Learning and the Disappearing Association between Governance and Returns

44 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2010 Last revised: 25 Jun 2010

See all articles by Lucian A. Bebchuk

Lucian A. Bebchuk

Harvard Law School; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alma Cohen

Harvard Law School; Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Charles C. Y. Wang

Harvard Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2010

Abstract

In an important and influential work, Gompers, Ishii, and Metrick (2003) show that a trading strategy based on an index of 24 governance provisions (G-Index) would have earned abnormal returns during the 1991-1999 period, and this intriguing finding has attracted much attention ever since it was reported. We show that the G-Index (as well as the E-Index based on a subset of the six provisions that matter the most) was no longer associated with abnormal returns during the period of 2000-2008, or any sub- periods within it, and we provide evidence consistent with the hypothesis that the disappearance of the governance-returns association was due to market participants' learning to appreciate the difference between firms scoring well and poorly on the governance indices. Consistent with the learning hypothesis, we document that (i) attention to corporate governance from the media, institutional investors, and researchers has exploded in the beginning of the 2000s and remained on a high level since then, and (ii) until the beginning of the 2000s, but not subsequently, market participants were more positively surprised by the earning announcements of good-governance firms than by those of poor-governance firms. Our results are robust to excluding new economy firms or to focusing solely on firms in non- competitive industries. While the G and E indices could no longer generate abnormal returns in the 2000s, their negative association with Tobin's Q persists and they thus remain valuable tools for researchers, policymakers, and investors.

Suggested Citation

Bebchuk, Lucian A. and Cohen, Alma and Wang, Charles C. Y., Learning and the Disappearing Association between Governance and Returns (April 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15912, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1593911

Lucian A. Bebchuk (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

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European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Alma Cohen

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
(617) 496-4099 (Phone)
(617) 812-0554 (Fax)

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics ( email )

Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, 69978
Israel

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Charles C. Y. Wang

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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