Short selling stock is a tool that can help keep markets more stable. However, short selling can be used to manipulate the market and in the last decade naked short selling has contributed to such manipulation. The SEC has made permanent a temporary rule that was approved in 2008 in response to continuing concerns regarding “fails to deliver” and potentially abusive “naked” short selling. In particular, temporary Rule 204T made it a violation of Regulation SHO and imposes penalties if a clearing firm:
* does not purchase or borrow shares to close-out a “fail to deliver”
* resulting from a short sale in any equity security
* by no later than the beginning of trading on the day after the fail first occurs (Trade + 4 days).
Cutting Down Failures to Deliver: An analysis conducted by the SEC’s Office of Economic Analysis, which followed the adoption of the close-out requirement of Rule 204T and the elimination of the “options market maker” exception, showed the number of “fails” declined significantly.
For example, since the fall of 2008, fails to deliver in all equity securities has decreased by approximately 57 percent and the average daily number of threshold list securities has declined from a high of approximately 582 securities in July 2008 to 63 in March 2009. Which still is not acceptable, in my opinion. In general this is a good move by the SEC, but still not sufficient.
Transparency is increased some by the SEC with the new rules:
* Daily Publication of Short Sale Volume Information. It is expected in the next few weeks that the SROs will begin publishing on their Web sites the aggregate short selling volume in each individual equity security for that day.
* Disclosure of Short Sale Transaction Information. It is expected in the next few weeks that the SROs will begin publishing on their Web sites on a one-month delayed basis information regarding individual short sale transactions in all exchange-listed equity securities.
* Twice Monthly Disclosure of Fails Data. It is expected in the next few weeks that the Commission will enhance the publication on its Web site of fails to deliver data so that fails to deliver information is provided twice per month and for all equity securities, regardless of the fails level.
Full SEC press release: SEC Takes Steps to Curtail Abusive Short Sales and Increase Market Transparency