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Aggregate Short Interest and Market Valuations


  • Owen A. Lamont
  • Jeremy C. Stein


We examine some basic data on the evolution of aggregate short interest, both during the dot-com era, and at other times in history. Total short interest moves in a countercyclical fashion. For example, short interest in NASDAQ stocks actually declines as the NASDAQ index approaches its peak. Moreover, this decline does not seem to reflect a substitution away from outright short-selling and towards put options, as the ratio of put-to-call volume displays the same countercyclical tendency. The evidence suggests that: i) arbitrageurs are reluctant to bet against aggregate mispricings; and ii) short-selling does not play a particularly helpful role in stabilizing the overall stock market.
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Suggested Citation

  • Owen A. Lamont & Jeremy C. Stein, 2004. "Aggregate Short Interest and Market Valuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 29-32, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:2:p:29-32 Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828041301759

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Owen A. Lamont & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Can the Market Add and Subtract? Mispricing in Tech Stock Carve-outs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(2), pages 227-268, April.
    2. John M. Griffin & Jeffrey H. Harris & Selim Topaloglu, 2003. "Investor Behavior over the Rise and Fall of Nasdaq," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm431, Yale School of Management.
    3. Jones, Charles M. & Lamont, Owen A., 2002. "Short-sale constraints and stock returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 207-239.
    4. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. " The Limits of Arbitrage," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 35-55, March.
    5. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Stefan Nagel, 2004. "Hedge Funds and the Technology Bubble," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(5), pages 2013-2040, October.
    6. Jeremy C. Stein, 2005. "Why are Most Funds Open-End? Competition and the Limits of Arbitrage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(1), pages 247-272.
    7. Chen, Joseph & Hong, Harrison & Stein, Jeremy C., 2002. "Breadth of ownership and stock returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 171-205.
    8. Eli Ofek & Matthew Richardson, 2003. "DotCom Mania: The Rise and Fall of Internet Stock Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(3), pages 1113-1138, June.
    9. D'Avolio, Gene, 2002. "The market for borrowing stock," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 271-306.
    10. Dechow, Patricia M. & Hutton, Amy P. & Meulbroek, Lisa & Sloan, Richard G., 2001. "Short-sellers, fundamental analysis, and stock returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 77-106, July.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading


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