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Aggregate Short Interest and Market Valuations

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  • Owen A. Lamont
  • Jeremy C. Stein

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Owen A. Lamont & Jeremy C. Stein, 2003. "Aggregate Short Interest and Market Valuations," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2027, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2027
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    File URL: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/pub/hier/2003/HIER2027.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. D'Avolio, Gene, 2002. "The market for borrowing stock," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 271-306.
    3. 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.
    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. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
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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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