December 2022

Passive Ownership and Short Selling

Bastian von Beschwitz, Pekka Honkanen, and Daniel Schmidt


We exploit quasi-exogenous variation in passive ownership around the Russell 1000/2000 cutoff to explore the causal effects of passive ownership on the securities lending market. We find that passive ownership causes an increase in lendable supply and short interest, while lending fees remain largely unchanged. The utilization ratio—i.e., the ratio of short interest over lendable supply—goes up, implying that shorting demand increases more than lendable supply. We argue that this additional demand results from an increase in the quality of lendable supply as passive funds are less likely to recall stock loans. Finally, we document that passive ownership-induced short selling improves information efficiency around negative earnings news.


PDF: Full Paper

Disclaimer: The economic research that is linked from this page represents the views of the authors and does not indicate concurrence either by other members of the Board's staff or by the Board of Governors. The economic research and their conclusions are often preliminary and are circulated to stimulate discussion and critical comment. The Board values having a staff that conducts research on a wide range of economic topics and that explores a diverse array of perspectives on those topics. The resulting conversations in academia, the economic policy community, and the broader public are important to sharpening our collective thinking.

Back to Top
Last Update: December 21, 2022