do ESG disclosure mandates affect the competitive position of public and private firms? by Peter Fiechter, Jörg-Markus Hitz, and Nico Lehmann as of May 23rd, 2024 (#46): “… we find that the staggered adoption of ESG disclosure mandates in different economies around the globe has an economically meaningful impact on competition in these domestic markets, as private suppliers gain contracts at the expense of public suppliers. … (i) ESG regulated corporate customers shift contracts from public to private suppliers, consistent with a preference for ESG opaque over ESG transparent supply chains, and (ii) adverse price competition effects for treated suppliers due to incremental direct and indirect costs associated with the ESG disclosure mandate. We also show that treatment effects are concentrated in contractual relations with suppliers of low importance to their corporate customers” (p. 27).

ESG investment research (in: Private company ESG)

ESG mechanics (1): Sovereign Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing: Chasing Elusive Sustainability by Ekaterina Gratcheva and Bryan Gurhy from the International Monetary Fund as of May 23rd, 2024 (#35): “Most sovereign ESG scores used by the industry focus on evaluating sustainability risks that could impact financial returns – and not those that impact positive sustainability outcomes. … This mismatch has prompted regulatory bodies in various jurisdictions, including the FCA (2023), to consider stricter regulations governing the use of terms such as „responsible“ and „sustainable“ in investment fund nomenclature. … ESG factors … have limited effectiveness in reducing national emissions or advancing the achievement of SDGs” (p. 24). My comment see Neues Greenwashing-Research | CAPinside

ESG mechanics (2): Do Investors Respond to Mechanical Changes in ESG Ratings by Seungju Choi, Fabrizio Ferri, and Daniele Macciocchi as of May 24th, 2024 (#98): “… we study whether investors change their portfolio holdings in response to mechanical changes in ESG ratings––i.e., changes independent of concurrent changes in a firm’s actual ESG activities. To do so, we exploit a change in Refinitiv’s ESG ratings mechanically driven by the expansion of its coverage in 2015. We first document that the coverage expansion automatically and substantially improved the relative position – and thus the ESG rating – of the firms already covered by Refinitiv. Next, we show that these firms did not exhibit any improvement in their ESG performance (as measured using actual ESG outcomes, ESG ratings by other providers, as well as our estimated Refinitiv’s ESG rating absent the coverage expansion). … the probability of being selected by an ESG fund is higher for treatment firms relative to control firms, whereas we do not find that ESG funds increase their holdings of treated stocks already in their portfolio. These findings suggest that ESG funds use ESG ratings mostly in the selection process rather than the portfolio weighting process. … our analyses show that passive ESG funds (those with an index-based investing strategy) and active ESG funds that are more “passive” in their selection strategy (due to resource constraints) are more likely to add to their portfolio firms that experience an increase in ESG ratings independent of concurrent changes in the firm’s ESG activities” (p. 20/21). My comment: I f my ESG rating provider updates its methodology and company ESG ratings change only because of this change, I still react regarding my investment/divestment portfolio decisions. The reason: I assume (and can usually confirm) that the updated rating methdodology I better than the old methodology. “Rule-change” examples see Divestments: 49 bei 30 Aktien meines Artikel 9 Fonds – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

AI vs Greenwashing: Combining AI and Domain Expertise to Assess Corporate Climate Transition Disclosures by Chiara Colesanti Senni, Tobias Schimanski, Julia Bingler,  Jingwei Ni, and Markus Leippold as of May 14th, 2024 (#417): “… the lack of one clear reference framework paves the way for inconsistencies in transition plans and the risk of greenwashing. We propose a set of 64 common ground indicators from 28 different transition plan disclosure frameworks to comprehensively assess transition plans … Applying the tool to 143 reports from the carbon-intensive CA100+ companies, we find that companies tend to disclose more indicators related to target setting (talk) but fewer indicators related to the concrete implementation of strategies (walk)“ (abstract). My comment: I am not sure if there is an added value compared to the approaches of good ESG rating providers.

Impact investment research (in: Private company ESG)

More transformation? Consistency or Transformation? Finance in Climate Agreements by Sebastian Rink, Maurice Dumrose and Youri Matheis as of May 21st, 2024 (#21): “Our paper critically examines the role of responsible institutional investors… we show that responsible investors tend to avoid high-emitting companies in their portfolios. Companies with higher ownership by responsible investors do not decarbonize faster. In contrast, companies’ ESG ratings improve significantly with higher responsible investor ownership. This highlights a focus by responsible investors on these widely used ESG metrics instead of real economy decarbonization“ (abstract).

Private company ESG: Entrepreneurial Finance and Sustainability: Do Institutional Investors Impact the ESG Performance of SMEs? by Wolfgang Drobetz, Sadok El Ghoul, Omrane Guedhami, Jan P. Hackmann, and Paul P. Momtaz as of May 22nd, 2024 (#83): “We show that … investor backing by venture capital and private equity funds leads to an increase in SMEs’ (Sö: Small and medium size enterprises) externally validated ESG scores compared to matched non-investor-backed SMEs. Consistent with ESG-as-insurance theory, we find that the ESG performance of SMEs with a higher probability of failure, especially low-revenue SMEs and SMEs with high revenue volatility, is more likely to benefit from institutional investor backing. The positive effect is non-linear: SMEs with high ex-ante ESG performance are more likely to further improve ESG policies following investor backing, while SMEs with low ex-ante ESG performance are unlikely to improve“ (abstract). My comment: With my shareholder engagement focus on supplier ESG ratings improvement I want to leverage my engagement efforts, see Supplier engagement – Opinion post #211 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Political engagement: Collaborative investor engagement with policymakers: Changing the rules of the game? by Camila Yamahaki and Catherine Marchewitz as of April 12th, 2024 (#41): “… this article analyzes what drives institutional investors to engage with government entities and what challenges they find in the process. … We identify a trend that investors conduct policy engagement to fulfill their fiduciary duty, improve investment risk management, and create an enabling environment for sustainable investments. As for engagement challenges, investors report the longer-term horizon, a perceived limited influence toward governments, the need for capacity building for investors and governments, as well as the difficulty in accessing government representatives“ (abstract).

Impact asset allocation: How sustainable fnance creates impact: transmission mechanisms to the real economy by Ben Caldecott, Alex Clark, Elizabeth Harnett, and Felicia Liu as of May 23rd, 2024: “Our findings suggest that fixed income, notably sustainability-linked bonds and loans, could present the greatest opportunity for impact if they are appropriately designed, passively-managed public equities the least, and hedge funds strategies the most variable. … we suggest how this analysis might be applied to strategic asset allocation by investors with multi-asset portfolios, suggesting that the addition of an “impact budget” as a way of operationalising these decisions” (p.27). My comment see Sustainable investment = radically different? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com) or Nachhaltige Geldanlage = Radikal anders? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

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Werbehinweis (in: Private company ESG):

Unterstützen Sie meinen Researchblog, indem Sie in meinen globalen Small-Cap-Anlagefonds (SFDR Art. 9) investieren und/oder ihn empfehlen. Der Fonds mit aktuell sehr positiver Performance konzentriert sich auf die Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung (SDG: Investment impact) und verwendet separate E-, S- und G-Best-in-Universe-Mindestratings sowie ein breites Aktionärsengagement (Investor impact) bei derzeit 28 von 30 Unternehmen: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T und My fund – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Financial health: Picture from Riad Tchakou from Pixabay

Financial health: Researchpost #177

Financial health: Illustration from Riad Tchakou from Pixabay

9x new research on financial health, startups, circular economy, family firms, green revenues, green bonds, green CAPM, and index funds (# shows SSRN full paper downloads as of May 23rd, 2024)

Social and ecological research: Financial health and more

Financial health 1: Connecting Mental and Financial Wellbeing – Insights for Employers by Surya Kolluri, Emily Watson and High Lantern Group as of May15th,2024 (#29): “Financial health is deeply intertwined with mental health. Financial stresses, such as debt, significantly contribute to mental health challenges. This stress affects personal wellbeing and has profound implications on workplace productivity and employee engagement, affecting personal relationships, work performance, and overall wellbeing.  Additionally, poor mental health also hinders effective decision-making by impairing the cognitive capacity crucial for evaluating financial options and risks which can lead to impulsive spending, poor financial planning, and increased vulnerability to stressinduced short-term financial decisions. By providing integrated education and support, employers play a crucial role in positively addressing the mutually reinforcing financial and mental health relationship” (p. 2).

Financial health 2: New insights into improving financial well-being by Jennifer Coats and Vickie Bajtelsmit as of May 1st, 2024 (#25): “Individual discount rates, risk preferences, and financial self-confidence consistently contribute to different indicators of FWB (Sö: Financial well-being). In particular, we find significant evidence that both the discount rate and self-confidence in financial decision-making have strong impacts on the dimensions of FWB. Financial literacy has an important moderating role in relation to these two drivers and to income. Personality traits, such as conscientiousness and neuroticism are influential in alternative ways across models” (abstract). … “The most important contribution of this study is the finding that individual discount rates play such an important role in determining composite financial well-being … Financial literacy appears to be necessary but not sufficient to enhance FWB. In particular, if individuals lack the confidence and/or patience to make sound financial decisions, the influence of financial literacy on FWB is limited” (p. 30).

Startup-migration: The Startup Performance Disadvantage(s) in Europe: Evidence from Startups Migrating to the U.S. by Stefan Weik as off Sept. 27th, 2023 (#202): “This paper explores the main drawbacks of the European startup ecosystem using a new dataset on European startups moving to the U.S. … Empirical evidence shows that startups moving to the U.S. receive much more capital, produce slightly more innovation, and are grow much bigger before exit than startups staying in Europe. More surprisingly, I find that U.S. migrants do not increase their revenues for many years after migration, instead incur higher financial losses throughout, and do not significantly improve their likelihood of achieving an IPO or successful exit. Additional evidence shows that large parts of the innovation, net income loss, and growth difference can be explained by U.S. migrants’ funding advantage. … European startups are only marginally, if at all, hindered by technology, product, and exit markets, but that the main disadvantage is the VC financing market“ (p. 24/25).

Full circle? The Circular Economy by Don Fullerton as of May 16th, 2024 (#47): “Research about the circular economy is dominated by engineers, architects, and social scientists in fields other than economics. The concepts they study can be useful in economic models of policies – to reduce virgin materials extraction, to encourage green design, and to make better use of products in ways that reduce waste. This essay attempts to discuss circular economy in economists’ language about market failures, distributional equity, and policies that can raise economic welfare by making the appropriate tradeoffs between fixing those market failures and achieving other social goals” (p. 15).

ESG investment research (in: “Financial health”)

Green families: Family-Controlled Firms and Environmental Sustainability: All Bite and No Bark by Alexander Dyck, Karl V. Lins, Lukas Roth, Mitch Towner, and Hannes F. Wagner as of May15th, 2024 (#11): “We find that family-controlled firms have carbon emissions that are indistinguishable from those of widely held firms. … Further, we find that family-controlled firms have significantly lower carbon emissions than widely held firms in countries where a government has not taken significant climate actions and there is thus a substantial risk of policy tightening in the future. … Our paper also finds that, relative to widely held firms, family-controlled firms are significantly less likely to disclose and perform well against the myriad qualitative metrics that comprise a large component of ESG rating agency scores …” (p. 26/27). My comment: With more supply chain transparence ESG-ratings of public and privately held suppliers will become much more important, see Supplier engagement – Opinion post #211 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Green institutional benefits: In the Pursuit of Greenness: Drivers and Consequences of Green Corporate Revenues by Ugur Lel as of May 19th, 2024 (#142): “Firms are increasingly turning to green products and services in recent years …Drawing on an extensive dataset spanning from 2008 to 2023 across 49 countries, … I find that foreign institutional ownership, especially from countries with rigorous environmental regulations and norms, significantly boosts green revenue intensity. … These effects are mostly present in carbon-intensive firms …. I also observe a significant increase in green revenues following the implementation of EU Green Deal, accompanied by improvements in CO2 emissions and other environmental policies. There is also an immediate effect of green revenues on profit margins but only for firms in clean industries” (p. 26/27).

Green reputation pays: The reputation effect of green bond issuance and its impact on the cost of capital by Aleksandar Petreski, Dorothea Schäfer, and Andreas Stephan as of Nov. 19th, 2023 (#61): “This study provides a deeper understanding of the mechanism behind the established negative relationship between green bond issuances and financing costs. The paper hypothesized that this negative relationship can be explained by reputation effects that arise from repeated green bond issuances. … The econometric results … using Swedish real estate firms confirm that it is not the occasional issuance of green bonds but the repeated green bond issuance that reduces the firm’s cost of capital. This effect is also found for the cost of equity. … Additional econometric results confirm the effect of green-bond issuance on reputation using ESG scores as a reputation proxy variable. We find that all aspects of the ESG composite score—environmental, social, and governance pillars—are positively affected by a long track record of green bond issuance, whereas only the governance pillar of ESG is positively affected by a long track record of non-green issuance“ (p. 18).

ESG investment model: Modelling Sustainable Investing in the CAPM by Thorsten Hens and Ester Trutwin as of April 22nd, 2024 (#202): “We relate to existing studies and use a parsimonious Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) in which we model different aspects of sustainable investing. The basic reasoning of the CAPM, that investors need to be compensated for the bad aspects of assets applies so that investors demand higher returns for investments that are harmful from an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) perspective. Moreover, if investors have heterogeneous views on the ESG–characteristics of a company, the market requires higher returns for that company, provided richer investors care more about ESG than poorer investors, which is known as the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC). Besides the effect on asset prices, we find that sustainable investing has an impact on a firm’s production decision through two channels – the growth and the reform channel. Sustainable investment reduces the size of dirty firms through the growth channel and makes firms cleaner through the reform channel. We illustrate the magnitude of these effects with numerical examples calibrated to real–world data, providing a clear indication of the high economic relevance of the effects” (abstract).

Traditional investment research

Smart investors: Is Money in Index Funds Smart? by Jeffrey A. Busse, Kiseo Chung, and Badrinath Kottimukkalur as of Jan. 17th, 2024 (#157): “Passive funds with inflows generate positive risk-adjusted returns during the subsequent year and outperform funds with outflows, consistent with the notion that index fund money is “smart.” Similar outperformance during the next year is not present in active funds seeing higher inflows. Passive funds that outperform see high inflows even though their performance does not persist after accounting for size, value, and momentum. These findings suggest that the “smart money” effect in passive funds reflects genuine investor ability …“ (abstract).

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Werbehinweis (in. „Financial health“)

Unterstützen Sie meinen Researchblog, indem Sie in meinen globalen Small-Cap-Anlagefonds (SFDR Art. 9) investieren und/oder ihn empfehlen. Der Fonds mit aktuell sehr positiver Performance konzentriert sich auf die Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung (SDG: Investment impact) und verwendet separate E-, S- und G-Best-in-Universe-Mindestratings sowie ein breites Aktionärsengagement (Investor impact) bei derzeit 27 von 30 Unternehmen: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T und My fund – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Free Lunch: Illustration mit magischem Viereck der Kapitalanlage

Free Lunch: Diversifikation nein, Nachhaltigkeit ja?

Free Lunch: Es gibt viele Geldanlagemythen. Zu den hartnäckigsten gehört die Annahme, dass Streuung über unterschiedliche Geldanlagen bzw. Diversifikation viel bringt und nichts kostet. Das wird oft als „Free Lunch“ bezeichnet.

Aber gute Geldanlagen müssen nicht nur Rendite-, Volatilitäts- und Korrelationserwartungen sondern realistische Renditen und Verlustrisiken aber auch Liquidität und Nachhaltigkeit berücksichtigen.

Woher kommt die Free Lunch Annahme?

Angeblich hat der Nobelpreisträger Harry Markowitz erstmals den Satz vom „Free Lunch“ genutzt. Seine Theorie besagt vereinfacht, dass eine Ergänzung eines Portfolios um eine weitere nicht-voll korrelierte (gleichlaufende) Geldanlage die Relation von Rendite zu Risiko (als Sharpe Ratio gemessen) verbessert. Viele Geldanlagespezialisten berufen sich auch heute noch auf diese „Moderne Portfoliotheorie“ von 1952.

Seit einigen Jahren können auch deutsche Privatanleger kostengünstige und stark diversifizierte Exchange Traded Fonds (ETF) kaufen. Viele Anbieter von Geldanlagen werben damit, dass ETFs oder ihre (etwas) anderen bzw. alternative Geldanlagen zur Diversifikation von Portfolios beiträgt. Beide Arten von Anbietern sprechen oft von Free Lunches.

Diversifikation über Anlageklassen: Illiquiditätskosten

Auch viele professionelle Anleger begründen Investitionen ihrer Portfolios in Anlagesegmente wie Immobilien, Private Equity, Private Debt oder Hedge Fonds damit, dass sie zusätzliche Diversifikation anstreben, um ihre Portfoliorisiken breiter zu streuen und damit zu senken.

Ob solche Investments nach allen ihren Kosten die Renditen von Portfolios verbessern, ist strittig (vgl. aktuell z.B. Ennis oder Isil Erel/Thomas Flanagan/Michael Weisbach). Unstrittig ist, dass solche Diversifikationen in wenig korrelierte Geldanlagen die Wertschwankungen (Volatilität) von Portfolios grundsätzlich reduzieren. Das stimmt aber nicht immer und gilt nicht unbedingt auch für Verluste, wie zum Beispiel die Finanzkrise von 2008 zeigte.

Außerdem sind die oben genannten alternativen Investments meistens wenig liquide. Das bedeutet, dass man sie nicht schnell verkaufen kann, wenn man das möchte. Illiquidität ist ein Risiko, welches bei der Portfoliooptimierung von Markowitz und auch vielen Weiterentwicklungen nicht adäquat berücksichtigt wird (Gleiches gilt für Nachhaltigkeit). Dabei ist es offensichtlich, dass eine Diversifikation mit nicht-liquiden Investments Anlegerrisiken erhöht. Damit ist Diversifikation kein „Free Lunch“ mehr.

Illiquiditätsrisiken von Impact Investments

Impact Investments gelten als die nachhaltigsten Investments. Dabei geht es in der anspruchsvollsten Variante darum, dass Geldanleger auf ihre Investments einwirken sollen, um sie (noch) nachhaltiger zu machen. Lange Jahre wurden nur illiquide Investments als Impactinvestments anerkannt. Das liegt daran, dass bei illiquiden bzw. Private Capital Investments den Empfängern neues Kapital zukommt. Das ist bei liquiden bzw. börsennotierten Investments, bei denen anderen Anlegern Wertpapiere abgekauft werden, nicht der Fall. Allerdings ist es oft schwer, diesen Impact bzw. das Impactpotenzial verlässlich zu messen und konkreten Investoren zuzurechnen.

Illiquide impact Investments können mit großen Risiken behaftet sein. Wie alle illiquiden Investments haben sie den Nachteil, dass man sie nicht schnell verkaufen kann, wenn man Fehlentwicklungen erkennt und künftige Risiken reduzieren will. Das kann häufiger vorkommen, als man erwartet (vgl. Impact divestment: Illiquidity hurts (prof-soehnholz.com)). Wenn zudem bekannt wird, dass Anleger auf längere Zeit an nicht (mehr) nachhaltige Investments gebunden sind, kann das zu Reputationsverlusten führen.

Kein Free Lunch: Erhebliche Nachhaltigkeits-Diversifikationskosten innerhalb von Anlagesegmenten

Seitdem es kostengünstige ETFs (Exchange Traded Fonds) gibt, bin ich ein Fan solcher Produkte. Beim Start meines eigenen Unternehmens in 2015 wollte ich eigentlich nur Portfolios aus ETFs anbieten. Diesen Plan habe ich aber schnell geändert. Der Grund war mein Wunsch, möglichst nachhaltige Portfolios anzubieten.

Mein Ende 2015 gestartetes ESG ETF-Portfolios war zwar wohl das erste derartige Portfolio, das öffentlich angeboten wurde. Mit dem Fokus auf relativ strenge Socally Responsible Investment (SRI) ETFs ist es auch ein besonders konsequent nachhaltiges Portfolio. Allerdings war nach der Durchschau auf die in den ETFs enthaltenen Wertpapiere schnell klar, dass auch solche ETFs viele Aktien und Anleihen enthalten, die ich nicht für ausreichend nachhaltig halte. Das liegt vor allem daran, dass die ETFs Wertpapiere aus möglichst allen Branchen enthalten sollen, damit die Abweichungen (Tracking Error) zu vergleichbaren nicht-nachhaltigen Indizes nicht zu groß werden. So findet man in vielen angeblich nachhaltigen ETFs Wertpapiere von fossilen Energieproduzenten und/oder anderen Emittenten mit nicht-nachhaltigen Produkten oder Services.

Positive Diversifikationsbegrenzung und Nachhaltigkeits- Free Lunch

Ich habe mich deshalb 2016 entschlossen, auch direkte Aktienportfolios anzubieten. Diese sollten möglichst nachhaltig sein. Ich habe deshalb mehrere tausend Aktien nach meiner eigenen Nachhaltigkeitsdefinition in eine Reihenfolge gebracht. Eine Kernfrage war dabei, wie viele Aktien nötig sind, um ein relativ risikoarmes Portfolio zu bekommen, das marktübliche Renditen erreichen kann. Wissenschaftliche Studien nennen dazu meistens Zahlen von 5 bis 50 Aktien. Ich habe mich für 30 Aktien entschieden, weil der Grenznutzen zusätzlicher Diversifikation in Bezug auf Rendite bzw. Risiko sehr gering ist.

Es gibt drei wichtige Gründe für die Beschränkung der Diversifikation. Anders als bei ETFs können mehr Aktien in einem direkten Aktienportfolio zu nennenswert höheren (Handels-)Kosten führen können, vor allem wenn es zu häufigen Umschichtungen kommt. Zweitens ist mir Shareholder Engagement wichtig und der Aufwand für ein gutes solches Engagement steigt mit der Zahl der Portfoliobestandteile. Der wichtigste Grund aber ist, dass bei einer Investition auf Basis von Nachhaltigkeitsrankings jede zusätzliche Aktie zu einer Reduktion der durchschnittlichen Portfolionachhaltigkeit führt (vgl. 30 stocks, if responsible, are all I need – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com).

Nach meinem ganzheitlichen Nachhaltigkeitsbeurteilungsansatz (siehe Kapitel 7 hier: Das-Soehnholz-ESG-und-SDG-Portfoliobuch.pdf (soehnholzesg.com)) erreiche ich mit diversifizierten ETF nur maximal die Hälfte der Nachhaltigkeit im Vergleich zu direkten Aktienportfolios. Auch aus Nachhaltigkeitssicht ist Diversifikation also kein Free-Lunch sondern kostet Nachhaltigkeit. Andererseits erreichen meine Portfolios aus nur 30 börsennotierten Aktien ähnliche Renditen bei vergleichbaren Risiken wie traditionelle stark diversifizierte Benchmarks. Anders ausgedrückt: Man kann marktübliche Renditen und Risiken mit hoher Liquidität und Nachhaltigkeit erreichen, wenn man auf unnötige Diversifikation verzichtet.

Neue Kennzahlen: Grenznutzen, Grenzkosten und Alternativportfolios

Die Diversifikationskosten von mehr Illiquidität bzw. mehr Nachhaltigkeit kann man auch konkret berechnen. In Bezug auf Nachhaltigkeit ist das relativ einfach, sofern man eine zufriedenstellende Nachhaltigkeitsmessgröße hat. Wenn durchschnittliches ESG-Rating diese Messgröße ist, kann man feststellen, wie viel eine zusätzliche Diversifikation um eine Aktie oder Anleihe in Bezug auf diese Messgröße kostet. Das sind dann die Nachhaltigkeits-Grenzkosten einer zusätzlichen Diversifikation. Diese sollte man mit dem zusätzlichen Nutzen einer Diversifikation vergleichen, die man mit zusätzlicher Renditeerwartung und/oder zusätzlicher Risikosenkung messen kann, also den Grenznutzen der Diversifikation. Solange der Grenznutzen die Grenzkosten übersteigt, kann Diversifikation ein Free Lunch sein, wenn man von Transaktions- und anderen Zusatzkosten abstrahiert.

Ähnlich kann man bei der Betrachtung der Diversifikation mit illiquiden Investments vorgehen. Dabei ist die Schwierigkeit, dass es keine einfach verfügbare Liquiditätsmesszahlen gibt. Man könnte aber schätzen, wie viele Tage die Umwandlung von Investments in sofort verfügbare Geldanlagen dauert. Bei Aktien sind das zum Beispiel wenige Stunden oder Tage. Bei Privatmarktinvestments kann es dagegen mehrere Jahre dauern, bis 100% der Anlage in Liquidität umgewandelt sind.

Wenn man die Nachhaltigkeitsdimension berücksichtigt, kann das kritisch sein. Bei meinem aus den meiner Ansicht nach jeweils 30 nachhaltigsten Aktien bestehenden Investmentfonds (vgl. My fund (prof-soehnholz.com)) habe ich seit dem Start vor weniger als drei Jahren schon 60 Aktien verkauft (49 bis 11/2023 vgl. Divestments: 49 bei 30 Aktien meines Artikel 9 Fonds (prof-soehnholz.com)). Der Hauptgrund: Die Aktien haben meine im Laufe der Zeit weiter gestiegenen Nachhaltigkeitsanforderungen nicht mehr erfüllt. Wenn ich mein Aktienportfolio in den letzten Jahren nicht regelmäßig angepasst hätte, wären die Nachhaltigkeitskennzahlen wie ESG-Ratings oder SDG-Vereinbarkeit erheblich schlechter als sie es heute sind.

Für Illiquide Investments könnte man eine ähnliche Analyse machen: Wie Nachhaltig könnte man investieren, wenn man die illiquide angelegte Summe aktuell neu investieren würde. Mutmaßliche Rendite- oder Risikovorteile einer Diversifikation mit illiquiden Investments müssten dann um Nachhaltigkeitsnachteile korrigiert werden.

Fazit: Nachhaltigkeits- statt Diversifikations- Free Lunch

Mein Fazit: Diversifikation ist aus Nachhaltigkeitsgründen und vor allem bei Nutzung illiquider Investments keinesfalls ein Free Lunch. Im Gegenteil: Die Grenzkosten von Diversifikation können sehr hoch sein. Ich halte eher nachhaltige Investments für einen Free Lunch. Ich habe für mich jedenfalls entschieden, nur noch liquide und konsequent, d.h. konzentriert nachhaltig zu investieren.

Impact Divestment: Exit Illustration from Pixabay by Clker-Free-Vector-Images

Impact divestment: Illiquidity hurts

Illustration: Exit Illustration from Pixabay by Clker-Free-Vector-Images

Impact divestment means the ability to divest from an investment, if it is not considered impactful anymore.

Impact investment focus on private investments?

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) writes that “impact investments are investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments … target a range of returns from below market to market rate”. They “can be made across asset classes, including but not limited to cash equivalents, fixed income, venture capital, and private equity” (www.thegiin.org).

For a reason, exchange listed bonds and equities are not explicitly mentioned by the GIIN. According to other impact definitions, one main requirement for investor impact is the provision of additional capital. Buying exchange-listed securities means paying money to other investors. With such transactions, the issuers of the securities do not receive additional capital. On the other hand, private credit and equity is typically additional capital. Therefore, often only private market investments were considered to be adequate for impact investments.

And there is another, although rarely used argument for private investments: Project-specific private investments provide a much more targeted impact potential than investments in listed stocks of whole companies or bundles of listed bonds e.g. through mutual funds.

Is it possible to have positive impact with listed securities? In: „Impact Divestment“

By definition, impact investments do not have to promise outperformance or even market rate returns. Frequently, they come with higher fees than traditional investments. It is no surprise, therefore, that today also many listed security investments are sold as impact investments. Marketing specialists have several arguments for this approach. Many of these arguments do not convince me, though.

One argumentation, although rarely used, does: Investors only have limited capital. Their main and core investments typically consist of easy to buy and to sell listed securities. Investors can focus on “impact securities”. Examples of positive impact securities are stocks and bonds of renewable energy and many healthcare companies. Examples of negative impact securities are coal mining companies and producers of unhealthy beverages and food. And when the “impact securities” lose their positive impact potential, they can be sold easily.

If investors openly communicate this approach, they may have an “investor impact” on the prices of the securities, the issuers of the securities, other investors and stakeholders.

Illiquid investments: The inability to divest as major impact risk? in: „Impact Divestment“

Providing additional capital for companies with positive impact may have more impact than the same investment in a listed company. Although the capital may be additional for the receiver, an investor may not the only potential provider of the additional capital, though. That is especially true when there is too much capital chasing too few attractive private investment opportunities, which often seems to be the case.

There is one major argument against private impact investments which I have not heard about: The inability to divest. With exchange traded investments, I can easily sell my holding if I am not satisfied with the impact of that investment anymore. I can not do that with illiquid investments. The key question is, how often investors want do divest for impact reasons. Unfortunately, I have no scientific evidence regarding this question.

Personally, I do not want to miss the possibility to divest from potential impact investments. Here is why: With my mutual fund, I try to create a portfolio of the 30 most sustainable companies (see: My fund – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)). Two and a half years after its start, I already divested from 56 companies. 7% of these were sold because I did not consider the companies to be sufficiently aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals anymore. 23% were divested because the companies use activities such as medical animal testing which I do not consider acceptable anymore. And 56% were thrown out because they fell below my minimum Environmental, Social or Governance (ESG) requirements (see Divestments: 49 bei 30 Aktien meines Artikel 9 Fonds – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com). With illiquid investments, I would still have to stick with the initial 30 stocks.

Is shareholder engagement easier with public companies? In: Impact Divestment

In addition, through my extensive shareholder engagement activities, I try to improve the sustainability of my investments. Although I have only relatively little capital invested in every one of the 30 global stocks, the response rate of the companies is over 90% (see Engagement Report here: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals). If these companies will implement some of my proposals is not clear yet. The overall reaction is rather positive, though.

I am sure that I would not have a similar impact potential if I had invested the same amount of money in a diversified portfolio of private companies or projects. The main reason: The minimum investment for professional private credit or private equity is very high and I would have to indirectly invest through third-party funds. And successful indirect investor engagement through private funds by small investors is nothing I have ever heard about.

Illiquid investments: Neither return nor risk or diversification benefits?

There are more reasons why I am skeptical about illiquid investments. According to financial theory, investors should receive higher returns for an illiquid compared to a similar liquid investment. Scientific evidence shows, that even sophisticated institutional investors do not easily earn such an illiquidity premium (see e.g. research by Richard Ennis, e.g. Hogwarts Finance).

Institutional investors also like illiquid investments because they show little volatility. The volatility is often very low, because valuations of illiquid investments are infrequent and often based on previous valuations. If illiquid investments were valued with public market equivalents, they would be very volatile.

The third major argument is, that investors can diversify their portfolios with illiquid investments. That is correct. But the correct question should be about the additional diversification potential of illiquid securities. If illiquid securities are valued like liquid investments, the additional or marginal diversification potential is often very slim.

In sum: Illiquid investments have major impact (sustainability) risks, little diversification benefits and no significant return premium.

My recommendation for impact seeking investors therefore is: Focus on liquid investments which are highly aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, have no unsustainable activities and excellent ESG-ratings. Then try to improve these investments with investor engagement. Finally divest, if you find alternatives which are significantly more sustainable.

Climate Shaming: Illustration from Nina Garman from Pixabay

Climate shaming: Researchpost 171

Ilustration from Pixabay by Nina Garman

Climate shaming: 11x new research on green technology, sustainable fund labels, sustainable advice, carbon premium, brown profits, green bonds, green growth, green shareholder engagement, climate shaming, optimizations and investment timing (# shows number of SSRN full paper downloads as of April 11th, 2024)

Ecological and social research

Green technology benefits: Economic Impact of Natural Disasters Under the New Normal of Climate Change: The Role of Green Technologies by Nikos Fatouros as of March 18th, 2024 (#9):” In our model of the world economy, raising temperatures are expected to negatively affect consumption as well as increase debt. The most frequently proposed possible solution to climate change, is the de-carbonization of production, by using more “green” technologies. Under “green” technology adaptation, countries would be projected to achieve higher levels of consumption and welfare. This positive effect of more environmentally friendly means of production, tends to be stronger for more developed countries. However, under the assumption of greater technological progress of the “green” sector, our results show that even developing countries would be projected to follow the same path of higher and more sustainable levels of consumption and welfare” (p. 10).

ESG investment research (in: Climate Shaming)

Attractive labels: In labels we trust? The influence of sustainability labels in mutual fund flows by Sofia Brito-Ramos, Maria Céu Cortze Nipe, Svetoslav Covachev, and Florinda Silva as of April 2nd, 2024 (#29): “In Europe, investors can resort to different types of sustainable labels such as GNPO-sponsored labels and ESG ratings from commercial data vendors that assess funds’ sustainability risks. In addition, funds can communicate their sustainability features by including ESG-related designations in the name or self-classifying themselves as article 8 or 9 of the SFDR. … Drawing on a dataset of equity funds sold in Europe … Our initial results document investors‘ preferences for sustainability labels, with GNPO labels (Sö: Government and non-profit organizations) standing out as salient signals. … we find that GNPO labels have an effect on fund flows … Furthermore, this impact is stronger for funds holding other sustainability signals, such as Morningstar top globes, the LCD (Sö: Low Carbon Designation) and an ESG name, suggesting a complementary effect of labels … our results show that the effect of funds being awarded a GNPO label is stronger for the institutional invest segment. The findings show that GNPO labels and SFDR classification are influential for investors’ decisions (p. 23/24). My comment: Maybe I should consider paying for labels for my Article 9 fund. A more detailed comment can be found here Nachhaltigkeitssiegel beim Verkauf von Investmentfonds | CAPinside

(Un-)Sustainable advice? Investing Responsibly: What Drives Preferences for Sustainability and Do Investors Receive Appropriate Investments? by Chris Brooks and Louis Williams as of April 8th, 2024 (#21): „ While investors with stronger desires for sustainability do hold more highly ESG-rated funds on average, the relationship is weaker than might have been expected. Perhaps surprisingly, a majority of clients for whom responsible investing is very important hold some unrated funds, while those for whom it is unimportant nonetheless hold the highly ESG-rated funds in their portfolios. We therefore conclude that more focus on sustainability preferences is required to ensure that retail investors get the portfolios they want” (abstract). My comment: Advisor should develop detailed sustainability policies at least for larger investors, see e.g. DVFA_PRISC_Policy_for_Responsible_Investment_Scoring.pdf (English version available upon demand)

No carbon premium: Carbon Returns Across the Globe by Shaojun Zhang as of April 5th, 2024 (#272): ” Emissions are a weighted sum of firm sales scaled by emission factors and grow almost linearly with firm sales. However, emission data are released at significant lags relative to accounting variables, including sales. After accounting for the data release lag, more carbon-intensive firms underperform relative to less carbon-intensive ones in the U.S. in recent years. International evidence on carbon or green premium is largely absent. The carbon premium documented in previous studies stems from forward-looking bias instead of a true risk premium in ex-ante expected returns” (p. 23).

Profitable brown greening? Paying or Being Paid to be Green? by Rupali Vashisht, Hector Calvo-Pardo, and Jose Olmo as of March 31st, 2024 (#70): “… firms in the S&P 500 index are divided into brown (heavily polluting) and green (less polluting) sectors. In clear contrast with the literature, (i) brown firms pay to be green (i.e.better financial performance translates into higher environmental scores) but green firms appear not to. In addition, (ii) neither brown nor green firms with higher environmental scores perform better financially” (abstract). My comment: If brown and green firms perform the same, why not invest only in green firms?

Resilient green bonds: “My Name Is Bond. Green Bond.” Informational Efficiency of Climate Finance Markets by Marc Gronwald and Sania Wadud as of April 4th, 2024 (#15): “… the degree of informational inefficiency of the green bond market is generally found to be very similar to that of benchmark bond markets such as treasury bond markets. … the degree of inefficiency of the green bond market during the Covid outbreak in 2020 and the inflation shock in 2022/2023 is lower than that of the treasury bond market“ (abstract).

Green growth: Investing in the green economy 2023 – Entering the next phase of growth by Lily Dai, Lee Clements, Edmund Bourne, and Jaakko Kooroshy from FTSE Russell as of Sep. 19th, 2023: “After a downturn in 2022 … Green revenues for listed companies are on track to exceed US$5 trillion by 2025 — doubling in size since the conclusion of the Paris Agreement in 2015 — with market capitalisation of the green economy approaching 10% of the equity market. However, to shift the global economy onto a 1.5°C trajectory, green growth would have to further substantially accelerate with green market capitalisation approximating 20% of global equity markets by 2030” (p. 3).

Impact investment research (in: Climate Shaming)

Short-term impact: The Value Impact of Climate and Non-climate Environmental Shareholder Proposals by Henk Berkman, Jonathan Jona, Joshua Lodge, and Joshua Shemesh as of April 3rd, 2024 (#19): “In this paper, we investigate the value impact of environmental shareholder proposals (ESPs) for a large sample of Russell 3000 firms from 2006 to 2021 … We find that both withdrawn and non-withdrawn climate ESPs have positive CARs (Sö: Cumulative abnormal returns), indicating that management screens value-enhancing climate proposals and rejects value-destroying climate proposals. For non-climate ESPs we find insignificant CARs, suggesting that management does not have an ability to screen non-climate proposals. However, we find that close-call non-climate ESPs that are passed have negative abnormal returns, implying that for non-climate ESPs the original decision by managers not to agree with the activists is supported by the share market” (p. 26).

Climate shaming: Fighting Climate Change Through Shaming by Sharon Yadin as of April 4th, 2024 (#13): “This Book contends that regulators can and should shame companies into climate-responsible behavior by publicizing information on corporate contribution to climate change. Drawing on theories of regulatory shaming and environmental disclosure, the book introduces a “regulatory climate shaming” framework, which utilizes corporate reputational sensitivities and the willingness of stakeholders to hold firms accountable for their actions in the climate crisis context. The book explores the developing landscape of climate shaming practices employed by governmental regulators in various jurisdictions via rankings, ratings, labeling, company reporting, lists, online databases, and other forms of information-sharing regarding corporate climate performance and compliance” (abstract). My comment: Responsilbe Naming and Climate Shaming are adequate investor impact tools in my opinion (my “climate shaming” activities see Engagement report” here FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T)

Other investment research

(Pseudo-)Optimization? Markowitz Portfolio Construction at Seventy by Stephen Boyd, Kasper Johansson, Ronald Kahn, Philipp Schiele, and Thomas Schmelzer as of Feb. 13th, 2024 (#50): “More than seventy years ago Harry Markowitz formulated portfolio construction as an optimization problem that trades off expected return and risk, defined as the standard deviation of the portfolio returns. Since then the method has been extended to include many practical constraints and objective terms, such as transaction cost or leverage limits. Despite several criticisms of Markowitz’s method, for example its sensitivity to poor forecasts of the return statistics, it has become the dominant quantitative method for portfolio construction in practice. In this article we describe an extension of Markowitz’s method that addresses many practical effects and gracefully handles the uncertainty inherent in return statistics forecasting” (abstract). My comment:  Extensions of Markowitz methods create complexity but still contain many assumptions/forecasts and are far from solving all potential problems. I prefer very simple optimization and forecast-free approaches, see Das-Soehnholz-ESG-und-SDG-Portfoliobuch.pdf (soehnholzesg.com)

Bad timing? Another Look at Timing the Equity Premiums by Wei Dai and Audrey Dong from Dimensional Fund Advisors as of Nov. 2nd, 2023 (#1642): “We examine strategies that time the market, size, value, and profitability premiums in the US, developed ex US, and emerging markets …. Out of the 720 timing strategies we simulated, the vast majority underperformed relative to staying invested in the long side of the premiums. While 30 strategies delivered promising outperformance at first glance, further analysis shows that their outperformance is very sensitive to specific time periods and parameters for strategy construction”(abstract).

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Advert for German investors:

Sponsor my research by investing in and/or recommending my global small cap mutual fund (SFDR Art. 9). The fund focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals and uses separate E, S and G best-in-universe minimum ratings and broad shareholder engagement with currently 27 of 30 companiesFutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T or My fund (prof-soehnholz.com).

Halbjahres-Renditen Illustration von Gerd Altmann von Pixabay

Q1 Renditen der Soehnholz ESG Portfolios

Q1 Renditen: Passive Multi-Asset Portfolios OK

Q1 Renditen: Das regelbasierte „most passive“ Multi-Asset Weltmarkt ETF-Portfolio hat mit +5,4% im Vergleich zu Multi-Asset ETFs (+5,1%) und aktiven Mischfonds (+4,8%) gut abgeschnitten. Das ebenfalls breit diversifizierte ESG ETF-Portfolio hat mit +4,2% dagegen unterdurchschnittlich rentiert.

Nachhaltige ETF-Portfolios: Anleihen gut, Aktien OK, SDG schwierig

Das ESG ETF-Portfolio ex Bonds lag mit +6,1% erheblich hinter traditionellen Aktien-ETFs (+10,6%) zurück. Die Rendite ist aber ähnlich wie die 7,2% traditioneller aktiv gemanagter globaler Aktienfonds.

Mit -0,3% rentierte das sicherheitsorientierte ESG ETF-Portfolio Bonds (EUR) ähnlich wie aktive Fonds (-0,7%). Das renditeorientierte ESG ETF-Portfolio Bonds hat mit +1,6% ebenfalls etwas besser abgeschnitten als vergleichbare aktiv gemanagte Fonds (+1.3%).

Das aus thematischen Aktien-ETFs bestehende SDG ETF-Portfolio lag mit -0,2% stark hinter traditionellen Aktienanlagen zurück. Besonders thematische Investments mit ökologischem Fokus liefen auch im ersten Quartal 2024 nicht gut.  

Q1 Renditen: Direkte ESG SDG Portfolios OK

Das auf Small- und Midcaps fokussierte Global Equities ESG SDG hat mit 1,4% im Vergleich zu Small- und Midcap-Aktienfonds schlecht abgeschnitten. Das ist vor allem auf den hohen Anteil an erneuerbaren Energien zurückzuführen. Das Global Equities ESG SDG Social Portfolio hat mit 3,7% dagegen vergleichbar wie Small- und Midcap-Portfolios abgeschnitten.

Mein FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R Fonds (Start 2021) hat nach einem guten Quartal 4/2023 im ersten Quartal 2024 eine Rendite von +2,6% erreicht. Das ist durch den Fokus auf Smallcaps und den relativ hohen Anteil an erneuerbaren Energien erklärbar (weitere Informationen wie z.B. auch den aktuellen detaillierten Engagementreport siehe FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T und My fund – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com).

Für die zu Jahresende 2023 voll investierten Trendfolgeportfolios gab es im ersten Quartal keine Signale, so dass sie wie die Portfolios ohne Trendfolge abgeschnitten haben.

Weiterführende Infos:

Regeländerungen: Nachhaltig aktiv oder passiv? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

2023: Passive Allokation und ESG gut, SDG nicht gut – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Glorreiche 7: Sind sie unsozial? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Anmerkungen: Die Performancedetails siehe www.soehnholzesg.com und zu allen Regeln und Portfolios siehe Das Soehnholz ESG und SDG Portfoliobuch. Benchmarkdaten: Eigene Berechnungen u.a. auf Basis von www.morningstar.de

ESG rumor illustration from yaobim from Pixaby

ESG rumors: Researchpost #169

ESG rumors: 8x new research on carbon offsets, green innovation, sustainable fund outperformance, ESG rumors and their effects on equities and bonds, ESG factors, safe bonds and private equity (# shows SSRN full paper downloads as of March 27th, 2024)

Ecological and social research

Problematic Offsets: Carbon Offsets: Decarbonization or Transition-Washing? by Sehoon Kim, Tao Li, and Yanbin Wu as of March 23rd, 2024 (#104): “Carbon offsets allow firms to claim reductions in carbon emissions by purchasing and retiring carbon credits sold by projects or entities that achieve those reductions. … While large firms with net-zero commitments are more likely to use offsets, we find evidence that offsets are often used strategically by firms that are already positioned close to achieving these targets or in industries where it is easier to boost their ESG rankings relative to their peers. When faced by an exogenous shock to their incentives to boost rankings, firms with low emissions in industries with narrow cross-peer emission gaps become more likely to use offsets whereas heavy-emission firms in large-gap industries do not. Moreover, firms that strategically increase the use of offsets do so by retiring credits from low-quality offset projects, which command lower prices and therefore provide a cost-effective way of transition-washing. Overall, our evidence does not support the purported idea that carbon offsets can be effective at facilitating net-zero transitions by heavy-emission firms. … we do not find evidence that these firms would use such “good” offsets in large-enough quantities to meaningfully reduce their net emissions“ (p. 29/30). My comment: I do not consider/use offsets for my investments.

ESG investment research (ESG rumors)

Green innovation variations: Doing Good by Being Smart: Green Innovation and Firms’ Financial and Environmental Performance by Qiang Cheng, An-Ping Lin, and Mengjie Yang as of March 22nd, 2024 (#25): “We find that firms with more valuable pollution prevention patents have better future financial and environmental performance, whereas the value of firms’ pollution control patents is not associated with their future financial or environmental performance. We further document that pollution prevention innovation improves financial performance through its positive effects on sales growth and cost efficiency …“ (p. 29/30).

2023 ESG outperformance: Sustainable Reality – Sustainable Funds Show Continued Outperformance and Positive Flows in 2023 Despite a Slower Second Half by Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing as of Feb. 29th, 2024: “Sustainable funds outperformed their traditional peers in 2023 with a median return of 12.6% compared to traditional funds’ 8.6%, according to Morningstar data. … Sustainable fund assets under management (AUM) globally grew to $3.4 trillion, up 15% from 2022 and reaching 7.2% of total AUM. Inflows to sustainable funds remained positive overall at $136 billion, 4.7% of the prior year-end AUM. … Equity funds with a global, Europe or APAC investment focus skew primarily to Industrials and Health Care, while funds investing in the Americas are more overweight Technology. Greater exposure to Technology stocks helped sustainable equity funds investing in the Americas in 2023, but this was not the only factor influencing sustainable funds’ outperformance” (p. 1). … “If a hypothetical fund achieved the median return for each of the past five years, a sustainable fund would be up +35% compared with a traditional fund’s +25%” (p. 6). … “Europe-domiciled Sustainable Funds Outperformed Traditional Funds, With Article 8 and Article 9 Funds in a Similar Range” (p. 18). My comment: I have a similar experience, see 2023: Passive Allokation und ESG gut, SDG nicht gut – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

ESG rumors (1): Attention-Grabbing ESG: Do Investors Extract Value-relevant ESG Information from Social Media? by Yoshitaka Tanaka and Shunsuke Managi as of March 23rd, 2024 (#9): “Initially, we find that unconditional excess stock returns exhibit a positive correlation with positive and attention-grabbing ESG events and a negative correlation with negative ESG events. Our findings also indicate that events with low financial materiality, despite their high social prominence, do not have a lasting effect on stock returns. … we find that the greater is the information asymmetry regarding ESG information, the greater is the stock return response. On the other hand, when we control for firm attributes, we find no correlation between materiality and stock returns. The regression results suggest that the response of stock returns to ESG events may be attributed to market inefficiencies arising from information asymmetries rather than fundamental factors“ (p. 20). My comment: I ,like that my ESG ratings provider incorporates ESG controversies in its frequently updated ESG ratings

ESG rumors (2): From News to Numbers: Quantifying the Impact of ESG Controversies on Corporate Bond Spreads by Doina C. Chichernea, J. Christopher Hughen, and Alex Petkevich as of March 23rd, 2024 (#7): “… we document that bondholders demand a higher credit spread for bonds issued by firms with higher ESG controversies. The adverse effect of ESG controversies on bond pricing is long-lived and is primarily observed in bond issues with higher credit risk and more pronounced information asymmetry. We also document that current ESG controversies significantly predict an increase in the firm’s future asymmetric information and default risk …” (abstract).

No ESG factor? Are ESG Factors Truly Unique? by Svetoslav Covachev, Jocelyn Martel, and Sofia Brito-Ramos as of March 21st, 2024 (#71): “This paper studies the relationships between carbon and ESG risk factors and commonly accepted equity risk factors. … the carbon and ESG risk factors can be replicated as linear combinations of risk factors that are based on stock characteristics that are not directly related to environmental and ESG policies. We note that the main inputs for building the carbon and ESG factors are ESG ratings, which have a documented link with firm size. Bigger firms tend to have greater resources for gathering and disclosing ESG information. We also examine the risk exposures of popular ESG indexes, which provide a convenient means to invest in ESG-focused companies. Our findings indicate that the indexes examined are all exposed to the market and size factors, but they are also well-explained by the long leg of the ESG factor” (p. 15). My comment: Sustainable investments should not be expected to have higher returns but rather lower (ESG and thus overall) risks than comparable other investments.

Other investment research (ESG rumors)

Flights to bonds: Global or Regional Safe Assets: Evidence from Bond Substitution Patterns by Tsvetelina Nenova as of March 25th, 2024 (#5): “This paper provides novel empirical evidence on portfolio rebalancing in international bond markets through the prism of investors’ demand for bonds. … Safe assets such as US Treasuries or German Bunds face especially inelastic demand from investment funds compared to riskier bonds. But spillovers from these safe assets to global bond markets are strikingly different. Funds substitute US Treasuries with global bonds, including risky corporate and emerging market bonds, whereas German Bunds are primarily substitutable within a narrow set of euro area safe government bonds. Substitutability deteriorates in times of stress, impairing the transmission of monetary policy“ (abstract).

Private equity dissected: The economics of private equity: A critical review by Alexander Ljungqvist as of Feb. 15th, 2024: “… I have aimed to critically synthesize the main insights of more than 90 academic studies of private equity … to draw the following conclusions. Private equity funds have, on average, historically outperformed public-market indices after fees, but maybe not when adjusted for risk, leverage, and illiquidity. … Private equity funds generate returns for their investors through a combination of the value they add to their portfolio companies and their ability to target companies whose performance is about to take off anyway.  Whether private equity creates social value for the economy at large is an open question. … Private equity is a demanding asset class in which more sophisticated investors can expect to earn better returns than less sophisticated investors. There is scope for ample misalignment of interests between fund managers and investors. Private equity is an innovative asset class, creating new practices and solutions at a fast pace. Recent examples include subscription lines, GP-led secondaries, and NAV financing“ (p. 42/43).

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Nutrition changes: Picture shows aubergine caricature by nneem from Pixabay

Nutrition changes: Researchpost #163

Nutrition changes: 13x new research on biodiversity, food, socially responsible buying, SFDR, ESG data, green indices, derivatives, impact investing, ESG compensation, stock and bond risks, and financial advisor biases by Patrick Velte, BaFin, Morningstar and many others (# shows number of full SSRN downloads as of Feb. 15th, 2024):

Social and ecological research (in: “Nutrition changes”)

Man vs. biodiversity: The Main Drivers of Biodiversity Loss: A Brief Overview  by Christian Hald-Mortensen as of Oct. 18th, 2023 (#101): “The drivers of biodiversity loss are complex – this paper has examined the main drivers, namely agricultural expansion, climate change, overfishing, urbanization, and the introduction of invasive species. To avoid further biodiversity loss, the role of agricultural expansion and land use change becomes apparent as a cause of 85% of at-risk species” (p. 5/6).

Nutrition changes (1): European Food Trends Report: Feeding the Future Opportunities for a Sustainable Food System by Christine Schäfer, Karin Frick and Johannes C. Bauer as of Nov. 7th, 2023 (#41): “…Industry, logistics, retail and research are developing new solutions for a diet that does not come at the expense of the planet. By employing methods of agro-ecology and precision agriculture, farmers can produce in a more resource-efficient way. Smart data enables more efficient logistics. New virtual distribution channels and a vibrant creator economy – which includes food bloggers, influencers and online chefs – are shaking up the industry and are able to bring important issues to consumers’ attention. By using packaging that is recyclable or biodegradable, the processing industry is able to reduce its ecological footprint. Meanwhile, researchers have long since explored alternative protein sources based on cells or fermentation, the production of which generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared with conventional meat production” (p. 2).

Nutrition changes (2): From Intention to Plate: Why Good Dietary Resolutions Fail by Petra Tipaldi, Christine Schäfer and Johannes C. Bauer as of Jan. 11th, 2024 (#17): “What we eat accounts for more than 30% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. … The majority of the Swiss population is aware of this: 98% want to change the way they eat, at least partially. 91% want to avoid generating food waste, more than three-quarters want to eat more healthy, seasonal and regional foods and even 42% want to often cut out fish and meat. Despite Swiss people being so motivated, the same products mostly end up on their plates like before, as a representative survey from the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute shows. The study reveals: there is an intention-behaviour gap. … Consumers can do the most for the environment by avoiding food waste, reducing their consumption of fish, meat and animal products in general and buying food with the lowest possible CO2 emissions. The study also shows the extent to which companies, the retail industry and politicians can support consumers to seize their opportunities for action so that sustainable diets do not remain an intention but become a reality on consumers’ plates”.

Community & supply SCR: Which CSR Activities Motivate Socially Responsible Buying? by Katherine Taken Smith, Donald Lamar Ariail, Murphy Smith, and Amine Khayati as of Feb. 8th, 2023 (#14): “In support of prior research, our findings revealed consumers to be more inclined to purchase from companies engaged in CSR activities. … While consumers voiced support for CSR activities in each of the social issues, only two were identified as motivating socially responsible buying: i.e., community and supply chain. As a CSR issue, the term supply chain encompasses ethical labor concerns such as child labor and human trafficking. The term community refers to a company investing resources in the local economy. … females displayed significantly higher buying intentions towards companies that practice CSR. Females, compared to males, were more supportive of CSR activities related to ethics and philanthropy. … Non-conservative consumers, compared to conservative, exhibited a higher degree of socially responsible buying. … religious consumers, compared to non-religious, were more supportive of CSR activities related to community and ethics“ (p. 18/19). My comment: My shareholder engagement activities include a focus on suppliers by asking buyers to use comprehensive ESG-ratings, see Supplier engagement – Opinion post #211 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Responsible investment research (in: “Nutrition changes”)

Sustainable fund details: SFDR Article 8 and Article 9 Funds: Q4 2023 in Review? by Hortense Bioy, Boya Wang, Arthur Carabia, Biddappa A R from Morningstar as of Jan. 25th, 2024: “In the fourth quarter of 2023, Article 8 funds registered the largest quarterly outflows on record and Article 9 funds their very first quarterly outflows … Over the entirety of 2023, Article 8 funds registered net outflows of EUR 27 billion, while Article 9 funds collected EUR 4.3 billion and Article 6 funds garnered EUR 93 billion. Actively managed funds drove all the outflows in the fourth quarter as well as over the full year. Passive funds sustained their positive momentum. Assets in Article 8 and Article 9 funds rose by 1.7% over the quarter to a new record of EUR 5.2 trillion. Together, Article 8 and Article 9 funds saw their market share climb further to nearly 60% of the EU universe primarily due to continued reclassification from Article 6 to Article 8 or 9. We identified 256 funds that altered their SFDR status in the fourth quarter, including 218 that upgraded to Article 8 from Article 6, while only four funds downgraded to Article 8 from Article 9” (p. 1). My comment: There are only very few Article 9 funds with a focus on SDGs (if so, mostly ecology oriented funds) or small and midcaps. There is still limited competition (and overlap with other funds) for my small/midcap (social) SDG fund which – since inception – has a similar performance as traditional small/midcap funds (see Fonds-Portfolio: Mein Fonds | CAPinside)

ESG rating deficits: BaFin Marktstudie – Durchführung einer Marktstudie zur Erhebung von und Umgang mit ESG-Daten und ESG-Ratingverfahren durch Kapitalverwaltungsgesellschaften vom 14.2.2024: „Mithilfe einer Befragung von 30 deutschen KVGen und 6 ESG-Ratinganbietern untersucht die vorliegende Marktstudie der BaFin den Status Quo hinsichtlich der Erhebung und des Umgangs der KVGen mit ESG-Daten und Ratings. … 84% der KVGen zieht MSCI als Datenanbieter heran, gefolgt von ISS (44%), Bloomberg (28%) und Sustainalytics sowie Solactive (jeweils 20%). Über 70% der KVGen, die externe Datenanbieter heranziehen, nutzen mehr als einen Anbieter… Nur rund 38% der KVGen betrachten die Qualität extern erhobener ESG-Daten und Ratings als „hoch“ … Als Gründe werden neben der zum Teil schlechten Datenabdeckung auch die zum Teil unzureichende Aktualität der Daten genannt … während 64% der KVGen sich eine schnellere Beantwortung ihrer Fragen durch die Anbieter wünschten“ (p. 3-5). My comment: MSCI is not necessarily the best sustainability data provider. The costs of <50k EUR p.a. for ESG data seems low and not high to me. Most likely, (indirect) costs charged to the portfolio managers of the funds are not included in that figure. And those costs can be very high, if detailed and transparent reporting to end-investors is offered. Also, there is a (under)performance risk if there is crowding in highly MSCI rated investments (compare: Glorreiche 7: Sind sie unsozial? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)).

Green index variations: Resilience or Returns: Assessing Green Equity Index Performance Across Market Regimes by An Duong as of Jan. 5th, 2024 (#20): “… we embark on a comprehensive examination of the performance differential between green equity indices, specifically the FTSE4Good series, and conventional equity indices across a diverse set of economies: the US, UK, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, and Taiwan. … in periods of market stress, green indices often demonstrate slightly less negative returns than their conventional counterparts, … in developing economies, green indices exhibit higher volatility, indicating greater sensitivity to market downturns, contrasted with the lower volatility observed in developed markets. … In addition, Green indices show a higher likelihood of remaining in bearish states, suggesting either a resilience to rapid shifts or a slower adaptation to positive market changes “ (p. 31).

Commodity ESG: ESG and Derivatives by Rajkumar Janardanan, Xiao Qiao, and K. Geert Rouwenhorst as of Feb. 8th, 2024 (#40): “We present a simple conceptual framework to illustrate how ESG considerations can be applied to derivatives in practice, using the market for commodity futures as an example. Because derivatives do not target individual firms, we link the S and G scores to the geography of global production. … Some preliminary simulation evidence suggests that, for now, including ESG considerations in the selection of commodity futures would have not materially impacted the risk and return properties of investor portfolios” (p. 14).

Impact investment research (in: “Nutrition changes”)

Beyond ESG: From ESG to Sustainable Impact Finance: Moving past the current confusion by Costanza Consolandi and Jim Hawley as of Feb. 5th, 2024 (#86): “We argue that ESG/Sustainability is moving from being based primarily on ESG ratings and rankings … to sustainability (ESG) being based on mandated disclosure and analysis of externalities. We briefly examine the basis of ESG ranking and ratings confusion concluding that based on current methodologies of major providers results in neither significant change nor accurate disclosures by firms. Alternatively, we suggest an integration of externality data will significantly modify Modern Portfolio Theory as it does not account for externality effects either … Not accounting for externalities leads to sub-optimum economic system performance … Finally, we place these concepts and developments the context of global emerging regulatory and standard setting” (abstract).

Good ESG bonus? Archival research on sustainability-related executive compensation. A literature review of the status quo and future improvements by Patrick Velte as of Feb. 13th, 2024: “This literature review summarizes previous quantitative archival research on sustainability-related executive compensation (SREC) … there are clear indications that SREC has a positive effect on sustainability performance. In contrast to the business case argument for sustainability, this is not true for financial performance. We find major limitations and research gaps in previous studies that should be recognized in future studies (e.g., differentiation between symbolic and substantive use of SREC)” (abstract). My comment: I hope that there will be more such research, e.g. focusing on pay ratios, see Pay Gap, ESG-Boni und Engagement: Radikale Änderungen erforderlich – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)).

Other investment research

Risk versus time: The Long and Short of Risk and Return by Leo H. Chan as of Dec. 20th, 2023 (#31): “I show that risk increases as the measurement time frame shortens, while it decreases as the measurement time frame increases. … Over the long horizon, risk (as measured by standard deviation of returns) is no longer a concern. Rather, an investor should pay more attention to the total return of an investment portfolio. In this regard, what is considered risky (stocks) is a far better choice than what is considered safe (bonds)” (abstract).

Only stocks or more? Stocks for the Long Run? Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No by Edward F. McQuarrie as of Feb. 13th, 2024: “Digital archives have made it possible to compute real total return on US stock and bond indexes from 1792. The new historical record shows that over multi-decade periods, sometimes stocks outperformed bonds, sometimes bonds outperformed stocks and sometimes they performed about the same. New international data confirm this pattern. Asset returns in the US in the 20th century do not generalize. Regimes of asset outperformance come and go; sometimes there is an equity premium, sometimes not” (abstract).

Advisor bias: Financial Advisors and Investors’ Bias by Marianne Andries, Maxime Bonelli, and David Sraer as of Jan. 27th, 2024 (#73): “We exploit a quasi-natural experiment run by a prominent French brokerage firm that removed stocks’ average acquisition prices from the online platform used by financial advisors. … First, even in our sample of high-net-worth investors receiving regular financial advice, the disposition effect – investors’ tendency to hold on to their losing positions and sell their winning stocks – is a pervasive investment bias. Second, financial advisors do exert a significant influence on their clients’ investment decisions. Third, financial advisors do not actively mitigate their clients’ biases: when advisors have access to information relevant to their clients’ disposition effect – whether stocks in their portfolio are in paper gains or losses – clients exhibit more, not less, disposition effect“ (p. 25). … “(a) decrease in disposition effect bias leads to higher portfolio returns, increased client inflow, and a lower likelihood of leaving the firm” (abstract).

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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 26 of 30 companiesFutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T or Noch eine Fondsboutique? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)