DP16260 Dissecting Green Returns

Author(s): Lubos Pástor, Robert F. Stambaugh, Lucian Taylor
Publication Date: June 2021
Keyword(s): ESG, green factor, greenium, sustainable investing
JEL(s): G11, G12
Programme Areas: Financial Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16260

Green assets delivered high returns in recent years. This performance reflects unexpectedly strong increases in environmental concerns, not high expected returns. German green bonds outperformed their higher-yielding non-green twins as the ``greenium'' widened, and U.S. green stocks outperformed brown as climate concerns strengthened. To show the latter, we construct a theoretically motivated green factor---a return spread between environmentally friendly and unfriendly stocks---and find that its positive performance disappears without climate-concern shocks. The factor lags those shocks, curiously, by about a month. A theory-driven two-factor model featuring the green factor explains much of the recent underperformance of value stocks.