Where Do Institutional Investors Seek Shelter when Disaster Strikes? Evidence from COVID-19

52 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2020

See all articles by Simon Glossner

Simon Glossner

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Pedro Matos

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Stefano Ramelli

University of Zurich - Department of Banking and Finance

Alexander F. Wagner

University of Zurich - Department of Banking and Finance; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); Swiss Finance Institute

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Date Written: July 18, 2020

Abstract

Institutional investors played a crucial role in the COVID-19 market crash. U.S. stocks with higher institutional ownership -- in particular, those held more by active, short-term, and domestic institutions -- performed worse. An analysis of changes in holdings through the first quarter of 2020 reveals that mutual funds, investment advisors, and pension funds favored stocks with strong financials (low debt and high cash), whereas hedge funds sold stocks indiscriminately. None of these institutional investor groups appear to have actively tilted their portfolios toward firms with better environmental and social performance. Data from a large discount brokerage indicate that retail investors acted as liquidity providers. Overall, the results suggest that when a tail risk realizes, institutional investors express a preference for "hard" measures of firm resilience.

Keywords: Cash holdings, Coronavirus, Corporate debt, COVID-19, ESG, Event study, Financial crisis, Institutional ownership, Leverage, Pandemic, Retail investors, Robinhood, SARS-CoV-2, Tail risk

JEL Classification: G01, G12, G14, G32, F14

Suggested Citation

Glossner, Simon and Matos, Pedro and Ramelli, Stefano and Wagner, Alexander F., Where Do Institutional Investors Seek Shelter when Disaster Strikes? Evidence from COVID-19 (July 18, 2020). European Corporate Governance Institute – Finance Working Paper No. 688/2020, Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 20-56, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3655271 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3655271

Simon Glossner

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Pedro Matos

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

University of Virginia
P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434 243 8998 (Phone)
434 924 0726 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty-research/directory/pedro-matos/

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

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

Stefano Ramelli

University of Zurich - Department of Banking and Finance ( email )

Plattenstrasse 14
Zürich, 8032
Switzerland
+41446342953 (Phone)

Alexander F. Wagner (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Department of Banking and Finance ( email )

Plattenstrasse 14
Zürich, 8032
Switzerland
+41 44 634 3963 (Phone)

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

Swiss Finance Institute ( email )

Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.alex-wagner.com

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