June 17, 2009
I feel terrible for the people that have expressed so much anger and frustration in some of the comments that have been posted thus far. Many have suffered terrible losses, are in a great deal of pain, and want somebody to pay. Sadly though, the angry tone is one of a "mob mentality" incited by charlatan television personalities like Jim Cramer, and is largely ignorant and misplaced. Most of the people posting here do not even know why short selling exists and how it functions, they just want revenge. Giving into the angry mob to reinstate the uptick rule will not give them the stable financial market that they want. It will not rebuild investor confidence. Instead, it will make the situation worse. PLEASE do not make this mistake
Short selling is a critically important to an efficient and healthy market. This is indisputable. If you try to artificially prop up the market by limiting an individual's ability to hedge, you will create more bubbles, decrease liquidity, increase volatility, and ultimately destroy market value. Moreover, the little guy, the individual investor and trader stands to lose the most. The Goldman Sachses of the world will find a way to hedge whenever and wherever they want. No uptick rule will limit their decision to short. Meanwhile, the little guy gets screwed because their hands will be tied.
It is convenient to blame short sellers for the collapse of the financial system. After all, every crisis needs a scapegoat. Never mind 40:1 leverage, predatory lending, the ratings agencies, lack of balance sheet transparency, and the list goes on. The true irony is that short sellers were the first to warn of the impending collapse. Had the public heeded their warning, many could have gotten out in time. Unfortunately, most took the advice of their "financial advisers" or the Suze Ormans of the world who told them everything would be fine in the long run, and that they were entitled to 10% returns per year over the long haul. I would be looking for a scapegoat too if I had been hoodwinked by someone I trusted to make my financial decisions for me.
In summary, I request that short selling rules be left as they currently are. All of the proposed alternatives are inherently flawed. Enforce the ban on naked shorting. Level the playing field as much as possible. Give the individual investor a chance to compete. Let the market dynamics play themselves out. Do not give in to political pressure to manipulate the markets.