Investing in Good Governance

The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation 2012-09-12


Editor’s Note: Lucian Bebchuk is a Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance and Director of the Program on Corporate Governance at Harvard Law School. This post is based on an op-ed article by Professor Bebchuk published today in the New York Times DealBook, available here. The op-ed builds on a forthcoming article with Alma Cohen and Charles Wang, titled “Learning and the Disappearing Association Between Governance and Returns.”

The New York Times published today my column Investing in Good Governance. The column discusses a study by Alma Cohen, Charles Wang, and myself about the correlation between governance and returns. The study, Learning and the Disappearing Association between Governance and Returns, forthcoming in the Journal of Financial Economics, is available here.

Earlier research has shown that, during the 1990s, trading strategies based on the Governance Index (Gompers, Ishii, Metrick (2003)) and the Entrenchment Index (Bebchuk, Cohen, and Ferrell (2009)) would have produced abnormally high returns in the 1990s. Our study shows that the correlation between governance and stock returns in the 1990s did not subsequently persist. The study also provides evidence that both the correlation in the 1990s and its subsequent disappearance were due to market participants’ gradually learning to appreciate the difference between firms scoring well and poorly on the governance indices. Finally, the study establishes that, although the governance indexes could no longer generate abnormal returns in the 2000s, their negative association with operating performance and firm value persists. After discussing these findings, the DealBook column concludes with a discussion of whether there are any ways left for investors to make money from governance.

The DealBook column is available here.


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Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School,

Date tagged:

09/12/2012, 15:46

Date published:

09/12/2012, 14:05