Insights Uncategorized

HPS Insights: Exploring ESG With Christina Pearson, Jesse Coster, and Julia Decerega

On the latest episode of HPS Insights, HPS Partner Christina Pearson, Senior Director Jesse Coster, and Director Julia Decerega join HPS Partner Bryan DeAngelis, to discuss all things environmental, social and governance (ESG). 

Bryan, Christina, Jesse and Julia break down the meaning of ESG and explore its evolution from corporate social responsibility (CSR). The group chats about how global events, including the impacts of the climate crisis, the pandemic, and social unrest in 2020, have increased calls for company action on ESG issues. They also discuss the growing importance of ESG to companies amid the backdrop of stakeholder capitalism, underscoring how companies are increasingly leaning into ESG work as they strive to create value for all stakeholders–across investors, customers, employees, and regulators. 

Drawing from their experience working with clients across industries, the group explores the current ESG landscape and how companies are embracing this concept. Specifically, Bryan, Christina, Jesse, and Julia discuss how companies are at different points in their ESG journeys– and businesses face different challenges and opportunities to set ESG commitments and report on progress across industries. The group also talks about changing regulatory frameworks, including the potential implications of the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) current rulemaking to standardize climate disclosures. Additionally, the group discusses how businesses are integrating ESG into their business models, as well as best practices for companies entering the space. 

Insights Uncategorized

HPS Insights: Q2 Capitol Chatter Analysis

In this episode of HPS Insights, Meghan Pennington interviews HPS’ JinAh KimLizzie Johnson, and Jack Martin about the latest iteration of their Capital Chatter: A Quarterly Analysis of Congressional Tweets project. In the second quarter of 2022, Congressional Twitter accounts posted 131,311 tweets—a 3% decrease from the first quarter. With the November elections fast approaching, the economy is top of mind for everyone, including members of Congress. In today’s episode, supply chain shortages, inflation, crypto, and the distinct messaging around all these topics from Democrats and Republicans take the center stage. Tune in to learn all about their insights.


Capitol Chatter: A Quarterly Analysis Of Congressional Tweets

Welcome back to Capitol Chatter: A Quarterly Analysis Of Congressional Tweets, where we help you keep track of what Congress is tweeting.

In the second quarter of 2022, Congressional Twitter accounts posted 131,311 tweets—a 3% decrease from the first quarter. Discussion of social issues rose 175% from Q1, driven by an increase in tweets containing terms related to abortion and gun issues. Meanwhile, foreign affairs and defense remained the most tweeted-about topic despite a 32% decrease from Q1 to Q2, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continued to be a focal point of conversation. 

As the midterms approach, differences between Republicans’ and Democrats’ tweets about the economy indicate how each party is approaching its messaging—and its stance on the question of whether or not the U.S. is currently in a recession. Republicans continue to highlight concerns about the economy, mentioning “inflation” and “recession” more than six times as often as their Democrat counterparts. Meanwhile, Democrats focused on “jobs” and “unemployment”—two metrics that paint a rosier picture—mentioning the terms nearly 4 times as frequently as their Republican counterparts. 

As the economic ripple effects of COVID-19 continue to put a strain on global supply chains, the U.S. was hit with shortages in consumer goods in Q2, exacerbating inflation concerns. An unprecedented baby formula shortage drove not just headlines, but Congressional activity both online and on Capitol Hill: members went from tweeting about goods shortages a few times a day to tweeting about shortages more than 100 times a day at the topic’s peak popularity as they called for a solution, resulting in the passage of the Access to Baby Formula Act. 

Meanwhile, shortages of other goods, including food, cars, and gas, received much less attention. At the beginning of 2022, labor shortages were more discussed on Twitter than goods scarcity, but in Q2 both took a back seat to baby formula.

In addition to supply chain constraints and accompanying increases in consumer prices, this summer was also marked by turbulence in the cryptocurrency market following the collapse of the Terra and Luna coins. The collapse helped spark Congressional Twitter discussion of cryptocurrencies as the industry lost $2 trillion in value following years of explosive growth

Both parties focused on the broader industry rather than specific cryptocurrencies: the world’s largest currency, Bitcoin, was only mentioned 36 times, while Ethereum was not mentioned at all. 

However, Republican and Democrat members of Congress discussed the industry differently; Republicans were often more favorable to crypto, focusing on its benefits of “digital assets” and emphasizing the need to ensure regulation does not jeopardize the U.S.’ leadership position in the industry.  

Meanwhile, Democrats called for regulation that mitigates the volatility often associated with Crypto, citing the collapse of Terra and the broader bear market that followed. 

There was some bipartisan support for the industry, as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen.  Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) introduced the Responsible Financial Innovation Act, which would create a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency and digital assets. 


HPS conducted text analysis on tweets and retweets from members of Congress and Congressional committee accounts that were posted between April 1, 2022 and June 30, 2022. In total, we searched for more than 150 keywords in each of the 131,311 tweets to determine which topics were discussed in each. In this analysis, independent Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Angus King (I-Maine), who caucus with the Democratic Party, were treated as Democrats. Charts and numbers may vary slightly from quarter to quarter given methodology adjustments.

For the shortage chart, HPS identified members of Congress tweets that discussed supply chain breakdowns, shortages, or scarcities, and searched for mentions of labor, workforce, and various consumer goods.


Gotham Research Group Joins Ballast Research, Hamilton Place Strategies, Flag Media Analytics, and alva

WASHINGTON –Ballast Research (Ballast), Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS), Flag Media Analytics (Flag), and alva are thrilled to announce the addition of New York-based Gotham Research Group (Gotham). The firms are brought together through the support of Falfurrias Capital Partners (FCP), building on months of exciting growth as the firms come together to offer an industry-leading stakeholder management solution.

Gotham, led by Dr. Jeffrey Levine, Ph.D., delivers customized insights to management teams in all 11 sectors of the S&P 500, trade associations, and advocacy groups, as well as public officials and political candidates. Gotham specializes in innovative custom research designed to inform branding/positioning initiatives, advertising campaigns, policy issue campaigns, crisis communications, and digital strategy.  

“We’re excited to join this growing family offering an integrated solution to stakeholder management,” said Gotham President Jeff Levine. “Gotham’s expertise in attitudinal and behavioral research is a perfect complement to the analytical public affairs, deep policy research, and advanced analytics offered by Ballast, HPS, Flag, and alva. Together, our work will provide unparalleled understanding of the complex stakeholder issues our clients face across a wide range of industries.”

Gotham adds a new dimension to the platform created by Ballast, HPS, Flag, and alva, as it grows into a comprehensive menu of services to help companies manage their relationships and reputations with all stakeholders.

“Stakeholder management is becoming increasingly complex, as companies are navigating challenges associated with competitors, customers, employees, investors, governments, and industry activists,” said FCP Senior Advisor Alex Jutkowitz, chair of the group. “The strategic growth of our capabilities will allow us to better arm leaders with the insights, metrics, data, and strategy needed to succeed on a global scale.”

The investment in Gotham follows FCP’s earlier majority investments in Ballast Research, HPS, and alva announced in the summer of 2021.

About Ballast Research (Ballast)

For nearly a decade, Ballast Research has provided direct feedback from senior policymakers through quantitative and qualitative research. Ballast clients—including Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and trade associations—leverage Ballast’s data-driven insights to validate impact, identify opportunities, and determine optimal strategy and investment for future success.

About Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS)

HPS is an analytical public affairs consulting firm. The firm works on complex issues in highly regulated industries, partnering with clients to advance their most important priorities. HPS was founded in 2010 by partners Tony Fratto and Stuart Siciliano.

About Flag Media Analytics (Flag)

Flag is a next-generation news monitoring service—it uses both professionals and technology to support clients. The Flag process is designed to inform the decision-making cycle for media engagement and improve planning, feedback, and reporting for public affairs and communications teams. Flag delivers real-time alerts directly into the inboxes of those engaging and responding to media every day. Its team of dedicated media analysts is trained in the latest media aggregation tools and conducts hands-on analysis to deliver the news and insights clients need to make more informed decisions.

About alva

alva is a stakeholder intelligence platform that provides data-rich, real-time technology to companies across industries, including financial services, consumer, healthcare, and professional services. The platform can deliver rich insights by analyzing more than 25 million pieces of content every day across 100 languages, 150 countries, and over 500,000 individual publications.

About Gotham Research Group (Gotham)

Founded in 2007, Gotham Research Group is a New York-based research and consulting firm specializing in full-service custom research and advanced analytics. Gotham’s research programs employ a range of traditional research tools (telephone/online surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews, market mix modeling) as well as a unique set of research methods designed to enhance its ability to create more actionable and predictive information for clients. 

About Falfurrias Capital Partners (FCP)

Falfurrias Capital Partners is a Charlotte-based private equity investment firm that has raised approximately $1.9 billion across five funds. The firm invests in growing, middle-market businesses in sectors where the firm’s operational resources, relationships and sector expertise can be employed to complement portfolio company executive teams in support of growth objectives. Falfurrias Capital Partners employs a proprietary, research-based process called “Industry First” to identify markets with durable growth trends, construct a thesis based on research findings, and partner with management teams and companies to create strategic value. For more information, visit


Insights: HPS Covers Consensus

On today’s episode of HPS Insights, Host Bryan DeAngelis sits down with Stephanie Dodge and Nicole Beckman, members of the HPS crew, to get their thoughts on Coindesk’s Consensus 2022 conference. Stephanie and Nicole traveled to Austin, Texas, for the event and shared the headlines in crypto and fintech. 

Consensus 2022 is one of largest crypto conferences in the United States, with just over 20,000 participants, and covers conversations on crypto regulation, investment, entertainment, and more. The group discusses their expectations for an in-person conference, as well as their key takeaways from the weekend – from forum topics to surprise guest speakers. They examine the role that Consensus 2022 plays in navigating the larger global conversation on fintech, as well as the role that the media has in shaping this discussion. The group also analyzes the current state of the crypto industry, relative reception of new market trends, and speculations on the next phase of the crypto world. 

“The way I’ve been describing [Consensus] is like a bank conference, a hacker convention, and an EDM festival all in one thing.” – Stephanie Dodge.  

Read more about Consensus 2022


Insights: A Conversation With Niki Christoff

On this episode of HPS Insights, Niki Christoff, CEO of Christoff & Co. and host of the Tech’ed Up podcast, joins HPS partner Bryan DeAngelis and senior director Elliott Owensby to discuss the evolving podcasting landscape and its value as a platform to educate key audiences on relevant topics, like decentralized finance (DeFi) and crypto. 

In the episode, Niki speaks to the origins of her podcast and how she leveraged her tech-sector experience and communications expertise to provide critical insights to the Beltway community. Niki also speaks to how recording and publishing the podcast has helped her realize the value of taking a step back to consider how ubiquitous—and now seemingly essential—many technological advancements have become. “We have lost some of the appreciation for what are still increasingly magical tools,” she says. “A lot of people are left out of the workforce and left out of accessibility, and there are people in all the big tech companies right now working on making lives better and more accessible. I worry that the narrative gets lost.”

To close out the show, the group discusses crypto and the ongoing regulatory debates in Washington, D.C. “Digital currencies absolutely will be adopted,” Niki insists. “So either the United States can pull it together and come up with a framework so that we lead on policy, or what will happen is exactly what has happened with Web2.” Listen to the full conversation here and check out the show notes below!

Show Notes


The Unconventional Conventions: HPS Insights On The 2020 Party Conventions

2020 has been the year of the unconventional, and this year’s largely virtual Democratic and Republican conventions stayed on trend. Both conventions were mostly virtual, relying much more on pre-taped content than in years past, placing an emphasis on storytelling and showcasing everyday Americans from across the country. Despite the unprecedented format, both conventions stuck to campaign fundamentals—rallying their bases, playing up the candidates’ biographies, and engaging supporters as the campaigns move into the homestretch.

Overall ratings were down significantly from 2016, potentially reflective of the continuing decline in TV viewership and an increase in online viewers. Although President Donald Trump’s nomination acceptance speech closed the Republican convention with a RNC TV viewership high of 23.8 million, former Vice President Biden’s DNC acceptance speech viewership beat out the incumbent’s with 24.6 million people tuning in. In 2016, 32.2 million TV viewers watched President Trump’s speech, while Hillary Clinton’s nomination acceptance speech garnered 29.8 million viewers.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we will never see a convention like this again. The virtual format, and more dynamic experiences such as the DNC roll call from across the country, allowed a more personal experience. This was a welcome contrast from traditional conventions, where Americans have looked onto party insiders in funny hats milling about in massive arenas. While in-person events remain valuable for fundraising and building excitement, elements of the virtual format will likely impact party conventions going forward.

Aside from the obvious changes that the virtual conventions brought this year, contrasts on COVID-19, campaign personalities, and the convention endgames played into this year’s conventions.

Contrasts on COVID-19

The main issue of this year’s presidential election is the COVID-19 pandemic. But when it came to addressing the pandemic, the DNC and RNC were a tale of two very different conventions.

Through a completely virtual convention, candidates appearing in masks, and a lot of content about the pandemic, Democrats showcased themselves as the party of science. Speakers stressed the importance of listening to public health professionals and wearing masks. Biden and Harris both discussed how they would work to mitigate the pandemic on day one in office.

The Republican party, on the other hand, focused on putting the pandemic in the rearview mirror — regardless of what public health statistics say. Republican speakers spoke as if the pandemic was already over, with economic advisor Larry Kudlow referring to the pandemic in the past tense, and Vice President Mike Pence speaking with a woman whose small business was saved by the Paycheck Protection Program, without mentioning that the program shut down last month. This was underscored by President Trump’s acceptance speech on the South Lawn of the White House, complete with attendees sitting just inches away from each other, many not wearing masks.

It’s clear that Democrats and Republicans are making very different bets on the progress of the pandemic between now and November. As for which party made the winning wager, only time will tell.

Campaign Of Personalities

This year’s conventions focused heavily on the candidates behind the campaigns, not the policy issues themselves.

Though COVID-19 is still at the forefront of the election, speakers at the 2020 conventions concentrated their remarks on the vastly different characteristics and leadership abilities of Vice President Biden and President Trump. Character witnesses at the DNC talked about Vice President Biden as a principled leader with deep, bipartisan experience, while RNC speakers chose to highlight the president’s tough stance against foreign adversaries, China, and his business acumen making him the right candidate to lead America and continue his tenure in the nation’s highest office.

Deep policy issues were largely left out of the conversation at each convention. Similarly, we likely will not see the remainder of the presidential campaign season full of deep dives into the traditional policy areas: the economy and jobs; trade and foreign affairs; healthcare; and social issues. To be sure, the candidates will focus on the most important policy issues facing the country, namely the health and safety of the American public and a strong economic recovery. Take a look at Vice President Biden and President Trump’s respective campaign ads aired during each convention; most had to do with each candidate’s experience and attacks on his opponent. This year’s conventions followed suit, reflecting each campaign’s strategy to focus voters’ attention on the men running for president, not the policy issues. Though it is still early and two months remain before Election Day on November 3rd, the conventions largely foreshadowed the general election campaign strategy for both parties: forget policy, focus on the people.

Convention Endgames

Despite being virtual, the conventions largely hit their respective marks, albeit in different ways.

Democrats balanced their convention between their younger, more progressive ranks and their “old guard”—the long-time, more established Democratic flank. They even welcomed well-known Republicans to their party’s stage to appeal to the broader electorate, inviting former Ohio governor John Kasich and Cindy McCain, wife of late Republican Senator John McCain to speak to Vice President Biden’s character and willingness to get the job done. The vice presidential pick of Sen. Kamala Harris allowed Democrats to make the case against Trump. Others’ portrayal of Vice President Biden as an experienced, compassionate candidate enabled him to meet the high expectations placed on his acceptance speech, delivering what some regarded as the most important address of his political lifetime.

As for the Republicans, the RNC achieved the production value and enthusiasm they promised. Arranging the convention more like a television show, the GOP set a grandiose scene for its speakers, draping its ornate Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium stage in red, white, and blue bunting with American flags visible from all angles, playing to President Trump’s familiar arena setting. The GOP chose its speakers strategically, introducing more diversity than could be remembered in Republican conventions past, and focusing on a softer picture of President Trump throughout the last four years of his presidency. Not missing a chance to speak out against the president’s opponent, messaging on Vice President Biden took on his “too tough” stance on crime, while others spoke about his complacency in failing to condemn recent riots and looting. What some saw as inconsistent attacks, others viewed as “trademark Trump” capitalizing on weaker elements of his opponent’s campaign to energize the Republican base.

The real goal of this year’s party conventions was not to attract the most viewers, produce the best show, or even convince undecided voters. Ultimately, the goal was to energize the existing party base and get people ready to vote enthusiastically. For the most part, both parties catered to their respective bases and portrayed the candidates in the favorable ways their supporters see them. Though we’ve yet to unwrap our “October surprise,” the conventions are just the tip of the iceberg for the final two months of the campaign ahead.

If you would like to hear more, listen to our weekly podcast, the HPS Macrocast. We recently discussed the 2020 DNC and RNC on two episodes: Norm-Busting and Unconventional Convention.


Presidential Elections And Stock Market Volatility

Key Takeaways

  • Despite predictions of market volatility in presidential election years, there is little evidence that elections consistently trigger realized market volatility.
  • Although the VIX (“Fear Gauge”) illustrates an increase in implied volatility in the lead-up to presidential elections without an incumbent (2000, 2016) and in the most recent election where an incumbent lost (1992), there is little evidence of realized volatility.
  • While elections don’t significantly affect the broader markets, both general and primary presidential elections can drive spikes in realized volatility for the stocks of companies that could be impacted by potential policy changes.

The November presidential election is fast approaching, and while the outcome of the election is still unknown, many are already speculating about how the election will impact equity markets. For all the punditry and pontification, it’s worth looking at the data to answer a more basic question: Do presidential elections actually impact market volatility?

In our analysis of the past seven presidential elections we found that despite predictions of market volatility in presidential election years, there is little evidence that elections consistently trigger market-wide volatility in a real way. In some cases, the uncertainty of the election outcome may drive an increase in forward-looking implied volatility, as evidenced in the lead-up to presidential elections without an incumbent (2000, 2016), and in the most recent election where an incumbent lost (1992). But the impact on individual stocks is much more clear: Analyzing the stocks of specific companies that could be impacted by potential policy changes reveals a relationship between the election date and spikes in realized volatility.

The analysis below analyzes the CBOE VIX Index, and the 30-day realized volatility calculations are a measure of market volatility, and the expected and actual size as well as speed of price fluctuations in the market. This volatility is a natural feature of financial markets driven by many different factors and is neither inherently good or bad. This analysis does not map the positive or negative movement in stock price.

Presidential General Elections  

Looking back at presidential elections since 1992 shows a difference in perceived market volatility in elections with and without an incumbent victory. In the elections without an incumbent, and in the one instance where an incumbent lost (’92, ’00,’16), implied volatility, as measured by Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” the CBOE VIX Index, increased in the lead-up to the election, but there was no discernible pattern on the impact in actual realized volatility. Due to the outsized impact of the financial crisis on market volatility, 2008 data is excluded from our below analysis. Our analysis goes back to 1992 to span the past three decades of presidential elections.

Markets during elections that featured an incumbent victory (’96, ’04, ’12) lacked a clear trend in implied volatility, with elections in ’96 and ’04 experiencing a subsequent drop in implied volatility in the days following the election and ’12 experiencing a slight uptick in volatility. Similar to non-incumbent elections, there was no clear correlation in actual realized market volatility.

It is not until analyzing individual stock volatility that a trend in realized volatility becomes discernible.

Through an analysis of the industries highly impacted by candidates’ proposed policies in the 2016 general election and 2020 primary election, it is clear that election results can spike volatility for specific companies that could be impacted by potential policy changes. These individual volatility spikes do not, however, always translate into broad market volatility.

2016 General Election

In his 2016 campaign, President Trump pledged to revive the U.S. coal and steel industries. His victory sparked a sharp rise in realized volatility for these stocks.

Stocks of companies affiliated with transporting coal and supplying machinery for mining also experienced sharp spikes in realized volatility.

Facing the prospect of a reduction in government support from a new administration, renewable energy stocks experienced greater volatility following the 2016 election.

2020 Democratic Primary 

Specific sectors of the economy can also experience volatility surrounding primary elections. For example, spikes in volatility in health care equities corresponded with both the New Hampshire primary and Super Tuesday.

The central position of health care in the 2020 Democratic primary, the uncertain fate of the party’s nomination, and the primary’s potential impact on the general election outcome and policy implementation all likely contributed to an uptick in health care stock volatility.

The 2020 election is already unlike any other and its market impact is still unclear, but by looking back at the trends of past elections we can begin to try and make sense of what may come in markets in the months ahead. Analysts and commentators should resist the urge to predict doom or euphoria for broad equity markets as the 2020 results roll in.

Sources: Bloomberg Terminal, YahooFinance!, Real Clear Politics

Methodology:  Realized volatility is an historical metric measuring past market fluctuations. This is different from implied volatility, which measures investors’ expected future volatility.

Realized Volatility Calculation: Volatility is determined by taking the standard deviation of the percent change of S&P 500 closing prices and multiplying the square root of the average number of annual trading days.

Implied Volatility Calculation: The Chicago Board Options Exchange produces the real time VIX index to measure investors’ expected volatility over the upcoming 30 days.