How shorting stocks is like hunting wildebeest

The Whitney Tilson on Netflix story reminded me of an analogy Andrew Schmitt once shared with me:

I had a very well known and experienced investor explain to me once what shorting was like.

Imagine you are in the African bush, hunting Wildebeest. You see your target and you put a round into the animal right between the eyes. It turns and starts charging at you. You put another right into its chest. But it’s still coming, even faster now while you frantically reload. You hit the creature twice again, square, and now it has slowed down… but is still charging.

You are out of ammo.

Rather than run, you stand there and prepare to kill the animal with your bare hands. Just then it collapses right at your feet, dead.

I guess Tilson, as most would, bolted upon running out of ammo. Now he’s picking up the poor wounded thing and urging it back into the bush.