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(Disclaimer: I'm not in finance. I'm just curious)

Some news sources were saying today that 140% of GameStop shares have been shorted. How can the journalists or anyone else know this number?

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    $\begingroup$ In the US, brokers report short positions to the exchanges. You can get short interest numbers from the NYSE and NASDAQ, though I don't know how timely they are. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 at 12:07
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If you go on Bloomberg, type in the ticker of the company that you are interested in and then type the command "SI" and hit enter (where "SI" stands for "Short Interest"), you can see the total number of shares shorted, as in the screenshot attached (the below is for GME: GameStop Corp, as of today, 28th January 2021):

I believe that Hedgefunds and other professional market participants have to disclose their short positions beyond a certain size and it then becomes a public information; this depends on local jurisdiction, for example in Europe, ESMA states that:

"significant net short positions (NSPs) in shares must be reported to the relevant competent authorities (when they reach 0.2% of the issued share capital and every 0.1% above that) and disclosed to the public (when they reach 0.5% of the issued share capital and every 0.1% above that".

I am not 100% sure how it works in the US with SCE disclosures, maybe somebody else will add an answer for the US market.

In addition, one can also see net interest in Put and Call options on the stock, which also gives you an idea of whether the market is betting long or short.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ do these rules just apply to physical short positions though? I imagine synthetic shorts from derivatives are excluded? $\endgroup$
    – Attack68
    Jan 28 at 12:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Attack68: correct. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 at 12:21

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