Commentary

Tim Quast
Traders Magazine Online News

We're All HFTs Now

In this guest commentary, author Tim Quast looks back at the history of HFT and how the market has evolved to where many firms now fit the definition of high-frequency trader.

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January 1, 2003

The Crazy World of Short Selling

By Source: The StreetSmart Guide to Short Selling by Tom Taulli (McGraw-Hill, 2002)

Short selling has been a mystery for many investors and traders.

Perhaps that's one reason why the general public thinks it is basically immoral. After all, short sellers are making money from disaster, right?

Here's a look back at some of the interesting stories of short selling:

* Napoleon outlawed short selling because he believed it hampered his ability to finance his empire building. (He termed the practice "treason").

* In the late 1880s, the president of American Steel and Wire Company, John Gates, would cut back production and lay-off people and then short the stock.

* Jesse Livermore shorted Union Pacific Railroad several months before the San Francisco earthquake of 1907.

* Bernard Baruch, who advised several US presidents, made his fortune by short selling. He even wrote a book defending the practice - but did not disclose to the public that he was the author.

* Albert Wiggin, the CEO of Chase National Bank, shorted his company stock before the crash of 1929. He netted $4 million on the trade and the bank reimbursed him for the taxes.

Source: The StreetSmart Guide to Short Selling by Tom Taulli

(McGraw-Hill, 2002)