It’s also difficult to prove exactly how big a problem naked short selling is, and how much it played into our current economic problems. I’m not saying that it isn’t a bad thing. I’m just saying that I’ve never seen a convincing case that it has widespread, terrible effects. Usually the arguments I’ve seen are offered by some guy whose publicly-traded company started failing, and started to see their stocks getting shorted (which is perfectly legitimate). We can’t blame all of this on phantom trading.
UPDATE: Then I run across Andrew Cuomo’s promise to “probe” short selling, and I’m reminded of Ted Frank’s piece on prosecutorial zeal in our July/August issue. Every phone call from every hedge fund is going to get scrutinized, all because politically ambitious prosecutors have got to “do something.”