for more information contact web@necsi.edu

by Shlomiya Bar-Yam and Yaneer Bar-Yam
Stopping the Market Crash

The uptick rule is a regulation that restricts short selling – selling of borrowed shares, a practice that can destabilize a market – to “upticks,” periods of price increase, so that the practice cannot drive down prices. The rule was first instated in 1938 to prevent a repeat of the market instabilities of the Great Depression, and was quietly repealed in July 2007, just months before the recent crash. [5]

Other analysts, such as Jim Cramer, have also called for reinstatement of the uptick rule. NECSI’s research on the rule and its repeal was published in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal (R. C. Pozen and Y. Bar-Yam, “There's a Better Way to Prevent ‘Bear Raids,’” The Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2008) [1] as well as in research reports that were sent to the SEC.

The gains from short selling when used to drive down prices depend on short sellers’ ability to control prices over time, and the very expectation that the uptick rule would be reinstated was enough to drive many short sellers from the market and increase stability in 2009. This is why Congressman Frank’s announcement that the rule would be reinstated led to the market turnaround we are still enjoying.

However, the SEC’s delays in actually reinstating the uptick rule have been directly related to the “flash crash” and other market problems.

solving problems of science and society