Interactive Brokers brings the stock loan marketplace to the independent trader

If you trade with Interactive Brokers and have over $100,000 in your account, read on, because Interactive Brokers just made it easier to short sell. If not, tough luck, although IB still has great short stock availability. See my previous tutorial on how to borrows shares of stock to short different brokers.

First, if you have over $100,000 at IB and do not have portfolio margin, you will have to sign up for it to access IB’s new stock borrowing system. Traders with under $100,000 in equity are not eligible for portfolio margin.

Interactive Brokers just unveiled access to the AQS stock loan marketplace. This allows short sellers to borrow shares directly from stock lenders at auctions that occur every 15 minutes throughout the trading day (from 6:45am until 2:45pm EST), bypassing the standard, opaque broker to broker share lending market. Short sellers can see exactly what interest rate they will pay for hard to borrow shares and once share are borrowed they can be shorted whenever, allowing the short seller with foresight to borrow shares in anticipation of selling them short later in the day or the next day. The shares remain borrowed until the short seller returns the shares or until the lender recalls the share. I am not sure whether the shares can be shorted, covered, and then re-shorted throughout the day.

I did not learn of this new system until Friday night after the market closed, so I have not been able to test it. I did try different symbols in the system and it appears that OTC BB stocks are not supported. Some Nasdaq smallcap stocks were not available, while others were. I will be testing out the system by borrowing some shares Monday; Tuesday I will send those on my email list (subscribe using the box on the right hand side of this page) a video tutorial of how to set this feature up and how to use it.

If you wish to try to figure out the stock lending system on your own, here are the directions. The stock lending system integrates perfectly with TWS, IB’s desktop software; I do not believe that it is available to the weirdos who use IB’s web trading (you know who you are, Tim Sykes).

Also note that while I and most of my readers love short selling, those of you who are long-term investors (particularly those of you who are stupid enough to own heavily-shorted crap companies like OSTK) can make money by lending your shares using the AQS system.

Here is an image of the stock borrow page; it is confusing and complicated so I again recommend signing up to my email list so that you can see the video I will make of me using the system Monday.

See this video I recorded as I tried to use the AQS stock borrow/loan marketplace.

Disclosure: No positions in any stocks mentioned in this post. I use and love Interactive Brokers, although their customer service is horrid. I have a disclosure policy and you can find all my disclaimers there as well; those disclosure & disclaimers are incorporated by reference into this post.

16 thoughts on “Interactive Brokers brings the stock loan marketplace to the independent trader”

    1. lol don’t worry, Tim. It is all part of the plan. Anyway, there are may be five people that read this blog who have $100k+ in their IB account.

  1. IF OTCBB stocks are not supported I am not sure this is going to be such an amazing benefit…..but time will tell….thanks for trying it out for us Reaper….

  2. Yeah usually when I have problems with borrows it’s with OTCBB and pink sheet stocks. I rarely have problem with NASDAQ stocks; if IB doesn’t have borrows, Genesis usually does.

  3. I disagree with Yngvai & Jamal — this could be incredibly useful, at least for me. I can think of more than a few stocks Nasdaq I couldn’t find at IB/TOS/Sogo over the last few months. Furthermore, I prefer to trade through IB because I like its platform and I have most of my money here. So the ability to get more stocks here (and not at TOS or Sogo) will be useful to me. Furthermore, the ability to pre-borrow will be great for those times when I may want to wait to short but IB has only a small number of shares to short; that way I avoid the risk of them running out of shares.

  4. Oh and Jamal … plenty of hedge funds short hard to borrow stocks, like OSTK and CIT.

    As to OTC BB stocks, they’ll never be easy to short no matter what, because they usually have a tiny float or all the shares are controlled by insiders.

  5. Jamal, there are plenty of hard to borrow stocks that are fairly large and liquid. Back in 2000 there were plenty of large-cap stocks that were hard to borrow. The money IB makes on even a couple small hedge funds playing CIT and similar stocks is much greater than what they make from thousands of penny stock traders with $10,000 in equity.

  6. “As to OTC BB stocks, they’ll never be easy to short no matter what, because they usually have a tiny float or all the shares are controlled by insiders.


    1. No, it is a stock loan marketplace so you lend your shares at whatever rate you want. Obviously no one will borrow them unless the rate is low enough. So the rate will be whatever the market for shares in your particular stock will bear.

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