International socially responsible funds: financial performance and managerial skills during crisis and non-crisis markets

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Nofsinger and Varma (2014) provide evidence that U.S. socially responsible funds outperform conventional funds during periods of market turmoil and, therefore, grant some crisis insurance. To investigate whether the U.S.-based evidence can be transferred to international markets, the authors analyze a comprehensive sample of internationally-investing socially responsible equity funds in a period from 2000 to 2012. As abnormal returns are model-specific, the authors apply standard and q-theory based performance measurement models. At first glance, the authors observe no crisis protection for internationally-investing socially responsible funds. However, splitting their sample in funds domiciled in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific to account for biases due to the origin of a fund, the authors find that socially responsible funds from North America outperform their peers in crisis periods irrespective of the applied performance evaluation model. The authors suggest that the U.S.-based evidence is restricted to internationally-investing funds domiciled in North America, and discover that this outperformance seems to be owed to the stock-picking abilities of North American fund managers and their advantage due to the nature of the North American market.

Keywords: socially responsible investments, mutual funds, international markets, performance evaluation, managerial abilities.
JEL Classification: G11, G12, G15, G23, M14

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