Special Issue on Sustainability
Sustainable finance—the integration of environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) issues into financial decisions—is an increasingly important topic. Within companies, sustainability is no longer an ancillary issue confined to corporate social responsibility departments, but a CEO-level issue fundamental to the core business. Within the investment industry, sustainability used to be the exclusive domain of “socially responsible investors” who had social as well as financial objectives, but is now mainstream and includes investors with purely financial goals. More broadly, the sustainability of business has a crucial impact on how it is viewed by wider society, including policymakers and citizens, including its social license to operate.
The increasing interest in sustainability among investors—which, in turn, flows through to companies—stems from three forces. The first is financial relevance. Companies with a positive impact on society may be more likely to attract customers and employees, capture business opportunities related to societal trends such as climate change and financial inclusion, and avoid environmental fines or regulatory intervention. If these benefits are not fully priced in, such companies will generate high risk-adjusted returns, and thus even investors with purely financial motives will prefer them. The second is nonfinancial objectives. For example, a pension fund invests on behalf of its beneficiaries, who care not only about their income in retirement but the state of the planet and the cohesiveness of society. Thus, they may support a company increasing its societal impact even if doing so sacrifices profits.
The third is tastes—that investors prefer to hold “green” stocks over “brown” stocks. Note that the second and third channels are subtly different. Under the second channel, a sustainable investor would only sacrifice financial returns if doing so has a causal impact on societal returns—for example, divesting from a “brown” stock increases its cost of capital and hinders it from expanding. Under the third channel, no causal effects are necessary. Even if the supply of capital is perfectly elastic, so divestment has no price impact, a sustainable investor will still boycott a brown stock since she suffers disutility from holding such a company.
Due to this increasing importance, the Review of Finance launched a Special Issue on Sustainable Finance. Among 176 submissions we received between June and December 2021, we aimed to publish papers that meet the following ordered criteria: (i) papers that are high-quality academic work; (ii) papers that are of interest to a mainstream finance audience, not only readers who work in sustainable finance; (iii) papers that have implications for both theoretical and empirical research, and for both academia and practice. We sought to publish papers across all major research areas: corporate finance, asset pricing, financial intermediation, behavioral finance, and mutual funds. This Special Issue contains eight papers that satisfied the above criteria. We would like to emphasize the important role of the reviewers, whose hard work has enabled us to put this issue together. Their input has been invaluable to the success of this endeavor.
You can read the full editorial here by guest editors Alex Edmans and Marcin Kacperczyk, in which they summarize each paper’s content and placement in the broader discussion on the topic.
Below we present the digests for the current issue.
Aggregate Confusion: The Divergence of ESG Ratings
Florian Berg, Julian F Kölbel, Roberto Rigobon
Review of Finance, Volume 26, Issue 6, November 2022, Pages 1315–1344, https://doi.org/10.1093/rof/rfac033
A Sustainable Capital Asset Pricing Model (S-CAPM): Evidence from Environmental Integration and Sin Stock Exclusion
Olivier David Zerbib
Review of Finance, Volume 26, Issue 6, November 2022, Pages 1345–1388, https://doi.org/10.1093/rof/rfac045
Do Responsible Investors Invest Responsibly?
Rajna Gibson Brandon, Simon Glossner, Philipp Krueger, Pedro Matos, Tom Steffen
Review of Finance, Volume 26, Issue 6, November 2022, Pages 1389–1432, https://doi.org/10.1093/rof/rfac064
Asset Prices and Portfolios with Externalities
Steven D. Baker, Burton Hollifield, Emilio Osambela
Review of Finance, Volume 26, Issue 6, November 2022, Pages 1433–1468, https://doi.org/10.1093/rof/rfac065
Does Money Talk? Divestitures and Corporate Environmental and Social Policies
Nickolay Gantchev, Mariassunta Giannetti, Rachel Li
Review of Finance, Volume 26, Issue 6, November 2022, Pages 1469–1508, https://doi.org/10.1093/rof/rfac029
Climate Change Risk and the Cost of Mortgage Credit
Duc Duy Nguyen, Steven Ongena, Shusen Qi, Vathunyoo Sila
Review of Finance, Volume 26, Issue 6, November 2022, Pages 1509–1549, https://doi.org/10.1093/rof/rfac013