Short Squeezes and Their Consequences

Paul Schultz

A short squeeze occurs if borrowed shares are recalled and the short seller is unable to find another source of shares. This forces the short seller to terminate a position early. For most stocks the probability of a short squeeze is very low. Short squeezes, however, are not unusual for the hardest to borrow stocks. For these stocks, trading costs from squeezes are high, and have a significant impact on the returns to short selling. For hard-to-borrow stocks, short sellers also miss out on significant abnormal returns because squeezes force them to close positions.