Biodiversity risk: 10x new (critical) research on ESG ETF and net-zero, sustainability-linked bonds, lifecycle and thematic investments, altruism and stablecoins
Biodiversity risk research
Broad biodiversity risk: Living in a world of disappearing nature: physical risk and the implications for financial stability by Simone Boldrini, Andrej Ceglar, Chiara Lelli, Laura Parisi, and Irene Heemskerk from the European Central Bank as of Nov. 14th, 2023 (#23): “Of the 4.2 million euro area NFCs (Sö: Non-financial corporations) that were included in our research, around 3 million are highly dependent on at least one ecosystem service. … approximately 75% of euro area banks’ corporate loans to NFCs (nearly €3.24 trillion) are highly dependent on at least one ecosystem service. … we have enough data and knowledge available to enable timely and nature-friendly decision-making” (p. 38).
Biodiversity risk reduction? How could the financial sector contribute to limiting biodiversity loss? A systematic review by Lisa Junge, Yu-Shan Lin Feuer, and Remmer Sassen as of Feb. 7th, 2023 (#109) “the currently available scientific discourse is also not unanimous about the status of biodiversity in finance. Therefore, this paper aims to synthesise existing publications to gain transparency about the topic, conducting a systematic review. Three main concepts emerge about how the private finance sector can aid in halting biodiversity loss, namely: (1) by increasing awareness of biodiversity, (2) by seizing biodiversity-related business opportunities, and (3) by enlarging biodiversity visibility through reporting. Overall, we assume that the private finance sector upholds a great leverage power in becoming a co-agent of positive biodiversity change”(abstract).
Responsible investment research (Biodiversity risk)
Blackrock-problem? Fossil-washing? The fossil fuel investment of ESG funds by Alain Naef from Banque de France as of Nov. 16th, 2023 (#19): “… I analysed all the large equity Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) labelled as ESG available at the two largest investors in the world: Blackrock and Vanguard. For Blackrock, out of 82 funds analysed, only 9% did not invest in fossil fuel companies. Blackrock ESG funds include investments in Saudi Aramco, Gazprom or Shell. But they exclude ExxonMobil or BP. This suggests a best-in-class approach by the fund manager, picking only certain fossil fuel companies that they see as generating less harm. But it is unclear what the criteria used are. For Vanguard, funds listed as ESG did not contain fossil fuel investment. Yet this needs to be nuanced as information provided by Vanguard on investments is less transparent and Vanguard offers fewer ESG funds” (abstract). My comment: For my ESG and SDG ETF-selection I use demanding responsibility criteria and more so for my direct equity portfolios, see the newly updated Das-Soehnholz-ESG-und-SDG-Portfoliobuch.pdf (soehnholzesg.com)
Listed equity climate deficits: The MSCI Net-Zero Tracker November 2023 – A guide to progress by listed companies toward global climate goals from the MSCI Sustainability Institute as of November 2023: “Listed companies are likely to put 12.4 gigatons (Gt) of GHG emissions into the atmosphere this year, up 11% from 2022. … global emissions are on track reach 60.6 Gt this year, up 0.3% from 2022. … Domestic emissions in eight emerging-market G20 countries examined rose by an average of 1.2% per year over the period, while emissions of listed companies in those markets climbed 3.2% annually. … Just over (22%) of listed companies align with a 1.5°C pathway, as of Aug. 31, 2023 … Listed companies are on a path to warm the planet 2.5°C above preindustrial levels this century … More than one-third (34%) of listed companies have set a climate target that aspires to reach net-zero, up from 23% two years earlier. Nearly one-fifth (19%) of listed companies have published a science-based net-zero target that covers all financially relevant Scope 3 emissions, up from 6% over the same period” (page 6/7).
ESG or cash flow? Does Sustainable Investing Make Stocks Less Sensitive to Information about Cash Flows? by Steffen Hitzemann, An Qin, Stanislav Sokolinski, and Andrea Tamoni as of Oct. 30th, 2023 (#56): “Traditional finance theory asserts that stock prices depend on expected future cash flows. … Using the setting of earnings announcements, we find that sustainable investing diminishes stock price sensitivity to earnings news by 45%-58%. This decline in announcement-day returns is mirrored by a comparable drop in trading volume. This effect persists beyond the immediate announcement period, implying a lasting alteration in price formation rather than a short-lived mispricing“ (abstract).
Similar calls: SLBs: no cal(l)amity by Kamesh Korangi and Ulf Erlandsson as of Nov. 16th, 2023 (#13): A common criticism of sustainability-linked bonds (SLBs) has been around callability, where it is sometimes suggested that bond issuers are pushing this feature into bond structures to wriggle out of sustainability commitments. … Our analysis finds scant quantitative evidence to support this critique. Overall, when comparing SLBs with similar non-SLB issuances, we observe little ‘excess’ callability in SLBs. The key to this result is to control for sectors, ratings and issue age when comparing SLBs with the much larger market of traditional bonds” (p. 1).
Other investment research
100% Equity! Beyond the Status Quo: A Critical Assessment of Lifecycle Investment Advice by Aizhan Anarkulova, Scott Cederburg and Michael S. O’Doherty as of Nov.1st, 2023 (#950): “We challenge two central tenets of lifecycle investing: (i) investors should diversify across stocks and bonds and (ii) the young should hold more stocks than the old. An even mix of 50% domestic stocks and 50% international stocks held throughout one’s lifetime vastly outperforms age-based, stock-bond strategies in building wealth, supporting retirement consumption, preserving capital, and generating bequests. These findings are based on a lifecycle model that features dynamic processes for labor earnings, Social Security benefits, and mortality and captures the salient time-series and cross-sectional properties of long-horizon asset class returns” (abstract).
Lemming investors? The Big Shortfall? Thematic investors lose lion’s share of returns due to poor timing by Kenneth Lamont and Matias Möttölä from Morningstar as of Nov. 15th, 2023 : “While thematic funds‘ average total return was 7.3% annualized over the five-year period through June 30, 2023, investors earned only a 2.4% return when the impact of cash inflows and outflows is considered. … Investors lost more value in focused funds such as those tracking Technology or Physical World broad themes compared with more diversified Broad Thematic peers. Return gaps were far wider in exchange-traded funds than in thematic mutual funds. ETFs tend to offer more concentrated bets and lend themselves to tactical usage. The largest return shortfalls occur across highly targeted funds, which posted eye-catching performance, attracting large net inflows before suffering a change of fortune“ (p. 1). My comment: My approach to thematic investments see e.g. Alternatives: Thematic replace alternative investments (prof-soehnholz.com)
Risk-loving altruists? Can Altruism Lead to a Willingness to Take Risks? by Oded Shark as of Mov. 7th, 2023 (#7): “I show that an altruistic person who is an active donor (benefactor) is less risk averse than a comparable person who is not altruistic: altruism is a cause of greater willingness to take risks” (abstract). … “The lower risk aversion of an altruistic person … might encourage him to pursue risky ventures which could contribute to economic growth and social welfare” (p. 7).
Unstable coins? Runs and Flights to Safety: Are Stablecoins the New Money Market Funds? by Kenechukwu Anadu et al. from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston as of Oct. 9th, 2023 (#743): “… flight-to-safety dynamics in money market funds have been extensively documented in the literature—with money flowing from the riskier prime segment of the industry to the safer government segment … flight-to-safety dynamics in stablecoins resemble those in the MMF industry. During periods of stress in crypto markets, safer stablecoins experience net inflows, while riskier ones suffer net outflows. … we estimate that when a stablecoin’s price hits a threshold of 99 cents (that is, a price drop of 100 basis points relative to its $1 peg), investor redemptions accelerate significantly, in a way that is reminiscent of MMFs’ “breaking the buck … Should stablecoins continue to grow and become more interconnected with key financial markets, such as short-term funding markets, they could become a source of financial instability for the broader financial system” (p. 33).
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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 23 of 30 companies: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T or Noch eine Fondsboutique? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)