Short Squeezes only exist in the minds of naïve long share holders. As long as the shorts have the ability to make a virtually unlimited supply of counterfeit shares, they can usually meet the buy-side demand and keep a lid on the stock price — or, better yet, drop it.
It is myth to think the shorts have to cover in order to realize a profit. While this may apply to small investors, it does not apply to the broker dealers. Each day their short position is “marked to market.” For example, if a broker dealer shorts 100 shares at $10, the liability in that account is $10 x 100 or $1000. So long as the stock price is $10, the money remains in the account. If the stock price drops to $9, the account is marked to market, which reduces the required funds in the account to $900. The $100 that is freed up can be drawn out by the broker on a daily basis. Conversely, if the stock price goes to $11, he must add $100 to the account. The equation for the broker becomes: Do I counterfeit more shares, drive the price down and take out more profit or do I stop counterfeiting, watch the price rise and add more money to my account? Morality rarely enters into the decision-making process.
Situations where the broker dealers join with large hedge funds to attack a small to mid-size company are less likely to see covering, even if the stock price gets away from them on a short term basis. Good company news or earnings are shorted into keeping a lid on the stock while driving down the multiple. They are very patient, well financed and have the ability to wait until the company stumbles, then they attack. They can also attempt to hurt the company's business and earnings utilizing the devices explained in this text. For these reasons short squeezes in emerging companies almost never occur.
When attacks involve very large victim companies that are extremely solid and profitable, the shorts may cover these positions because the stock of these companies is too widely traded to manipulate for a long period of time. The short attack on Apple that occurred in early 2008 is likely a case in point.
The practice of wholesale counterfeiting of stock, that has made short squeezes obsolete, began in earnest in the mid-nineties. Initially attacks were done in the fringe markets, i.e. over the counter or companies that appeared to be easy victims. It was so easy, and so much money was flowing into hedge funds /broker dealers, that the game was expanded and moved up to the fringe exchanges, particularly those whose rules and enforcement apparatus allowed the manipulations to be done from the shadows. The regional exchanges became a haven for shorts that continues to this day. Up to this point the overwhelming majorities of companies were too weak to fight back and frequently went out of business.
The attacks moved up the exchange “food chain” and became increasingly large and vicious, targeting good companies that happened to stumble following a favorable run up in stock price. By 2008, targets included companies such as Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Apple.
This degradation of our capital markets could only exist because of the seriously flawed and compromised enforcement apparatus that starts with the Congress and ends with the broker dealers who are violating, on a large scale basis, the rules they are supposed to be enforcing. Even if the SEC wanted to aggressively investigate large-scale manipulative trading, they are seriously hampered because they are still a paper-based organization. Requested trading records are delivered in the form of truckloads of paper tickets, with the promise of more truckloads if need be. The electronic capabilities of the SEC to receive, process and analyze data is decades behind Wall Street's.