So much for the free market. The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a joint move with the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, shut down short selling in hundreds of financial sector stocks “because of the essential link between their stock prices and confidence in the institution.” The SEC prohibition, effective as of September 19 and expiring—at least for now—on October 2, includes the securities of 799 companies, from Atlantic American Corp. to Zenith National Insurance Corp. Other countries are following suit. Will the authorities next require that investors go long on the financials to rebuild confidence?

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