The call to close financial markets getting louder from top investors

The call to close financial markets getting louder from top investors

As the coronavirus outbreak rages on and worldwide cases top 200,000, some asset managers are arguing that financial markets should be closed. Business Insider reports in its article The call to close financial markets is getting louder from top investors. But authorities say it 'makes no sense' that even amid the growing calls, authorities say that it doesn't make sense to shutter markets. On a Monday conference call with new Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, some top asset managers said that financial markets should close for two weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic, Justin Baer of The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter. 

The call included senior executives from some of the largest asset managers in the world, such as Vanguard Group, BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Bank of New York Mellon, according to the report. Several executives spoke of a potential shutdown on the call, which covered topics such as the state of markets and the financial industry, on Bailey's first day as BOE governor Monday, The Journal reported. 

The report could not confirm which executives wanted to close the markets and which want them to stay open. The call to shut US markets comes during a time of increased volatility due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the last few weeks, stocks have whiplashed as emergency actions by the Federal Reserve and the White House failed to significantly calm investor nerves. 

On Tuesday, stocks rebounded following the worst day of trading since 1987 on Monday on the potential for massive stimulus from the Trump administration and additional emergency measures from the Fed. But in trading overnight, futures fell again sharply and even hit a limit down level that halted trading. 

Still, many authorities including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have since argued that closing markets is not necessary. 

"We believe in keeping the markets open," Mnuchin said Tuesday during a press conference at the White House. "We may get to a point where we shorten the hours if that's something they need to do. But Americans should know we are going to do everything to make sure that they have access to the money in their banks, to the money in their 401(k)s, and to the money in stocks."

US stock markets including the New York Stock Exchange closed following the terrorist attacks in September 2001, but that was due to issues with technology, Mnuchin said. Markets were also closed in 2012 during Superstorm Sandy, according to The Journal report. 

Some authorities say that even shortening hours of trading, as Mnuchin suggested, is the wrong call during the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Shorter hours make no sense," CME Group Chairman and CEO Terry Duffy said in a Tuesday statement. "Financial markets are critical to managing risk and ensuring the resilience of the U.S. and global economies. Therefore, they must remain open, especially during this unprecedented crisis when news, information and events are changing at such a rapid pace."

In addition, shortening hours would not combat the heightened volatility financial markets have seen lately, according to Duffy. Instead, it could increase volatility as investors turn to other venues outside of the US when developments occur, he said.


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