The unthinkable: Is it time to shut down the stock market?

Wall Street is facing a grim question as stock prices plunge on most days with no end in sight: Is it time to shut down the market for a while?

The debate over whether to pause market trading has intensified over the past two weeks, as much of the economy has ground to a halt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Uncertainty about the depth of the sudden economic slump and the government’s response have caused the value of stocks and other financial instruments to gyrate wildly. Stock plunges this month have triggered four mandatory breaks amid a punishing series of trading runs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed another 3 percent on Monday and has fallen more than 30 percent over the past month as the crisis unfolded, with companies losing billions of dollars in market value.

Even lawmakers have started suggesting it’s time for Wall Street to press pause to help calm the waters.

“Maybe close a day or two,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on MSNBC on Thursday, raising concerns about so-called short-sellers — those who bet on stocks to fall — taking advantage of the declining market. “It’s not an industry that we have to have.”

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