CME Group uses political clout to guard lucrative monopoly on futures exchanges


CME Group: Political Clout Counts

By Gregory Meyer
Financial Times, London
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Terry Duffy is wearing a dark suit, a Movember moustache-beard combination and gold cufflinks shaped in the octagonal logo of his company, CME Group. He sits back in his office beside the Chicago river and glances at framed snapshots on some shelves: his twin sons, the actor Mark Wahlberg, three former US presidents, a grinning Hillary Clinton and himself.

"I've been blessed to know a lot of interesting people and become friends with them. I think they like my no-nonsense attitude. I don't bullshit people," he says.

Mr Duffy's blunt manner and deep understanding of Washington politics have helped CME emerge from the financial crisis as one of the most lucrative US businesses. As Wall Street banks scale back, the world's biggest exchange group racks up operating margins of 60 per cent. This ranks CME among the three most profitable members of the S&P 500 index, alongside Visa, the card network, and Gilead Sciences with its $1,000-a-day hepatitis pill.

But the Chicago colossus also faces challenges to its business model. As its wealth grows, the brokers and traders on whom CME depends for liquidity are chafing under cost pressures. The Obama administration wants a cut of its transaction revenue to boost the budget of the group’s main regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The clout of Mr Duffy, CME's 57-year-old executive chairman and president, whose flattering emails to Mrs Clinton were recently released by the State Department, is being put to the test. ...

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