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In September 2008, as the stock market began its precipitous slide, federal regulators abruptly moved to ban short sales of financial stocks. The hope was to protect companies whose stock was falling through the floor - pushed, critics said, by short sellers betting against the companies' shares. Many analysts thought that not only had the ban not shielded the companies as intended, but the further slide showed that short selling wasn't quite the villain some regulators believed. The ban expired on Oct. 8, 2008, but it was later blamed for several unintended and unwanted market effects, particularly on market strategies such as hedge funds that depend on short selling.
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