Suppose there are 100k shares issued. Some traders decide to naked short 50k. Actual holders of the shares say, "Oh crap. Half the company is for sale - better dump my shares while I still can." So they put up a total of 75k for sale.
Now 50k of the 75k of actual shares need to be purchased by the people selling short, but if you look at the total number available for purchase at that point, you'll see 125k shares for sale - more than were ever issued.
Of course, this same issue can bite the short sellers in a "short squeeze". Suppose we own 60k of the shares in the company. If we see someone selling 50k, we know they are doing a naked short, and we should buy it. When we do, we will own 110% of the company. Obviously, to make things go to 100%, the short sellers need to buy the remaining 10% of the shares from you. You get to pick the price.
* Edited to add - you can see a recent example of a short squeeze in Volkswagen around October 2008: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE49R3I920081028
With naked short sales, you're removing the supply restriction, making it possible to continue to pressure the stock downward beyond where it should go in a balanced market. This sort of pressure can cause a panic among investors in the company and become a self-fulfilling cycle - once a company's stock is pushed below a certain level, many investors will dump the stock, regardless of the fundamentals of the company. It's not a cheap maneuver, but it's potentially phenomenally profitable for the people committing the short, and it's totally devastating to the company under attack. It also doesn't represent balanced market sentiment, nor the actual value of the company, and the company can be forced to take dramatic measures due to circumstances for which it wasn't to blame. It's a potentially highly destructive practice and banned for a very good reason.
If the company is now worth $1 and owns anything of value then it's going to be bought and asset stripped. It may not actually be out of business when it gets run down by short sellers for their own profit but it's effect is going to be pretty much the same - unless there's suddenly a lack of greedy business prospectors :0)
I suspect that the company isn't really going to be able to raise new capital any longer either (or will find it very hard) but don't know enough to confirm that.
First, most companies fund new ventures via loans, etc., and the price of a company's stock and the company's overall valuation have a big impact on the terms a company can get on a loan - both how big a loan they can get and at what rate. Naked shorting materially worsens a company's ability to raise capital.
Second, most companies are operating on rolling credit lines - this is just a reality of doing business: Invoice Monday, get payment Wednesday, bills are due Tuesday. A company's stock dropping dramatically can cause these credit lines to be yanked, which can demolish otherwise solvent businesses.
The https://loom.cc/faq system avoids this sort of nonsense altogether. An asset type such as 2fcb2b81bb96bb51cec88edcb4b9a480 might represent a real underlying asset being traded, but only the true issuer of that asset could create new units of it.
Anyone desiring to sell that asset short would have to create a brand new distinct asset type such as 6b17a53d425dbb15f933b98ace93e587. This new asset type would represent just that one individual's liability to pay back the original asset. So the new asset type would in effect be a simple loan contract.
With this approach, the supply of the original asset type 2fcb2b81bb96bb51cec88edcb4b9a480 remains completely unaffected, and nobody needs to panic.
Or, more conventionally, visit the loom.cc web site and send an email from there (click Contact).
Suppose there are 100k shares issued. Some traders decide
to naked short 50k. Actual holders of the shares say, "Oh
crap. Half the company is for sale - better dump my shares
while I still can." So they put up a total of 75k for