Archiv der Kategorie: Impact

New gender research illustration by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

New gender research: Researchpost 176

New gender research illustration by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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

Social and ecological research in: New gender research

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

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

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

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

ESG investment research

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

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

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

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

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

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

Impact investment research

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

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

Other investment research: in New gender research

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

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

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

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

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Werbehinweis

Unterstützen Sie meinen Researchblog, indem Sie in meinen globalen Small-Cap-Anlagefonds (SFDR Art. 9) investieren und/oder ihn empfehlen. Der Fonds konzentriert sich auf die Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung (SDG) und verwendet separate E-, S- und G-Best-in-Universe-Mindestratings sowie ein breites Aktionärsengagement bei derzeit 26 von 30 Unternehmen: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T und My fund – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Article 9 funds illustrated with foto from Pixabay by mabel amber

Article 9 funds: Researchpost #175

Foto from Pixabay by Mabel Amber

Article 9 funds: 7x new research on happiness, greenwashing, green fund flows, climate data, climate pay, private equity and structured products („#“ shows number of SSRN full paper downloads as of May 9th, 2024)

Social and ecological research

Be happy! How Can People Become Happier? A Systematic Review of Preregistered Experiments by Dunigan Folk and Elizabeth Dunn as of Aug. 11th, 2023: “Can happiness be reliably increased? Thousands of studies speak to this question. However, many of them were conducted during a period in which researchers commonly “p-hacked,” creating uncertainty about how many discoveries might be false positives. To prevent p-hacking, happiness researchers increasingly preregister their studies, committing to analysis plans before analyzing data. We conducted a systematic literature search to identify preregistered experiments testing strategies for increasing happiness. We found surprisingly little support for many widely recommended strategies (e.g., performing random acts of kindness). However, our review suggests that other strategies—such as being more sociable—may reliably promote happiness. We also found strong evidence that governments and organizations can improve happiness by providing underprivileged individuals with financial support” (abstract). My comment: It would be great to have pre-registration for factor and other “outperformance” or alpha-research in financial services (I first discovered this research in a blog post by Joachim Klement).

ESG and impact investment research (Article 9 funds)

Green Article 9 funds: Greenwashing and the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation by Daniel Fricke Kathi Schlepper as of May 7th, 2024 (#12): “We propose a simple approach to identify potential greenwashers in the context of mutual funds. Focusing on a sample of actively-managed bond funds in Europe, we find that the greenwashing-risk has decreased around the introduction of the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). For Article 9 funds, the greenwashing-potential has dropped by a factor of two between March 2022 and September 2023. This is both due to (i) re-classifications towards Article 8 products and (ii) sustainability rating improvements. For Article 8 funds, the improvement is less pronounced and the greenwashing-potential remains elevated“ (abstract).

Article 9 funds: Shades of Green: The Effect of SFDR Downgrades on Fund Flows and Sustainability Risk by Hirofumi Nishi, S. Drew Peabody, Eli Sherrill, and Kate Upton as of May 2nd, 2024 (#24): “… our research provides compelling evidence of the significant impact that the European Union’s Sustainable Finance Disclosures Regulation (SFDR) has had on the European ESG fund market, particularly in the context of funds downgraded from Article 9 to Article 8. We documented a discernible decline in net flows into funds following a downgrade …. Moreover, our analysis reveals a tendency for downgraded funds to actively “de-green,” by adjusting their portfolios towards investments with lower ESG scores post-downgrade” (p. 13). My comment: Maybe I can finally expect some inflows in my article 9 fund (which has been performing nicely in the last months), see My fund – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com) and FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T

Better climate data: Climate disclosure in financial statements by Maximilian A. Müller, Gaizka Ormazabal, Thorsten Sellhorn, and  Victor Wagner as of March 18th, 2024 (#362): “… we show that large EU-listed firms have substantially increased climate-related disclosures in their financial statements since 2018. …Climate disclosures in financial statements differ from those made elsewhere. The most striking difference is that climate disclosures outside the financial statements are significantly less related to a firm’s climate exposure. Hence, climate disclosures inside financial statements complement the disclosures made elsewhere by filtering out financially immaterial information. Many firms address climate-related matters outside the financial statements – but only those with financially material exposure do so inside their (mandatory and audited) financial statements“ (p. 28/29). My comment: Maybe additional ESG auditing fees deliver value for money.

Climate pay: 2024 Pay for Climate Performance Report by Tina Mavkari, Abigail Paris, Olivia Aldinger, Melissa Walton and Danielle Fugere from As you Sow as of  April 15th, 2024: “This second edition of the Pay for Climate Performance report analyzes how effectively 100 of the largest U.S. companies by market capitalization, across 11 sectors of the economy, are currently linking GHG emissions reduction incentives to CEO remuneration. … For CEOs to be motivated to achieve company-wide, science-aligned climate goals, rewards for climate-related achievements must be measurable, clear, and significant. Too often, where climate-related linkages exist, they are predominantly qualitative, leaving significant and unwarranted discretion to compensation committees; or are non-transparent or overly complex quantitative climate metrics, which are difficult to understand and monitor; or include insignificant metrics not captured in the long-term incentive plan (LTIP), which is the substantial part of CEO pay“ (p. 5). … “Of the 66 companies that do include a climate metric in their CEO compensation, only 20 companies had a measurable climate incentive, which is key to driving outcomes“ (p. 7). My comment: Many shareholder voting and engagement efforts focus on green CEO pay. In my opinion, it is important to avoid simple pay increases (see Pay Gap, ESG-Boni und Engagement: Radikale Änderungen erforderlich – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)) and this research shows that the pay details matter very much

Other investment research

Private equity nyths: Does the Case for Private Equity Still Hold? by Nori Gerardo Lietz and Philipp Chvanov as of April 25th, 2024 (#498): “All the actions PE firms claim add value to portfolio companies should result in superior returns relative to PMEs (Sö: Public Market Equivalents). The data indicate the average or median PE funds do not actually outperform their PMEs since the GFC (Sö: Global Financial Crisis). … First, General Partner (“GP”) fund performance persistence has eroded materially. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance. While the top quartile GPs outperform relative to PMEs over time, they are not necessarily the same GPs over time. … if there is little persistence among the top quartile firms, then the selection of any GP is potentially a “random walk”. If that is the case, then investors should expect to achieve at best only average or median PE results. … there has been a somewhat shocking concentration of capital flows among a small number of firms. … PE performance may actually underperform PMEs on a risk adjusted basis given the amount of leverage they employ generating equivalent results on a nominal basis“ (p. 4/5). My comment: See my private investment criticism here: Impact divestment: Illiquidity hurts – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Bad structures: Do Structured Products improve Portfolio Performance? A Backtesting Exercise by Florian Perusset and Michael Rockinger as of April 29th, 2024 (#164): “This paper shows that the inclusion of structured products in a typical stocks and bonds portfolio, as might be held by an institutional investor, is detrimental for investors, even when considering simple structured products, which are simpler than the majority of the products on the market, even when products are priced at their fair value. This finding implies that when considering more complex structured products sold at a premium, the cost is expected to be higher since more complex products tend to be more overpriced…. “ (p. 22).

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Werbehinweis (Article 9 funds)

Unterstützen Sie meinen Researchblog, indem Sie in meinen globalen Small-Cap-Anlagefonds (SFDR Art. 9) investieren und/oder ihn empfehlen. Der Fonds konzentriert sich auf die Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung (SDG) und verwendet separate E-, S- und G-Best-in-Universe-Mindestratings sowie ein breites Aktionärsengagement bei derzeit 29 von 30 Unternehmen: FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T und My fund – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

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

Impact divestment: Illiquidity hurts

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

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

Impact investment focus on private investments?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Illiquid investments: Neither return nor risk or diversification benefits?

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

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

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

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

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

ESG variety: Picture by Frauke Riether from Pixabay

ESG variety: Researchpost 172

Picture: „The Hands of Children“ by Frauke Riether from Pixabay

ESG variety: 12x new research on migration, climate politics, ESG (regulation, risk, disclosure, weigthings, ratings), Norwegian ESG, climate data, stewardship, impact measurement, and altruists (#shows the number of SSRN full paper downloads as of April 18th, 2024).

Social and ecological research

Migration to Germany: Walls, Not Bridges: Germany’s Post-WWII Journey with Refugee Integration by Noah Babel and Jackson Deutch as of Dec. 19th, 2023 (#15): “Given projections that by 2060, a third of its populace will be over 65, the economic argument for integrating a refugee workforce to counter labor shortages is compelling. However, current administrative measures like language proficiency assessments and residency restrictions inadvertently cast refugees as outsiders, hindering true integration. … Prolonged waits for asylum decisions, often extending for years, coupled with employment limitations, don’t just hamper economic advancement, they socially isolate refugees“ (p. 8).

Brown politics: The Behavioral Economics and Politics of Global Warming – Unsettling Behaviors Elements in Quantitative Finance by Hersh Shefrin as of Dec. 12th, 2023 (#50): “.. there is evidence that carbon continues to be priced in the range of 6 percent to 10 percent of its social cost …. Psychological biases, especially present bias, lie at the root of my analysis of the big behavioral question. In particular, these biases explain the reluctance to use taxes to price GHGs in line with their respective social costs. This reluctance is an unsettling behavior, and results in abatement being more costly than necessary, plausibly by a factor of five to seven. The cost of reluctance is a behavioral cost, and it is large“ (p. 108).

Good ESG regulation: Cross-border Impact of ESG Disclosure Mandate: Evidence from Foreign Government Procurement Contracts by Yongtae Kim, Chengzhu Sun, Yi Xiang, and Cheng (Colin) Zeng as of April 12th, 2024 (#30): “We find robust evidence that firms from countries mandating ESG disclosure are more likely to secure foreign governments’ procurement contracts with higher values than counterparts in non-regulated countries” (p. 33).

ESG investment research (in: ESG variety)

Financial ESG risk: Market Risk Premium and ESG Risk by Joey Daewoung, Yong Kyu Gam, Yong Hyuck Kim, Dmitriy Muravyev, and Hojong Shin as of April 12th, 2024 (#29): “Using a panel dataset consisting of US firms for 2010-2021, we find that the stock market beta is positively related to average returns on the days when investors learn about negative ESG incidents that affect the market as a whole. Specifically, we report that the CAPM-implied market risk premium is, on average, 31.52 bps on ESG days, which is, on average, 32.92 bps higher than the market risk premium on non-ESG days (-1.40 bps). The magnitude of the market risk premium is both statistically and economically significant, and robust across different model specifications. Our findings contribute to the existing literature by showing that the ESG risk is systematic and priced” (p. 16).

ESG weighting issues: Comparing ESG Score Weighting Approaches and Stock Performance Differentiation by Matthias Muck and Thomas Schmidl as of April 12th, 2024 (#22): “… we compare the performance differences of stocks sorted according to ESG scores that utilize the same categories but have different weightings. … Interestingly, an uninformed, equally weighted score leads to larger performance differences compared to Refinitiv’s data-driven weighted score. … As a robustness check, we consider the Paris Agreement as an exogenous event. … the post-Agreement increase in performance differentiation is likely due to investors’ recognition that sustainability information is indeed relevant for stock pricing” (p. 7). My comment: I use separate (Best-in-Universe) E, S and G Scores for stock selection. Unfortunately, I have seen very few studies suing such separate scores so far.

ESG disclosure differences: The impact of real earning management and environmental, social, and governance transparency on financing costs by Adel Necib, Malek El Weriemmi and Anis Jarboui as of April 10th, 2024 (#21): “We use a fixed effects panel data analysis to examine 97 firm-year observations of UK firms from 2014 to 2023. According to the research, investors place a lower value on ESG disclosure and increase the price of shares, whilst lenders view it favourably and reduce the cost of debt“ (abstract).

Mind the ESG-downgrade: ESG rating score revisions and stock returns by Rients Galema and Dirk Gerritsen as of March 26th, 2024 (#470): “Because the main users of ESG ratings typically adopt a low rebalancing frequency, we study the effect of ESG rating revisions on stock returns in a period of up to six months. We consider all ESG rating revisions issued by one of the largest ESG rating providers and we present evidence that both ESG and E rating downgrades are followed by six-month negative buy-and-hold abnormal returns in the magnitude of 2.5% to 3% (annualized). For larger downgrades, this effect becomes even more pronounced: Around 4.5% per year. We find that the effect of the E rating is most robust because we can confirm its significance in a calendar-time portfolio analysis. We conclude from additional analyses (i.e., mid-cycle versus annual revisions; pre-event trends) that these BHARs would not have materialized in the absence of rating revisions, despite the fact that rating revisions rely to a large extent on public information. … changes in a quarterly updated sustainable investment index based on ESG ratings explain part of the effect of E rating changes on abnormal returns. Second, institutional investors adjust their portfolios in response to decreases in E ratings. … we show that return volatility slightly increases following both ESG downgrades and E downgrades, a finding which is congruent with a reduced commitment from long-term institutional investors“ (p. 26/27). My comment: I use E, S and G Ratings downgrades (Best-in-Universe) to divest from stocks, see Divestments: 49 bei 30 Aktien meines Artikel 9 Fonds – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com) or “Engagementreport” here FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T

Norwegian ESG? The ESG commitment of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund: Is the socially responsible behaviour of companies considered in its investment strategy? by Iván Arribas, Fernando García García, and Javier Oliver Muncharaz as of April 11th, 2024 (#12): “… only seven of the leading sovereign wealth funds include ESG metrics in their investment process. The group includes the Norwegian GPFG, which is the biggest sovereign wealth fund worldwide in terms of assets under management. … findings suggest that favourable ESG performance of firms does have a positive impact on the probability of inclusion in the investment portfolio of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund. Notably, environmental performance is significant. Moreover, the GPFG’s criteria in relation to greenhouse gas emissions for companies in the electricity sector result in a lower probability of these firms becoming part of the fund’s investment portfolio compared with other industry sectors” (p. 20). My comment: The Norwegian SWF still invest in many companies and therefore has to compromise. Smaller investor can focus much better on demanding sustainability criteria, see 30 stocks, if responsible, are all I need – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Climate data issues: Climate Data in the Investment Process: Challenges, Resources, and Considerations by Andres Vinelli, Deborah Kidd, CFA, and Tyler Gellasch from the CFA Institute as of April 2024: “Before the maturation of accounting standards, financial data were imperfect for many years and are still imperfect for companies in emerging markets, where accounting and financial reporting practices are evolving. As with financial data, climate-related data availability and quality have improved over recent years and will continue to improve. In the meantime, investors should apply the same data interpretation, checks, and management techniques that they apply when working with other sets of estimated or incomplete data—such as validating data by cross-checking with original source data, understanding data provider methodologies (where disclosed), diversifying sources of data where possible, and using qualitative information and judgment as needed to fill in the gaps. … To help improve the current state of climate-related data, investors can participate in standards-setting processes, encourage issuers to voluntarily adopt standards, and advocate for high-quality, globally consistent disclosure regulations” (p. 13).

Impact investment research (in: ESG Variety)

Stewardship dilution?  ESG, Sustainability Disclosure, and Institutional Investor Stewardship by Giovanni Strampelli as of April 10th, 2024 (#20): “Several sets of sustainability standards have been adopted internationally. The European Commission recently adopted the CSRD, which places more stringent obligations and expanded the scope of companies, including unlisted ones, required to publish sustainability reports. … While such sustainability-related disclosure requirements may create a “name-and-shame” obligation for companies to take initiatives to improve their ESG performance, it is doubtful that such obligations can promote ESG-related stewardship activities by institutional investors. … the regulatory framework is still fragmented and there are differences between the various sustainability disclosure sets, concerning in particular the notion of materiality, which make it difficult to compare sustainability reports prepared under different standards. For these reasons, institutional investors rely on ESG ratings and indices for the purposes of their investment and stewardship strategies. … the choice of nonactivist institutional investors to focus part of their engagement initiatives on sustainability disclosure, requiring, for example, a higher degree of transparency or the adoption of a certain set of reporting, appears to be dictated by a desire to avoid more incisive initiatives (perceived as more aggressive) aimed directly at encouraging change in the environmental strategies or policies of the companies concerned” (p. 22/23). My comment: My broad and deep stewardship process see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (prof-soehnholz.com) or in “Nachhaltigkeitsinvestmentpolitik” here FutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T

Impact measurement: The Evolution of Impact Accounting and Utilization of Logic-Model in Corporate Strategy by Reona Sekino, Toshiyuki Imamura, and Yumiko Miwa as of Dec. 4th, 2023 (#77): “After discussing the existing methods for impact management, the article focuses on practical issues and investor engagement in impact management by companies. This article also makes recommendations on practical methods based on the current situation and issues. Specifically, this article proposes a method that integrates an Impact-Weighted Accounts framework that can quantify impact in a generalized format and a Logic Model that can visualize the ripple effects of corporate activities and clarify business strategies and value creation stories, thereby making it possible for stakeholders to evaluate impact. In addition, this article makes sample analysis to discuss the usefulness and challenges of the methodology“ (abstract). My comment: This article also includes interesting impact examples, see also Impactaktien-Portfolio mit 80% SDG-Vereinbarkeit? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Other investment research (in: ESG Variety)

Risk-taking altruists: How Altruism Drives Risk-Taking by Dan Rubin, Diogo Hildebrand, Sankar Sen, and Mateo Lesizza as of Dec. 1st, 2023 (#51): “Individuals motivated by altruism often put themselves in harm’s way in helping others. … The first explanation, predicated on risk activation, suggests that altruism decreases risk perception by impeding the activation of self-risk information, leading to reduced risk perception and increased risk-taking. Alternatively, the second explanation implies that altruism may increase risk-discounting, whereby the importance of risk is downplayed when deciding whether to help others. Results of three studies … provide strong evidence for the risk-activation account and establish substantive boundaries for this effect“ (abstract).

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Impactaktien: FutureVest Fondsportfolio April 2024

Impactaktien-Portfolio mit 80% SDG-Vereinbarkeit?

Impactaktien: Dauerhaft haben aktive Fonds meist schlechtere Performances als adäquate passive Benchmarks. Outperformanceversprechen sind deshalb wenig glaubhaft. Aber den meisten Untersuchungen zufolge, kann man mit nachhaltigen Aktien eine marktübliche Performance erreichen. Ich versuche deshalb, aus besonders nachhaltigen Aktien ein attraktives Portfolio mit marktüblicher Performance zu machen.

Dafür nutze ich klare Regeln, die vor allem aus Ausschlüssen, hohen Anforderungen an Best-in-Universe Umwelt-, Sozial- und Unternehmensführungs- (E, S und G) Ratings und hohen Vereinbarkeiten mit den nachhaltigen Entwicklungszielen der Vereinten Nationen (SDG) bestehen (vgl. Regeländerungen: Nachhaltig aktiv oder passiv? (prof-soehnholz.com). Die SDG-Vereinbarkeit soll sicherstellen, dass die selektierten Unternehmen eine positive Wirkung auf Umwelt oder Soziales (Impact) haben.

Impactaktien: Klare Regeln und marktübliche Performance

Seit dem Start meiner Firma Ende 2015 nutze und veröffentliche ich klare Regeln für meine Portfolios. Das hier diskutierte globale ESG SDG Portfolio habe ich Ende 2017 eingeführt. Fast alle Regeln beziehen sich auf die Aktienselektion. Für die Portfoliobildung gibt es nur zwei relevante Regeln. Erstens: Direkte Wettbewerber mit dem Hauptsitz im selben Land sind ausgeschlossen, nur für die USA darf aufgrund der Größe des Marktes zwei Wettbewerber zugelassen. Und zweitens: Alle Aktien werden annähernd gleich gewichtet. Andere Portfolioentwickler, z.B. von Indexfonds, und Portfoliomanager nutzen meistens auch Vorgaben vor allem in Bezug auf Mindest- und Maximalgrenzen für Länder- und Branchenallokationen.

Seit dem Start performt mein Portfolio – vereinfacht zusammengefasst – ähnlich wie traditionelle Small- und Midcap-Aktien.

Unternehmens-Impact: 30 Spezialisten im Portfolio

Von den 30 Unternehmen, deren Aktien aktuell in meinem ESG SDG Fondsportfolio sind, haben 11 ihren Hauptsitz in den USA. Das ist weniger als in der Vergangenheit und erheblich weniger als der US-Anteil von Vergleichsindizes. 17 sind Unternehmen aus dem Gesundheitssektor bzw. können dem SDG 3 zugeordnet werden. Das ist viel mehr als bei anderen Small-/Mid-Cap-Portfolios und auch als in den meisten anderen Impactportfolios. Der Gesundheitssektor wird jedoch durch Unternehmen mit sehr unterschiedlichen Schwerpunkten abgedeckt (siehe Grafik). Die Schwerpunkte der einzelnen Unternehmen sind: Gesundheitspersonal, Schutzhandschuhe, Labortechnik, Hörgeräte, Strahlentherapie, Krebsvorsorge, Radiologiesoftware, Grüner Star, Dental, Örthopädie, Gesundheitssoftware (B2B), Medizinische Bildgeneration, Krankenhäuser, Krankenhausservices, Apotheken, biologische Arzneiservices, und Organtransplantationsprodukte.

Acht Unternehmen sind auf Umwelt- und Energiethemen (SDG 6 und 7) fokussiert: Energiemanagement, Windenergieanlagen, Solartechnik, Solarstrom, Wasserversorgungstechnik, Wassermessgeräte, Profi-Waagen.

Weitere fünf Unternehmen können dem Segment öffentlicher Transport bzw. nachhaltige Städte und Infrastruktur (SDG 9 und 11) zugeordnet werden: Schienenfahrzeugteile, Schienenfahrzeuge, Bushersteller, Öffentlicher Transport, Telekommunikation Afrika.

Ungefähr zwei Drittel der Unternehmen haben Marktkapitalisierungen unter 5 Milliarden Euro und sind damit ziemlich niedrig kapitalisiert (Small Caps). Die restlichen Unternehmen sind mittelgroß (Mid Caps). Das ist wenig verwunderlich, denn spezialisierte Unternehmen sind einfacher höchstmöglich SDG-kompatibel und bieten weniger „Ausschluss-Aktivitäten“ an. Größere Unternehmen sind dagegen oft diversifizierter und damit auch in nicht SDG- bzw. Ausschluss-Aktivitäten involviert.

Ich habe nur wenige dieser Unternehmen in anderen Impactfonds gefunden. Das liegt einerseits wohl daran, dass es wenige vergleichbare Fonds gibt, denn viele Impactfonds sind nur auf ökologische Themen oder regional fokussiert. Andererseits sind die Aktienselektionskriterien anderer Impactfonds nennenswert anders als meine (vgl. Globale Small-Caps: Faire Benchmark für meinen Artikel 9 Fonds? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)).

Impactaktien: Wieso sind gerade diese Unternehmen im Portfolio?

Als ich das Portfolio 2017 gestartet habe, hatte ich noch keine guten Daten, um Vereinbarkeiten mit den SDG zu prüfen. Deshalb habe ich Unternehmen vor allem aufgrund ihrer Zugehörigkeit zu Marktsegmenten mit einem vermuteten positiven ökologischen oder sozialen Impact ausgesucht, namentlich Gesundheit, erneuerbare und elektrische Energien, Schienen-, Wasser- und Telekommunikationsinfrastruktur, Recycling, Umwelttechnik, Wohn- und Sozialimmobilien, Arbeitsvermittlung sowie Aus- und Fortbildung.

Seit Ende 2023 bietet mein Nachhaltigkeitsdatenanbieter Clarity.ai für die sehr vielen von ihm abgedeckten Unternehmen eine SDG-Umsatzanalyse an. Seitdem nehme ich nur noch Unternehmen neu ins Portfolio auf, deren Umsätze zu mindestens 50% als SDG-vereinbar gelten.

Allerdings habe ich zunächst Unternehmen im Portfolio gelassen, bei denen meine aktivitätsbasierten Einschätzungen von der Umsatzanalyse des Ratinganbieters abwichen. Das betraf vor allem Unternehmen mit Fokus auf Wohn- und Sozialimmobilien sowie Zeitarbeit bzw. Arbeitsvermittlung. Nach einigen intensiven Diskussionen mit dem Ratinganbieter kann ich dessen Argumentationen besser nachvollziehen und habe deshalb inzwischen alle Aktien verkauft, die nach dessen Berechnung nicht mindestens 45% SDG-kompatiblen Umsatz haben. Insgesamt haben meine 30 Portfoliounternehmen aktuell etwa 80% SDG-kompatible und 0% SDG-schädliche Umsätze.

Aktuell prüfe ich, wann ich die individuelle Mindestgrenze weiter hochsetzen kann. Dabei sind 50% bzw. sogar 75% relativ einfach erreichbar und für Ende des Jahres 2024 strebe ich sogar 90% Mindest-SDG-Vereinbarkeit an.

Mein Unternehmens- und Investor-Impact: Ausblick

Ich erwarte, dass es auch künftig bei der Konzentration meines Portfolios auf Gesundheit, Energie/Umwelt und Transport/Infrastruktur bleiben wird. Die Länderallokation wird weiter schwanken, aber die USA gegenüber traditionellen Benchmarks eher unterrepräsentiert sein. Außerdem erwarte ich auch künftig einen klaren Small-Cap-Fokus. Ich bin zuversichtlich, dass Risikokennzahlen wie zwischenzeitliche Verluste und Volatilität trotzdem marktüblich ausfallen werden, denn Gesundheit gilt als defensiver Sektor.

Insgesamt bin ich sehr von den Aktivitäten der Unternehmen angetan, die in meinem Portfolio sind. Diese Unternehmen können das Leben von Menschen wirklich positiv beeinflussen (Unternehmens-Impact). Ich bin froh, dass ich fast mein ganzes Vermögen in Unternehmen aus so attraktiven Marktsegmenten investieren kann.

Allerdings können – trotz meiner hohen Selektionsanforderungen – auch diese Unternehmen noch nachhaltiger werden. Das versuche ich durch meine umfassenden Engagementaktivitäten bei aktuell 27 von 30 Unternehmen voranzubringen (vgl. „Nachhaltigkeitsinvestmentpolitik“ und „Engagementreport“ auf www.futurevest.fund).

Diese Aktivitäten sind vor allem auf Umwelt-, Sozial- und Governanceverbesserungen der Unternehmen und ihrer Stakeholder ausgerichtet. Es kann aber kaum erwartet werden, dass die Produkte oder Services meiner Portfoliounternehmen durch meine Aktivitäten (noch) besser werden.

Ob die Unternehmen bzw. ich als Investor künftig (noch) mehr Impact haben werden, ist zudem nur schwer sinnvoll messbar. Viel mehr als 90% SDG-Vereinbarkeit sind kaum zu erreichen. Mehr Unternehmens-Impact kann nur dann erzielt werden, wenn die Unternehmen wachsen. Mehr Investor-Impact ist theoretisch einfacher. Dafür müssen mehr Portfoliounternehmen mehr von meinen Vorschlägen implementieren. Daran werde ich weiter intensiv arbeiten.

Impactaktien: Disclaimer

Diese Unterlage ist von der Soehnholz ESG GmbH erstellt worden. Die Erstellerin übernimmt keine Gewähr für die Richtigkeit, Vollständigkeit und/oder Aktualität der zur Verfügung gestellten Inhalte. Die Informationen unterliegen deutschem Recht und richten sich ausschließlich an Investoren, die ihren Wohnsitz in Deutschland haben. Sie sind nicht als Verkaufsangebot oder Aufforderung zur Abgabe eines Kauf- oder Zeichnungsangebots für Anteile des in dieser Unterlage dargestellten Fonds zu verstehen und ersetzen nicht eine anleger- und anlagegerechte Beratung. Anlageentscheidungen sollten nur auf der Grundlage der aktuellen gesetzlichen Verkaufsunterlagen (Wesentliche Anlegerinformationen, Verkaufsprospekt und – sofern verfügbar – Jahres- und Halbjahresbericht) getroffen werden, die auch die allein maßgeblichen Anlagebedingungen enthalten. Die Verkaufsunterlagen werden bei der Kapitalverwaltungsgesellschaft (Monega Kapitalanlagegesellschaft mbH), der Verwahrstelle (Kreissparkasse Köln) und den Vertriebspartnern zur kostenlosen Ausgabe bereitgehalten. Die Verkaufsunterlagen sind zudem im Internet unter www.monega.de erhältlich.

Die in dieser Unterlage zur Verfügung gestellten Inhalte dienen lediglich der allgemeinen Information und stellen keine Beratung oder sonstige Empfehlung dar. Die Kapitalanlage ist stets mit Risiken verbunden und kann zum Verlust des eingesetzten Kapitals führen. Vor einer etwaigen Anlageentscheidung sollten Sie eingehend prüfen, ob die Anlage für Ihre individuelle Situation und Ihre persönlichen Ziele geeignet ist. Diese Unterlage enthält ggf. Informationen, die aus öffentlichen Quellen stammen, die die Erstellerin für verlässlich hält. Die dargestellten Inhalte, insbesondere die Darstellung von Strategien sowie deren Chancen und Risiken, können sich im Zeitverlauf ändern. Einschätzungen und Bewertungen reflektieren die Meinung der Erstellerin zum Zeitpunkt der Erstellung und können sich jederzeit ändern. Es ist nicht beabsichtigt, diese Unterlage laufend oder überhaupt zu aktualisieren. Sie stellt nur eine unverbindliche Momentaufnahme dar. Die Unterlage ist ausschließlich zur Information und zum persönlichen Gebrauch bestimmt. Jegliche nicht autorisierte Vervielfältigung und Weiterverbreitung ist untersagt.

Climate Shaming: Illustration from Nina Garman from Pixabay

Climate shaming: Researchpost 171

Ilustration from Pixabay by Nina Garman

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

Ecological and social research

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

ESG investment research (in: Climate Shaming)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Impact investment research (in: Climate Shaming)

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

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

Other investment research

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

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

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Advert for German investors:

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

Healthcare IT: Illustration from Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Healthcare IT and more new research: Researchpost #166

Healthcare IT: 17x new research on climate profits, biodiversity, carbon policy, noisiness, brown subsidies, child marriages, diversity returns, ESG ratings, climate measures, index pollution, impact funds, engagement returns, green research, green real estate, green ECB (# shows number of SSRN full paper downloads as of March 7th, 2024).

Ecological research (in: Healthcare IT)

Climate adaption profits? Fiscal Implications of Global Decarbonization by Simon Black, Ruud de Mooij, Vitor Gaspar, Ian Parry, and Karlygash Zhunussova from the International Monetary Fund as of March 7th, 2024 (#2): “The quantitative impact on fiscal revenues for countries depends on the balance between rising carbon revenue and a gradual erosion of existing carbon and fuel tax bases. Public spending rises during the transition to build green public infrastructure, promote innovation, support clean technology deployment, and compensate households and firms. Assumptions about the size of these spending needs are speculative and estimates vary with country characteristics (especially the emissions intensity of the energy sector) and policy choices (whether investments are funded through user fees or taxes for the sector or by the general budget). On balance, the paper finds that the global decarbonization scenario will likely have moderately negative implications for fiscal balances in advanced European countries. Effects are more likely to be positive for the US and Japan if public spending is contained. For middle and low-income countries, net fiscal impacts are generally positive and sometimes significantly so—mostly due to relatively buoyant revenue effects from carbon pricing that exceed spending increases. For low-income countries, these effects are reinforced if a portion of the global revenue from carbon pricing is shared across countries on a per-capita basis. Thus, a global agreement on mitigation policy has the potential to support the global development agenda” (p. 26).

Green productivity? The impact of climate change and policies on productivity by Gert Bijnens and many more from the European Central Bank as of Feb. 28th, 2024 (#26): “The impact of rising temperatures on labour productivity is likely to be positive for Northern European countries but negative for Southern European countries. Meanwhile, extreme weather events, having an almost entirely negative impact on output and productivity, are likely to have a relatively higher impact on Southern Europe. … The impact of climate policies on resource reallocation across sectors is likely negative, as the more carbon-intensive sectors are currently more productive than the sectors that are expected to grow due to the green transition. … Smaller firms that have a harder time in securing finance and less experience in creating or adapting new innovations may initially face challenges and see a decline in their productivity growth. However, their productivity outlook improves as they gradually adjust and gain access to support mechanisms, such as financial assistance and technological expertise. … Market-based instruments, like carbon taxes, are not enough in themselves to spur investment in green innovation and productivity growth. As others have found, the green transition also calls for an increase in green R&D efforts and non-market policies such as standards and regulations, where carbon pricing is less adequate. … In conclusion, while shifting towards a greener economy can lead to temporary declines in labour productivity in the shorter term, it could yield several long-term productivity benefits“ (p. 60/61).

Biodiversity degrowth: Biodiversity Risks and Corporate Investment by Hai Hong Trinh as of Oct. 1st, 2023 (#188): “I document a strong adverse association between corporate investment and biodiversity risks (BDR) …. More importantly, in line with the life-cycle theory, the relation is pronounced for larger and more mature firms, suggesting that firms with less growth opportunities care more about climate-induced risks, BDR exposures in this case. When environmental policies become more stringer for climate actions, the study empirically supports the rationale that climate-induced uncertainty can depress capital expenditure due to investment irreversibility, causing precautionary delays for firms”.

“Good” carbon policies: Carbon Policy Design and Distributional Impacts: What does the research tell us? by Lynn Riggs as of Sept. 21st, 2023 (#15): “There are two main veins of literature examining the distributional effects of carbon policy: the effects on households and the effects on production sectors (i.e., employment). These literatures have generally arisen from two common arguments against carbon policies – that these polices disproportionately affect lower income households and that the overall effect on jobs and businesses will be negative. However, existing research finds that well-designed carbon policies are consistent with growth, development, and poverty reduction, and both literatures provide guidance for policy design in this regard” (abstract).

Social research (in: Healthcare IT)

Costly noise: The Price of Quietness: How a Pandemic Affects City Dwellers’ Response to Road Traffic Noise by Yao-pei Wang, Yong Tu, and Yi Fan as of July 15th, 2023 (#44): “We find that housing units with more exposure to road traffic noise have an additional rent discount of 8.3% and that tenants are willing to pay an additional rent premium for quieter housing units after the pandemic. We demonstrate that the policies implemented to keep social distance like WFH (Sö: working from home) and digitalization during the COVID-19 pandemic have enhanced people’s requirement for quietness. We expect these changes to persist and have long-lasting implications on residents’ health and well-being …” (p. 25/26).

Ungreen inequality subsidies? Do Commuting Subsidies Drive Workers to Better Firms? by David R. Agrawal, Elke J. Jahn, Eckhard Janeba as of March 5th, 2024 (#5): „Increases in the generosity of commuting subsidies induce workers to switch to higher-paying jobs with longer commutes. Although increases in commuting subsidies generally induce workers to switch to employers that pay higher wages, commuting subsidies also enhance positive assortativity in the labor market by better matching high-ability workers to higher-productivity plants. Greater assortativity induced by commuting subsidies corresponds to greater earnings inequality” (abstract).

Polluted marriages: Marriages in the shadow of climate vulnerability by Jaykumar Bhongale and Oishik Bhattacharya as of May 15th, 2023 (#26): “We discover that girls and women are more likely to get married in the year of or the year after the heat waves. The relationship is highest for women between the ages of 18 and 23, and weakest for those between the ages of 11 and 14. We also investigate the idea that severe weather influences families to accept less suitable daughter marriage proposals. We discover that people who get married in extremely hot weather typically end up with less educated men and poorer families. Similarly to this, men with less education who married during unusually dry years are supportive of partner violence more than other married men married in normal seasons of the year. These findings collectively imply that families who experience environmental shocks adapt by hastening the marriage of daughters or by settling for less ideal marriage offers “ (abstract).

Diversity returns: Diversity and Stock Market Outcomes: Thank you Different! by Yosef Bonaparte as of Feb. 9th, 2024 (#30): “… we gather data from 68 countries on key financial results and their level of diversity. We define diversity via four dimensions: ethnicity, language, religion, and gender. … our results demonstrate that the impact of diversity components on the stock market varies, yet overall, the greater the level of diversity the greater the stock market performance, and there is no volatility associated with this high return. In fact, we present some evidence that the overall volatility declines as diversity increases. To sum up, diverse culture is better equipped to understand and serve diverse consumer markets, thereby expanding the potential customer base. This inclusive approach not only reflects social responsibility but also aligns with economic advantages, as it results in improved corporate governance, risk management, and overall corporate performance“ (p. 15).

ESG investment research

ESG rating issues: Unpacking the ESG Ratings: Does One Size Fit All? by Monica Billio, Aoife Claire Fitzpatrick, Carmelo Latino, and Loriana Pelizzon as of March 1st, 2024 (#70): “In this study, we unpack the ESG ratings of four prominent agencies in Europe …” (abstract) … “First, using correlation analysis we show that each E, S, and G pillar contributes differently to the overall ESG rating. … the Environmental pillar consistently plays a significant role in explaining ESG ratings across all agencies … When analysing the intra-correlations of the E, S and G pillar we find a low correlation between the three E, S, and G pillars. An interesting accounting methodology emerges from RobecoSAM which exhibits notably high intra-correlations. This prompts us to raise questions about the validity of relying exclusively on survey data for calculating ESG ratings as RobecoSAM does. … the Governance pillar displayed the highest divergence across all years, followed by Social, Environmental and finally ESG. … Finally, our study on the main drivers of ESG ratings reveals that having an external auditor, an environmental supply chain policy, climate change commercial risks opportunities and target emissions improves ratings across all agencies, further emphasizing the importance of firms’ environmental strategies“ (p. 12/13). My comment: Unterschiedliche ESG-Ratings: Tipps für Anleger | CAPinside

Pro intensity measures: Greenness and its Discontents: Operational Implications of Investor Pressure by Nilsu Uzunlar, Alan Scheller-Wolf, and Sridhar Tayur as of Feb. 28th, 2024 (#23): “… We explore two prominent environmental metrics that have been proposed for carbon emissions: an absolute-based target for absolute emissions and an intensity-based target for emission intensity. … we observe that, for high-emission companies, an intensity-based target increases the producer’s expected profit, leading to less divestment compared to the absolute-based target. We also find that the intensity-based target is more likely to facilitate investments in increased efficiency than the absolute-based target“ (abstract).

Index-hugging pollution? Reducing the Carbon Footprint of an Index: How Low Can You Go? by Paul Bouchey, Martin de Leon, Zeeshan Jawaid, and Vassilii Nemtchinov as of Feb. 13th, 2024 (#31): “… The authors find that an investor may be able to reduce the carbon footprint of a typical index-based portfolio by more than 50%, while keeping active risk low, near 1% tracking error volatility. … We study the effects of constraints on the optimization problem and find that loosening sector and industry constraints enables a greater reduction in carbon emissions, without a significant increase in overall active risk. Specifically, underweights to Utilities, Energy, and Materials allow for a greater reduction in carbon emissions” (abstract). My comment: The Carbon footprint can be reduced much more by avoiding significant emitters altogether. Index deviation will increase in that case, but not necessarily relevant risk indicators such as drawdowns or volatility, see also 30 stocks, if responsible, are all I need (prof-soehnholz.com)

SDG and impact investment research (in: Healthcare IT)

Better sustainability measure: Methodology for Eurosif Market Studies on Sustainability-related Investments by Timo Busch, Eric Pruessner, Will Oulton, Aleksandra Palinska, and Pierre Garrault from University Hamburg, Eurosif, and AIR as of February 2024: “Past market studies on sustainability-related investments typically gathered data on a range of different sustainability-related investment approaches and aggregated them to one of a number of “sustainable investments”. However, these statistics did not differentiate between investments based on their investment strategy and/or objectives to actively support the transition towards a more sustainable economy. The methodology presented in this paper aims to reflect current approaches to sustainability-related investment across Europe more accurately. It introduces four distinct categories of sustainability-related investments that reflect the investments’ ambition level to actively contribute to the transition towards a more just and sustainable economy … Two core features of the proposed approach are that it applies to all asset classes and that investments only qualify as one of the four categories if they implement binding ESG- or impact related criteria in their investment process. The methodology will serve as a basis for future market studies conducted by Eurosif in cooperation with its members“ (p. 2). My comment: I like the four categories Basic ESG, Advanced ESG, Impact-Aligned and Impact-Generating. For further details regarding impact generation see also DVFA-Leifaden_Impact_2023-10.pdf. The “Leitfaden” is now also available in English (not online yet, though)

Engagement returns: Value of Shareholder Environmental Activism: Case Engine No. 1 by Jennifer Brodmann, Ashrafee T Hossain, Abdullah-Al Masum, and Meghna Singhvi as of Feb. 13th, 2024 (#20): “We observe short-term market reactions to S&P100 index constituents around two subsequent events involving Engine No. 1 – an environment activist investment firm: first, they won board seats at ExxonMobil (the top non-renewable energy producer) on May 26, 2021; and second, on June 2, 2021, they announced their plan to float Transform-500-ETF (an ETF targeting to ensure green corporate policies) in the market. We find that the market reacts significantly positively towards the stocks of the firms with more serious environmental (and emission) concerns around each of these two events. Overall, our findings suggest that a positive move by the environment activist shareholders results in an incremental favorable equity market reaction benefitting the polluting firms. … we posit that this reaction may be a product of market anticipation of a future reduction in environmental (and emission) concerns following the involvement of green investors” (abstract).

Bundled green knowledge: Wissensplattform Nachhaltige Finanzwirtschaft by Patrick Weltin vom VfU as of February 2024: “The final report summarizes the key findings of the Knowledge Platform for Sustainable Finance project. The research project is helping to increase understanding of sustainable finance among various key stakeholders. In addition to policymakers, financial market players, the real economy and civil society, these include employees in the financial sector, in particular trainees, young professionals and students. The final report summarizes and presents the key results of the work packages and possible overarching findings” (p. 5). My comment: I offered the VfU to discuss about a potential inclusion of my research summaries, but I did not get a reply.

Greener real estate: Finanzierung von energetischen Gebäudesanierungen Eine kritische Analyse unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Sustainable Finance-Regulierung der Europäischen Union von Tobias Popovic und Jessica Reichard-Chahine vom Februar 2024: “Financing of energy-efficient building renovations: … At 1 percent per year, the renovation rates in the building stock in Germany are significantly below the 2-4 percent that would be necessary to achieve the climate targets of the Paris Agreement as well as those of the EU and the German government. The too low renovation rates, the insufficient renovation quality and the associated sluggish standardisation are due to various obstacles, such as a lack of data on the energy status of buildings, a lack of renovation and financial knowledge on the part of building owners and users, a lack of renovation incentives and, last but not least, the lack of availability of appropriate financing and insurance products. … On the market side .. there is still a need for the development of innovative financing instruments …” (p. 5).

Healthcare-IT potential: Next Health – a new way to navigate the healthcare ecosystem by Karin Frick, David Bosshart and Stefan Brei as of Nov. 7th, 2023 (Deutsch; Francais #27): “Human and artificial intelligence working together have the potential to significantly increase quality in both medicine and productivity, thereby reducing costs. … The more cooperative the approach to data sharing, the greater the amount and quality of data available in the system, and the better the results. These developments will also change the position of patients in the healthcare system and how they see their role. The more frequently they come into contact with the healthcare system while they are healthy, the more their behaviour will come to resemble that of consumers. Even the hierarchical distance between doctor and patient will shrink or perhaps even disappear completely, for the simple reason that both parties will be taking advice from smart assistants when making decisions“ (p. 2). My comment: About a third of my small cap SDG fund is now invested in healthcare companies. With Nexus from Germany and Pro Medicus from Australia there are two healthcare IT companies in my mutual fund. For further information on Medtech also see What to expect from medtech in 2024 by Karsten Dalgaard, Gerti Pellumbi, Peter Pfeiffer, and Tommy Reid from McKinsey.

Other investment research (in: Healthcare IT)

ECB for green? Legitimising green monetary policies: market liberalism, layered central banking, and the ECB’s ongoing discursive shift from environmental risks to price stability by Nicolás Aguila and Joscha Wullweber as of Feb. 17th, 2024: “Through the analysis of ECB Executive Board member speeches, we have identified three main narratives about the consequences of the environmental crisis in the monetary authority’s spheres of influence: The first emphasises environmental phenomena as financial risks; the second highlights the green investment or financing gap; and the third focuses on the impacts of climate change on price stability. … We show that the third narrative is displacing the first as the dominant discourse around ECB climate policy. The shift in focus from the central bank’s duties to maintain financial stability to its responsibilities regarding price stability under the primary mandate could lead to far-reaching green monetary policies” (abstract).

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Biodiversity Diversgence illustration with seed toto by Claudenil Moraes from Pixaby

Biodiversity diversion: Researchpost #165

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

Social and ecological research

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

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

ESG investment research (in: „Biodiversity diversion“)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SDG- aligned and impact investment research

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

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

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

Other investment research (in: „Biodiversity diversion“)

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

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

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Advert for German investors:

Sponsor my research by investing in and/or recommending my global small cap mutual fund (SFDR Art. 9). The fund focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals and uses separate E, S and G best-in-universe minimum ratings and broad shareholder engagement with currently 26 of 30 companiesFutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T or My fund (prof-soehnholz.com).

Nutrition changes: Picture shows aubergine caricature by nneem from Pixabay

Nutrition changes: Researchpost #163

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

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

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

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

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

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

Responsible investment research (in: “Nutrition changes”)

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

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

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

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

Impact investment research (in: “Nutrition changes”)

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

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

Other investment research

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

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

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

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Advert for German investors:

Sponsor my research by investing in and/or recommending my global small/midcap mutual fund (SFDR Art. 9). The fund focuses on social SDGs and uses separate E, S and G best-in-universe minimum ratings and broad shareholder engagement with currently 26 of 30 companiesFutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T or Noch eine Fondsboutique? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)

Impact washing illustration shows picture by Raca C from Pixabay thanks to Bucarama TLM

Impact washing? Researchpost #162

Impact washing: 8 new research studies on ESG performance, sustainable finance labels, sdg funds, diversification, bank purpose, SME loans, Millenials and fractional shares (#: SSRN full paper downloads as of Feb. 8th, 2024)

Responsible investment research (In: Impact washing?)

ESG study overview: Global Drivers for ESG Performance: The Body of Knowledge by Dan Daugaard and Ashley Ding as of Feb. 2nd, 2024 (#22): “… the literature on what drives ESG performance is highly fragmented and current theories fail to offer useful insights into the disparity in ESG performance. Hence, this study draws upon an accumulated body of knowledge of ESG-related literature and explores the major drivers of ESG performance. … this article reveals the fundamental debate underpinning ESG responsibility, the breath of pertinent stakeholders, the theories necessary to understand ESG management and the conditions which will best achieve ESG progress” (abstract).

Label-chaos? New trends in European Sustainable Finance Labels by Karina Megaeva, Peter-Jan Engelen, and Luc Van Liedekerke as of Feb. 1st, 2024 (#38): “… we … review the current market of labelled sustainable investments in the context of the major changes in the EU regulation of sustainable finance and to determine their (new) role and place” (abstract). “… the evolvement of the voluntary certification on the sustainable investments market will depend a lot on how the future EU Eco-label is received on that market, the reactions of the financial market participants (both asset managers and investors) and certainly on further developments of the EU regulatory initiatives” (p. 42).

Impact washing? Impact investing – Do SDG funds fulfil their promises? by ESMA – The European Securities and Markets Authority as of Feb. 1st, 2024: “… investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return – attracts growing interest from investors. … Impact claims are often based on well-known sustainability frameworks, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), … This article proposes and summarises a methodological approach towards identifying SDG funds and assessing the extent to which their holdings align with their claims by bringing together a unique set of different data sources. Our results highlight some of the challenges in assessing real-world impact claims and show that SDG funds do not significantly differ from non-SDG counterparts or ESG peers regarding their alignment with the United Nations SDGs“ (p. 3). “ … our final sample of SDG funds consists of 187 funds (p. 7) … average holding of 187 stocks and bonds for SDG funds compared with 586 for non-SDG funds (p. 9) … for scope 3 emissions, where SDG funds seem to have more than 50% more emissions compared to non-SDG funds (p. 11) … My comment: “United Nations Global Compact is a voluntary initiative whose aim is … delivering the SDGs through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable changes”. … This corresponds to 2,721 unique United Nations Global Compact companies” (p. 8). This does not seem to be the best basis to measure SDG alignment. I suggest activity-based company revenue shares instead which is available from independent data providers such as clarity.ai. This provider also covers many (small and midsize) companies which are not UNGC members. My fund, for example, currently has >70% such SDG Revenue share. Also, concentrated SDG funds (my fund focuses on the 30 most sustainable stocks according to my criteria) may have higher such shares than more diversified ones, a topic which could be analyzed in future studies.

Other investment research (In: Impact washing?)

Good concentration: Bad Ideas: Why Active Equity Funds Invest in Them and Five Ways to Avoid Them by C. Thomas Howard as of Feb. 1st, 2024: “The best and worst idea stocks are, respectively, those most and least held by the best US active equity funds. … The two best ideas category stocks eclipse their benchmarks by 200 and 59 basis points (bps) …. The bad idea stocks, by contrast, underperform. (These results would have been even more dramatic had we excluded large-cap stocks since stock-picking skill decreases as market cap increases: The smallest market-cap quintile best idea returns far outpace those of the large-cap top quintile best ideas.)”

Profitable purpose: Purpose, Culture, and Strategy in Banking by Anjan Thakor as of Oct. 5th, 2023 (#73): “What the research is showing, however, is that in many instances, acting to serve the greater good actually helps the bottom line as well, and the channel for this effect is employee motivation. … Part of the reason for this relationship is that adoption of an authentic higher purpose engenders employee trust in the organization’s leaders (e.g. Bunderson and Thakor (2022)) and this facilitates the design of more complex and profitable products and services (e.g. Thakor and Merton (2023))” (p. 18). My comment: With my shareholder engagement I try to activate employee and other stakeholder (ESG) motivation, see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (prof-soehnholz.com)

Climate vs. SME credits: Climate vulnerability and SME credit discouragement: Nurturing a vicious circle by Jeremie Bertrand, Christian Haddad, and Dupire Marion as of Dec. 4th, 2023 (#9): “… based on a sample of SMEs from 119 developing countries in the 2010–2019 period .. our findings indicate a positive association between vulnerability to climate change and credit discouragement” (abstract).

Millennials are different: Bitcoin: Between A Bubble and the Future by Yosef Bonaparte as of Dec. 20th, 2023 (#28): “… we find that social holidays has greater impact during the Millennials segment than previous generations, while the impact of post trading days of traditional holidays declines. We also find that days of the week and month of the year anomalies are different for Millennials than previous generations. Thus, we suggest that anomalies are subject to generations. At the cross-sectional level, we demonstrate that some sectors are positively sensitive to generations, especially to the Millennials (including Textiles, Defense and Beer and Liquor) while others negatively (Coal, Construction and Mines). At the micro portfolio choice level, we find that Millennials exhibit a unique portfolio choice strategy with more aggressiveness (higher participation and more investing in risky assets) and more diverse (invest in many stocks and more international stocks). We also find that the Millennials employ a unique search strategy for stocks as they rely more on professionals help when they invest“ (p. 21/22).

Fractional share benefits: Nominal Price (Dis)illusion: Fractional Shares on Neobroker Trading Platforms by Matthias Mattusch as of Feb.6th, 2023 (#53): “… we examine neotrading behavior in the light of three key innovations of neobrokers: commission-free trading, easy availability, and fractional shares trading. … we identify a substantial and enduring surge in demand for stocks with lower nominal prices. … Notifications on trading apps, specifically regarding corporate actions, elicit observable market reactions. … most importantly, the introduction of fractional shares suggests that most of these nominal price reactions will be weakened, if not eliminated. … Introducing fractional shares boosts overall trading activity … The introduction of fractional shares could likely eliminate anomalies in asset pricing, which would pave the way for interesting future research“ (p. 20/21).

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Advert for German investors

Sponsor my research by investing in and/or recommending my global small/midcap mutual fund (SFDR Art. 9). The fund focuses on social SDGs and uses separate E, S and G best-in-universe minimum ratings and broad shareholder engagement with currently 26 of 30 companiesFutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T or Noch eine Fondsboutique? – Responsible Investment Research Blog (prof-soehnholz.com)