Well, looks like stress tests have some fans after all. Short sellers. Are we the only ones amused that the unintended consequences of inflicting stress tests on banks include a big spike in the administration's second most hated side-effect of financial markets- short selling? (The first is when Volcker calls fifteen times in a row and won't just leave a voice message).
The number of Citigroup Inc. shares borrowed and sold short increased sixfold since Feb. 27, the day the U.S. Treasury announced it would convert some of its preferred shares in the New York-based bank into common stock.
Short interest in Bank of America Corp., MetLife Inc. and American Express Co. climbed more than 40 percent in the same period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In total, short sales of the 18 publicly traded financial companies undergoing government stress tests were twice as high on April 15 as they were at their peak last year in July, two months before Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed.
Do we have to remind the banks in the room that a steady regimen of diet, exercise and short selling will shed pounds (or dollars) off those balance sheets quite quickly?
Short Selling of Banks Accelerates as New Financial Stress Test [Bloomberg]