High frequency trading and the 2008 short-sale ban


We examine the effects of high-frequency traders (HFTs) on liquidity using the September 2008 short sale-ban. To disentangle the separate impacts of short selling by HFTs and non-HFTs, we use an instrumental variables approach exploiting differences in the ban’s cross-sectional impact on HFTs and non-HFTs. Non-HFTs’ short selling improves liquidity, as measured by bid-ask spreads. HFTs’ short selling has the opposite effect by adversely selecting limit orders, which can decrease liquidity supplier competition and reduce trading by non-HFTs. The results highlight that some HFTs’ activities are harmful to liquidity during the extremely volatile short-sale ban period.

Journal of Financial Economics, (124), 1, pp. 22-42, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfineco.2017.01.008