Growing A Green Decision Tree — Machine Learning And ESG

Such methods have been applied to issues of market prediction and have determined that there are leading markets and there are following markets, with a relationship of Granger causality between them. They have also revealed that Japan is intertwined with the rest of the world with strong macroeconomic interdependence, that China is less connected with the world than Japan, but more connected now than it was before 2010, and that Europe and the U.S. are leading markets .

But none of that is what we want to know. So, again, how do we determine when the ESG tipping point is upon us?

Quoting Erhardt at Some Length

“At each point in time the algorithm picks an optimal portfolio that aims to outperform the market during the pre-defined training window available. Central to the algorithmic selection process are predictive variables (termed ‘Features’ in the field of machine learning) that either identify or quantify characteristics of ESG standards and are of high importance to a learnt model…. It is the relative importance of ESG Features to other Features available to the model–Features that clearly influence fund performance but are not immediately ESG relevant–and how such importance ranking evolves over time that is critical to understanding how ESG influences the fund performance.”

Such a system can monitor for the expected ESG tipping point in real time. A sign will be an increase in the relevance of the ESG features in the “unconstrained model.” (That is, they will be important because the market realities are developing in the direction of their importance, and the system is picking up on that, not because coders are finangling to ensure that they are taken into account.) This suggests that feature importance scores need to be an output of the system and that this output has to be monitored.

As the ESG-constrained and the unconstrained models converge, as Erhardt tells us in the final words of his paper, “that will be the point in time when ESG standards have become a market factor, which in turn allows fund managers to generate ESG alpha.”

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