Why are short positions risky?
1. Potentially limitless losses: When you buy shares of stock (take a long position), your downside is limited to 100% of the money you invested. But when you short a stock, its price can keep rising. In theory, that means there's no upper limit to the amount you'd have to pay to replace the borrowed shares.
What are the risks of short selling? The big risk of short selling is that you could guess wrong and stock may go up. And the risk of guessing wrong is higher with short selling than with traditional investing.
Because a short position is the opposite of a long position, many features are the reverse of what you might expect. The potential profit (rather than the loss) is limited to the value of the stock, but the potential loss of short selling is unlimited, which is one of the major risks of short selling.
Shorting stocks is a way to profit from falling stock prices. A fundamental problem with short selling is the potential for unlimited losses. Shorting is typically done using margin and these margin loans come with interest charges, which you have pay for as long as the position is in place.
Short-sellers bet on, and profit from, a drop in a security's price. This can be contrasted with long investors who want the price to go up. Short selling has a high risk/reward ratio: It can offer big profits, but losses can mount quickly and infinitely due to margin calls.
Long trades involve buying then selling assets to profit from an increase in the asset's price. Short trades involve selling a borrowed security and buying it back at a lower price profit from the decrease in its price. Short trades can be much riskier than long trades, so they should be left to experienced investors.
Short sellers face unique risks, such as the risk that stock loans become expensive and the risk that stock loans are recalled. We show that short selling risk affects prices among the cross-section of stocks. Stocks with more short selling risk have lower returns, less price efficiency, and less short selling.
It is widely agreed that excessive short sale activity can cause sudden price declines, which can undermine investor confidence, depress the market value of a company's shares and make it more difficult for that company to raise capital, expand and create jobs.
Short selling is difficult because you are betting against the upwards bias, at least in the stock market. Even worse, you need to pay interest for the privilege of selling short. Additionally, all markets tend to drop fast when they do fall, while most markets rise slowly and gradually.
The short seller must eventually repurchase it at the market price, losing over 1,000% or even over 10,000% of the initial investment. In actual practice, short sellers will face margin calls from their brokers before losses become greater than the liquidation value of the account.