ESG Investing: A Primer for Central Bank Reserve Managers
This primer responds to central banks’ growing demand for knowledge on social, governance, and environmental considerations (ESG) in the investment process. This area has gained traction in the last two decades. More recently, central banks’ interest in ESG has increased, but much of the information available is aimed at investors with different investment objectives and broadly diversified portfolios. The authors fill that information gap by reviewing the definitions of ESG and the main ESG investment approaches, including their applicability to asset classes. The authors then examine how foreign reserve managers can apply ESG investing in their reserve management operations. The authors find limited scope for implementing ESG strategies in reserve management, given that most central banks still invest primarily in sovereign bonds of major economies. Yet, the authors also identify opportunities and critical considerations for central banks interested in implementing ESG investing in their reserve management operations.
Central Bank Governance and Reserve Portfolios Investment Policies: An Empirical Analysis
This paper uses a unique survey data set of 105 central banks to investigate whether investment policies for central bank foreign reserve portfolios are linked to the governance arrangements for reserve management. The analysis yields four key findings. First, internal governance arrangements matter for foreign reserve portfolio investment policy; the empirical results indicate that reserve portfolios are more diversified in central banks in which the middle office directly reports to the board. Second, controlling for the level of reserves, the macroenvironment, and the broader governance environment, reserve portfolios are more diversified in central banks where the back, middle, and front offices are separated. Third, the regression analysis also reveals that central banks in countries where the Ministry of Finance has an obligation to cover negative equity have fewer eligible currencies and are therefore less diversified. Fourth, central banks where boards actively exercise portfolio oversight usually have portfolios with more risk and diversification. Portfolios with longer investment horizons, more currencies, and a broader set of asset classes have performed better historically while limiting downside risk. Given that the analysis controls the broader governance environment, the data indicate that any central bank can improve its internal governance regardless of the external governance environment.
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RAMP Note 1
RAMP Note 2: Inflation and Its Impact on Asset Classes