The VIX, a gauge of fear and panic on Wall Street, hit 82.69 on Monday — bringing it to territory unseen since the worst of the financial crisis in 2008. Oil prices tanked 10 percent — after a severe plunge last week — as traders bet the virus will ignite a global recession that sharply reduces demand for fuel.
The massive sell-offs have led to suggestions by market professionals that regulators may have to take dramatic steps seen during the Great Depression and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That could include shuttering Wall Street — perhaps for days — until more is known about the direction of the coronavirus spread in the United States and until Washington comes up with a massive, bipartisan policy response to shore up flagging industries and direct money straight into the pockets of American citizens losing work as they remain shuttered in their homes at the direction of the government officials.
For now, Securities and Exchange Commissioner Jay Clayton pledged to keep markets open, despite the waves of panicked selling. “Markets should continue to function through times like this,” he told CNBC. Still, many traders expect that if the market plunges several more thousand points, and trips more circuit breakers that temporarily halt trading, the administration could be forced to simply shut Wall Street down.