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From the “age of instability” to the “age of responsibility”: economic uncertainty and sustainable investments

Rocco Caferra (Department of Law and Economics, UnitelmaSapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy)
Pasquale Marcello Falcone (Department of Business and Economics, University of Naples Parthenope, Naples, Italy)

Journal of Economic Studies

ISSN: 0144-3585

Article publication date: 1 December 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper sets out to investigate investors' sustainable preferences under different market conditions. Specifically, the authors examine the existence of a positive sustainable asset pricing gap, and whether it is influenced by the socioeconomic and financial sentiments. The increase of uncertainty rises investors' skepticism whether sustainable companies are under-performing the traditional counterparts, causing larger increasing gap. Conversely, if sustainable assets are overperforming, the increase of market uncertainty raises investors' sustainable preferences.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors examine the existence of a positive sustainable asset pricing gap, and whether it is influenced by the socioeconomic and financial sentiments. Through a quantile regression, the authors remark the variability of sustainable preferences where market participants, although recognizing the present and future value added of sustainable investing, also show skepticism (i.e. asymmetric tail behavior). However, the analysis of the total change of sustainable investments returns over time demonstrates the emergence of positive viewpoints incentivized by economic and market uncertainty.

Findings

The market-driven social responsibility exalts the positive insights regarding the future of sustainable developments. As the authors discuss along the paper, investors are gaining awareness about the environmental and social goals pursued by socially responsible companies. Hence, the authors consider how economic instability might stimulate the assessment of the social and environmental impact of the unsustainable production systems, switching investments toward virtuous sustainable companies. This could generate a series of positive externalities that might improve the welfare conditions of the whole society.

Originality/value

The authors conduct an original empirical exercise, combining different techniques (i.e. quantile regressions and wavelet analysis). To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first paper trying to evidence a systematic connection between market uncertainty and sustainable preferences accounting for different market states (thanks to quantile regressions).

Keywords

Citation

Caferra, R. and Falcone, P.M. (2022), "From the “age of instability” to the “age of responsibility”: economic uncertainty and sustainable investments", Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JES-06-2022-0353

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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