Like New York is the global focus for the stock market, Chicago is the center of the commodities world. Legends and lore need to be passed on as the new generation of electronic traders so they do not lose sight of futures markets history that made the city great.
1) The world’s first futures exchange started in 1848. The Egg and Butter Board started in 1898 as an offshoot of the Chicago Produce Exchange. It was reorganized as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1919. Agricultural contracts dominated until financials took over with the creation of the Bond futures contract in the 1970’s forever changing the game.
2) Live Hogs were renamed Lean to make the pork product more appealing as weights came down dramatically with better animal genetics. Frozen Pork Bellies stopped trading in 2011 because year-round demand for bacon changed market needs. Broiler Chicken contracts never caught on because a lack of price movement volatility didn’t make hedging necessary.
3) A Bull market is up because the animal raises it head and horns to attack. Conversely, a Bear market is down as the method of swinging arms and claws to punish foes. Chicago’s sports teams are offshoots of these exchange symbols, Cubs, Bears, and Bulls.
4) Ceres the goddess of grain on the very top of the iconic Chicago Board of Trade lacks a face because at the time of construction it wasn’t thought other buildings would ever get high enough to see her closely. Build in 1885 the LaSalle Street CBOT was Chicago’s first skyscraper and first commercial building to use electric lighting. The Ceres café inside the CBOT has the strongest liquor pour in the city according to Chicago food and drink publications.
5) Smoking used to be permissible on the exchange floor back when hats were everyday attire. In the 90’s cell phones were banned on the floor, a restriction now lifted as the technology for everybody was advanced. A message chain was formed between the main trading room and the Mid-Am exchange where two traders would yell quotes down the hall to pass price information.
6) The CME group trading pits are in the Chicago Board of Trade Building. The Board of the CME Group is headquartered are at the old Mercantile location blocks away on the river with no traders in sight. The CME group bought out the CBOT, NYMEX, COMEX, NYBOT and KCBOT moving trading online.
7) At one time the CBOT was known for the most millionaires per square foot of anywhere in the world. The immense physical space that used to house thousands of traders is so large it can hang two 747 airplanes from the ceiling. The Chicago Board Options Exchange, the world’s leading equities and index options house, started in an office at the CBOT. Disco was once king as the Soul Train dance show once taped on the 43rd floor.