After Elon Musk tweeted that “short selling should be illegal”, famous short seller and $TSLAQ leader Jim Chanos took to Twitter to respond.
According to Chanos, selling airline tickets and Full Self Driving packages are examples of short selling. Gotcha Elon!
Of course, this justification makes absolutely no sense. Selling a plane ticket is just selling a plane ticket. Purchasing the “Full Self Driving” package for your Tesla unlocks features like Summon, Navigate on Autopilot, Autopark, Auto Lane Change, and more future updates. That has nothing to do with unethical short selling of public equities.
What should be illegal is taking a financial position betting against a company’s stock price and then orchestrating an elaborate disinformation campaign to defraud the markets at the expense of other investors and publicly traded employers. Naturally, there are a lot of grey areas, and the right to free speech must be protected. However, when short sellers take actions like harassing critics, spreading deliberately false and misleading information, and filing false government reports… well, breaking the law is breaking the law.
The law has not been able to keep up with the evolving tactics of short sellers in the social media age. Similarly to how foreign intelligence services run social media campaigns to try and influence foreign elections, there are massive online disinformation campaigns underway attempting to influence how you feel about just about anything.
How will our society adapt to this evolving threat? I don’t know yet, but I bet you the most unethical short sellers won’t like it.