Short End of the Stock
Long story short, the number of investors betting against US stocks dropped to their lowest level in more than a decade. Short interest, the number of short positions, is at its lowest in 15 years.
The most unprofitable short in history
Short selling is the investment strategy to bet on a falling stock price. The lower a stock falls, the more money a short investor makes. Conversely, the higher a stock rises, the more money a short investor loses.
Tesla ($TSLA), the most controversial stock of 2020 and now the most shorted stock in history, has also turned into the most unprofitable short investment in history. Despite warnings of fraud and overvaluation, Tesla’s stock quadrupled this year and short investors were greeted with massive losses.
- Most shorted stocks in August: Tesla ($TSLA), Wayfair ($W), Charter Communications ($CHTR), AON ($AON) and Charles Schwab ($SCHW)
Investors can short the market in several ways: Opening a margin account and making a “short” investment, buying put options or buying inverse ETFs. A quick reminder, strategies for shorting the market are complex and are suited for advanced investors.
Shorts aren’t a good look on you
Betting against US stocks is a losing battle. In the past 92 years, the S&P 500 index, a good representation of the US stock market, went up 53% and went down 47% of the days out of the year. In the same period, the S&P 500 increased from 17.53 to 3,431.28.
- Stocks tend to rise in the long-run and short sellers will end up accumulating large losses hoping for stocks to drop.
Here’s the legendary short investor, Jim Chanos, explaining what shorting feels like: “it’s bittersweet, because short sellers put up with weeks and months of misery and you feel good for hours and days”.
- Meaning… Short sellers are losing money for the majority of the time. Once a stock finally falls enough for a short seller to profit, it usually doesn’t fall for long or enough to cover accumulated losses.