Clamp down now

Posted on

What short selling has shown of late is that markets are their own worst enemy.

HBOS has been in trouble, but it's not terminal. And yet it's attempt to raise cash in the market has been severely impeded by the wholly irresponsible action of short sellers in the market - mainly hedge funds. They have 'borrowed' shares from people like pension funds, then sold it, seen the price fall under pressure of a net selling market and then bought it back before returning it with a fee to those from whom they borrowed it.

In so doing they seek to undermine the main function the stock market has, namely the creation of liquidity by the raising of cash for businesses that need it. Without doubt this proves there is truth in the maxim that the worst enemies of capitalism are capitalists. The pension funds, and others, who lend the stock are not far behind.

So now it has been announced that stock loans will be regulated. They're not being stopped. They're just to be disclosed. And the furore has been phenomenal. It's as if the market itself had been closed. The FT is full of it.

It's time to ignore those making the noise. We know they are abusive. That's how they treat the markets. They're bound to be abusive in their comments as well. Principle needs to rise above abuse: a stand needs to be taken. Without re-regulation our financial markets will fail. It's not an 'if', it will be a 'when'. They are clearly unsustainable as they are.

But hedge funds, operating as they do from beyond what they see as the limit of regulation out of tax havens that lend them addresses as pension funds lend them stocks, do not care as long as there is short term profit to be made.

Well, some of us do care. Some of us have longer horizons. And there's a lot more regulation needed if we're going to get matters put right again. This one has to succeed. It's just the start.