“Typically this would be the kind of thing that would be handled at the exchange level,” says Fisch, who notes that Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange have the power to suspend trading if there’s too much manipulation or too much volatility. “That way all investors are on equal footing.” At least one state regulator is calling for the NYSE to halt trading of GameStop shares for a 30-day period.

National regulators are already on high alert about the prospect of a market crash. But they too face uncomfortable tradeoffs in the GameStop era: In the face of a fragile economic recovery, the consequences of letting markets run hot are just as daunting as forcing bubbles to burst.

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