Archiv der Kategorie: Behaviroral Finance

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)

New gender research illustration by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

New gender research: Researchpost 176

New gender research illustration by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

New gender research: 16x new research on child labor, child bonus, climate models, green bonds, social returns, supply chain ESG, greenwashing, ESG bonifications, gender index, gender inheritance gap, inflation, investment risks and investment AI (# shows SSRN full paper downloads as of May 16th, 2024)

Social and ecological research in: New gender research

US child labor: (Hidden) In Plain Sight: Migrant Child Labor and the New Economy of Exploitation by Shefali Milczarek-Desai as of April 18th, 2024 (#164): “Migrant child labor pervades supply chains for America’s most beloved household goods including Cheerios, Cheetos, Lucky Charms, J. Crew, and Fruit of the Loom. Migrant children, some as young as twelve and thirteen, de-bone chicken sold at Whole Foods, bake rolls found at Walmart and Target, and process milk used in Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. Most work grueling shifts, including overnight and over twelve-hour days, and some, working in extremely hazardous jobs such as roofing and meat processing, have died or suffered serious, permanent injuries. … many … are unaccompanied minors and have no choice but to work. … this paper charts a multifaceted course that might realistically address the predicament of migrant child workers who are precariously perched at the intersection of migration and labor“ (abstract).

New gender research: Is There Really a Child Penalty in the Long Run? New Evidence from IVF Treatments by Petter Lundborg, Erik Plug, and Astrid Würtz Rasmussen as of May 2nd, 2024 (#32): “The child penalty has been singled out as one of the primary drivers behind the gender gap in earnings. In this paper, we challenge this notion by estimating the child penalty in the very long run. For this purpose, we rely on … fertility variation among childless couples in Denmark to identify child penalties for up to 25 years after the birth of the first child. … we find that the first child impacts the earnings of women, not men. While the child penalties are sizable shortly after birth, the same penalty fades out, disappears completely after 10 years, and turns into a child premium after 15 years. … we even find that the birth of the first child leads to a small rise in the lifetime earnings of women” (p. 15/16).

New gender research: What Works in Supporting Women-Led Businesses? by Diego Ubfal as of April 30th, 2024 (#125): “This paper reviews evidence on interventions that can address the constraints faced by growth-oriented, women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (WMSMEs). … First, evidence of modest average treatment effects and treatment effect heterogeneity across various interventions suggests the need for better targeting and segmentation. Second, women-led firms face multiple constraints, and addressing them requires a package of multiple interventions“ (p. 20).

Climate model risks: The Emperor’s New Climate Scenarios – Limitations and assumptions of commonly used climate-change scenarios in financial services by Sandy Trust, Sanjay Joshi, Tim Lenton, and Jack Oliver as of July 4th, 2023: “Many climate-scenario models in financial services are significantly underestimating climate risk. … Real-world impacts of climate change, such as the impact of tipping points (both positive and negative, transition and physical-risk related), sea-level rise and involuntary mass migration, are largely excluded from the damage functions of public reference climate-change economic models. Some models implausibly show the hot-house world to be economically positive, whereas others estimate a 65% GDP loss or a 50–60% downside to existing financial assets if climate change is not mitigated, stating these are likely to be conservative estimates. … Carbon budgets may be smaller than anticipated and risks may develop more quickly. … We may have underestimated how quickly the Earth will warm for a given level of emissions, meaning we need to update our expectations as to how quickly risks will emerge. A faster warming planet will drive more severe, acute physical risks, bring forward chronic physical risks, and increase the likelihood of triggering multiple climate tipping points, which collectively act to further accelerate the rate of climate change and the physical risks faced. … Firms naturally begin with regulatory scenarios, but this may lead to herd mentality and ‘hiding behind’ Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) thinking, rather than developing an appropriate understanding of climate change. Key model limitations, judgements and choice of assumptions are not widely understood, as evidenced by current disclosures from financial institutions” (p. 6).

ESG investment research

Managed greenium: Determinants of the Greenium by Christoph Sperling, Roland Maximilian Happach, Holger Perlwitz, and Dominik Möst as of May 9th, 2024 (#23): “Environmental, social and governance (ESG) bonds can benefit from yield discounts compared to their conventional twins, a phenomenon known as the ‚greenium‘. … we examine five observable characteristics of corporate ESG bonds and their conventional twins for statistical differences in primary market yields and derive two overarching determinants from this” (abstract). “… two overarching determinants affecting the occurrence and magnitude of a greenium become apparent: transparent information disclosure and sustainable corporate management. Companies can actively enhance their greenium in the primary market and reduce debt financing costs by communicating clearly about the intended use of proceeds and aligning with ambitious sustainability goals” (p. 28).

Social return effects: Social Premiums by Hoa Briscoe-Tran, Reem Elabd, Iwan Meier, and Valeri Sokolovski as of April 30th, 2024 (#123): “Our analysis illuminates the impact of the S dimension of ESG on future stock returns. We find that the aggregate S score does not affect stock returns. However, the two main components of the S score exert significant, yet opposite, effects on returns. Specifically, higher human capital scores are associated with higher returns, aligning with previous research and suggesting that markets may not fully price in firms’ human capital. Conversely, higher product safety scores are associated with lower average returns, consistent with the risk-based explanation that firms with safer products exhibit safer cash flows, reduced risk, and therefore, lower expected returns” (p. 26). My comment: If social investments have similar returns as other investments, everything speaks for social investments.

ESG purchasing benefits: A Procurement Advantage in Disruptive Times: New Perspectives on ESG Strategy and Firm Performance by Wenting Li and Yimin Wang as of May 5th, 2024 (#29): “Drawing on the COVID-19 pandemic as a natural experiment, we define a firm’s resilience as its relatively superior financial performance during the pandemic. … The results reveal that increased ESG practices strengthen a firm’s resilience during disruptions: a 1% increase in ESG practice scores leads to a 0.215% increase in firms’ return on assets. We analyze the mechanisms driving this resilience effect and show that improved ESG practices are associated with reduced purchasing costs and higher profitability amid disruptions. … we provide robust evidence that ESG enhances operational congruency with suppliers, which becomes critical in securing a procurement advantage during severe external constraints. Contrary to popular belief, there is little evidence that the ESG improves price premiums during the disruption“ (abstract). My comment: My detailed recommendations for supplier evaluations and supplier engagement see Supplier engagement – Opinion post #211 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

NGOs and Greenwashing: Scrutinizing Corporate Sustainability Claims. Evidence from NGOs’ Greenwashing Allegations and Firms’ Responses by Janja Brendel, Cai Chen, and Thomas Keusch as of April 9th, 2024 (#107): “We find that advocacy NGOs (Sö: Non-Governmental Organizations) increasingly campaign against greenwashing, targeting predominantly large, publicly visible firms in the consumer-facing and oil and gas industries. These campaigns mostly accuse firms of making misleading or false statements in communication outlets such as product labels, advertisements, and public relations campaigns about companies’ impacts on climate change and consumer health. Shareholders and the media react to NGO campaigns, especially when they allege greenwashing of material environmental or social performance dimensions. Finally, firms facing environment-related greenwashing allegations disclose less environmental information in the future, while companies criticized for climate-related greenwashing reduce future greenhouse gas emissions“ (abstract). My comment see Neues Greenwashing-Research | CAPinside

New gender research: Who Cares about Investing Responsibly? Attitudes and Financial Decisions by Alberto Montagnoli and Karl Taylor as of April 30th, 2024 (#25): “Using the UK Financial Lives Survey data … our analysis reveals that, firstly, individual characteristics have little explanatory power in terms of explaining responsible investments, except for: education; gender; age; and financial literacy. Secondly, those individuals who are interested in future responsible investments are approximately 7 percentage points more likely to hold shares/ equity, and have around 77% more money invested in financial assets (i.e. just under twice the amount)“ (abstract).

New gender research: Index Inclusion and Corporate Social Performance: Evidence from the MSCI Empowering Women Index by Vikas Mehrotra, Lukas Roth, Yusuke Tsujimoto, and Yupana Wiwattanakantang as of May 14th, 2024 (#48): “… we focus on the years surrounding the introduction of the MSCI Empowering Women Index (WIN), in which membership is based on a firm’s gender diversity performance in the workforce. … firms ranked close to the index inclusion threshold enhance their proportion of women in the workforce following the WIN inception compared to control firms that are distant from the inclusion threshold. Notably, these improvements are not accompanied by a reduction in male employees, … we observe that the enhancement of women’s representation in the workforce predominantly occurs in management positions, rather than at the rank-and-file positions, which remain largely unchanged. Additionally, there is evidence of a cultural shift within these firms, as indicated by a reduction in overtime and a higher incidence of male employees taking parental leaves in the post-WIN period. Moreover, WIN firms experience an increase in institutional ownership without any discernible decline in firm performance or shareholder value …” (p. 26).

Impact investment research

ESG bonus leeway: ESG & Executive Remuneration in Europe by Marco Dell’Erba and Guido Ferrarini as of May 6th, 2024 (#160): “… a qualitative and empirical analysis of the ways in which the major 300 largest corporations by market capitalization in Europe (from the FTSEurofirst 300 Index) implement ESG factors in their remuneration policies. … Few metrics are clearly measurable, and there is a general lack of appropriate metrics and targets” (p. 36/37). My comment see Wrong ESG bonus math? Content-Post #188 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Bank net zero failure: Business as Usual: Bank Net Zero Commitments, Lending, and Engagement by Parinitha (Pari) Sastry, Emil Verner, and David Marques-Ibanez as of April 23rd, 2024 (#876): “This paper is the first attempt to quantify whether banks with a net zero pledge have made meaningful changes to their lending behavior. … we find that net zero lenders have not divested from emissions-intensive firms, in mining or in the sectors for which they have set targets. This holds both for borrowing firms in the eurozone, as well as across the globe. We also find limited evidence that banks reallocate financing towards low-carbon renewables projects within the power generation sector, casting doubt on within-sector portfolio reallocation. Further, we do not find evidence for engagement. Firms connected to a net zero bank are no more likely to set decarbonization targets, nor do they reduce their carbon emissions“ (p. 35).

Other investment research: in New gender research

New gender research: Wealth creators or inheritors? Unpacking the gender wealth gap from bottom to top and young to old by Charlotte Bartels, Eva Sierminska, and Carsten Schroeder as of Apri 28th, 2024 (#157): Using unique individual level data that oversamples wealthy individuals in Germany in 2019, we find that women and men accumulate wealth differently. Transfer amounts and their timing are an important driver of these differences: men tend to inherit larger sums than women during their working life, which allows them to create more wealth. Women often outlive their male partners and receive larger inheritances in old age. Yet, these transfers come too late in order for them to be used for further accumulation and to start a business. Against this backdrop, the average gender wealth gap underestimates the inequality of opportunity that men and women have during the active, wealth-creating phase of the life course” (p. 7).

Inflation ignorants: Don’t Ignore Inflation Ignorance: An Experimental Analysis of the Degree of Money Illusion in Individual Decision Making by Nicole Branger´, Henning Cordes, and Thomas Langer as of Dec. 30th, 2024 (#18): “Money illusion refers to the tendency to evaluate economic transactions in nominal rather than real terms. One manifestation of this phenomenon is the tendency to neglect future inflation in intertemporal investment decisions. Empirical evidence for this “inflation ignorance” is hard to establish due to the host of factors that simultaneously change with the inflation rate. … We find money illusion to be substantial – even in experimental settings where the bias cannot be driven by a lack of diligence, arithmetic problems, or misunderstandings of inflation. Our findings contribute to understanding various anomalies on the individual and market level, such as insufficient savings efforts or equity mispricing“ (abstract).

Active risk: Sharpe’s Arithmetic and the Risk Matters Hypothesis by James White, Vladimir Ragulin, and Victor Haghani from Elm Wealth as of Dec. 20th, 2023 (#140): “… the authors present … the „Risk Matters Hypothesis“ (RMH), which asserts that the average risk-adjusted excess return across all active portfolios will be greater than the risk-adjusted excess return of the market portfolio, before accounting for fees and trading costs” (abstract).

AI for the big guys only? A Walk Through Generative AI & LLMs: Prospects and Challenges by Carlos Salas Najera as of Dec. 20th, 2023 (#68): “Generative AI has firmly established its presence, and is poised to revolutionise various sectors such as finance. Large Language Models (LLMs) are proving pivotal in this transformation according to their recent impressive performances. However, their widespread integration into industries might only lead to gradual progress. The investment sector faces challenges of inadequate expertise and notably, the substantial costs associated with inhouse model training. Consequently, investment enterprises will confront the choice of leveraging foundational models, customisable variants, or insights from NLP vendors who remain well-versed in the latest advancements of LLMs” (p. 9). My comment: See How can sustainable investors benefit from artificial intelligence? – GITEX Impact

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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) und verwendet separate E-, S- und G-Best-in-Universe-Mindestratings sowie ein breites Aktionärsengagement bei derzeit 26 von 30 Unternehmen: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T und My fund – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Biodiversity Diversgence illustration with seed toto by Claudenil Moraes from Pixaby

Biodiversity diversion: Researchpost #165

Biodiversity diversion: 14x new research on donations, brown indices, ESG ETFs, ESG investing fees, greenwashing, labeled bonds, climate engagement, framing, female finance, and risk measurement (“’#” shows full paper SSRN downloads as of Feb. 29th, 2024).

Social and ecological research

Facebook donations: Does Online Fundraising Increase Charitable Giving? A Nationwide Field Experiment on Facebook by Maja Adena and Anselm Hager as of Feb. 27th, 2024 (#4): “Using the Facebook advertising tool, we implemented a natural field experiment across Germany, randomly assigning almost 8,000 postal codes to Save the Children fundraising videos or to a pure control. … We found that (i) video fundraising increased donation revenue and frequency to Save the Children during the campaign and in the subsequent five weeks; (ii) the campaign was profitable for the fundraiser; and (iii) the effects were similar independent of video content and impression assignment strategy. However, we also found some crowding out of donations to other similar charities or projects.” (abstract).

Biodiversity diversion (1)? The 30 by 30 biodiversity commitment and financial disclosure: Metrics matter by Daniele Silvestro, Stefano Goria, Ben Groom, Thomas Sterner, and Alexandre Antonelli as of Nov. 23rd, 2023 (#93): “The recent adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework commits nearly 200 nations to protect 30% of their land by 2030 – a substantial increase from the current global average of c. 17%. … the easiest approach to reach compliance would be to protect the cheapest areas. … Here we explore biological and financial consequences of area protection … We find substantial differences in performance, with the cheapest solution always being the worst for biodiversity. Corporate disclosure provides a powerful mechanism for supporting conservation but is often dependent on simplistic and underperforming metrics. We show that conservation solutions optimized through artificial intelligence are likely to outperform commonly used biodiversity metrics“ (abstract).

ESG investment research (in: „Biodiversity diversion“)

Biodiversity diversion (2): A Bibliometric and Systemic Literature Review of Biodiversity Finance by Mark C. Hutchinson and Brian Lucey as of Feb. 19th, 2024 (#140): “This study presents a short bibliometric analysis of biodiversity finance …. Six focal areas emerge, with Conservation, Conservation Finance, and Ecosystem Finance prominent. Thematic emphasis revolves around biodiversity challenges and the inefficiency of financial mechanisms in addressing them. Our analysis reveals an exploitable gap in the lack of finance-led solutions” (abstract).

Brown stock indices: International trade in brown shares and economic development by Harald Benink, Harry Huizinga, Louis Raes, and Lishu Zhang as of Feb. 22nd, 2024 (#9): “Using global stock ownership data, we find a robust negative relation between the tendency by investors to hold brown assets and economic development as measured by log GDP per capita. … First, at the country level, economic development is likely to lead to a greening of the national stock portfolio. Second, cross-sectionally, richer countries will tend to hold greener portfolios. … Finally, we find that investors in richer countries have a lower propensity to divest from browner firms that are included in the MSCI World index, which does not consider firms’ carbon intensities” (p. 31/32). My comment: Most (institutional) investors use benchmarks. Green benchmarks should be used more often to foster transition (regarding benchmark selection compare Globale Small-Caps: Faire Benchmark für meinen Artikel 9 Fonds? (prof-soehnholz.com).

ESG ETF dispersion: From ESG Confusion to Return Dispersion: Fund Selection Risk is a Material Issue for ESG Investors by Giovanni Bruno and Felix Goltz from Scientific Beta as of Feb. 22nd, 2024: “… we construct a dataset of Sustainable ETFs – passive ETFs that have explicit ESG objectives. … Overall, our results indicate that ESG investors face a large fund selection risk. Over the full sample dispersion is 6.5% (4.9%) in terms of annualised CAPM Alpha (Industry Adjusted Returns), and it can reach 22.5% (25.3%) over single calendar years. We also show that past performance and tracking error do not contain useful information on future performance. … dispersion in performance allows ETF providers to always present investors some strategy that has recently outperformed“ (p. 31). My comment: It would be nice to have more details in the research article regarding conceptual differences e.g. between ESG Leader, Transition and SRI indics/ETFs, see e.g. Verantwortungsvolle Investments im Vergleich: SRI ETFs sind besser als ESG ETFs (prof-soehnholz.com) from 2018

Good ESG ETFs: Unraveling the Potential: A Comprehensive Analysis of ESG ETFs in Diversified Portfolios across European and U.S. Markets by Andrea Martínez-Salgueiro as of Feb. 15th, 2024 (#10): “… results indicate substantial benefits of ESG ETFs in Europe and notable hedge, diversification, and safe-haven potential in the U.S. Simulated data further demonstrate ESG portfolios‘ outperformance, especially in Europe, highlighting the risk-return tradeoff” (abstract).

Responsible fees: Responsible Investment Funds Build Consistent Market Presence by Jordan Doyle as of Feb. 21st, 2024: “… during the study period from 31 December 2012 to 31 December 2022. Total net assets for “responsible investments” as defined by Lipper increased by a factor of 2.7×, from $2,215.6 billion in 2012 to $5,974.6 billion in 2022. The market share of responsible investment funds remained relatively constant during the same period, increasing from 14.2% in 2012 to 15.4% in 2022. … Retail ownership dominates institutional ownership of responsible investment funds globally. In the United States, however, institutional assets surpassed retail assets in 2018, indicating a relative shift in demand preferences. … they both invest more assets into negative screening funds than any other type of responsible investment strategy …fund fees of responsible investing funds are largely in line with those of non-responsible investment fund fees in the United States. In Europe, however, responsible investment fund fees tend to be lower than non-responsible investment fund fees“ ( p. 3).

Unsustainable institutions? Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation: voluntary signaling or mandatory disclosure? by Lara Spaans, Jeroen Derwall, Joop Huij, and Kees Koedijk as of Feb. 19th, 2024 (#38): “… we point out that (i) the SFDR similarly to voluntary disclosure enables funds to signal their sustainability commitments to the market, while (ii) like mandatory disclosure, requires these funds to be transparent about the sustainability outcomes of their underlying portfolio … we show that investors indeed respond to the Article signals, but that this effect is driven by retail investors. … we see that mutual funds that take on an Article 8(/9) label after the SFDR announcement improve their sustainability outcomes compared to Article 6 funds. Specifically, we note that retail funds behave in accordance with their signal, while for institutional funds we do not find that Article 8(/9) funds behave differently from Article 6 funds. We disregard the hypothesis that these institutional funds partake in ‘window-dressing’, instead we find evidence that mandatory disclosure induces European institutional funds to significantly improve their sustainability outcomes compared to untreated, US-domiciled institutional funds“ (p. 32). My comment: For my Article 9 (global smallcap fund) see www.futurevest.fund and My fund (prof-soehnholz.com).

Less greenwashing: Do US Active Mutual Funds Make Good of Their ESG Promises? Evidence from Portfolio Holdings by Massimo Guidolin and Monia Magnani as of Feb. 23rd, 2024 (#22): “… our findings indicate a distinct shift towards greater sustainability within the mutual equity fund industry. Notably, this trend is not exclusive to self-labelled ESG funds; all types of funds have enhanced their ESG ratings and reduced their investments in sin stocks. The number of self-labelled ESG funds has continued to rise in recent years, and importantly, most of these ESG funds, on average, appear to genuinely adhere to their claims of prioritizing sustainable investing. Consequently, they demonstrate significantly higher actual ESG scores in their portfolio holdings. Moreover, we are witnessing a noticeable reduction in sin stocks within their portfolios“ (p. 34).

SDG- aligned and impact investment research

Sustainable returns: Labeled Bonds: Quarterly Market Overview Q4 2023 by Jakub Malich and Anett Husi from MSCI Research as of Feb. 21st, 2024:  Green, social, sustainability and sustainability-linked “Labeled-bond issuance reached a similar level in 2023 as in 2022, which was notably below the peak issuance of 2021. … The market continued to grow both in size and diversity, as hundreds of new and recurring corporate and government-related issuers brought labeled bonds to the market. … Most newly issued and outstanding labeled bonds were investment-grade and issued by ESG leaders … the performance of labeled bonds, despite their distinctions from conventional bonds, was primarily driven by key fixed-income risk and return drivers, such as interest-rate sensitivity, currency fluctuations and credit risk“ (p. 18). … “Corporate issuers led issuance in the fourth quarter, with USD 75 billion worth of labeled bonds (63% of the total), while supranational, sovereign and agency (SSA) entities issued USD 44 billion (37%). This continues a shift in the labeled-bond market, with corporate issuers taking a more central role” (p. 4).

Index impact: The Impact of Climate Engagement: A Field Experiment by Florian Heeb and  Julian F. Kölbel as of Feb. 6th, 2024 (#361): “A randomly chosen group of 300 out of 1227 international companies received a letter from an index provider, encouraging the company to commit to setting a science-based climate target to remain included in its climate transition benchmark indices. After one year, we observed a significant effect: 21.0% of treated companies have committed, vs. 15.7% in the control group. This suggests that engagement by financial institutions can affect corporate policies when a feasible request is combined with a credible threat of exit” (abstract). My comment: It would be interesting to know the assets of the funds threatening to divest (index funds are often large). Hopefully, this type of shareholder engagement also works for active (and small) asset managers. Further shareholder engagement research see e.g. Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (prof-soehnholz.com)

ESG nudging: Optimistic framing increases responsible investment of investment professionals by Dan Daugaard, Danielle Kent, Maroš Servátka, and Lyla Zhang as of Jan. 1zh, 2024 (#33): “… we report insights from an incentivized online experiment with investment professionals … The analyzed sample consists of individuals who stated their intention to increase their investment in ESG within the next 10 years … We demonstrate that framing divestment decisions in a more optimistic orientation, with an emphasis on the transitory nature of costs and the permanency of future benefits, significantly increases responsible investment by 3.6%. With total professionally managed assets valued at USD $98.4 trillion globally, a comparable effect size would represent a USD $3.6 trillion shift in asset allocations” (p. 12).

Other investment research (in: „Biodiversity diversion“)

Gender differences: The Gender Investment Gap: Reasons and Consequences by Alexandra Niessen-Ruenzi and Leah Zimmerer as of Jan. 27th, 2024 (#31): „ Women, compared to men, report larger financial constraints, higher risk aversion, perceived stress in financial matters, and lower trust in financial institutions. As a result, women save and invest less consistently than men. Conditional on investing, women use fewer financial products, particularly in equity investments. We find a significant gender gap in stock market participation, with 17.6% of women and 32.3% of men investing. The motives and barriers influencing stock market participation also diverge, with men leaning towards short-term gains and the thrill of investing, while women commonly cite unfamiliarity with stocks and fear of potential losses as primary reasons for non-participation” (abstract).

New performance indicator: Maximum Cumulative Underperformance: A New Metric for Active Performance Management by Kevin Khang and Marvin Ertl from The Vanguard Group as of Jan. 18th, 2024 (#29): “… we define maximum cumulative underperformance (MaxCU)—the maximum underperformance of an active fund relative to the benchmark … The greater the benchmark return environment and the longer the investment horizon, the greater MaxCU investors should expect … Ex-ante, our framework can be used to articulate the investor’s tolerance for underperformance relative to the benchmark and inform the final active allocation decision at the outset. Ex-post, our framework can be used to set the base rate for terminating a manager who has suffered a sizeable underperformance“ (p. 19/20). My comment: Useful concept, but benchmark selection is very important for this approach. For the latter problem see e.g. Globale Small-Caps: Faire Benchmark für meinen Artikel 9 Fonds? (prof-soehnholz.com)

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Diversification myths: Picture shows reduction of sustainability for more diversified portfolios

Diversification myths: Researchpost #159

Diversification myths: 14x new research on ESG and consumption, ESG data, ESG washing, ESG returns, climate risks, voting, divestments, diversification myths, anomalies, trend following, real estate and private equity (# shows number of full paper downloads as of Jan. 18th, 2024)

Social and ecological research

Low ESG-consumption effect: How Do Consumers Use Firm Disclosure? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment by Sinja Leonelli, Maximilian Muhn, Thomas Rauter, and Gurpal Sran as of Jan. 11th, 2024 (#79): “In a sample of more than 24,000 U.S. households, we first establish several stylized facts: (i) the average consumer has a moderate preference to purchase from ESG-responsible firms; (ii) consumers typically have no preference for more or less profitable firms; (iii) consumers rarely consult ESG reports and virtually never use financial reports to inform their purchase decisions. … Consumers increase their purchase intent when exogenously presented with firm-disclosed positive signals about environmental, social, and—to a lesser extent—governance activities. Full ESG reports only have an impact on consumers who choose to view them, whereas financial reports and earnings information do not have an effect. After the experiment, consumers increase their actual product purchases, but these effects are small, short-lived, and only materialize for viewed ESG reports and positive social signals. … we provide explanations for why consumers (do not) change their shopping behavior after our information experiment“ (abstract).

ESG investment research (Diversification myths)

ESG data criticism: ESG Data Primer: Current Usage & Future Applications by Tifanny Hendratama, David C. Broadstock, and Johan Sulaeman as of Jan. 12th, 2024 (#66): “ESG data is important, and will become even more so as time progresses. … There remains a prevalent use of combined ESG scores instead of E, S and G specific pillar scores; The use of combined ESG, and pillar specific scores may themselves detract focus away from crucial underlying raw data; Empirical research depends heavily on a small number of ESG data providers; That some data providers focus more on the E than the S – creating a need for data users to make sure the scoring ethos of each provider aligns with their expectations and requirements; There is a potentially material quantity of ESG data inconsistencies which could result in unintended investment allocation” (p. iv). My comment: I use segregated E, S and G ratings since many years and best-in-universe instead of best-in-class ratings

Costly washing: ESG washing: when cheap talk is not cheap! by Najah Attig and Abdlmutaleb Boshanna as of Dec. 26th, 2023 (#63): “… we introduce an easily replicable ESG washing measure. We then document a robust negative impact of ESG washing on corporate financial performance … we show that the COVID-19 pandemic incentivized firms to engage in increased overselling of their ESG performance. Taken together, our new evidence suggests that ‚cheap talk is not cheap‘ and the misalignment between ‘ESG talk’ and ‘ESG walk’ not only fails to serve shareholders‘ best interests but may also undermine a firm’s social license to operate” (abstract).

Disclosure or performance? The relation between environmental performance and environmental disclosure: A critical review of the performance measures used by Thomas Thijssens as of Jan. 9th, 2024 (#8): “More extensive disclosures may even be a signal for inferior rather than superior performance in terms of actual environmental impact. This suggestion is fueled by the observations that more polluting industries have on average more extensive ED (Sö: Environmental disclosure) and higher environmental commitment is associated with higher GHG emissions“ (p. 18). My comment: Most other studies known to me show – in general – positive effects of more disclosure

Performance-neutral ESG: Drawing Up the Bill: Is ESG Related to Stock Returns Around the World? by Rómulo Alves, Philipp Krüger, and Mathijs van Dijk as of Jan. 13th, 2024 (#47): “… our analysis of a comprehensive global database (including 16,000+ stocks in 48 countries and seven different ESG rating providers over 2001-2020) uncovers very little evidence that ESG ratings are related to stock returns around the world. … thus it has been possible to “do good without doing poorly.” Our findings also suggest that the prices of strong ESG stocks have not consistently been driven up, and that, going forward, ESG investors could potentially still benefit from any demand effects resulting in the pricing of ESG preferences. On the flip side, our analysis implies that ESG investing has so far not been effective in reducing (increasing) the cost of equity capital of strong (poor) ESG firms, which could lead firms to internalize climate and social externalities (Fama 2021, Pástor et al. 2021)“ (p. 14). My comment: I could not agree more for the small and midcap companies on which I focus

Huge climate risks: How climate stress test may underestimate financial losses from physical climate risks by a factor of 2-3x by Jakob Thomä from 1 in 1000 and Theia Finance Labs as of Dec. 1st, 2023: “A high baseline climate risk (i.e. using a climate stress-test model with meaningful baseline GDP losses over the next 30 years) stress-test scenario can create a 10% shock to global equity markets. A combination of climate tipping points, ecosystem decline, and social risks can increase that number as a cumulative risk to 27%, almost 3x the baseline losses. A low baseline scenario of a 4% shock in turn turns into a 14% shock when considering these other factors. These losses are dramatic as they are secular and not cyclical. It is worth flagging that this event would be unprecedented in modern financial market history“ (p. 4). My comment: Thanks to Bernd Spendig for informing me about this study.

Climate risk aversion: Institutionelle Investor:innen und physische Klimarisiken vom Lehrstuhl für Sustainable Finance, Universität Kassel as of September Dec. 17th, 2023: “Approximately 40 percent of the surveyed institutions do not take physical climate risks into account when valuing corporate bonds. In addition, a majority of respondents who already take physical climate risks into account are unsure whether these risks are adequately taken into account. In this regard, Part II reveals that 80% of the surveyed institutional investors believe that physical climate risks are not adequately reflected in the risk premiums of corporate bonds” (abstract).

Impact investing research

Voting deficits: Voting matters 2023 by Abhijay Sood at al from Share Action as of Jan. 11th, 2024: “In 2023, only 3% of assessed resolutions passed, just eight out of 257 resolutions. This is down from 21% of assessed resolutions in 2021 … In 2023, the ‘big four’ (BlackRock, Vanguard, Fidelity Investments, and State Street Global Advisors) only supported – on average – one eighth of those put forward, a marked drop since 2021 … Eight asset managers with public net zero targets supported fewer than half of all climate resolutions … Three quarters of all shareholder proposals covered in our study asked only for greater corporate disclosure, including those which some asset managers have deemed overly “prescriptive”. The other quarter of resolutions ask for movement in line with globally agreed climate goals or international human rights standards. … Resolutions at financial services companies on fossil fuel financing received the lowest support by asset managers of any climate-related topic” (p. 8-10). My comment: I focus more on direct dialogue (engagement) than voting, see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (prof-soehnholz.com)

Divestment myths: Beyond Divestment by David Whyte as of Jan. 16th, 2024 (#11): “The top 20 shareholders in both BP and Shell have increased their total number of shares by three quarters of a billion in BP, and half a billion in Shell since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. Indeed, although 47% of BP shareholders and 54% of Shell shareholders have reduced their stake, net share ownership overall has risen significantly in both companies. … more than a quarter of the 20 investors who made the most significant reductions in shareholdings in either BP or Shell increased their overall fossil fuel investment. … only 60 institutional investors have sold all of their shares in the two oil firms. This represents 3% of BP and 4% of Shell shareholders“ (abstract).

Other investment research (Diversification myths)

Diversification myths: Diversification Is Not A Free Lunch by Dirk G. Baur as of Jan. 3rd, 2024 (#56): “We … demonstrate that diversification generally comes at a cost through lower returns and is thus not a free lunch. While the risk of diversified portfolios is clearly lower than that of less diversified or undiversified portfolios, the return is generally also lower. There is only one exception. If the investor is ignorant and picks stocks randomly, diversification is a free lunch. … if diversification is a free lunch, it would violate the fundamental positive risk – return relationship in finance. Specifically, if risk can be reduced without a cost, risk and return are not positively aligned” (p.15). My comment: Even for randomly picked stocks the marginal gains of diversification are very low (see p. 11) whereas the reductions in sustainability – which are not covered in this paper – can be high, see 30 stocks, if responsible, are all I need – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Normal anomalies: Anomalies Never Disappeared: The Case of Stubborn Retail Investors by Xi Dong and Cathy Yang as of Dec. 29th, 2023 (#56): “Our examination of 260 anomalies challenges the prevailing notion that market efficiency erodes anomaly-based profits, these anomalies continue to thrive, especially over longer timeframes. We demonstrate that retail investors play a pivotal role in the persistence of these anomalies. Their stubborn trading patterns, especially against anomalies, not only contribute to initial mispricing but also lead to delayed price corrections“ (p. 37).

Trend following theory: Speculating on Higher Order Beliefs by Paul Schmidt-Engelbertz and Kaushik Vasudevan as of Aug.3rd, 2023 (#187): “We study investors’ higher order beliefs, using survey data from the Robert Shiller Investor Confidence surveys. While previous work has documented instances of non-fundamental speculation – investors taking positions in a risky asset in a direction that conflicts with their fundamental views – we find that such speculation is the norm for the U.S. stock market. The majority of investors in the Shiller surveys, who represent an important class of investors, report that other investors have mistaken beliefs, but nevertheless report positive return expectations from speculating in the direction of these mistaken beliefs. In addition, investors report that they believe that stock markets overreact and exhibit momentum and reversal in response to news. … We find that higher order beliefs may substantially amplify stock market fluctuations. When investors exhibit the same fundamental belief biases that they attribute to other investors, patterns such as overreaction, momentum, and reversal can persist in equilibrium, even though everybody knows about them“ (p. 37/38). My comment: I use simple trend following strategies to reduce drawdown-risks for investors who do not like bond investments but not to try to enhance returns

US Real Estate: A First Look at the Historical Performance of the New NAV REITs by Spencer J. Couts and Andrei S. Goncalves as of Jan.12th, 2024 (#31): “…we study the historical investment performance of NAV REITs relative to public bonds, public equities, and public REITs from 2016 to 2023. … First, the smoothness of NAV REIT returns due to lagged price reactions creates an important challenge to the measurement of the alphas of NAV REIT investments relative to public market indices. Moreover, return unsmoothing methods significantly mitigate (but do not fully solve) this issue. Second, traditional performance analysis indicates that NAV REIT investments generated substantial alpha (above 5% per year) relative to public indices over our sample period“ (p. 26).

PE calculation-uncertainties: Unpacking Private Equity Performance by Gregory Brown and William Volckmann as of Dec. 20th., 2023 (#31): “… complicating the analysis are the increasingly common practices of funds using subscription lines of credit (fund-level debt) and recycling capital. Even the variation in the timing of capital deployment across funds has important implications for common performance measures used to evaluate funds such as internal rate of return (IRR) and multiple on invested capital (MOIC). …. values likely observed during fundraising periods for subsequent funds – are strongly affected by subscription lines and deployment pacing. Intermediate MOICs are only weakly affected by subscription lines, but strongly affected by capital deployment pacing. Both IRRs and MOICs are strongly affected by recycle deal accounting methodology“ (abstract). “When a fund utilizes subscription lines, net IRR is very sensitive over the life cycle of the fund and can massively exaggerate performance during the investment/fundraising period. Net MOIC can also be exaggerated early in the investment period …” (p. 17).

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Biodiversity risk illustration with Marine Life picture fom Pixabay

Biodiversity risk: Researchpost #153

Biodiversity risk: 10x new (critical) research on ESG ETF and net-zero, sustainability-linked bonds, lifecycle and thematic investments, altruism and stablecoins

Biodiversity risk research

Broad biodiversity risk: Living in a world of disappearing nature: physical risk and the implications for financial stability by Simone Boldrini, Andrej Ceglar, Chiara Lelli, Laura Parisi, and Irene Heemskerk from the European Central Bank as of Nov. 14th, 2023 (#23): “Of the 4.2 million euro area NFCs (Sö: Non-financial corporations) that were included in our research, around 3 million are highly dependent on at least one ecosystem service. … approximately 75% of euro area banks’ corporate loans to NFCs (nearly €3.24 trillion) are highly dependent on at least one ecosystem service. … we have enough data and knowledge available to enable timely and nature-friendly decision-making” (p. 38).

Biodiversity risk reduction? How could the financial sector contribute to limiting biodiversity loss? A systematic review by Lisa Junge, Yu-Shan Lin Feuer, and Remmer Sassen as of Feb. 7th, 2023 (#109) “the currently available scientific discourse is also not unanimous about the status of biodiversity in finance. Therefore, this paper aims to synthesise existing publications to gain transparency about the topic, conducting a systematic review. Three main concepts emerge about how the private finance sector can aid in halting biodiversity loss, namely: (1) by increasing awareness of biodiversity, (2) by seizing biodiversity-related business opportunities, and (3) by enlarging biodiversity visibility through reporting. Overall, we assume that the private finance sector upholds a great leverage power in becoming a co-agent of positive biodiversity change”(abstract).

Responsible investment research (Biodiversity risk)

Blackrock-problem? Fossil-washing? The fossil fuel investment of ESG funds by Alain Naef from Banque de France as of Nov. 16th, 2023 (#19): “… I analysed all the large equity Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) labelled as ESG available at the two largest investors in the world: Blackrock and Vanguard. For Blackrock, out of 82 funds analysed, only 9% did not invest in fossil fuel companies. Blackrock ESG funds include investments in Saudi Aramco, Gazprom or Shell. But they exclude ExxonMobil or BP. This suggests a best-in-class approach by the fund manager, picking only certain fossil fuel companies that they see as generating less harm. But it is unclear what the criteria used are. For Vanguard, funds listed as ESG did not contain fossil fuel investment. Yet this needs to be nuanced as information provided by Vanguard on investments is less transparent and Vanguard offers fewer ESG funds” (abstract). My comment: For my ESG and SDG ETF-selection I use demanding responsibility criteria and more so for my direct equity portfolios, see the newly updated Das-Soehnholz-ESG-und-SDG-Portfoliobuch.pdf (soehnholzesg.com)

Listed equity climate deficits: The MSCI Net-Zero Tracker November 2023 – A guide to progress by listed companies toward global climate goals from the MSCI Sustainability Institute as of November 2023: “Listed companies are likely to put 12.4 gigatons (Gt) of GHG emissions into the atmosphere this year, up 11% from 2022. … global emissions are on track reach 60.6 Gt this year, up 0.3% from 2022. … Domestic emissions in eight emerging-market G20 countries examined rose by an average of 1.2% per year over the period, while emissions of listed companies in those markets climbed 3.2% annually. … Just over (22%) of listed companies align with a 1.5°C pathway, as of Aug. 31, 2023 … Listed companies are on a path to warm the planet 2.5°C above preindustrial levels this century … More than one-third (34%) of listed companies have set a climate target that aspires to reach net-zero, up from 23% two years earlier. Nearly one-fifth (19%) of listed companies have published a science-based net-zero target that covers all financially relevant Scope 3 emissions, up from 6% over the same period” (page 6/7).

ESG or cash flow? Does Sustainable Investing Make Stocks Less Sensitive to Information about Cash Flows? by Steffen Hitzemann, An Qin, Stanislav Sokolinski, and Andrea Tamoni as of Oct. 30th, 2023 (#56): “Traditional finance theory asserts that stock prices depend on expected future cash flows. … Using the setting of earnings announcements, we find that sustainable investing diminishes stock price sensitivity to earnings news by 45%-58%. This decline in announcement-day returns is mirrored by a comparable drop in trading volume. This effect persists beyond the immediate announcement period, implying a lasting alteration in price formation rather than a short-lived mispricing“ (abstract).

Similar calls: SLBs: no cal(l)amity by Kamesh Korangi and Ulf Erlandsson as of Nov. 16th, 2023 (#13): A common criticism of sustainability-linked bonds (SLBs) has been around callability, where it is sometimes suggested that bond issuers are pushing this feature into bond structures to wriggle out of sustainability commitments. … Our analysis finds scant quantitative evidence to support this critique. Overall, when comparing SLBs with similar non-SLB issuances, we observe little ‘excess’ callability in SLBs. The key to this result is to control for sectors, ratings and issue age when comparing SLBs with the much larger market of traditional bonds” (p. 1).

Other investment research

100% Equity! Beyond the Status Quo: A Critical Assessment of Lifecycle Investment Advice by Aizhan Anarkulova, Scott Cederburg and Michael S. O’Doherty as of Nov.1st, 2023 (#950): “We challenge two central tenets of lifecycle investing: (i) investors should diversify across stocks and bonds and (ii) the young should hold more stocks than the old. An even mix of 50% domestic stocks and 50% international stocks held throughout one’s lifetime vastly outperforms age-based, stock-bond strategies in building wealth, supporting retirement consumption, preserving capital, and generating bequests. These findings are based on a lifecycle model that features dynamic processes for labor earnings, Social Security benefits, and mortality and captures the salient time-series and cross-sectional properties of long-horizon asset class returns” (abstract).

Lemming investors? The Big Shortfall? Thematic investors lose lion’s share of returns due to poor timing by Kenneth Lamont and Matias Möttölä from Morningstar as of Nov. 15th, 2023 : “While thematic funds‘ average total return was 7.3% annualized over the five-year period through June 30, 2023, investors earned only a 2.4% return when the impact of cash inflows and outflows is considered. … Investors lost more value in focused funds such as those tracking Technology or Physical World broad themes compared with more diversified Broad Thematic peers. Return gaps were far wider in exchange-traded funds than in thematic mutual funds. ETFs tend to offer more concentrated bets and lend themselves to tactical usage. The largest return shortfalls occur across highly targeted funds, which posted eye-catching performance, attracting large net inflows before suffering a change of fortune“ (p. 1). My comment: My approach to thematic investments see e.g. Alternatives: Thematic replace alternative investments (prof-soehnholz.com)

Risk-loving altruists? Can Altruism Lead to a Willingness to Take Risks? by Oded Shark as of Mov. 7th, 2023 (#7): “I show that an altruistic person who is an active donor (benefactor) is less risk averse than a comparable person who is not altruistic: altruism is a cause of greater willingness to take risks” (abstract). … “The lower risk aversion of an altruistic person … might encourage him to pursue risky ventures which could contribute to economic growth and social welfare” (p. 7).

Unstable coins? Runs and Flights to Safety: Are Stablecoins the New Money Market Funds? by Kenechukwu Anadu et al. from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston as of Oct. 9th, 2023 (#743): “… flight-to-safety dynamics in money market funds have been extensively documented in the literature—with money flowing from the riskier prime segment of the industry to the safer government segment … flight-to-safety dynamics in stablecoins resemble those in the MMF industry. During periods of stress in crypto markets, safer stablecoins experience net inflows, while riskier ones suffer net outflows. … we estimate that when a stablecoin’s price hits a threshold of 99 cents (that is, a price drop of 100 basis points relative to its $1 peg), investor redemptions accelerate significantly, in a way that is reminiscent of MMFs’ “breaking the buck … Should stablecoins continue to grow and become more interconnected with key financial markets, such as short-term funding markets, they could become a source of financial instability for the broader financial system” (p. 33).

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Responsible Derivatives illustration shows manager juggler

Responsible derivatives? Researchpost #150

Responsible derivatives: 10x new research on migration, ESG labels, biodiversity measurement, effective shareholder voting, responsible investing mandates, green derivatives, structured products, stock market models, IPOs and alternative investments (# shows the number of full paper SSRN downloads as of Nov. 2nd, 2023)

Social and ecological research (responsible derivatives)

Migration policy backlash: The Effect of Foreign Aid on Migration: Global Micro Evidence from World Bank Projects by Andreas Fuchs, Andre Groeger, Tobias Heidland and Lukas Wellner as of Oct. 2023: “Our short-term results indicate that the mere announcement of a World Bank aid project significantly decreases migration preferences. We find similar effects for project disbursements, which also reduce asylum seeker flows to the OECD in the short run. This reduction seems related to enhanced optimism about the economic prospects in aid recipient provinces and improved confidence in national institutions. In the longer run, aid projects increase incomes and alleviate poverty. The negative effect of aid on asylum seeker flows fades out, and regular migration increases. … There is no evidence in our study that targeting the “root causes” of migration through aid on average increases irregular migration or asylum seeker numbers. … In the short run, aid projects reduce migration preferences and asylum seeker flows to the OECD from Latin America, MENA, and non-fragile Sub-Saharan African countries. However, we do not find a significant effect in fragile countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, which are an important source of irregular migration to Europe. For policymakers, a key takeaway from our study is that aid projects do not keep people from migrating from the 37 most hostile environments, but they can be effective in more stable environments” (p. 37/38).

Sustainable investing research (responsible derivatives)

Rating beats label: Talk vs. Walk: Lessons from Silent Sustainable Investing of Mutual Funds by Dimitrios Gounopoulos, Haoran Wu, and Binru Zhao as of Oct. 26th, 2023 (#81): “… in the Morningstar fund sustainability rating landscape, most funds with top ratings do not self-label as ESG funds (“silent” sustainable investing). … We find that investors tend to overemphasize ESG labels and often overlook sustainability rating signals in the market. More importantly, we show that “silent” funds with high sustainability ratings have comparable return performance to ESG funds and that high sustainability ratings have a stronger influence on mitigating fund risks than the ESG label” (p. 33/34). My comment: In general, I agree. But the type of ESG rating used is also very important. Watch out for my next opinion blogpost on Apple, Amazon, Alphabet etc. and their ESG-ratings

Biodiversity confusion: Critical review of methods and models for biodiversity impact assessment and their applicability in the LCA context by Mattia Damiani, Taija Sinkko, Carla Caldeira, Davide Tosches, Marine Robuchon, and Serenella Sala as of Nov. 17th, 2022 (#139): “… The five main direct drivers of biodiversity loss are climate change, pollution, land and water use, overexploitation of resources and the spread of invasive species. …  this article aims to critically analyse all methods for biodiversity impact assessment … 54 methods were reviewed and 18 were selected for a detailed analysis … There is currently no method that takes into account all five main drivers of biodiversity loss” (abstract).

Explain to change: Voting Rationales by Roni Michaely, Silvina Rubio, and Irene Yi as of Aug. 16th, 2023 (#279): “…studying voting rationales of institutional investors from across the world, for votes cast in US companies’ annual shareholder meetings between July 2013 and June 2021. … institutional investors vote against directors mainly because of (lack of) independence and board diversity. We also find evidence of some well-known reasons for opposing directors, such as tenure, busyness, or firm governance. Institutional investors are increasingly voting against directors due to concerns over environmental and social issues. Our results indicate that voting rationales are unlikely to capture proxy advisors’ rationales, but rather, the independent assessment of institutional investors. … We find that companies that receive a higher proportion of voting rationales related to board diversity (or alternatively, excessive tenure or busy directors) increase the fraction of females on board in the following year (reduce average tenure or director busyness), and the results are driven by companies that receive high shareholder dissent. … our results suggest that disclosure of voting rationales is an effective, low-cost strategy that institutional investors can use to improve corporate governance in their portfolio companies“ (p. 31/32).

Impact impact? Evaluating the Impact of Portfolio Mandates by Jack Favilukis, Lorenzo Garlappi, and  Raman Uppal as of Oct. 2nd, 2023 (#56): “… we examine the impact of portfolio (Sö: e.g. ESG or impact investing) mandates on the allocation of physical capital in a general-equilibrium economy with production and heterogenous investors. … we find that the effect of portfolio mandates on the allocation of physical capital across sectors can be substantial. In contrast, the impact on the equilibrium cost of capital and Sharpe ratio of firms in the two sectors remains negligible, consistent with existing evidence. Thus, a key takeaway of our analysis is that judging the effectiveness of portfolio mandates by studying their effect on the cost of capital of affected firms can be misleading: small differences in the cost of capital across sectors can be associated with significant differences in the allocation of physical capital across these sectors” (p. 31/32). My comment: With my ESG and SDG investing mandates I want to invest as responsibly as possible and hope to achieve similar performances as less responsible investments. With this approach, there is no need to try to prove lower cost of capital for responsible companies.

Responsible derivatives? Climate Risk and Financial Markets: The Case of Green Derivatives by Paolo Saguato as of Oct. 30th, 2023 (#37): “The post-2008 derivatives markets are more transparent and more collateralized than before. However, this regulatory framework might impose excessive regulatory and compliance costs to derivatives market which would undermine market incentives and hamper financial innovation in the green derivatives. … Right now, bespoke OTC sustainable derivatives are the predominant structures in the market, but as soon as green assets and sustainability benchmark standardization will become the norm, then exchange-traded green derivatives might start to develop more strongly, providing a valuable and reliable support to a green transition” (p. 23).

Other investment research

Responsible derivatives? Structured retail products: risk-sharing or risk-creation? by Otavio Bitu, Bruno Giovannetti, and Bernardo Guimaraes as of October 31, 2023 (#151): “Financial institutions have been issuing more complex structured retail products (SRPs) over time. Is risk-sharing the force behind this financial innovation? Is this innovation welfare-increasing? We propose a simple test for that. If a given type of SRP is not based on risk-sharing and pours new unbacked risk into the financial system, we should observe an unusual negative relation between risk and expected return offered to buyers across products of that type. We test this hypothesis using a sample of 1,847 SRPs and find that a relevant type of SRP (Autocallables) creates new unbacked risk” (abstract).

Irrational finance professional? Mental Models of the Stock Market by Peter Andre, Philipp Schirmer, and Johannes Wohlfart as of Oct. 31st, 2023 (#74): “Financial markets are governed by return expectations, which agents must form in light of their deeper understanding of these markets. Understanding agents’ mental models is thus critical to understanding how return expectations are formed. … We document a widespread tendency among households from the general population, retail investors, and financial professionals to draw inferences from stale news regarding future company earnings to a company’s prospective stock return, which is absent among academic experts. This striking difference in their return forecasts results from differences in agents’ understanding of financial markets. Experts’ reasoning aligns with standard asset pricing logic and a belief in efficient markets. By contrast, households and financial professionals appear to employ a naive model that directly associates higher future earnings with higher future returns, neglecting the offsetting effect of endogenous price adjustments. This non-equilibrium reasoning stems from a lack of familiarity with the concept of equilibrium rather than inattention to trading or price responses. … Our findings – that mental models differ across economic agents and that they drastically differ from standard economic theories among important groups of households and financial professionals who advise and trade for these households – are likely to have significant implications. For example, our findings can provide a new perspective on previously documented anomalies in return expectations and trading decisions” (p. 30/31).

M&A not IPO: IPOs on the decline: The role of globalization by M. Vahid Irani, Gerard Pinto, and Donghang Zhang as of Oct. 2nd, 2023 (#37): “Using the average percentage of foreign sales as a proxy for the level of globalization of the U.S. economy or a particular industry, we find that the decline in U.S. initial public offerings (IPOs), particularly small-firm IPOs, is significantly positively associated with the level of globalization at both the macroeconomy and the industry levels. We also find that increased globalization of an industry makes a U.S. private firm in the industry more likely to choose M&A sellouts over IPOs as an exit strategy”“ (abstract).

Unattractive Alternatives: Endowments in the Casino: Even the Whales Lose at the Alts Table by Richard M. Ennis as of Oct. 27th, 2023 (#516): “For more than two decades, so-called alternatives—hedge funds, private-market real estate, venture capital, leveraged buyouts, private energy, infrastructure, and private debt—have been the principal focus of institutional investors. Such investments now constitute an average of 60% of the assets of large endowments and 30% of public pension funds. … … endowments—across the board—have underperformed passive investment alternatives by economically wide margins since the GFC (Sö: Global Financial Crisis) … We observe that large endowments have recorded greater returns than smaller ones because they take greater risk (have a greater equity exposure), not as a result of their alt investing. In fact, their greater returns have occurred in spite of their heavier weighting of alt investments. Alt-investing has not been a source of diversification of stock market risk. … I estimate that institutional investors pay approximately 10 times as much for their alts as they do for traditional stock-bond strategies… despite exhibiting some skill with alts, large endowments would have been better off leaving them alone altogether” (p. 8/9). My comment: See Alternatives: Thematic replace alternative investments (prof-soehnholz.com)

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Liquid impact 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 27 of 28 companiesFutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T or Noch eine Fondsboutique? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

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 (naaim.org)

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 (prof-soehnholz.com)

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 (prof-soehnholz.com) or Active or impact investing? – (prof-soehnholz.com)

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 (prof-soehnholz.com)

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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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 30 of 30 engaged companiesFutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T; also see Active or impact investing? – (prof-soehnholz.com)

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GHG math illustration with CO2 picture from Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

GHG math issues – Researchpost #134

GHG math: 10x new research on supply chains, oil and gas companies, EU taxonomy, green employees, green technologies, brown dividends, shareholder wealth and stock trading by Henrik Bessembinder, Andreas Hoepner, Christian Klein, Frank Schiemann and many more  (#: SSRN downloads on July 13th, 2023)

Ecological and social research: GHG math

Complex supplies: How Far Goods Travel: Global Transport and Supply Chains from 1965-2020 by Sharat Ganapati and Woan Foong Wong as of May 9th, 2023 (#94): “Transportation usage per unit of real output has more than doubled as costs decreased by a third. Participation of emerging economies in world trade and longer-distance trade between countries contribute to this usage increase, thereby encouraging longer supply chains. We discuss technological advances over this period, and their interactions with endogenous responses from transportation costs and supply chain linkages. Supply chains involving more countries and longer distances are reflective of reliable and efficient transportation, but are also more exposed to disruptions, highlighting the importance of considering the interconnectedness of transportation and supply chains in policymaking and future work” (abstract).

GHG math problems: Abominable greenhouse gas bookkeeping casts serious doubts on climate intentions of oil and gas companies by Sergio Garcia-Vega, Andreas G. F. Hoepner, Joeri Rogelj and Frank Schiemann as of May 23rd, 2023 (#136): “In our analysis of the Scope 1 emissions reported by companies from the Oil & Gas industry and their respective breakdowns, we found a considerably large amount of misreporting. First, on average, we find that 38.9% of the companies do not add up to the sum of Scope 1 emissions reported. …. in 15.5% of the cases, the sum of the breakdowns exceeds the total Scope 1 emissions reported by the company. … Scope 1 emissions only constitute a small, yet very easiest-to-report fraction of the GHG emissions O&G companies …“ (p. 10/11).

Greenwashing risk: Emissions gaming? A gap in the GHG Protocol may be facilitating gaming in accounting of GHG emissions by David Aikman, Yao Dong, Evangelos Drellias, Swarali Havaldar, Marc Lepere, and Matthias Nilsson as of June 2023: “The framework for calculating firms’ greenhouse gas emissions via the GHG Protocol is highly complex. It involves the collection and management of large datasets on companies’ activities, and both scientific and estimation uncertainty in translating such activities into emissions estimates. Moreover, there are substantial degrees of freedom created by the existence of multiple calculation methods and emission factor databases, which deliver markedly different emissions estimates for the same underlying activity data inputs. … If gaming opportunities are fully exploited, actual emissions for some firms could be several times larger than those currently reported“ (abstract).

German taxonomy gap: Let’s talk numbers: EU Taxonomy reporting by German companies by Jannis Luca Arnold, Thomas Cauthorn, Julia Eckert, Christian Klein and Sebastian Rink as of June 28th, 2023: “On average, 26 percent EU Taxonomy-eligible turnover is reported. … the Consumer Discretionary, Industrial, Real Estate, and Utility industries have substantially higher EU Taxonomy-eligible turnover, CapEx and OpEx. … Real Estate has the highest average EU Taxonomy-eligible turnover at 93 percent. In contrast, Health Care and Consumer Staples have zero percent EU Taxonomy-eligible turnover. The Utility industry has an average EU Taxonomy-eligible turnover of 26 percent. However, Utilities have the highest EU Taxonomy-aligned turnover (15 percent), CapEx (68 percent) and OpEx (34 percent). On average, three percent EU Taxonomy-aligned turnover (of eligible turnover) is reported“ (p. 42).

Green employees: Green Behavior: Factors Influencing Behavioral Intention and Actual Environmental Behavior of Employees in the Financial Service Sector by Joachim P. Hasebrook, Leonie Michalak, Anna Wessels, Sabine Koenig, Stefan Spierling and Stefan Kirmsse  as of August 30th, 2022: “A smartphone friendly online survey concerning the intention to improve and show ‘green behavior’ was sent to 1200 professionals working in 17 locations in 13 European countries, 470 of which responded to the survey (39%). From these participants, 20% are convinced of the need to act in a “green” manner, and only 5% are hardly accessible. Monetary benefits combined with social motives contribute to sustainable living, whereas financial benefits alone actually hinder it“ (abstract). My comment: Companies and investors should try to leverage the interest of employees in ESG. My respective stakeholder engagement proposal see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (prof-soehnholz.com)

Responsible investment research: GHG math

11 green key technologies: Delivering transformative impact from US green bank financing by McKinsey as of April 20th, 2023: “To reach net zero by 2050, the United States could need an estimated $27 trillion in climate investment. … This report focuses specifically on the estimated need for and impact of investment in 11 key technologies across three themes—household and community decarbonization, business decarbonization, and energy system transformation. Aiding these particular investments could advance the GHGRF’s (Sö: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund) dual goals of reducing emissions and benefiting disadvantaged communities while also fulfilling its mission to provide “additionality” through investments that would not have occurred without its funding” (p. 4).

Brown dividends: “Brown” Risk or “Green” Opportunity? The dynamic pricing of climate transition risk on global financial markets by Philip Fliegel as of July 13th, 2023 (#8): “I utilize the TRBC business classification to categorize companies in three climate sensitive sectors into high/low-risk portfolios based on the climate transition risk exposure of their technologies. … My results show that green stocks produce a highly significant double-digit annual alpha, especially in the 7 years following the Paris Agreement. This is well above all previous estimates and might be explained by my proposed methodology which can identify brown and green “pure-plays” in the most climate sensitive economic sectors. … The return expectation today is very different from 2013 … My dividend yield findings indicate that the expect payouts for brown portfolios today is indeed substantially higher compared to green portfolios“ (p. 23). My comment: Shouldn’t brown companies invest in green transition instead of distributing dividends? See ESG Transition Bullshit? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Supplier GHG math: Quantifying Supply Chain ESG Risks: A Flexible Framework by Alejandro Gaba, Toby Warburton, and Hao Yin from State Street as of July 13th, 2023 (#4): “.., the calculation of Scope 3 emissions is difficult and costly. … we propose a simple and intuitive approach to calculating the emissions resulting from a company’s base of suppliers. … Empirical tests suggest that the proposed metric makes a statistically significant contribution in explaining the outputs of conventional approaches, in addition to those from Scope 1 and Scope 2 measures. Furthermore, our model offers a flexible framework for evaluating other types of ESG risks embedded in a firm’s value chain” (Abstract). My comment: 2 of my five engagement focus topics are Scope 3 GHG emissions and supplier ESG evaluations, see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (prof-soehnholz.com)

Traditional investment research

Few big winners: Shareholder Wealth Enhancement, 1926 to 2022 by Hendrik Bessembinder as of June 18th, 2023 (#636):  “Investments in publicly-listed U.S. stocks enhanced shareholder wealth by more than $55.1 trillion in aggregate during the 1926 to 2022 period, even while investments in the majority (58.6%) of the 28,114 individual stocks led to reduced rather than increased shareholder wealth. The degree to which wealth enhancement is concentrated in relatively few stocks has increased over time: for example, the number of high-performing firms that explain half of the net wealth creation since 1926 decreased from ninety as of 2016 to eighty-three as of 2019 and to seventy-two as of 2022. I identify the firms with both the largest enhancements and largest reductions in shareholder wealth since 1926 and during more recent intervals” (abstract).

Too frequent info: Alert for Alerts: How Investment Price Tracking Alerts Affect Retail Investors by Che-Wei Liu, Yanzhen Chen, and Ming-Hui Wen as of June 5th, 2023 (#97): “… we reveal that price tracking alerts, which provide convenient access to price data and cost-effective investment monitoring, lead to increased trading activity, suboptimal market timing, and diminished investment returns. Furthermore, our findings suggest that the availability of such investment management tools intensifies overconfidence bias and magnifies the disadvantage of inadequate financial literacy“ (p. 35).

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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 28 of 30 companies engaged: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T

Molehills as picture for green cover investments

Green cover investments: Researchpost #120

Green cover investments: 10x new research on carbon offset accounting, green cover and fading green investments, greenium, divestment criticism, SDG benchmarks, and real estate inflation risk

Ecological research

Offset-Accounting: Accounting for carbon offsets – Establishing the foundation for carbon-trading markets by Robert S. Kaplan, Karthik Ramanna, and Marc Roston as of Feb. 28th, 2023 (#198): “Tackling climate change requires not only reducing GHG emissions but also removing GHG from the atmosphere. … But existing carbon-offset markets have been criticized for poor measurement practices and inadequate controls, resulting in transaction of products that do not materially sequester carbon. … we apply basic financial-accounting principles to develop an accurate and auditable framework for offset accounting. … rigorous accounting for emissions and offsets can improve and expand markets for impactful decarbonization” (abstract).

Responsible investment research: Green cover investments

Green cover investments? Do Investors Compensate for Unsustainable Consumption Using Sustainable Assets? by Emily Kormanyos as of Feb. 28th, 2023 (#61): “… high-footprint consumers seem to understand the environmental impacts of their consumption patterns, and aim to offset them by investing specifically in securities which have extremely low-emission profiles. I present additional evidence that investors use only these specific securities to offset their carbon-based emissions, whereas portfolios with high general ESG ratings do not exhibit such a relation to unsustainable consumption. … I show that Catholicism, historically tied to financial offsetting practices through the 15th and 16th-century letters of indulgence, is significantly and positively related to the sustainability profile of retail investor portfolios … Finally, I conduct a survey with 3,646 clients of the same bank that provided the administrative data analyzed in this paper, finding that the majority of investors underestimate their own carbon footprints from consumption. This underestimation increases systematically in the size of the survey participants’ real footprints …”  (p. 45/56).

Advert for German investors: “Sponsor” my research by investing in and/or recommending my article 9 mutual fund. The fund focuses on social SDGs and midcaps, uses separate E, S and G best-in-universe minimum ratings and broad shareholder engagement. The fund typically scores very well in sustainability rankings, e.g. see this free new tool, and the performance is relatively good: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T, see also Artikel 9 Fonds: Kleine Änderungen mit großen Wirkungen? – (prof-soehnholz.com)

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Pixabay picture of trees in Celle by Gerd Funke as symbol for green illusion

Green illusion: Researchblogposting #108

Green illusion: 15x new research on social media, Scope 3, CSR, ESG bonifications, sovereigns, pensions, securitization, microfinance, trend-following, IQ, VCs and fintech by Jonas Heese, Andreas Hoepner, Fabiola Schneider et al.

Ecological and social research: Green illusion

Good social media: The Monitoring Role of Social Media by Jonas Heese and Joseph Pacelli as of Nov. 22nd (#104): “This paper examines the effect of social media on firm misconduct through multiple empirical strategies. … Mobile broadband access, and 3G internet in particular, is a key driver of growth in the use of social media applications. Our results indicate that facilities reduce violations by 1.8% and penalties by 13% in the three-year period following the introduction of 3G. … our findings suggest that social media is an effective monitor of corporate misconduct” (p. 35/36). My comment: With my article 9 fund I invest in telecom infrastructure companies (i.a.)

Green illusion? Beyond Scope 3: Modelling Resilience to a Lower-Emissions Future by Debarshi Basu, Gerald T Garvey, Shuangzi Guo, and Ryan Zamani from Blackrock as of Dec. 6th, 2022 (#31): “We … compute the full supply-chain adjusted carbon footprint of 57 industries in 54 countries … We find a significant full-scope carbon footprint of industries such as Finance and Health Care despite their small direct emissions. At the other end, high-emitting industries such as Air Transport, Retailing, and Rubber support a wide range of otherwise low-carbon downstream activities and appear resilient to a low carbon transition. To test the model with historical data, we use high historical energy prices to proxy more stringent carbon regulation. Industries that our model classifies as resilient perform equally across high and low energy prices. By contrast, industries that are currently classified as green based on naïve emissions significantly underperform in times of high energy costs” (abstract).

Advert for German investors: “Sponsor” my research by recommending my article 9 fund. The minimum investment is approx. EUR 50 and return and risks are relatively good: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T: I focus on social SDGs and midcaps and use best-in-universe as well as separate E, S and G minimum ratings. The fund typically scores very well in sustainability rankings, see this new tool for example.

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