Buckle up: The stock market’s roller-coaster ride won’t likely end anytime soon — and the government has no plans to shut it down so it can cool off.
Despite chatter this week that bigwig investors are quietly pressuring the White House to temporarily shut down the markets — an emergency measure that hasn’t been taken since Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 — top government officials say the idea isn’t being taken seriously.
“It would create more harm than good,” a top White House adviser told The Post.
Indeed, a Wednesday brainstorming session between President Trump, White House officials and bank CEOs was “reasonably optimistic,” according to the source, who attended the meeting.
The White House, which is instead weighing measures including a payroll tax cut, continues to believe that media outlets are overblowing the coronavirus threat and that the markets will rebound when the number of cases levels off, the source added.
The concern, the official added, is that such a move could spur still more panic selling — a worry that’s shared by plenty of investors.
“In regard to shutting down the markets, I’m not hearing that,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Friday morning. “Actually, I’m hearing the exact opposite from the professionals. We intend to keep the markets open. That’s a sign of confidence to people.”
Not everyone agrees.
With shares having slumped into bear market territory in record time — capped by the Dow’s 10 percent drop on Thursday that marked the worst trading session since the Black Monday crash of 1987 — some investors have quietly suggested it’s time for a break.
Suspending trading for a number of days, the argument goes, could spare stocks from getting bludgeoned further as continued headlines about disruptions from the coronavirus continue.
“I think they may have to do it,” one prominent hedge fund manager told The Post on Friday. “I am hoping there is a little bounce to the market so they do not need to. But I’m a bear.”
Still, as of Friday — with stocks finally getting a bounce after Thursday’s carnage — the majority opinion on Wall Street appears to be siding with the White House.
Eric Marshall, director of research at Hodges Capital Management, says it’s likely too late for shutting down trading to do any good. Likewise, Marshall frets that closing the market could worsen “hysteria” over the coronavirus rather than soothe it.
“I think two thirds of the damage has probably been done as far as the shock of the market,” he said. “Keeping them open probably does project some confidence.”
To Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, circuit-breakers like those the S&P 500 tripped twice this week are enough to calm the market during severe selloffs.
“If we suddenly have some leader in this country close it down, I think that’s gonna create more fear than confidence,” Paulsen said.
Still, if the government did make such a move in the coming days, it wouldn’t be the first time. In October 2012, the markets shut for two days after Hurricane Sandy ravaged New York City. The markets also shut for three days following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The New York Stock Exchange, meanwhile, confirmed to The Post that it will perform a physical deep clean of its trading floor after the closing bell on Friday.
“The NYSE is carefully monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and has robust contingency plans, tested regularly, to enable continuous operation of the NYSE exchanges should any facilities be impacted,” a NYSE spokesperson said in a statement.
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