This week’s Economist has a rarity: an article taking a look at the CME with the tagline “the biggest financial exchange you’ve never heard of.” Well, maybe it’s because we’re in the futures business and live in Chicago – but we would venture to guess most readers of the Economist probably have heard of the CME… right?
The article itself is basically just a history lesson charting the rise of the CME. The Economist attributes its success to a virtuous cycle caused by the “network effect.” In other words, traders are attracted to the market with the most liquidity… so the exchange with the most traders gets more traders, and becomes ever more attractive to new traders.
The article also points to several cases of excellent timing, especially when it came to the shift to index and interest rate futures, as well as the CME’s success at capturing the digital trading market (and subsequently consuming its former competitors. That’s not to say the CME is unassailable. We’ve been taking note of the competition between the CME and ICE, particularly when it comes to the rift between WTI (West Texas Intermediate) and Brent Crude Oil contracts. But as it stands, the CME is becoming increasingly important to the global economy, eclipsing the NYSE in terms of market valuation. It may still trail behind the world’s stock exchange in terms of attention, but coverage like this suggests that advantage might not stand for much longer.
Oh, and while we’re at it – that sure looks like a contrarian magazine cover for the all time highs stock market for anyone who believes in magazine cover indicators.