Archiv der Kategorie: Bonds

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

Ungreen banks: Researchpost #141

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

Social and ecological research: Ungreen banks

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

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

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

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

Responsible investment research: Ungreen banks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other investment research

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

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

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


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

Technology risks: Researchpost #139

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

Social and ecological research (Technology risks)

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

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

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

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

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

ESG and impact investing research

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

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

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

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

AI and other investment research (Technology risks)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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 engaged companiesFutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T; also see Active or impact investing? – (

Corporate governance illustration shows office worker with surveillance camera from Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Corporate governance and more: Researchpost #138

Corporate governance: 19x new research on German wealth, ESG real world impact, CDR, circular economy, ESG ratings, ESG AI, supplier ESG, climate data, green govvies and corporates, private equity ESG, VCs and UBS by Reiner Braun, Florian Ederer, Andreas Egert, Arnd Huchzermeier, Tim Kröncke and many more (# of SSRN downloads on August 10th, 2023) 

Social and ecological research

Rich Germans: Distributional National Accounts (DINA) for Germany, 1992-2016 by Stefan Bach, Charlotte Bartels, and Theresa Neef as of June 26th, 2023 (#36): “… Our DINA series show that economic growth has been pro-rich from 1992 to 2007 and pro-poor from 2007 to 2016. But although incomes of the bottom 50% have resumed to grow since 2007, the income gap between the bottom 50% and the top 10% has widened between 1992 and 2016. The ratio of top 10% to bottom 50%’s average incomes has increased from eight to ten. … Germany’s highly concentrated economic elite – Germany’s top 0.1% and 0.01% income share is similar to the United States and far above France. Germany’s top business income recipients primarily hold firms as partnerships predominantly owned by two to four shareholders, while top business income earners in the United States and France hold shares in corporations“ (p. 30/31).

CDR case studies: How Responsible Digitalization Creates Profitable Pathways to Sustainability by Niklas Werle and Arnd Huchzermeier as of June 24th, 2023 (#21): “… we show that companies that committed to CDR (Sö: Corporate Digital Responsibility) successfully implemented digitally enabled sustainability strategies. … we conclude that responsible digitalization enables improved sustainability and contributes to reaching not only the UN SDG goals but also carbon neutrality. This study contributes to the research on CDR by showcasing exemplary outcomes from pioneering companies and developing a framework explaining the effects of CDR practices“ (p. 23).

No ESG sales impact? Do consumers vote with their feet in response to negative ESG news? Evidence from consumer foot traffic to retail locations by Svenja Dube, Hye Seung (Grace) Lee, and Danye Wang as of July 20th, 2023 (#118): “We conduct an event-study analysis in the 21-day window around the release of negative ESG news. … individuals in counties with higher ESG consciousness (proxied with income, education, political affiliation, and population density) decrease their visits to stores following negative ESG news. … However, the magnitude of the response is inconsequentially small even for these most affected consumers” (p. 36).

Circular definition: Circular Economy by Mark Anthony Camilleri, Benedict Sheehy, and Kym Fraser as of June 26th, 2023 (#7):“This contribution features the submission of one of the most important sustainability keywords to Springer’s Encyclopedia of Sustainable Management. It provides a definition and an introduction to the circular economy (CE). It describes key policies and regulatory interventions that are meant to promote the CE agenda“ (abstract).

ESG investment research: Asset class independent (Corporate Governance and more)

ESG rating criticism: ESG Ratings—Guiding a Movement in Search for Itself by Andreas Engert as of July 31st, 2023 (#114): “ESG ratings deliver the short-hand evaluation that investors need to incorporate environmental, social, and governance aspects in their decision-making. … an ESG rating can serve two distinct purposes: either to inform financial investors about long-term risks and returns from ESG-related factors or to guide prosocial investors in awarding a “greenium” subsidy for social performance. Because the information demands differ, ESG rating providers should commit to either one of these missions. The paper analyzes the specific problems of ratings serving prosocial investors. Implicitly or explicitly, such ratings reflect an ordering of political priorities that rating providers have to set. … Standardizing ESG ratings would further strengthen the effect of impact investing but seems unlikely to be attainable“ (abstract). My comment: ESG ratings typically (should) measure ESG-risks for the rated entities and SDG ratings typically (should) measure the SDG-alignment of products and services offered

Chat ESG: Overcoming Complexity in ESG Investing: The Role of Generative AI Integration in Identifying Contextual ESG Factors by Yash Jain, Shubham Gupta, Serhan Yalciner, Yashodhan Joglekar, Parth Khetan, and Tony Zhang as of July 18th, 2023 (#171): “… The results of this study suggest that GPT 3.5 is capable of generating informative and accurate responses to prompts related to ESG. … we found that it has the ability to provide insights into various ESG-related topics, such as climate change, social responsibility, and corporate governance. Furthermore, the use of APIs in this study allowed for efficient and effective data collection and analysis“ (p. 32).

Supplier ESG: The Sustainability Reporting Ripple: Direct and Indirect Implications of the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive for SME Actors by Deirdre Ahern as of July 27th, 2023 (#31): “The unique regulatory lens of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive challenges affected companies, not just to mechanically report on, but to qualitatively consider how other partners in their value chain (including SMEs) impact on achievement of the company’s sustainability goals. … although the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive has not imposed any new reporting requirements on SMEs, except for those with securities listed on regulated markets in the EU, the indirect impact on the SME sector can be expected to be far broader. … The signal that the information required from value chain SMEs should be no more onerous that under the simplified reporting standards for listed SMEs is important to ensure regulatory coherence, feasibility, and to reduce the administrative burden on regulated actors and SMEs in the value chain” (p. 20/21). My comment: One of the focus areas of my shareholder engagement activities is to include suppliers in ESG-improvements across the whole value chain, see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (

Governance research 1: Corporate Governance Characteristics and Involvement in ESG Activities: Current Trends and Research Directions by Anand Kumar, Tatiana Garanina, and Mikko Ranta as of July 26th, 2023 (#38): “Our unique combined approach towards conducting a literature review allows us to come up with the key research topics in the area, their deep analysis and identification of the current and future research trends. A review of corporate governance and ESG literature suggests a shift towards a more strategic and practically oriented papers” (abstract).

Governance research 2: A Literature Review on Corporate Governance and ESG research: Emerging Trends and Future Directions by Bruno Buchetti and Francesca Romana Arduino as of August 5ht, 2023 (#112): “… our findings reveal that a variety of elements, such as the inclusion of female directors, the participation of institutional investors, the appointment of independent directors, the existence of specific CEO traits, a strategically formulated directors’ compensation scheme, and the establishment of a sustainability committee, all positively influence ESG outcomes. On the other hand, it seems that family ownership may adversely impact ESG performance. Our review has also highlighted several research areas where, we believe, future research should contribute“ (p. 30).

Climate data chaos: Are Implied Temperature Rise Metrics as Inconsistent as ESG Ratings?: Examining Firm-Level Disagreement among Data Providers by Lea Chmel, Manuel C. Kathan, and Sebastian Utzas of June 29th, 2023 (#20): “This study documents substantial heterogeneity in valuating firms regarding their ITR (Sö: Implied Temperature Rise) values across different providers. Pairwise Pearson correlations range from −0.133 to 0.313 and indicate disagreement among providers. … We find that energy-intensive industry sectors and a headquarter located in North America seem to be the strongest drivers for the disagreement. … size and tangibility also appear to be determinants of higher divergence in the ITR values of firms. This is puzzling since larger firms are covered by more analysts, on average. … underlying assumptions are not observable to investors, making the exact methodology to determine an ITR value a black box …”.

ESG investment research: Bonds and Loans (Corporate Governance and more)

Brown Govvies: A framework to align sovereign bond portfolios with net zero trajectories by Inès Barahhou, Philippe Ferreira, and Yassine Maalej from Kepler Cheuvreux as of July 26th, 2023 (#76):  “The first conclusion that we drew from our analysis is that it is necessary to impose significant constraints on the optimisation programme. Otherwise, the resulting net zero portfolios may appear unrealistic for investors. … We also highlighted that the choice of the carbon metric is fundamental for net zero alignment. …. Production-based metrics tend to favour developed countries because their industries are more efficient, and they have relocated carbon-intensive activities overseas. In contrast, consumption-based carbon metrics favour emerging countries which tend to have more carbon-efficient consumption habits. … considering carbon emissions or carbon intensities paints very different pictures of the carbon dynamics. … we are not able to find solutions to our net zero problem until 2050. … that unless there is a significant improvement in countries’ behaviours, the main sovereign bond universe will be highly incompatible with an increase in global temperature below 1.5°C“ (p. 40/41). My comment: For my responsible multi-asset portfolios, since many years I use bonds of multilateral development banks instead of government bonds, see

Green cover: Corporate Green Bonds: Market Response and Corporate Response by Sanjai Bhagat and Aaron Yoon as of July 13th, 2023 (#81): “… per the Green Stakeholder Hypothesis, announcement of green bond issuance should elicit a positive stock market response for the company … Per the Greenwashing Hypothesis, the stock market will respond non-positively to green bond issuance announcements. … Consistent with the Greenwashing Hypothesis, we do not find any significant market response to these green bond announcements. … We document no change in carbon emissions subsequent to the announcement of green bonds. … In the year of the green bond announcements, the abnormal operating performance of these announcing firms is significantly negative. This is consistent with the argument that managers of these firms are using the green bond announcements as a cover for their poor business performance“ (p. 24/25).

Sustenium: The Pricing of Sustainability Linked Bonds on the Primary and Secondary Bond Market  by Jannis Poggensee as of July 13th, 2023 (#33): “The central innovation SLBs provide is that their financial characteristics can vary depending on whether a predefined sustainable performance target has been achieved or not. Typically, the coupon steps-up 25bps for the remaining lifetime of the bond if the target will not be achieved. … investor pay higher prices (accept lower returns) for green assets reflected in the premium SLBs trade both on the primary and on the secondary market on average. Issuers benefit from lower cost of capital, although this effect is decaying“ (p. 32).

Green innovation premium: Can firms adopting a green innovation policy fetch better deals from debtholders? A study on G7 countries by Vu Quang Trinh, Hai Hong Trinh, Tam Huy Nguyen, and Giang Phung as of June 26th,2023 (#38):.“… We find that high green innovation lowers the corporate cost of debt … Specifically, high-level green innovation engagement facilitates firms to reduce their carbon intensity (risk) and the likelihood of bankruptcy … The better borrowing deals underneath green innovation are also more likely to be acquired in financially constrained businesses. … prolonged green innovation engagement helps firms secure a lower cost of debt because it signifies both a richer experience and higher commitment, increasing trust from debt providers …”(abstract).

ESG investment research: Equities (Corporate Governance and more)

Costly ESG: The Cost of Being Green: How ESG Ratings Affect a Firm’s Cost of Equity by Alessio Galluzzi, Fergus O’Donnell, and Reuben Segara as of July 10th, 2023 (#123): “We find that a one standard deviation increase in ESG ratings is linked to a significant 15 basis points increase in a firm’s COE on average. This relationship is predominantly observed among S&P 500 firms or large firms, while its impact is less pronounced for energy-intensive firms. These findings highlight the importance of considering industry-specific dynamics, firm-level characteristics, and the broader investment climate when assessing the impact of ESG ratings on a firm’s COE“ (abstract).

Brown Private Equity: ESG in the Top 100 US Private Equity Firms by Garen Markarian, Calvin Rakotobe, and Alexander Semionov as of July 17th, 2023 (#96): “… we conduct an examination of the ESG practices of the top 100 private equity firms in the United States, a sector that represents over $1.5 trillion of committed capital and directly employs 12 million individuals. … We find that approximately 58% of these private equity firms disclose no information about their ESG practices. Moreover, of the firms that do disclose, two-thirds provide sparse and uninformative ESG information. … Internal Rate of Return (IRR) does not predict ESG scores overall but relates to higher social scores.“ (p. 31).

Other investment research

Unquant PE: Limited Partners versus Unlimited Machines; Artificial Intelligence and the Performance of Private Equity Funds by Reiner Braun, Borja Fernández Tamayo, Florencio López-de-Silanes, Ludovic Phalippou, and Natalia Sigrist as of July 3rd, 2023 (#1556): “… traditional quantitative factors and document readability proxies, are poor predictors of future performance. In addition, we do not find our proxies of fundraising success at the beginning of a fund’s life are actually correlated with ultimate fund performance. … Results show that approaches exploiting the qualitative information disclosed to investors in PPMs (Sö: Private placement memorandum) have important predictive power for ultimate fund success …“ (p. 25/26).

Big tech control: The Great Startup Sellout and the Rise of Oligopoly by Florian Ederer and Bruno Pellegrino as of Aril 14th, 2023 (#638): “… we documented a secular shift from IPOs (Sö: Initial public offerings) to acquisitions by VC-backed startups. … firms face an increasingly high (opportunity) cost of going public … dominant companies that are disproportionately active in the corporate control market for startups (such as GAFAM) appear to have become more insulated from the product market competition over the same period. These facts are consistent with the hypothesis that startup acquisitions have contributed to rising oligopoly power in high-tech sectors …” (p. 7). My comment: One more reason for not investing with big techs?

Swiss bailout: The UBS-Credit Suisse Merger: Helvetia’s Gift by Pascal Böni, Tim Kröncke, and Florin Vasvari as of July 13th, 2023 (#204): “We show that the UBS-CS-merger … created a net value of 22.8 bn USD, distributed to UBS stockholders (5.1 bn USD), CS stockholders (-1.1 bn USD), and CS bondholders (18.8 bn USD). The combined wealth effect cannot be explained by the participating firms’ abnormal returns on securities. … we find that there have likely been large transfers of wealth from taxpayers to UBS/CS stakeholders. … First, we argue that UBS stockholders have profited from bidding restrictions imposed by the government. … Second, we believe that CS bondholders profited from substantial coinsurance effects. Third, the “too-big-to-fail” channel, combined with a material loss protection agreement which covered a specific portfolio of CS assets (corresponding to approximately 3% of the combined assets of the merged bank) may have contributed to the combined wealth effect. Finally, and importantly, we infer from our analysis that the government intervention likely came at the cost of a significant jump in Switzerland’s sovereign credit risk and thus an increase in its expected cost of debt, implying the risk of a substantial taxpayer wealth transfer in the magnitude of approximately six to seven billion USD” (p.23/24).


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Impact impact illustration by Geralt from Pixabay

Impact impact? Researchpost #137

Impact impact? 18x new research on pension taxes, food carbon labels, sector investing, brown divestments, biodiversity, ESG fund flows, governance washing, impact investing, stewardship, shareholder engagement, divestments, social bonds, article 9 funds and asset allocation (# of SSRN downloads on August 3rd, 2023) by Marco Becht, Tobias Berg, Timo Busch, Thierry Roncalli, Laurens Swinkels and many more

Social and ecological research

Pension taxes: Does a Decrease in Pension Taxes Increase Retirement Savings? An Experimental Analysis by Kay Blaufus, Michael Milde, and Alexandra Spaeth as of June 12th, 2023 (#34): “Many countries use tax incentives to promote retirement savings. … Using a series of experiments, we demonstrate that decreasing pension tax rates does not encourage retirement savings. … In contrast, an increase in the tax refund rate, i.e., the rate at which individuals can deduct their retirement savings, increases savings. … all subjects were fully informed about the tax rules and passed comprehension tests on these rules. Nevertheless, we observe significant misperceptions regarding taxes on pension income. … an instrument that increases current tax benefits is more effective than one that decreases future tax burdens even if both instruments are economically equivalent. … we show that substituting deferred taxation with economically equivalent immediate taxation increases the (effective) savings rate by 7.2 percentage points without changing tax revenue” (p. 28/29).

Food carbon labels: Should Carbon Footprint Labeling be Mandatory for all Food Products? RCT Shows no Benefit beyond Labeling the Top Third by Pierre Chandon, Jad Chaaban, and Shemal Doshi as of June 12th, 2023 (#26): “Carbon footprint labels have been shown to lead consumers to choose food products with lower CO2 emissions … We asked 1,081 American consumers to shop in an experimental online grocery store and choose one frozen meal among the full assortment of a major American grocer … A 16.5% reduction in emissions was achieved by labeling the top third of products, with no statistically significant improvement gained by further increasing the proportion of labeled products” (abstract).

ESG and internal control: Corporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Performance and the Internal Control Environment by Jacquelyn Sue Moffitt, Jeanne-Claire Alyse Patin, and Luke Watson as of June 15th, 2023 (#59): “We find that ESG performance is negatively related to the likelihood of general internal control weaknesses, consistent with transparent reporting. We also find that ESG performance is negatively related to company-level internal control weaknesses, which are considered relatively severe. Further, we find that ESG performance is negatively associated with specific internal control weaknesses that indicate a lack of ethical tone at the top. … Overall, our results suggest that ESG performance is positively associated with the strength of the internal control environment“ (abstract).

ESG investing research: Impact impact?

Environmental sector investing: Environmental Preferences and Sector Valuations by Tristan Jourde and Arthur Stalla-Bourdillon as of July 7th, 2023 (#75): “… we explore the dynamic nature of pro-environmental preferences among investors through the lens of sector valuations in global equity markets from 2018 to 2021. … we find that firms’ green and brown sector affiliations are significantly priced in the global equity market, positively for green sectors and negatively for brown sectors. Furthermore, companies operating in green sectors have become increasingly overvalued relative to the rest of the market between 2018 and 2021, and vice versa for those operating in brown sectors … In addition, the turnover rate of both green and brown companies has increased over the last years …“ (p. 19). My comment: An update of the study after the 2022 market development would be interesting.

Brown divestments: Climate risk and strategic asset reallocation by Tobias Berg, Lin Ma, and Daniel Streitz as of Feb. 28th, 2023 (#128): “We document that large emitters, i.e., firms that are part of the Climate Action 100+ scheme, started to reduce their combined Scope 1 and 2 emissions by around 12% in the years after the 2015 Paris Agreement relative to other public firms with positive carbon emission levels. … There is no evidence for increased engagements in other emission reduction activities. … we find that buyers of large asset sales tend to be private, financial, and other firms that do not disclose emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project. … We provide evidence that is consistent with increased regulatory risk being a main driver of the effects“ (p. 25/26). My comment: I am skeptical regarding Transition investments see ESG Transition Bullshit? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Biodiversity premium: A closer look at the biodiversity premium by Guillaume Coqueret and Thomas Giroux as of Juy 21st, 2023 (#163): “… while this (Sö: biodiversity) premium is not unconditionally strong, there are dimensions along which it may prove substantial. For instance, air pollution is priced significantly more than land use, even though the latter has a more decisive impact on the environment. Another important subtlety lies in the distinction between realized versus expected returns (from investors). Our results show more pronounced effects on expected returns. … Lastly, like all other premia, the biodiversity factor experiences fluctuating returns. The recent period is associated with largely negative premia, especially for expected returns. Our analysis shows that a few variables are able to explain some time-variations, notably attention to biodiversity and climate, oil prices, and consumer sentiment” (p. 17).

Good ESG capital: ESG Capitals and Corporate Value Creation by Banita Bissoondoyal-Bheenick, Scott Bennett, and Angel Zhong as of June 12th, 2023 (#110): “Our paper has documented that investing in ESG capital … can lead to better short-term and long-term shareholder wealth … In the short term, the ESG capital triggers sharp financial return improvement for a firm to improve their ESG capital from a very low point (i.e., a firm that seldom considers ESG activities and culture) to an average ESG performance. Such positive effects are small but still positive if the firm continues to enhance its ESG capital from the middle range towards the top level in the market. We also find that investment in ESG capital can positively and interactively influence other capitals, such as financial, innovation and manufacturing capitals, to improve financial returns. Under a good ESG environment, more holding of the other capitals could lead to more significant financial returns than each capital could achieve individually“ (p. 23/24).

Provider-friendly ESG? Machine-Learning about ESG Preferences: Evidence from Fund Flows by George O. Aragon and Shuaiyu Chen as of July 29th, 2023 (#36): “We first construct a broad dataset of ESG scores for active equity mutual funds based on funds’ stock holdings and stock-level scores from six prominent ESG data providers. We document substantial dispersion in scores across providers, but that many scores nevertheless have predictive power for flows. … Over our 2010–2020 sample period, we find that funds with higher ESG benefits subsequently realize higher flows, lower net returns against the benchmark, lower value-added from net returns, and hold stocks that underperform other stocks. We estimate that investors pay an annual premium of $11 million to invest in a fund with ESG benefits in the top decile. Overall, our findings shed new light on the relevance of ESG scores and the ESG preferences of investors“ (p. 23). My comment: The fund flows should be positive for my pure ESG fund and portfolios, see e.g. Artikel 9 Fonds: Kleine Änderungen mit großen Wirkungen? – (

Governance-washing: The G-pillar in ESG: how to separate the wheat from the chaff in comply-or-explain approach? by Daniela Venanzi as of June 26th, 2023 (#24): “This study tries to verify if a gap exists between apparent and real compliance to CG (Sö; Corporate Governance) Code requirements in a sample of Italian listed financial companies (mostly banks), with reference to two areas (independence of board members and transparency) that mostly make decision-making unbiased by conflicts of interests and are therefore crucial for corporate sustainability. We find opacity/obfuscation in CG narrative and avoidance/concealment strategies also in banks considered “CG champions”, more rarely non-compliance clearly declared and appropriately explained” (abstract).

ESG predictions: Are ESG ratings informative to forecast idiosyncratic risk? by Christophe Boucher, Wassim Le Lann, Stéphane Matton, and Sessi Tokpavi as of July 11th, 2023 (#71): “The contribution of this article is to propose a formal statistical procedure for assessing the informational content in ESG ratings. … We apply our procedure to evaluate two leading ESG rating systems (Sustainalytics and Asset4) in three investment universes (Europe, North America, and the Asia-Pacific region). The results show that the null hypothesis of a lack of informational content in ESG ratings is strongly rejected for Europe, while the results are mixed and predictive accuracy gains are lower for the other regions. Furthermore, we find that the predictive accuracy gains are higher for the environmental dimension of the ESG ratings. Importantly, we find that the predictive accuracy gains derived from ESG ratings increase with the level of consensus between rating agencies in all three universes, while they are low for firms over which there is a high level of disagreement“ (p. 31).

Risk-reducing disclosure: ESG Disclosure, CEO Power and Incentives and Corporate Risk-taking by Faek Menla Ali, Yuanyuan Wu, and Xiaoxiang Zhang as of July 25th, 2023 (#19): “… we analyze the impact of ESG disclosure on firm risk-taking within US companies. … the reduction in corporate risk-taking due to ESG disclosure mitigates excessive risk-taking rather than leading to risk avoidance“ (p. 26).

Impact investing research: Impact impact?

Impact impact? Missing the Impact in Impact Investing Research – A Systematic Review and Critical Reflection of the Literature by Deike Schlütter, Lena Schätzlein, Rüdiger Hahn, and Carolin Waldner as of July 6th, 2023: “Impact investing (II) aims to achieve intentional social impact in addition to financial return. … the growing academic literature on II is scattered across a variety of disciplines and topics, with inconsistencies in terminology and concepts and a paucity of theoretical explanations and frameworks. … Despite the fact that II aims to create a measurable societal impact, this impact of II, its raison d’être, is not scrutinized in the literature“ (abstract).

Stewardship overview: Investor Stewardship: The State of the Art and Future Prospects by Dionysia Katelouzou as of June 22nd, 2023 (#46): “Within less than fifteen years fifty-five soft-law stewardship codes have been developed across 23 jurisdictions on six continents and investor stewardship became the standard term of reference for the role of institutional investors in addressing not only corporate governance but also environmental and social issues. … Nevertheless, there is still a continuing lack of clarity or consensus over what regulators and investors deem to be a good investor steward. … Institutional investors acting as stewards are expected to exercise power and influence over their assets, on behalf of others, and for others. … Finally, I look at the future of investor stewardship, focusing specifically on two ongoing trends, that of green stewardship and disintermediated stewardship“ (abstract).

ESG engagement: Does Paying Passive Managers to Engage Improve ESG Performance? by Marco Becht, Julian R. Franks, Hideaki Miyajima and Kazunori Suzuki as of July 26th, 2023 (#283): “… the Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the largest public pension fund in the world … gave its largest passive manager a remunerated mandate to improve the environmental (E), social (S) and governance (G) performance of portfolio companies. … engagement by the asset manager has resulted in improvements in some of the ESG scores for mid- and large cap companies; small-cap companies were rarely engaged. … we find evidence that GPIF’s portfolio tilt towards ESG indexes has created financial incentives to improve ESG scores” (abstract).

Career first? Exit or Voice? Divestment, Activism, and Corporate Social Responsibility by Victor Saint-Jean as of June 21st, 2023 (#80): “Using a classification framework based on US mutual funds’ portfolio holdings and votes on S-related shareholder proposals, I show that voice funds generally do better than exit funds when it comes to curtailing firms’ anti-social behavior. The exit strategy relies on the threat of lower stock prices and is effective only at firms with high CEO wealth-performance-sensitivity. Voice funds threaten directors’ reelection, and are thus more effective in general, especially when elections are approaching. Taken together, my results point to the career concerns of the leadership as driving pro-social change when shareholders demand it” (abstract).

No social premium: Green vs. Social Bond Premium by Mohamed Ben and Thierry Roncalli from Amundi as of May 21st, 2023 (#102): “Between 2019 and 2022, the greenium is about −3 bps on average, meaning that, all else being equal, investors are willing to forsake a small share of returns in exchange for environmental benefits. … For the social bond premium, we notice fragmented estimates of the premium in the secondary market. In the long run, the premium is close to zero and equal to −0.3 bps on average. … we notice that the social bond premium is not positively correlated with the greenium. … non-euro projects are subject to a higher premium“ (p. 26/27).

Article 9 segments: SFDR Article 9: Is it all about impact? by Lisa Scheitza and Timo Busch as of July 17th, 2023 (#235): “We investigate more than 1,000 investment funds that are classified under Article 9 of the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). … while 60% of funds follow an impact-oriented investment strategy, we identify 40% that are not impact-related but rather pursue an Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment strategy. Generally, we do not find significant differences in ESG scores and returns between ESG-related and impact-related funds. Yet, impact-related funds have higher SDG impact scores and higher management fees than ESG-related funds. Downgraded Article 9 funds, i.e., funds that changed SFDR status by January 2023, however, tend to follow less ambitious investment approaches and realize lower returns than funds that maintained their SFDR statuses“ (abstract). “ …. we find no significant differences in risk-adjusted returns between ESG-related investments and impact-related investments among Article 9 funds” (p. 16). My comment: My impact approach see Active or impact investing? – (

Other investment research

Asset allocation problem? Empirical evidence on the stock-bond correlation by Roderick Molenaar, Edouard Sénéchal, Laurens Swinkels, and Zhenping Wang as of July 26th, 2023 (#377): “Our historical data starting in 1875 indicates that a positive stock-bond correlation has been more common than a negative one, even though the latter has been observed mostly in the past two decades. Our overarching finding is that for the post-1952 period with independent central banks, a positive stock-bond correlation is observed during periods with high inflation and high real returns on Treasury bills. … Historical regimes with positive stock-bond correlation are associated with higher volatility risk of a 60/40 portfolio and lower Sharpe ratios“ (p. 25/26). My comment: My most-passive allocation approach see Microsoft Word – 230720 Das Soehnholz ESG und SDG Portfoliobuch


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Many greens: Picture from Alexa from Pixabay with 3 frogs

Many greens: Researchpost #133

Many greens: 12x new research on crypto spillovers, toxic risks, greenwashing, green lending, greening ECB, climate communications, climate policy costs, green bonds, impact investing, inclusive fintech, political engagement and digital angst (# SSRN downloads on June 30ths)

Social and ecological research: Many greens

Crypto spillovers: The Effects of Cryptocurrency Wealth on Household Consumption and Investment by Darren Aiello, Scott R. Baker, Tetyana Balyuk, Marco Di Maggio, Mark J. Johnson, and Jason Kotter as of June 28th, 2023 (#421): “Using financial transaction-level data for millions of U.S. households, we show that household crypto investors appear to treat crypto as one piece of an investment portfolio, some households chasing crypto gains and other households rebalancing a portion of crypto gains into traditional brokerage investments. Households also use crypto wealth to increase their discretionary consumption. The MPC (Sö: Marginal propensity to consume) out of crypto wealth is substantially higher than the MPC out of equity wealth …. Households also withdraw crypto gains to purchase housing—both to enter the market as new buyers and to upgrade their existing housing. This increased spending on housing puts upward pressure on local house prices, particularly in areas that are heavily exposed to crypto assets” (p. 33). My comment: I am worried about the effects of future crypto crashes on the real economy

Toxic effects: Pollution Risk and Business Activity by George Zhe Tian, Buvaneshwaran Venugopal, and Vijay Yerramilli as of June 18th, 2023 (#32): “… we use major toxic chemical spills as shocks to the pollution risk of their local neighborhoods and examine the consequent effects on local small business. …. Establishments in the smallest size quartile experience large reduction in sales, modest reduction in employment, and significant increase in likelihood of exit following exposure to pollution shocks, whereas those in the largest size quartile experience increase in sales and employment. … We also find that there is a significant and persistent exodus of population and income from counties that experience major toxic spills“ (p. 33/34).

Japanese greenwashing: Environmental Greenwashing: The Role of Corporate Governance and Assurance by Frendy, Tomoki Oshika, and Masayuki Koike as of May 17th, 2023 (#82): “First, companies with an indication of greenwashing decrease the extent of their disclosures for a given level of environmental performance. Second, those companies are likely to employ environmental assurance to intensify the greenwashing practice. … We found that organizational-level corporate governance characteristics of Japanese corporations are ineffective in mitigating greenwashing“ (p. 20).

Climate enforcement: The Environmental Spillover Effect through Private Lending by Lili Dai, Wayne R. Landsman, and Zihang Peng as of May 13th,2023 (#69): “We find evidence indicating that when one borrower experiences an enforcement action targeted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), other firms sharing the common lender reduce toxic emissions in the following years. This spillover effect is more pronounced for lenders with stronger monitoring incentives and abilities and for borrowers with greater environmental pressures and larger similarities to EPA-targeted firms. Further analyses show increased abatement efforts and decreased profit margins following the enforcement shocks spread through lending networks. Taken together, these findings suggest that lenders can learn from and respond to borrowers’ EPA enforcement actions when dealing with other borrowers that pose similar environmental risks” (abstract).

ECB climate policy: Enhancing Climate Resilience of Monetary Policy Implementation in the Euro Area by Jana Aubrechtová, Elke Heinle, Rafel Moyà Porcel, Boris Osorno Torres, Anamaria Piloiu, Ricardo Queiroz, Torsti Silvonen, and Lia Vaz Cruz of the ECB as of June 23rd, 2023 (#28): “The European Central Bank (ECB) extensively reviewed its monetary policy implementation framework in 2020-21 to better account also for climate change risks. This paper describes these considerations in detail to provide a holistic perspective of one central bank’s climate-related work in relation to its monetary policy implementation framework. … Climate-related disclosures, improvements in risk assessment, a strengthened collateral framework and tilting of corporate bond purchases are the main pillars of the framework enhancements. … It also takes stock of the different challenges involved in the identification and estimation of climate change-related risk, how these can be partially overcome, and when they cannot be overcome, how they can constrain the ability of financial institutions, including central banks, to take further action. … This paper also examines possible future avenues that central banks, including the ECB, might take to further refine their monetary policy implementation using an assessment framework for climate change-related adjustments“ (abstract).

Climate communication: Ten key principles: How to communicate climate change for effective public engagement by Maike Sippel, Chris Shaw, and George Marshall as of June 19th, 2022 (#364): “This report summarises up-to-date social science evidence on climate communication for effective public engagement. It presents ten key principles that may inform communication activities. At the heart of them is the following insight: People do not form their attitudes or take action as a result primarily of weighing up expert information and making rational cost-benefit calculations. Instead, climate communication has to connect with people at the level of values and emotions. Two aspects seem to be of special importance: First, climate communication needs to focus more on effectively speaking to people who have up to now not been properly addressed by climate communications, but who are vitally important to build broad public engagement. Second, climate communication has to support a shift from concern to agency, where high levels of climate risk perception turn into pro-climate individual and collective action” (abstract).

Responsible investment research: Many greens

Climate policy costs: The Impact of Climate Change and Carbon Policy on Company Earnings by Matt Goldklang, Bingzhi Zhao, Ummul Ruthbah, Trinh Le, and Ben Bowring as of June 22th, 2023 (#158): “… we … build a framework for an asset-level, climate adjusted valuation of company earnings. In the European context, we see disparate impacts between and within sectors with carbon pricing impacts largest in the heavy emitting sectors, equivalent to -2% of earnings at the mean, whereas the physical impacts of climate change are more geographically segregated, with a median impact of -14% discounted 20 years into the future“ (abstract).

Brown trust: Green bonds pay when trustworthy by Sang Baum Kanga and Jiyong Eom as of May 30th, 2023 (#37): “… our empirical results support that green bond investors would pay more when they have greater confidence in the green management capability of the issuer. … the higher the relative intensity of GHG emissions, the greater the wedge between the green bond yield and the corresponding ”brown” bond yield. This may be puzzling to some readers because a firm with inferior environmental performance issues a more expensive green bond. However, the opportunity costs can explain this counter-intuitive finding. When a firm emits more GHG emissions, the firm is exposed to greater transition risk, and the firm’s environmental and financial successes become more correlated. Thus, the opportunity costs of committing greenwashing becomes higher, and the firm is more likely to use green bond proceeds responsibly. Therefore, the investor can regard the firm’s issuance of green bonds as a credible sign of commitment to green projects. Additionally, the markets are found to be statistically and economically sensitive to direct emissions (scope 1 emissions) rather than indirect emissions (scope 2 and 3 emissions) of bond issuers. According to our empirical results, the sub-investment-grade green bonds’ greenium is more negative than investment-grade green bonds. This may also surprise some audiences as the value of a green bond relative to its otherwise-equivalent conventional bond increases with a lower credit rating. …. Some might think the average greenium of -41 bps is small. However, recall that our sample, January 2013 to October 2021, is from low-interest-rate periods. More importantly, our primary market results are much more negative than other recent papers. … We conjecture that the green investors’ environmental preference may be reflected more clearly in the primary market, given their motives for providing affordable funds to the firm investing in green projects” (p. 18/19).

Impact PE: Private Market Impact Investing: A Turning Point by Michael Eisenberg, Katerina Labrousse and Ribhu Ranjan Baruah from the World Economic Forum as of May 8th, 2023: “Today, far more GPs (Sö: General Partners) at the higher end of the market are launching impact and energy transition products across private market asset classes and strategies, including infrastructure, buyouts, venture, private credit and other real assets. That means more and larger investments are made in impact-focused businesses, enabling the transition to a low-carbon economy” (p. 5). “Despite the many positive developments in the area of private market impact and transition investing over the last several years, much work remains to drive more capital to address the SDGs and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. Asset owners need to further understand and develop convictions about the long-term secular tailwinds and favourable trends these opportunities present. Likewise, GPs need to further develop their track records and attract even more impact and transition investing talent to expand their capabilities in these areas and raise larger pools of capital over time” (p. 28). My comment: For public market “impact” investing see e.g. ESG Transition Bullshit? – Responsible Investment Research Blog ( and Active or impact investing? – (

Inclusive fintech: Fintech and Financial Inclusion: A Review of the Empirical Literature by Carter Faust, Anthony J. Dukes and D. Daniel Sokol as of May 16th, 2023 (#61): “Fintech has proven to enable financial inclusion on a global scale. This review highlighted case studies that demonstrate how digital lending, digital payment, and mobile money platforms can bring financial services to unbanked and underbanked communities. It further provided examples of how fintech can increase resilience in times of economic crises and shock, especially in underdeveloped regions. This review also acknowledged common challenges associated with the adoption of fintech, such as consumer data and privacy concerns, as well as infrastructure and education barriers“ (p. 151)

Political engagement: Collaborative investor engagement with policymakers: Changing the rules of the game? by Camila Yamahaki and Catherine Marchewitz as of June 25th, 2023 (#18): “A growing number of investors are engaging with policymakers on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, but little academic research exists on investor policy engagement. Applying universal ownership theory and drawing on eleven case studies of policy engagement … We identify a trend that investors engage with sovereigns to fulfil their fiduciary duty, improve investment risk management, and create an enabling environment for sustainable investments“ (abstract). My comment: Regarding shareholder engagement see also Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (

and other research

Digital angst: Digital Anxiety in the Finance Function: Consequences and Mitigating Factors by Sebastian Firk, Yannik Gehrke and Miachel Wolff as of May 13th, 2023 (#36): “Based on a survey of more than 1,000 employees working in the finance function of a large multinational business group, we observe that digital anxiety is relevant among 40% of the respondents. We further find that digital anxiety is negatively associated with employees’ work engagement, which further relates to fewer realized benefits from digital technologies. Finally, we argue and find that digital trainings, the digital affinity of peers, and transformational leadership can help to mitigate digital anxiety among employees” (p. 31).


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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 (currently 27 of 30 companies engaged). The fund typically scores very well in sustainability rankings, e.g. see this free tool, and the risk-adjusted performance is relatively good: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T. Also see Artikel 9 Fonds: Kleine Änderungen mit großen Wirkungen? – (

ESG transition illustration is a wood bridge into green nature by Mjudem McGuire from Pixabay

ESG Transition Bullshit?

No impact on secondary markets?

ESG transition approaches suggest making companies more sustainable. Many providers of so-called responsible investments promote ESG transition investments. Typically, the argumentation is: You have to put money into brown companies so that they can finance the transition to become a greener company. That sounds plausible but may be misleading.

In the case of listed investments, securities are bought from other investors. No capital flows to the companies themselves. This is different with capital increases, new bond issues or private equity and credit investments. Not every such investor investment is truly additional because of an often high investor demand (“capital overhang”). In any case, issuers receive additional capital which they could use to finance a green transition. Unfortunately, even in the case of some so-called green, social or sustainability bonds, it cannot be guaranteed that the proceeds are used to finance greener or more social transitions (compare The Economics of Sustainability Linked Bonds by Tony Berrada, Leonie Engelhardt, Rajna Gibson, and Philipp Krueger as of September 14th, 2022).

ESG Transition? Big Oil throws cash at shareholders, not renewables

According to Nathaniel Bullard from BNN Bloomberg (“Big Oil’s pullback from clean energy matters less than you might think” as of June 25th, 2023) “The world’s five biggest publicly listed oil and gas companies posted just under $200 billion in total profits last year. Faced with three strategic possibilities for how to use their cash piles — extract oil and gas apace, move their businesses into renewable power and energy transition assets or return money to shareholders — the supermajors have largely sprung for the third option in recent weeks”. They invested in transition in the past, but their overall energy-transition investment share is low with about 3% according to Bullard. “And there is no shortage of capital at the moment — according to the International Energy Agency, more has been invested in clean energy than fossil fuels every year since 2016”.

It seems to make little sense to promote investments in Big Oil stocks or bonds as transition investments. Blackrock, one of the largest asset managers with very large holdings in Big Oil companies, probably disagrees with me. Exxon, Chevron and ConocoPhilipps are among the holding of its U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF. According to Blackrock, the ETF provides a “broad exposure to large- and mid-capitalization U.S. companies tilting towards those that BlackRock believes are better positioned to benefit from the transition to a low-carbon economy” and “harness BlackRock’s thinking in sustainable investing through a strategy utilizing research-driven insights” (BlackRock U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF | LCTU (

I would rather invest in companies specialized in renewable energies. And even with listed investments, investments could have some positive impact.

Shareholder engagement with the bad or the good companies?

In theory, share- and bondholder engagement can have a positive impact on companies. For Big Oil, that did not work well so far: “Resolutions that would have forced the companies to align with Paris Agreement climate targets failed. BP and Shell have also pulled back on their strategies to cut fossil fuel production” (Bullard).

Shareholder engagement seems to be more fruitful when targeted at already somewhat responsible companies (compare Shareholder Engagement on ESG Performance by Barko et al. (2022)). That is also my experience (see Active or impact investing? – (

ESG Transition: But we still need oil and gas!

Certainly, we still need oil and gas for our economy for a long time. But Big Oil will certainly sell us oil and gas as long as we adequately pay for it. I do not expect that they decide to sell oil and gas only to stock- and bondholders.

Maybe, responsible investors should not invest at all in brown companies or companies with social deficits which distribute dividends instead of investing the available capital in a greener or more social future (see Transitionierer: Dividendenverbot für ESG Sünder? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Underdiversification and return risks?

Many investment advisors (and promotors of diversified products) argue, that investors should not deviate much from diversified indices. This would mean to also invest in brown and not very social companies. These advisors and promotors rarely mention the – mostly very low – marginal utility of additional diversification. Also, most likely, you will not hear the argument that if you start with very responsible investments and then diversify, the average responsibility score of the portfolio will shrink. There are very few convincing arguments why investors should invest in all the same countries, industries and companies as broad indices. Focusing investments on few of the most responsible investments can generate attractive returns and risk adjusted performances (see 30 stocks, if responsible, are all I need – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Some argue that theory proves that brown investment should have high returns in the future. According to them, brown companies have to pay higher interest rates to creditors and higher returns to stockholders than responsible companies. Thus, shareholders of brown companies should have higher returns than shareholders of green companies.

Lower brown risks

There are other arguments, though. Brown companies certainly have more ecological risk than green companies. Therefore, the risk adjusted returns of brown companies may not be so attractive. And if brown companies have to invest instead of distributing dividends, higher returns for stockholders mean that in the future, someone has to pay a relatively high price for the (formerly?) brown stock. Instead, investors can invest in already green companies. Those companies have lower capital investment requirements for transitions. But they can still improve their greenness and/or distribute dividends. That seems to be the more attractive investment case. And given the low current share of truly green and social investments, I expect responsible investments to continue to grow for many years to come.

Since 2017 I try to invest in a limited number of most responsible companies. Since even these companies can still improve significantly in terms of responsibility, I also try to engage with all of them (see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – ( So far, that approach works well.

Picture by gerd Altmann from Pixabay show Partnership Illustration as Picture for Complex Engagement

Complex engagement, ESG placebo and more: Researchpost #132

Complex engagement: 10x new research on hot Nordics, green growth, GHG data, debt-for-nature, quant and placebo ESG, shareholder engagement, bond factors, insider trading and international fintech by Sebastian Grund, Julian Heeb, Julian Kölbel, Florian Berg, Andrew Lo, Roberto Rigobon and many more (# shows the number of SSRN downloads on June 22nd, 2023)

Ecological and social research

Hot Nordic mountains? Does Climate Sensitivity Differ Across Regions? A Varying–Coefficient Approach by Heather Anderson, Jiti Gao, Farshid Vahid, Wei Wei, and Yang Yang as of May 14th, 2023 (#21): “… using data from 1209 weather stations show that mid/high-latitude regions in the northern hemisphere are more sensitive to changes in GHGs (Sö: greenhouse gases) than the equatorial area or the southern hemisphere, and that inland areas are more sensitive than coastal areas. Our latitude-varying model estimates suggest that global temperature would rise by 3.7◦C following a doubling CO2, with areas above 50◦N rising by more than 5 ◦C and areas near 30◦S rising by 2.5◦C. … In an out-of-sample forecasting exercise, we demonstrate that our latitude-varying model outperforms the parsimonious constant coefficient model in forecasting future temperatures“ (p. 25).

Policy failure? Restructuring Reforms for Green Growth by Serhan Cevik and João Tovar Jalles from the IMF as of June 20th, 2023 (#17): “… in a panel of 25 countries during the period 1970– 2020 … First, while electricity and gas sector reforms so far failed in bringing about a reduction in CO2 and GHG emissions per capita, there is some evidence for greater effectiveness in lowering GHG emissions per unit of GDP. Second, although electricity and gas sector reforms are not associated with higher supply of renewable energy as a share of total energy supply, they appear to stimulate a sustained increase in the number of environmental inventions and patents per capita over the medium term …  market-oriented electricity and gas sector reforms leading to better environmental outcomes and green growth in countries with stronger environmental regulations”.

GHG data issues: GHG Challenges for the Accurate Measurement and Accounting of Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Anton Kelnhofer and Benedikt Brauner as of May 9th, 2023 (#23): “ … companies often struggle to ensure the validity and accuracy of GHG emission calculations published and frequently remain reluctant to intensify their efforts due to perceived ambiguity and clarity on their true carbon footprint. This potentially results in substantial deviations between GHG emission data actually incurred and publicly reported. We attempt to identify the drivers at the root of these deviations. To this end, we conduct a multiple-case study among 14 large, public companies operating in emission-intensive sectors. The study reveals that GHG accuracies mostly result from challenges regarding the application of available standards and initiatives, the collection and calculation of GHG emission data along scopes 1, 2 and 3, the transparency, motivation and target definition of published reports as well as objectives and quality of external verification by auditors” (abstract).

Responsible investment research (complex engagement)

Debt-for-Nature? Debt-for-Nature Swaps: The Belize 2021 Deal and the Future of Green Sovereign Finance by Stephanie Fontana-Raina and Sebastian Grund as of May 16th, 2023 (#226): “The Belize debt-for-nature swap was a milestone … Despite representing innovations that facilitated Belize’s significant investments in local environmental protection while providing much needed, if possibly insufficient, fiscal relief, this new model of debt-for-nature swap is limited in terms of scalability and replicability. … For countries with unsustainable debt, a debt-for-nature swap cannot be expected to restore sustainability on its own, unless it involves a sufficiently large share of a country’s debt and substantial debt relief. The model in recent debt-for-nature swaps supports that the transaction may not be financially feasible without grant funding or credit enhancement from a highly creditworthy party, and the larger the stock of external debt that needs to be restructured, the more difficult it may be to attract sufficient credit support from the official sector. Larger debt restructurings involve tens of billions of dollars. … For now, debt-for-nature swaps represent a significant evolution in green sovereign finance and can serve as a “sweetener” in more traditional debt restructurings” (p. 22/23).

No ESG placebo: Is Sustainable Finance a Dangerous Placebo? by Florian Heeb, Julian F. Kölbel, Stefano Ramelli, Anna Vasileva as of June 19th, 2023 (#198): “Some observers argue that sustainable finance is a dangerous placebo that crowds out individual support for policy-driven solutions to societal challenges … with a pre-registered experiment exploiting a real-world climate policy referendum in Switzerland. We find that the opportunity to invest in a climate-conscious fund does not crowd out individual political engagement and costly efforts to advance formal climate policy. If anything, we observe moderate, not statistically significant, evidence for a crowding-in effect of sustainable investing on political engagement … on average, voters do not consider sustainable finance a substitute for political action“ (p. 18/19).

Quant ESG: Quantifying the Returns of ESG Investing: An Empirical Analysis with Six ESG Metrics by Florian Berg, Andrew W. Lo, Roberto Rigobon, Manish Singh, and Ruixun Zhang as of June 16th, 2023 (#1210): “… we quantify the excess returns of arbitrary ESG portfolios … for firms in the U.S., Europe and Japan from 2014 to 2020. … We also propose a number of methods to aggregate ESG scores across vendors to produce the best signal within the data, simultaneously addressing measurement errors and yielding a single measure of ESG that can potentially be used for portfolio management. Empirically, we find significant ESG excess returns in the U.S. and Japan. We also find positive and higher than market risk-adjusted returns” (p. 30). My comment: Including 2021 and 2022 experiences, investors should not expect excess ESG returns but they may still have lower risks with ESG investments. Instead of “pseudo-optimizing” portfolios and aggregating ESG scores from different providers which reduces transparency and explainability, more efforts should go into comparing rating approaches and finding the best (fitting) ones.

Complex engagement: Shareholder Engagement Inside and Outside the Shareholder Meeting by Tim Bowley, Jennifer G. Hill, and Steve Kourabas as of June 1st, 2023 (#199): “First, contemporary shareholder-company engagement is a multi-dimensional and evolving phenomenon. Shareholders use, to varying degrees, a wide range of engagement techniques. These include the shareholder meeting, behind-the-scenes interactions, public campaigns, and online technologies such as discussion boards and messaging apps. The latter technologies are particularly favoured by younger retail investors and have been used with remarkable effect to marshal the governance influence of such investors in recent high-profile cases. Second, shareholders often mix and match different engagement techniques in a synergistic manner to leverage their governance influence. Third, shareholders increasingly undertake their engagement activities collectively, highlighting the growing capacity of public company shareholders to overcome traditional collective action challenges. Finally, despite the engagement alternatives available to shareholders, the shareholder meeting remains an important engagement mechanism. … the processes which shape corporate decisions are becoming more diffuse and potentially less transparent. Ensuring accountability is a more complex issue in these circumstances …” (abstract). My comment: My most recent engagement experience see Active or impact investing? – (

Traditional investment research (complex engagement)

No bond outperformance? Priced risk in corporate bonds by Alexander Dickerson, Philippe Mueller, and Cesare Robotti as of June 15th, 2023 (#1191): “… we explore the limitations of evaluating factor models on corporate bonds …. Overall we find that it is difficult for newly proposed specifications to outperform the simple bond CAPM, economically and statistically. … given the nontrivial transaction costs in the over-the-counter trading of corporate bonds, it would be valuable to formally compare the performance of alternative pricing models for bonds based on economically meaningful metrics that take into account transaction costs …” (p. 22/23).

Insider ETFs: Using ETFs to conceal insider trading by Elza Eglīte, Dans Štaermans, Vinay Patel, and Tālis J. Putniņš as of Feb. 1st, 2023 (#2097): “We show that exchange traded funds (ETFs) are used in a new form of insider trading known as “shadow trading.” Our evidence suggests that some traders in possession of material non-public information about upcoming M&A announcements trade in ETFs that contain the target stock, rather than trading the underlying company shares, thereby concealing their insider trading” (abstract).

International fintech: Global Fintech Trends and their Impact on International Business: A Review by Douglas Cumming, Sofia Johan and Robert S. Reardon as of June 19th, 2023 (#82): “Firstly, fintech facilitates entrepreneurial internationalization, as evidenced by the role of crowdfunding in numerous start-ups‘ internationalization processes. Crowdfunding, along with P2P lending, has lowered barriers across countries by opening global markets and providing alternative funding sources. Fintech can also be harnessed to enhance financial inclusion in developing nations, promoting access to capital and financial services for underserved populations. Secondly, fintech can be incorporated into multinational corporations‘ research to uncover opportunities for growth and market expansion worldwide. The digital nature of online banking and the agility of fintech platforms can potentially transform corporate culture and streamline business processes, offering new ways to optimize operations and drive innovation. Thirdly, effective global regulation and regulatory technology are essential to fully realize fintech’s benefits. … concerns include potential risks associated with consumer protection, data privacy, and illicit activities. Developing and implementing appropriate regulatory frameworks can help mitigate these risks …“ (p. 30).


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 (currently 26 of 30 companies engaged). The fund typically scores very well in sustainability rankings, e.g. see this free tool, and the risk-adjusted performance is relatively good: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T. Also see Artikel 9 Fonds: Kleine Änderungen mit großen Wirkungen? – (

Greenwashing Banks Illustration: Green Clothespin pciture by Robert Allmann from Pixabay

Greenwashing banks? Researchpost #129

Greenwashing banks? 12x new research on immigration, suppliers, greenwashing, banks, ESG ratings, AI voting, green bonds, climate inflation, (climate) VCs and crowdinvesting by Christian Klein et al. (# shows the number of SSRN-downloads on May 31st, 2023):

Social and ecogical research

Positive immigration: Firm-Level Prices, Quality, and Markups: The Role of Immigrant Workers by Giulia Sabbadin as of March 17th, 2023 (#16):“… I study … French manufacturing traders. I find that the share of immigrant workers in a local labor market is positively associated with firm-level export prices and quality and that this quality advantage translates to higher markups. I present evidence for the mechanism accounting for these relationships and find that the presence of immigrant workers is positively associated with firms importing higher-price (higher-quality) intermediate inputs, which are key to producing higher-price (higher-quality) exports. The hypothesized economic mechanism is that immigrant workers help firms overcome informational barriers to sourcing higher-price (higher-quality) inputs from abroad. I provide evidence consistent with immigrant workers having specialized knowledge of the upstream market” (abstract).

Climate inaction? Climate Policies in Supply Chains by Swarnodeep Homroy and Asad Rauf as of May 15th, 2023 (#33): “… we show that suppliers are more likely to adopt climate action and climate governance practices following the adoption of emission targets by their customers. The effects are economically meaningful and increase with the relative bargaining power of the customer firm over its suppliers …. However, we find no evidence that adopting climate policies following customer pressure, on average, changes supplier firms’ climate outcomes (emissions and energy expenses) and leading indicators of emission abatement (capital investments and R&D expenses)“ (p. 24). My comment: ESG-evaluation and engaging suppliers is one of my top shareholder engagement priorities, compare Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (

Sustainable investment research: Greenwashing banks?

Greenwashing Corporates: Show & Tell: An Analysis of Corporate Climate Messaging and its Financial Impacts by Joseph E. Aldy, Patrick Bolton, Zachery M. Halem, Marcin T. Kacperczyk, and Peter R. Orszag as of Aril 22nd, 2023 (#288): “… investors are increasingly scrutinizing a patchwork of voluntary climate-related communications–namely public disclosures, emission reduction commitments, and soft information from earnings calls and other public announcements. We observe, for large-cap U.S. firms, a rise in the usage of all forms of climate communication from 2010-2020. We also find evidence that a majority of firms are not decarbonizing on a sufficient trajectory to meet committed emission reduction targets. In regard to financial effects, we show that increased transparency from disclosure can offset a significant portion of the price-to-earnings discount associated with carbon emissions, especially for firms in the energy and industrial sectors. … “ (abstract). My comment: Disclosure of Scope 3 emissions is another of my most important engagement topics.

Greenwashing banks? “Glossy Green” Banks: The Disconnect Between Environmental Disclosures and Lending Activities by Mariassunta Giannetti, Martina Jasova, Maria Loumioti, and Caterina Mendicino as of May 24th, 2023 (#250): “… we show that banks with extensive environmental disclosures lend more to brown borrowers and do not provide more credit to firms in green industries. These results are not driven by banks’ financing of brown borrowers’ transition to greener technologies. Instead, banks lend to the weakest borrowers in brown industries, especially if they have low capital adequacy. Our results suggest that banks overemphasize their climate goals and credentials while continuing their relationships with polluting borrowers“ (abstract). My comment: I do not consider banks in my most sustainable investment portfolios such as my mutual fund

Bank ESG factors: Bank and ESG score by Belinda Laura Del Gaudio, Serena Gallo, Daniele Previtali, and Vincenzo Verdoliva as of  April 26th, 2023 (#79): “This paper analyses factors affecting international banks‘ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG ) performance from 2008-2018. Using data for all listed banks in the U.S., E.U. and U.K., we show that the characteristics of banks‘ boards influence their ESG performance. In particular, banks with a higher female presence, a larger board size, high networking and more qualified directors are more likely to show better ESG performance. Furthermore, we find that banks with a propensity to pursue a fintech innovation strategy are more likely to have a better ESG performance …. also banks‘ financial factors influence their sustainability profile” (abstract).

Better big? Size bias in refinitiv ESG data by Juris Dobrick, Christian Klein, and Bernhard Zwergel as of May 19th, 2023: “Even though Refinitiv claims to have minimized the well-known size bias present in ASSET4 ESG data, we find that it is still there and has even become … A one unit increase in company size corresponds to an increase in the ESG (E) score of around 5.8 (6.7) compared with previous 3.5 (4) in Drempetic et al.(2020). For G and S it is 3.7 and 6.3, respectively” …. My comment: There are still enough well ESG-rted small and midsize companies available for investment, see e.g. Artikel 9 Fonds: Kleine Änderungen mit großen Wirkungen? – (

ESG factor: ESG as risk factor by Juris Dobrick, Christian Klein, and Bernhard Zwergel as of May 26th, 2023 (#14): “… we address the question of whether factors constructed using ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) scores could potentially meet the necessary requirements for risk factors in multi-factor models. … We pay particular attention to the problem of divergent scores across different rating providers and investigate whether the regression results of 4- and 5-factor models converge. … We find that there are ESG factors across all investigated rating providers that capture common-variation in stock returns over time, indicating that ESG should be considered in common asset pricing models” (abstract).

AI Voting? Outsourcing Voting to AI: Can ChatGPT Personalize Index Funds’ Voting Decisions? by Chen Wang as of April 25th, 2023 (#184): “Asset Management giants like Vanguard have already been utilizing AI to “create customized financial plans that help clients meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.” … By fine-tuning ChatGPT, its ability of generalization can be enhanced by training with curated datasets. Thus, investment funds can employ customized ChatGPT to make self-informed and personalized proxy voting more in line with their shareholders’ interests and preferences. … The cost of hiring experts to fine-tune the model, as well as the cost of acquiring high-quality data, could be a significant obstacle for small funds. … there were also limitations such as token limitations and long-range dependencies. … AI models trained on biased data could lead to biased voting decisions …” (p. 41/42).

Green demand: The Demand for Green Bonds by Hari Gopal Risal, Chandra Thapa, Andrew P. Marshall, Biwesh Neupane, and Arthur Krebbers as of April 22nd, 2023 (#314): “… we find that the demand for corporate GB is about 32 to 42% points higher than comparable conventional non-GB issued by similar firms. Further, the demand for debut GB is stronger than seasoned GB offerings and higher for those issued by financial firms compared to non-financial firms. Finally, our results also show that the demand is higher for GB issued by firms with higher environmental commitments and issued in countries with better environmental performance“ (abstract).

Traditional and alternative investment research: Greenwashing banks?

Heated inflation: The impact of global warming on inflation: averages, seasonality and extremes by Maximilian Kotz, Friderike Kuik, Eliza Lis, and Christiane Nickel as of April 24th, 2023 (#31): “… in the absence of historically un-precedented adaptation, future warming will cause global increases in annual food and headline inflation of 0.92-3.23 and 0.32-1.18 percentage-points per year respectively, under 2035 projected climate … Moreover, we estimate that the 2022 summer heat extreme increased food inflation in Europe by 0.67 (0.43-0.93) percentage-points and that future warming projected for 2035 would amplify the impacts of such extremes by 50%“ (abstract).

Outcrowded VC? Crowdfunding vs. Venture Capital: Complements or Substitutes? A Theoretical Assessment by Guillaume Andrieu and Alexander Peter Groh as of April 25th, 2023 (#39): “Entrepreneurs need to weigh campaign cost as well as lower profit requirements of the crowd against the support of VCs. In addition, VCs make efficient abandonment decision and thus improve resource allocation which benefits the relationship. A passive crowd cannot detect lemons and thus creates model frictions. The model also predicts that the emergence of CF has created a shock for the VC industry. It has increased competition, and thus reduced VCs’ deal flow, and their profits. The model suggests that CF forces VCs to strengthen their own expertise and to specialize. CF may have reduced the number of VC actors, or makes them shift towards later financing stages“ (p. 24).

Tech-Defizite: Wagniskapital für Net Zero: Potenziale und Herausforderungen von Steffen Viete und Milena Schwarz von der KfW vom 17. Mai 2023: “Im Jahr 2022 wurden in Deutschland über 1,5 Mrd. EUR in 118 Finanzierungsrunden in Climate-Tech-Start-ups investiert. Dabei haben Investoren ihr Engagement bei Climate-Tech-Start-ups über die Jahre sogar deutlich stärker ausgebaut als im Rest des gesamten VC-Marktes. … Zwischen den Jahren 2019 und 2022 machten sie über 13 % des gesamten Investitionsvolumens im Markt aus. … in den USA …. wurde … zwischen 2019 und 2022 das 4,7-fache des Volumens in Deutschland investiert. … Aufgrund des hohen Kapitalbedarfs sind für die Weiterentwicklung des Finanzierungsumfeldes für Climate-Tech-Start-ups vor allem Fonds von Bedeutung, die auch größere Runden finanzieren können. … Die Forschung legt nahe, dass insbesondere im Industriesektor noch großes Potenzial zur Emissionsminderung durch technische Innovation besteht“ (S. 1).


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 small and midcaps, uses separate E, S and G best-in-universe minimum ratings and broad shareholder engagement (currently 24 of 30 companies engaged). The fund typically scores very well in sustainability rankings, e.g. see this free tool, and the risk-adjusted performance is relatively good: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T

Climate reporting: Picture Facts by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Climate reporting: Researchpost #128

Climate reporting: 13x new research regarding inequality, climate reporting, biodiversity, green bonds, external costs, private equity real estate, gold, equal weighting, correlations, tail risks, robo advisors and AI (# indicates the number of SSRN downloads on May 22nd, 2023)

Ecological and social research

Inequality: Climate Inequality Report 2023 by Lucas Chancel, Philipp Bothe, and Tancrède Voituriez from the World Inequality Lab as of Jan. 30th, 2023: “The accelerating climate crisis is largely fuelled by the polluting activities of a fraction of the world population. The global top 10% are responsible for almost half of global carbon emissions and the global top 1% of emitters are responsible for more emissions than the entire bottom half of the world’s population. … within-country carbon inequality now makes up the bulk of global emissions inequality, i.e. about two thirds of the total, an almost complete reversal as compared to 1990. The carbon budgets needed to eradicate poverty below the US$ 5.50/day poverty line are equal to roughly one third of the current emissions attributable to the top 10% of global emitters. … Many countries in the Global South are significantly poorer today than they would have been in the absence of climate change. This trend is set to continue and result in income losses of more than 80% for many tropical and subtropical countries by the end of the century. Within countries, the poor suffer stronger losses from climate impacts than more affluent population groups. The income losses from climate hazards of the bottom 40% are estimated to be 70% larger than the average in low- and middle-income countries” (p. 9).

Responsible investment research: Climate reporting

Climate reporting (1): The MSCI Net-Zero Tracker by MSCI Research as of May 2023: “35% of listed companies have disclosed at least some of their Scope 3 emissions … 44% of listed companies have set a decarbonization target … 17% of listed companies have published a climate target that, if achieved, would align carbon emissions across the company’s total value chain with the ambitious 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement … Listed companies are on a path to warm the planet by 2.7° above preindustrial levels this century … Just over half (51%) of listed companies align with warming equal to or below 2°C, placing them at the high end of the Paris Agreement’s uppermost temperature threshold … Unlisted companies in four of the five most emissions-intensive industry groups were less carbon-intensive than their listed counterparts on aggregate …Real-assets funds held the most emissions-intensive industries per dollar of financing, followed by mezzanine- and distressed-debt funds … The carbon intensity of all three fund types was more than triple the carbon intensity of buyout funds” (p. 4/5). My comment: I try to engage with all my fund portfolio companies to report broad Scope 3 data, see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (

Climate reporting (2): The Climate Transition Is Increasingly about Opportunity by Chris Cote and Guido Giese of MSCI Research as of May 15th, 2023: “We have found that in the most emissions-intensive sectors, for example, companies that had a higher share of revenue from alternative energy, energy efficiency and green buildings had significantly faster earnings growth than their sector peers over a period of roughly seven-and-a-half years that ended on March 31, 2023” (p. 3). … only 155 companies (1.7% of the listed universe), with a total market cap of USD 1.6 trillion, earned more than half of their revenues from such (SÖ: alternative energy or energy efficiency) activities, our analysis finds. … We found in our data that many of the more than 3,800 listed companies (42% of that universe) that have published a decarbonization target, for example, do not explain how they plan to meet their climate-related goals” (p. 6).

Biodiversity risks: Nature positive: How the world’s largest companies depend on nature and biodiversity by Esther Whieldon, Shirley Yap, Lokesh Raikwar, and Gautier Desme of S&P Global as of May 10th, 2023: “85% of the world’s largest companies that make up the S&P Global 1200 have a significant dependence onn nature across their direct operations … 46% of companies in this universe … have at least one asset located in a Key Biodiversity Area …”.

Control advantage: Corporate Green Bonds: The role of external reviews for investment greenness and disclosure quality by Tami Dinh, Florian Eugster, and Anna Husmann as of May 19th, 2023 (#69): „Our results indicate that although companies with worse environmental performance are more likely to obtain at-issuance external reviews for their green bonds, their certified investments are more likely to be greener than companies that did not obtain a review at issuance. … Additionally, we develop a disclosure index for green bond reports and exhibit how post-issuance report assurance is associated with increased transparency” (abstract).

External costs: Auf dem netto-positiven Weg? Wie Unternehmen Wert schaffen – Messung und Integration von Nachhaltigkeit in die strategische Planung von Martin G. Viehöver at al von Positive Impacts vom 2. September 2022: „Im Allgemeinen erzeugen alle Industriesektoren im Durchschnitt einen positiven Gesellschaftlichen Wert, aber auch Gesellschaftliche Verluste aufgrund der entstehenden gesellschaftlichen Kosten (externe Effekte). Es wurde jedoch bestätigt, dass Unternehmen gesellschaftliche Erträge erzielen können, indem die von ihnen gezahlten Steuern höher als die gesellschaftlichen Kosten waren, wie es bei 20 Unternehmen in der Stichprobe der Fall war“ (S. 61).

General investment research

Bad PERE: Persistently Poor Performance in Private Equity Real Estate by Da Li and Timothy J. Riddiough as of May 14th, 2023 (#629): “We compare Buyout (BO), Venture Capital (VC), and Private Equity Real Estate (RE) funds. RE funds underperform BO and VC, as well as the public market alternative. In RE, worse-performing fund managers survive at a high rate. They are also susceptible to diseconomies of fund scale, with no skill-based persistence to offset the negative scale effects. Analysis of noisy fund manager selection indicates that RE investors are not disadvantaged relative to BO and VC. LP investors in RE funds seem to be optimizing something other than, or in addition to, investment return when selecting fund managers” (abstract).

Good gold? The Safe Asset Shortage Conundrum and Why Gold is a Safe Asset by Dirk G. Baur as of April 19th, 2023 (#29): “This paper demonstrates that gold is a safe asset based on existing definitions, central bank holdings, history, and risk characteristics such as default risk and currency risk. Changes in the safe asset pool during the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath led to a safe asset triage that potentially led to the inclusion of gold in the safe asset pool. This is evident in the weakly symmetric opposite movements of gold and US government bond prices since 2008 and also in an increasing correlation especially since 2008. A simple safe asset test that analyzes whether a supposedly “safe asset” can be sold without a loss over different investment horizons or holding periods shows that gold is indeed relatively safe when compared with US government bonds. Finally, we also argue that the “safe asset shortage” is not a “natural” shortage but caused by central bank “QE” asset purchasing programs rendering this shortage rather narrow“ (p. 8).

Easy outperformance: Beating the S&P 500 at Its Own Game – The triumph of the equally weighted index by John Rekenthaler from Morningstar as of May 15th, 2023: “… only 19 equally weighted U.S. equity funds of any flavor currently exist, and none except for Invesco’s funds possess significant assets … Since summer 1998 … a costless version of the equally weighted S&P 500 portfolio has thrashed the conventional index … Half the equally weighted portfolio is invested in firms with market caps exceeding $30 billion. But the comparable figure for the customary S&P 500 is $150 billion”. My comment: I use equal weight for all my direct equity model portfolios and my fund since many yearsm see e.g. Artikel 9 Fonds: Kleine Änderungen mit großen Wirkungen? – (

Correlation criticism: Co-Occurrence: A New Perspective on Portfolio Diversification by William Kinlaw, Mark Kritzman, and David Turkington as of May17th, 2023 (#25): “Investors typically measure an asset’s potential to diversify a portfolio by its correlations with the portfolio’s other assets, but correlation is useful only if it provides a good estimate of how an asset’s returns co-occur cumulatively with the other asset returns over the investor’s prospective horizon. And because correlation is an average of sub-period co-occurrences, it only serves as a good estimate of prospective co-occurrence if the assets’ returns are multi-variate normal, which requires them to be independent and identically distributed. The authors provide evidence that correlations differ depending on the return interval used to estimate them, which indicates they are not serially independent. Moreover, the authors show that asset co-movement differs between regimes of high and low interest rates and between turbulent and quiescent markets, and that they are asymmetric around return thresholds, which indicates that returns are not identically distributed. These departures from multi-variate normality cast serious doubt on the usefulness of full-sample correlations to measure an asset’s potential to diversify a portfolio. The authors propose an alternative technique for diversifying a portfolio that explicitly considers the empirical prevalence of co-occurrences and thus the non-normality of returns“ (abstract).

Tail risks: Equity Tail Protection Strategies Before, During, and After COVID by Roni Israelov and David Nze Ndong as of May 10th, 2023 (#124): “We investigate three common, yet different approaches to hedging equity drawdowns and a few themes emerge. First, hedging is expensive. … Second, the variable equity exposure embedded in option strategies is a source of risk and path dependence. … Third (and related to the previous point), a hedger’s decision on whether to delta-hedge their option exposure to isolate the option convexity or to maintain an unhedged position materially impacts performance in non-forecastable ways. …. Finally, there is enormous dispersion in the performance of tail risk hedging strategies. Well-reasoned arguments can be made in favor or against any number of decisions on how to implement a tail risk hedge. We only considered a few strategies (long options hedged or unhedged, long put protection, and long VIX futures) and the dispersion in outcomes is notable … those who implement hedging solutions should plan for the possibility – as remote as it might be – that their hedges make things worse in times of stress“ (p. 11/12).

Invest-Tech research (Climate reporting)

Robo-risks: Demystifying Consumer-Facing Fintech: Accountability for Automated Advice Tools by Jeannie Paterson, Tim Miller, and Henrietta Lyons as of May 10th, 2023 (#12): “Currently, the most prominent forms of fintech available to consumers are automated advice tools for investing and budgeting. These tools offer advantages of low cost, convenient and consistent advice on matters consumers often find difficult. … the oft-stated aspiration … should not distract attention from their potential to provide only a marginally useful service, while extracting consumer data and perpetuating the exclusion of some consumer cohorts from adequate access to credit and banking. … Fintech tools that hold out to consumers a promise of expertise and assistance should genuinely be fit for purpose. Consumers are unlikely to be able to monitor this quality themselves …“ (p. 15/16).

AI Advantage? Can ChatGPT Forecast Stock Price Movements? Return Predictability and Large Language Models by Alejandro Lopez-Lira and Yuehua Tang as of May 12th, 2023 (#32759): “We use ChatGPT to indicate whether a given headline is good, bad, or irrelevant news for firms’ stock prices. We then compute a numerical score and document a positive correlation between these “ChatGPT scores” and subsequent daily stock market returns. Further, ChatGPT outperforms traditional sentiment analysis methods. … Our results suggest that incorporating advanced language models into the investment decision-making process can yield more accurate predictions and enhance the performance of quantitative trading strategies. Predictability is concentrated on smaller stocks and more prominent on firms with bad news, consistent with limits-to-arbitrage arguments rather than market inefficiencies“ (abstract).


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 (current engagement with 24 of 30 companies). The fund typically scores very well in sustainability rankings, e.g. see this free tool, and the risk-adjusted performance is relatively good: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T

Banning dividends: Picture with dollar notes by Oleg Gamulinksii from Pixabay

Banning dividends? Researchpost #127

Banning dividends: 10x new research on gender wealth, activists, dividends, greenium, correlations, diversification, ChatGPT and investment committees by Charlotte Bartels, Eva Sierminska, Carsten Schroeder, Marcos López de Prado, Bernd Scherer et al. (# indicates the number of SSRN downloads on May 17th, 2023)

Social and ecological research

Gender wealth: 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 April 28th, 2023 (#19): “Our analysis of gender-specific age-wealth profiles revealed that the average gender wealth gap is small up to age 40, then widens, and shrinks after retirement. … men tend to inherit larger sums than women during working life. Women often outlive their male partners and therefore receive large inheritances in old age. But these transfers come too late to be used productively, for instance, 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. 11/12).

Sustainable investment research: Banning dividends?

ESG preferred: ESG Spillovers by Shangchen Li, Hongxun Ruan, Sheridan Titman, and Haotian Xiang as of May 10th (#537): “We study ESG and non-ESG mutual funds managed by overlapping teams. We find that non-ESG mutual funds include more high ESG stocks after the creation of an ESG sibling, and the high ESG stocks they select exhibit superior performance. The low ESG stocks selected by ESG funds also exhibit superior performance and despite being more constrained, the ESG funds outperform their non-ESG siblings. The latter result is consistent with fund families making choices that favor ESG funds. Specifically, ESG funds tend to trade illiquid stocks prior to their non-ESG siblings and get preferential IPO allocations” (abstract).

Good action, bad result? Activist Pressure and Firm Compliance with ESG Disclosure Policy: Experimental Evidence from the U.K. Modern Slavery Act by Matthew Lee and Jasjit Singh as of May 10th, 2023 (#55): “Many corporate ESG disclosure regulations rely on private activist pressure to enforce compliance, but relatively little is known about its effectiveness. We present results from a field experiment testing the effect of various types of pressure from a leading human rights NGO on subsequent corporate compliance with the U.K. Modern Slavery Act of 2015, a law requiring disclosure of actions taken to address human rights issues. Sending firms a letter describing their legal ESG disclosure obligations had an unexpected effect of reducing rather than increasing compliance. This effect was partly mitigated for firms whose letter additionally included a list of already compliant firms, the mitigating effect being greatest when this list of peers was drawn from the same geographic location as the targeted firm” (abstract). My comment: Together with my engagement proposals, I send best-practice examples e.g. regarding supplier ESG evaluation to the companies I am invested in see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (

Banning dividends? Power Struggle: How Shareholder Primacy in the Electrical Utility Sector Is Holding Back an Affordable and Just Energy Transition by Nicholas Lusiani as of April 17th, 2023 (#10): “Instead of reinvesting earnings into more efficient, zero-carbon energy systems for consumers and future generations, this brief details how US investor-owned utilities have instead distributed over $250 billion—or 86 percent of net earnings—to shareholders over the past decade, at tremendous cost to a just transition. … policy recommendations to head off creeping shareholder primacy in the electricity sector, including: Creating a ban or very low bright-line limits on share buybacks; Implementing an annual shareholder payout cap, prioritizing reinvestment in efficiency and resiliency; Instituting a new set of binding fiduciary duties, toward alignment with the public interest; and establishing clear guardrails to protect against utility lobbying efforts currently undermining a just transition” (abstract). My comment: Divesting from such companies would most likely not stop their energy production because they still will be able to sell their energy (self-financing), although some investors seem to suggest such effects

Greenium problems: Who benefits from the bond greenium? by Daniel Kim and Sebastien Pouget as of May 3rd, 2023 (#56): “Using a sample of 354 US firms active in the bond market from 2005 to 2022, we establish our main result: there is a greenium that appears larger on the secondary than on the primary market. … Our evidence suggests that two economic forces underlie our main result. The part of the greenium pocketed in by financial intermediaries appears related i) to uncertainty regarding investors’ future climate concerns and ii) to a lack of competition among underwriting dealers. … green investors should try and participate more directly in primary bond markets if they want to increase their impact on firms’ financial incentives to become green” (p. 31).

Traditional investment research: Banning dividends

Misleading correlations: The Hierarchy of Empirical Evidence in Finance by Marcos López de Prado as of May 14th, 2023 (#190): “… the majority of journal articles in the investment literature make associational claims, and propose investment strategies designed to profit from those associations. For instance, authors may find that observation X often precedes the occurrence of event Y, determine that the correlation between X and Y is statistically significant, and propose a trading rule that presumably monetizes such correlation. A caveat of this reasoning is that the probabilistic statement “X often precedes Y” provides no evidence that Y is a function of X, thus the relationship between X and Y may be coincidental or unreliable … misspecification errors make it likely that the correlation between X and Y will change over time, and even reverse sign, exposing the investor to systematic losses. … The hierarchy of empirical evidence proposed in this article can help readers assess the strength and scientific rigor of the claims made by financial researchers (p. 18). My comment: For good reasons my rules-based investment strategies do not rely spurious correlations

Bad diversification? Which is Worse: Heavy Tails or Volatility Clusters? by Joshua Traut and Wolfgang Schadner as of April 28th, 2023 (#152): “Asset returns are known to be neither normally distributed nor of perfect random order. In contrast, they appear to exhibit a heavy-tailed distribution and are ordered in a complex, non-random way that causes large (small) fluctuations to be followed by large (small) fluctuations, a phenomenon that is known as volatility clustering“ (p. 2). … “We find that financial markets across various asset classes are clearly more destabilized from volatility clusters than from heavy-tailed distributions per se. We also observe that the effect gets more pronounced with an increasing degree of portfolio diversification” (p. 33). My comment: Good add-on argument to 30 stocks, if responsible, are all I need – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Large beats small: Is Information Production for the U.S. Stock Market Becoming More Concentrated? Yang Cao, Miao Liu, and Xi Zhang as of April 18th, 2023 (#40): “The US stock market has experienced dramatic shifts in structure in the past two decades. While small firms have disappeared, large ones have increasingly gained market share. … we find consistent and robust evidence that as large firms take a more significant market share, they attract market attention away from smaller ones, even when small firms’ business fundamentals remain unchanged. … If the market produces more and better information for large firms relative to small firms, capital would be allocated away from small firms to large ones, further deepening market concentration” (p. 25).

To ChatGPT or not? Unleashing the Power of ChatGPT in Finance Research: Opportunities and Challenges by Zifeng Feng, Gangqing Hu, and Bingxin Li as of pril 25th, 2023 (#183): “This article explores the multifaceted potential of ChatGPT as a transformative tool for finance researchers, highlighting the benefits, challenges, and novel insights it can offer to facilitate the research. We demonstrate applications in coding support, theoretical derivation, research idea assistance, and professional editing. A comparison of ChatGPT-3.5, ChatGPT-4, and Microsoft Bing reveals unique features and applicability. By discussing pitfalls and ethical concerns, we encourage responsible AI adoption and a comprehensive understanding of advanced NLP’s impact on finance research and practice“ (abstract).

Inefficient Expert Groups? Optimal Design of Investment Committees by Bernd Scherer as of May 1st, 2023 (#93): “… traditional investment committees are riddled with challenges. This results in biases (group shift bias), incentive problems (free rider), and aggregation problems (how to ensure that all member views enter the IC portfolio equally). I argue that these challenges will likely become considerably smaller once an investment committee moves towards creating an algorithmic consensus by averaging anonymous member portfolios instead of relying on qualitative group discussions. While investment committees based on these principles always performed well in my previous CIO positions, communication is one weakness in this design choice. Finding a coherent ex-post narrative that builds on a consistent top-down view is problematic because consistency across positions is neither enforced nor desired” (p. 13/14). My comment: Better use rules-based investment strategies (such as mine, see Das-Soehnholz-ESG-und-SDG-Portfoliobuch.pdf ( where committees may discuss the rules, although I do not believe much in superior “committee expertise”


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 (currently 22 of 30 companies engaged). The fund typically scores very well in sustainability rankings, e.g. see this free tool, and the risk-adjusted performance is relatively good: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T