The crowded floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in March 2010 (heatingoil/Flickr)
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is courting farmers wary of hedging their bets on the futures market in the wake of the MF Global scandal.
The CME Group, which runs the Chicago Mercantile, is hoping that a new fund designed to help insure farmers in the event a brokerage firm goes bust will restore confidence in the futures markets.
The exchange wants to focus on "enhancing protections" for customer money, CME Group Executive Chairman Terry Duffy said in a release.
When derivative trading firm MF Global went bankrupt late last year regulators discovered that $1.2 billion in customer funds were missing. Because many farmers traded on the futures market through MF Global in order to lock in a price for commodities, some farmers were out hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We reported on the MF Global mess last month. For the story, I spoke with former commodities trader Harold Bradley who was mystified that the exchanges the company traded on, like the Chicago Mercantile, hadn’t immediately moved to shore up the affected clients in order to buoy market confidence.
“It is an attack on the very essential function provided by central clearing organizations and exchanges in this country,” Bradley said of the MF Global situation.
At the time, Bradley predicted that farmers and other investors would take a lot of their money out of the futures market and foresaw thousands of skittish traders. He was right about that – the CME’s trading volume dropped significantly in December 2011.
Now, it seems that the CME Group is realizing that investors aren’t planning to come back any time soon, at least not while the MF Global mess languishes unresolved.
Are you re-thinking your hedging strategy in the wake of MF Global? Are you still clawing back the funds that were taken from you? Click here to tell us your story.