Here Is What Happened When The SEC Banned Shorting Financial Companies In 2008

There are those who say the upcoming short selling ban in all stocks in Italy and France, which according to CNBC will take place as soon as after the close today, or in one hour, will be beneficial to stocks. Then there are facts. To those who may have forgotten, on September 18, the SEC banned the shorting of all financials here in the US. Below is a chart of the carnage that ensued... The same chart is coming to Europe first. End result: 48% drop in under a month.

As for the justification provided by the SEC back in 2008, it has an eerie resemblance to that used today:

Given the importance of confidence in our financial markets as a whole, we have become concerned about recent sudden declines in the prices of a wide range of securities. Such price declines can give rise to questions about the underlying financial condition of an issuer, which in turn can create a crisis of confidence, without a fundamental underlying basis. This crisis of confidence can impair the liquidity and ultimate viability of an issuer, with potentially broad market consequences. Our concerns are no longer limited to the financial institutions that were the subject of the July Emergency Order. As a result of these recent developments, the Commission has concluded that there continues to exist the potential of sudden and excessive fluctuations of securities prices generally and disruption in the functioning of the securities markets that could threaten fair and orderly markets. In these unusual and extraordinary circumstances, we have concluded that, to prevent substantial disruption in the securities markets, temporarily prohibiting any person from effecting a short sale in the publicly traded securities of certain financial firms, which entities are identified in Appendix A (“Included Financial Firms”), is in the public interest and for the protection of investors to maintain or restore fair and orderly securities markets.

End result: LOL

Full SEC letter.

SEC Fin Ban