Why Short Selling Is a Good Thing for the Stock Market and Investors Large and Small

We noted earlier the hubbub over a hive of little investors on Reddit outfoxing some big Wall Street firms who had made massive short bets on the stock of GameStop. Some of the narrative around this event has painted short selling as a secret, evil practice only available for the big guys. But none of that is true.

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Reddit GameStop Stock Bubble Deflates; Roaring Kitty Speaks; Hearings Loom

Last week we noted how a hive of millions of small, mainly young investors in the Reddit user group, r/wallstreetbets (“WSB”) targeted GME, the small, heavily shorted stock of troubled video game retailer GameStop. In a classic short squeeze, the stock price was driven up from a more or less rational price of $20 per share, to over $400.

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The GameStop Short Squeeze: Swarm of Small Investors Stings Wall Street Hedge Funds

If you think the price of a stock is going to go up, you can buy shares and wait for the price to go up, then sell the shares to someone else. This is called being “long” a stock. If it turns out that the stock price goes down and stays down, the most money you can lose is the amount you put in, since the stock price cannot go below zero.

But what if you think the stock price is going to go down instead of up? You may believe the price has run up irrationally high, or your analysis uncovers poor earnings prospects. A favorite tactic of Wall Street pros, including hedge funds, in this case is to “short” a stock.

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