How synchronized are short sellers? We examine a unique data set on the distribution of profits across a stock’s short sellers and find evidence of substantial dispersion in the initiation of their positions. Consistent with this dispersion reflecting “synchronization risk,” that is, uncertainty among short sellers about when others will short sell, more dispersed short selling signals i) greater stock overpricing and ii) longer delays in overpricing correction. These effects are prevalent even among stocks facing low short-selling costs or other explicit constraints. Overall, our findings provide novel cross-sectional evidence of synchronization problems among short sellers and their pricing implications.
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© THE AUTHOR(S), 2022. PUBLISHED BY CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS ON BEHALF OF THE MICHAEL G. FOSTER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON.