May 5, 2009
I would much rather see the SEC take a direct approach to solving naked short selling problems.
Reinstating the uptick rule might make it more difficult to conduct massive naked short selling. However, I think a direct approach to law enforcement would be better.
There is a change to the law that would make it easier to stop the practice of naked short selling. As soon as a stock sale reaches the settlement deadline without a delivery of shares, then that person ought to be banned from any stock selling until the failure is rectified.
It would be much easier to prosecute a person for violating a simple order barring all stock sales from that person than it is to prove that a person's sale was a deliberate naked short sale. All attempts to get around the new law by creating multiple trading accounts would also be prosecutable.
Schapiro says that there is no 'specific empirical evidence' that the absence of the uptick rule fueled abnormal market volatiliy. However, abnormal market volatility is not the only ill that brings forth calls for enforcement of the rules.
Even if a small number of viable companies were driven out of business by naked short selling attacks, then the law ought to be enforced and the violators punished. This is a completely different issue from statistical measures of the overall volatility of the market as a whole.
People who owned shares, worked for the company, or did business with the company were harmed by the naked short selling attack. This harm is the kind from which we need the SEC to protect us.