Market Power in the Securities Lending Market

We document the presence of market power in the equity securities lending market and evaluate its impact on different investor groups and valuations. Our analysis reveals high market concentration, non-competitive fees, and low inventory utilization in the cross-section of stocks. Motivated by this evidence, we develop and estimate a dynamic asymmetric-information model that sheds light on the benefits of this current market structure for both security lenders and short sellers. We find that lending fee income raises shares lenders’ equity valuations by 1.5% for large-cap, low-fee stocks, by up to 25% for small-cap stocks, and by even more than 100% for nano-cap stocks. Our model yields estimates of the distribution of alphas from shorting different segments of the cross-section of stocks, indicating that fees reduce short sellers’ profits by about 60%.

Short-selling market power custodian lenders