Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Daniel Radus, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Matthew Lessig, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Tyler Bradway, Ph.D.


The breakers tripped. Again. The breakers, a mandatory halt to trading on the floor of the stock exchange in response to the S&P falling more than 7% from the previous close. This was instituted after the Crash of 1987 to calm the markets before trading is allowed to resume. They are supposed to mitigate a drastic crash. They have only ever triggered once before, in 1997. Not for the tech bubble. Not even in the crash of 2008. All trading stops for fifteen minutes when the Level One breaker trips. If it drops further in the same day, the Level Two breaker trips. Fortunately, a Level Two breaker has never tripped. However, this was the fourth time the Level One breakers tripped since the beginning of March alone. Clients panic was palpable. What little money some of them had was quickly evaporating.

The drive home felt almost apocalyptic; the streets barren. State and local governments mandated shutdowns, so aside from police cars aggressively patrolling the streets, the drive was more reminiscent of a drive home at 3AM after a night shift than a bright and sunny afternoon. What would normally be a quick stop to the grocery store to pick up a few staples became an excursion that lasted several hours with no guarantee you would come home with what you needed. The shelves in many stores were bare. Stores were rationing what was left. Panic induced buying led to toilet paper, paper towels, and spray cleaners being snatched up in bulk, and some being resold online. One man bought, and attempted to sell, 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer for up to $70 a bottle when he purchased them for only $1 a piece. A novel virus emerged. No one knew how it was transmitted. No one knew what the symptoms were, only that it was moving swiftly, debilitating those infected, and killing scores of people. News outlets Herrick 2 reported mass graves where coroners were interring bodies wearing hazmat suits. Only select industries were considered essential: retail, energy, emergency services, to name a few, and mine: finance.