NYT: The Shorts Did in Lehman & Bear!

I’ve been doing the slow burn on a very foolish article in Tuesday’s NYT Dealbook, about European Short Selling rules.

The author is somewhat clueless about shorting. He writes:

“Companies have long complained that short-selling can lead to stock manipulation. In the financial crisis, managers at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers accused large investors of spreading rumors that sent their prices plummeting and created liquidity problems for the investment banks.

At the time, several countries — including the United States, Britain, Germany and France — banned the practice for shares in certain companies. Since then, the bans have largely been lifted.”

Its hard to imagine that in 2011, a financial journalist could actually write something like that — it is a shockingly ignorant repeat of the false claims made by those insolvent firms. Beyond merely one-sided and dumb, it ignores the facts as they became known after the collapse, as the truth came out.

Yes, it is true, the managers of BSC and LEH made those accusations. But it is also true that both of these firms had insufficient capital levels, enormous amounts of leverage. massive exposure to sub-prime mortgages, vast derivative risks, and in the case of Lehman Brothers, regularly engaged in accounting fraud, $50-100 billions at a clip (via the infamous Repo 103).

Damn those short sellers for spreading rumors that were true!


In Europe, an Effort to Shed Light on Short-Selling

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