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Mr. Philip Barrett, Thomas J. Boulton, and Terry D. Nixon
Prior research attributes negative stock market performance following episodes of social unrest to elevated uncertainty. However, social unrest does not solely increase uncertainty, but separately acts to decrease investor sentiment. To determine which effect dominates, we study initial public offering (IPO) underpricing, which responds differently to changes to uncertainty and investor sentiment. Consistent with the notion that social unrest dampens investor sentiment, we find robust evidence that IPO first-day returns are lower during times of greater social unrest. Limits to arbitrage intensify the negative relation between social unrest and underpricing. Notably, strong institutional frameworks mitigate the impact of social unrest on underpricing, suggesting that quality institutions weaken the link between investor sentiment and returns.
William Gbohoui, Rasmané Ouedraogo, and Yirbehogre Modeste Some
Policymakers from the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region often flag a mispricing of their sovereign debt presumably originating from a perception risk by international investors that lead to "unjustifiably" high borrowing costs. Against this background, this paper explores the extent to which a potential SSA premium exists in the financial markets following a broader two-fold approach. Firstly, using a sample of 1592 international primary sovereign fixed coupon bonds issued between 2003-2021 from Bond Radar by 89 countries, we find that SSA countries pay significantly higher coupon at issuance compared to their peers from other regions. Secondly, we assess whether there is any bias against SSA countries in the secondary market that would result in higher refinancing cost. Based on an unbalanced panel of quarterly data covering 107 countries over 1990 – 2022, we find that SSA countries pay higher refinancing costs in the secondary market. The paper further explores whether there are other factors overlooked by the literature that matter for the risk pricing by international investors. In that respect, we explore the sensitivity of spreads to some structural dimensions where SSA countries face acute challenges―the transparency of budget process, the importance of the informal sector, the level of financial development, and the quality of public institutions. The results show that the excess premium estimated for SSA countries vanishes when these structural factors are accounted for in the regressions.
Torsten Ehlers, Ulrike Elsenhuber, Kumar Jegarasasingam, and Eric Jondeau
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) scores are a key tool for asset managers in designing and implementing ESG investment strategies. They, however, amalgamate a broad range of fundamentally different factors, creating ambiguity for investors as to the underlying drivers of higher or lower ESG scores. We explore the feasibility and performance of more targeted investment strategies based on specific ESG categories, by deconstructing ESG scores into their granular components. First, we investigate the characteristics of the various categories underlying ESG scores. Not all types of ESG categories lend themselves to more focused strategies, which is related to both limits to ESG data disclosure and the fundamental challenge of translating qualitative characteristics into quantitative measures. Second, we consider an investment scheme based on the exclusion of firms with the lowest scores in a given category of interest. In most cases, this strategy allows investors to substantially improve the ESG category score, with a marginal impact on financial performance relative to a broad stock market benchmark. The exclusion results in regional and sectoral biases relative to the benchmark, which may be undesirable for some investors.We then implement a “best-in-class” strategy by excluding firms with the lowest category scores and reinvesting the proceeds in firms with the highest scores, maintaining the same regional and sectoral composition. This approach reduces the tracking error of the portfolio and slightly improves its risk-adjusted performance, while still yielding a large gain in the targeted ESG category score.
International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept. and International Monetary Fund. Legal Dept.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved on February 8, 2023 the applications of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Development Bank of Latin America (known as Corporacion Andina de Fomento or CAF), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) to become prescribed holders of Special Drawings Rights (SDRs). The SDR is an international reserve asset created by the IMF to supplement the reserves of IMF members that participate in the SDR Department. The IMF’s Articles of Agreement authorize the IMF to prescribe (i.e., approve) as holders of SDRs (i) non-members, (ii) members that are not participants in the SDR Department; (iii) institutions that perform functions of a central bank for one or more IMF member countries, and (iv) other official entities (which all five entities approved on February 8 are). Prescribed holders may acquire, hold and use SDRs in transactions by agreement and in operations. Approval of these five institutions brings the number of prescribed holders to twenty.