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Short-Selling Ban Tomfoolery in Italy, Spain

The Beber-Pagano study is just the tip of an iceberg of harrowing data. The 2008 financial crisis short bans wreaked such havoc on the markets that they provided grist for researchers in the years that followed, and the studies showing what a bad idea they were just keep spitting out without interruption.

In another study found on the Social Science Research Network, a team of researchers at three U.S. universities found that "the ban on short-selling financial stocks imposed by the SEC in September 2008 led to substantial price inflation in the banned stocks." They estimated the "transfer of wealth" resulting from this artificial inflation of stock prices at somewhere between $2.3 billion and $4.9 billion.

Their study didn't get into this, but I would point out that bank executives -- the perpetrators of the financial crimes that practically destroyed the financial system -- were big holders of their banks' stocks, making them among the biggest beneficiaries of the short-selling ban. I'd love to see a follow-up study to show how the shorting ban enriched bank executives.

What more can I say than "Chris Cox does it again." But at least he had the good grace to admit that he goofed. The regulators in Spain and Italy are simply shameless. They know perfectly well that what they are doing is not only going to hurt market liquidity, but will artificially inflate share prices, hurting investors who are unwitting buyers of inflated stocks.

They've chosen expediency over common sense, and you can bet that they'll do it again in the next financial crisis, after this latest short-selling ban is once again proven to hurt investors.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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