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Banning short sales and market quality: The UK’s experience


  • Marsh, Ian W.
  • Payne, Richard


We study the effects that the ban on short sales of shares in financial firms introduced in late 2008 and removed early 2009 had on the microstructure and the quality of UK equity markets. We show that the ban did nothing to affect order flows: financial stocks were being more aggressively sold off than their peers pre-ban and this situation persisted through the ban period. Trading volume in financials was massively reduced, however. The ban decimated order book liquidity for financials. The deterioration was symmetric, affecting the limit buy and limit sell side of the order book equally. Finally we show that, through the period of the ban, markets for financial stocks were substantially less efficient and that the role of the trading process in aiding price discovery was greatly reduced. The effects identified above were largely reversed once the ban was lifted. The persistence of the deterioration in market quality and liquidity though the relatively long-lasting UK ban on short selling suggests that other major market developments such as the TARP program were not responsible since these were concentrated in the early half of the ban. We thus argue that the short selling ban was responsible for detrimental effects on the quality of UK equity markets and that, far from being stabilising, the ban exacerbated problems in valuing UK financial stocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Marsh, Ian W. & Payne, Richard, 2012. "Banning short sales and market quality: The UK’s experience," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 1975-1986.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:36:y:2012:i:7:p:1975-1986 DOI: 10.1016/j.jbankfin.2012.03.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:acctfi:v:57:y:2017:i:3:p:727-757 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Zhao, Zhongkuang & Li, Shuqi & Xiong, Heping, 2014. "Short sale constraints, disperse pessimistic beliefs and market efficiency — Evidence from the Chinese stock market," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 333-342.
    3. Alessandro Beber & Daniela Fabbri & Marco Pagano & Saverio Simonelli, 2015. "Short-Selling Bans and Bank Stability," CSEF Working Papers 423, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 15 Dec 2017.
    4. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Martin Oehmke, 2014. "Predatory Short Selling," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 18(6), pages 2153-2195.
    5. Óscar Arce & Sergio Mayordomo, 2012. "Short Sales Constraints and Financial Stability: Evidence from the Spanish 2011 Ban," Faculty Working Papers 25/12, School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Navarra.
    6. Bohl, Martin T. & Klein, Arne C. & Siklos, Pierre L., 2014. "Short-selling bans and institutional investors' herding behaviour: Evidence from the global financial crisis," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 262-269.
    7. Bohl, Martin T. & Klein, Arne C. & Siklos, Pierre L., 2013. "Are short sellers positive feedback traders? Evidence from the global financial crisis," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 337-346.
    8. Lensberg, Terje & Schenk-Hoppé, Klaus Reiner & Ladley, Dan, 2015. "Costs and benefits of financial regulation: Short-selling bans and transaction taxes," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 103-118.
    9. repec:uts:finphd:34 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Brunnermeier, Markus K. & Oehmke, Martin, 2014. "Predatory short selling," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84517, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    11. Alves, Carlos & Mendes, Victor & Silva, Paulo Pereira da, 2016. "Analysis of market quality before and during short-selling bans," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 252-268.
    12. Óscar Arce & Sergio Mayordomo, 2014. "Short-sale constraints and financial stability: Evidence from the Spanish market," Working Papers 1410, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    13. Sifat, Imtiaz Mohammad & Mohamad, Azhar, 2015. "Order imbalance and selling aggression under a shorting ban: Evidence from the UK," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 368-379.
    14. Duong, Truong X. & Huszár, Zsuzsa R. & Yamada, Takeshi, 2015. "The costs and benefits of short sale disclosure," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 124-139.
    15. Bernal, Oscar & Herinckx, Astrid & Szafarz, Ariane, 2014. "Which short-selling regulation is the least damaging to market efficiency? Evidence from Europe," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 244-256.
    16. Rui Ma & Hamish D. Anderson & Ben R. Marshall, 2016. "International stock market liquidity: a review," Managerial Finance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 42(2), pages 118-135, February.
    17. Sobaci, Cihat & Sensoy, Ahmet & Erturk, Mutahhar, 2014. "Impact of short selling activity on market dynamics: Evidence from an emerging market," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 53-62.

    More about this item


    Short-selling; Liquidity; Market efficiency;

    JEL classification:

    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation


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