Corrupt financial deals undermine American agriculture

Posted by Christine, August 15, 2011

Family Farm Defenders examines financial speculation and its effects on farmers and agriculture:

A small trading elite also heads to work each day in Chicago — their job: trying to beat the market on everything from soybeans and carbon credits to fertilizer and timber. Founded in 1898 as the Chicago Butter and Egg Board, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has since grown into the world’s largest privatized trading clearinghouse. In 2002 the CME began issuing its own stock, and by 2007 acquired the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) for $8 billion as one of its designated contract markets (DCMs).

Within a year, the CME Group bought out another rival, the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) for $8.9 billion, and later absorbed the Dow Jones Indexes. By the end of 2008, the CME was posting over $2.5 billion in annual revenue, handling over a billion contracts worth $1,000-plus trillion dollars.

While some bidding is still done by humans in the “pit,” over 70 percent of CME trading is now quietly conducted by algorithms through its Globex electronic platform. Craig Donohue, the current CEO of the CME, took home almost $44 million in compensation over the last five years, which — according to Forbes — places him among the wealthiest 400 Americans.

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