Anxiety; COVID-19; Environmental and social responsibilities; Sentiment analysis
The excessive volatility generated by the COVID-19 pandemic highlights that environmental and social issues are potential elements that businesses and governments must manage effectively and swiftly. This study seeks to test whether the rising anxiety over this pandemic has affected the attitudes and choices towards environmentally and socially responsible investing. To this end, we first use machine learning tools to examine tweets related to this unprecedented and wild shock. Second, we compare the impact of these sentiments on the stock performance of companies from the S&P500 that meet environmental and social sustainability criteria for three COVID-19 phases with varying levels of anxiety, which we label incubation, fever and the increasing risk of second wave pandemic (in the absence of vaccine). Our findings reveal that the increasing uncertainty and worries over COVID-19 and its consequences has not distracted investors’ attention away from environmental and social issues, but companies with responsible strategies on environmental issues that specifically address climate responsibility are likely to be more responsive to sentiments at the current situation of emergency.