March 13, 2020
Four days after Italy’s former (and most likely future) prime minister, Matteo Salvini called for a short selling ban (referencing none other than George Soros who “built his fortune betting against Italy”) on Italian stocks, Italy’s market regulator, Consob, announced that short-selling would indeed be banned on Friday, March 13, with the temporary ban applying to 85 companies listed on Milan stock exchange.
Ironically, just two days ago, the head of Italy’s bourse, Raffaele Jerusalmi, said that a ban on short selling to deal with market reactions to the coronavirus outbreak would be useful only if applied at a European or broader level and for specific sectors.
“If there were sectors particularly at risk, an intervention by the regulatory authorities could be useful,” Raffaele Jerusalmi said in a streamed interview with Il Sole 24 Ore.
And to think all it took to change his mind was a 20% drop in the Italian stock market in the next two days.
And with Italy getting increasingly sensitive about its crashing market, there was an amusing development earlier, when the country’s Economic Development Minister Stefano Patuanelli said in an interview that ECB President Christine Lagarde caused the biggest stock market drop in Italy with her comments at the ECB press conference.
The minister added that he hopes her words were an accident referring to Lagarde’s comment that the ECB is “not here to close spreads”, because apparently so used are the Italians to central banks that do close spreads (especially when they are headed by other Italians-cum-former Goldmanites), that if anyone refuses to explicitly backstop Italy’s risk assets, they are an enemy of the state.
And it’s not just Italy: late on Thursday, Spain’s Regulator also set a one-day short-sale ban on 69 stocks that fell more than certain amounts Thursday.
Finally, what none of the regulators appear to know is that banning short sales in a time of crisis does two things: i) it makes the liquidation period more painful and more drawn out, and ii) it results in an even greater drawdown when all is said and done, something the US learned in the depths of the financial crisis when the SEC did exactly the same thing, only to unleash another 30% of selling before the market stabilized around a “generational” low of 666. And come to think of it, it is now another generation’s turn to retest said low.
This article was posted: Friday, March 13, 2020 at 6:07 am