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The cost of sustainability in optimal portfolio decisions

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  • Stefano Herzel
  • Marco Nicolosi
  • Cătălin Stărică

Abstract

We examined the impact of including sustainability-related constraints in optimal portfolio decision-making. Our analysis covered an investment set containing the components of the S&P500 index from 1993 to 2008. Optimizations were performed according to the classic mean--variance approach, while sustainability constraints were introduced by eliminating, from the investment pool, those assets that do not comply with the given social responsibility criteria (screening). We compared the efficient frontiers with and without screening. The analysis focused on the three main dimensions of sustainability, namely the environmental, social and governance ones. We found that socially responsible screening gives rise to a small loss in terms of the Sharpe ratio even though it has a great impact on the market capitalization of the optimal portfolio. The spanning test showed that the ex-post differences between the two frontiers, when short selling is not allowed, are significant only in the case of environmental screening.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano Herzel & Marco Nicolosi & Cătălin Stărică, 2012. "The cost of sustainability in optimal portfolio decisions," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3-4), pages 333-349, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eurjfi:v:18:y:2012:i:3-4:p:333-349
    DOI: 10.1080/1351847X.2011.587521
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    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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