DP14098 Does Money Talk? Market Discipline through Selloffs and Boycotts

Author(s): Nick Gantchev, Mariassunta Giannetti, Rachel Li
Publication Date: November 2019
Keyword(s): corporate governance, Corporate social responsibility, Culture, Environment, institutional investors
JEL(s): G15, G23, G30, M14
Programme Areas: Financial Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14098

Using a novel dataset of negative news coverage of the environmental and social (E&S) practices of firms around the world, we show that customers and investors can provide market discipline and impose their ethical standards on firm policies. Investors sell firms with heightened E&S risk, especially if they are from E&S conscious countries or hold portfolios with high sustainability ratings. Similarly, heightened E&S risk is associated with a drop in firms' sales in E&S conscious countries. This behavior of E&S conscious investors and customers leads to declines in stock prices, which push firms to improve their E&S policies in the years following negative realizations of E&S risk. Overall, our results indicate that customers and shareholders are able to impose their social preferences on firms, suggesting that market discipline works.