From the July/August 2014 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

500 issues of Commodities/Futures

Anyone who has worked in the futures industry for any period of time knows that it is a pretty small world. This fact was brought home in researching the trader with the GCL badge who appeared on the first ever issue of Commodities magazine.

According to CME Group (NASDAQ:CME), that trader is George C. Lang who, unfortunately, passed away in 2011. The name sounded familiar and in looking at his obituary I found out why: Lang had two sons, Mike and Dan, who also traded on the Chicago Board of Trade and cleared Merchants Trading Company, the first company I worked for in the business. 

Merchants was a fun place to work. The firm had a large grain business and cleared many locals. One of my jobs was to deliver statements to all the locals on the bond floor, and Mike and Dan traded in the burgeoning 30-year bond pit. The firm had a family atmosphere and the locals, particularly the ones working in the bond pit, were young guys around the same age as me, which made it fun. Little did I know that 25 years later I would still be in the industry or that there was a connection to Futures long before I arrived here. 


Looking over 500 issues of Commodities and Futures magazine is a daunting task,
particularly as we had to examine many yellowed issues dating back to February 1972. Sometimes we forget that the technology that puts information so easily at our fingertips is a relatively new. 

This was made easier by the talented staff of writers who produced Commodities and Futures over the years who had the foresight to look back at its work on important anniversaries. I leaned on that work in putting together, “The time was right.” It was fun to relive some of the major stories from years past. In a sense the industry has been in a constant state of flux since Commodities launched. At first it was the explosion of new financial markets and international growth, later it was electronic trading, demutualization and cleared swaps trading. 

In “10 events that molded trading in the 20th century,” Darrell Jobman does a superb job in detailing the major events that propelled the growth of futures markets. 

Putting together a retrospective issue can be difficult, especially in an industry that has been so dynamic. I recall joking with my former boss Ginger Szala when she wrote in her Editor’s Note for our 35th anniversary issue, “In a sense we have been celebrating all year,” that I must have missed the celebration. It was much more like a fire drill trying to get all those profiles done, but in the end it worked out well. 

Same with this issue—I think—though we undoubtedly missed some important elements. Too much happened during 500 issues not to; but that is the fun part. You, our loyal readers, will undoubtedly point that out to us and we will work to highlight what we missed. We have digitized many of the important stories from the past (check out the story links provided in each article to find these pearls) and are in a larger process of trying to digitize our complete archives, so we welcome your feedback and suggestions regarding stories that had a significant effect on the trading world. 

We also introduce The Alpha Pages, which will serve as a larger portal of information on the alternative investment world. Our CEO Jeff Joseph has a frank discussion with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on issues of great importance to the trading community (see Senator Rand Paul, coming soon). He also looks at an innovative new market at the nexus of many of our readers’ interests: Sports and trading (See “This IPO could change sports and investing,” coming soon). 

So as we looked back over 500 issues, we also—as has been our mission—look forward. Howard Simons is once again contributing (see “Nasdaq 100 smiles during market frowns”) and Al Brooks launches a six-part trading series (see “Price action trading: The basics”).  

Special thanks go to Leo Melamed (see “A historical flashback”)—who, full disclosure, I worked for many years ago at Sakura Dellsher before my initial stint at Futures—and Richard Sandor (see “Looking forward to the next revolution”), who wrote a piece in our inaugeral issue. Both have had a huge impact on our industry, particularly in the early innovations that made Commodities magazine such a necessary and timely publication, and both have been generous with their time and feedback over the years. It is appropriate they are a part of this issue as each understand the need to tell the industry’s story and, true to their innovative natures, neither rest on their laurels but continue to innovate and push the limits of where the industry can go. 

Thanks also goes to Philip McBride Johnson, an industry giant in his own right, who has been a constant source of historical information and a regular contributor to our blog.

I also need to thank everyone who has worked on Futures over the years because it is their work that we are celebrating.

 

  

E-mail me at dcollins@futuresmag.com@Futureswriter

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