Study: Short selling bans had little impact

19 December 2008

Emergency restrictions on the short selling of shares in the wake of the financial crisis had little effect on the behavior of stock returns, according to a new study.

The report by professor Ian Marsh and Norman Niemer of the Cass Business School found "no strong evidence" of a systematic change because of bans and limits on short selling in the US, the UK, France, Germany and Italy.

It added that shares behaved "very similarly" before and after the restrictions came in. There was also little discernible change in stocks covered by the bans compared to those free of restrictions.

Furthermore, there was no systematic pattern indicating that the bans reduced the probability of big market falls.

"Regression analysis suggested that changes in stock returns were driven mainly by other factors affecting the financial sector as a whole rather than the restrictions on short selling," the paper noted.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission introduced a ban on the short selling of financial stocks on September 19th. The UK's short selling restrictions came into effect on September 23rd.

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