Traders Walk Out Of The CME En Masse After A Controversial Trade

CME Trader

Here’s something interesting that happened in options pits in Chicago today.

Dow Jones is reporting that at the CME Group about 95% of the independent floor traders (aka “locals”) staged a walkout boycotting pit-trading options of Eurodollar futures on Friday.

Eurodollar futures are the most actively traded interest rate product at the exchange, the report said.

Here’s why they’re ticked off [via Dow Jones’ Newswires] (emphasis added)

The protest follows a massive block options trade performed in Eurodollar futures on Thursday. Block trades are privately negotiated transactions performed off the trading floor, but cleared by the exchange, and reported minutes later on the CME website.

The locals were upset because they weren’t able to participate in the trade, brokers said.

We’re reaching out to our trader contacts in Chicago for more on this story.

“This has been going on for years,” one trader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Business Insider in a telephone interview.  “The pit traders aren’t privy to the information and that’s the biggest gripe.”

The problem, he explained, is block trades are not in real-time and that there’s a delay that lasts several minutes so “you are so behind the curve.”  

“When you get blindsided or T-boned ‘What just traded? Sweet Jesus!’  The delay — minutes by minutes — people can lose a lot of money.” 

He explained that it’s not a level playing field for the traders in a pit because it’s “not a transparent market.”

“What are they doing? They’re just patsies making markets.  This is not what open outcry markets are about.” 

What’s more is the trader we spoke to said the Eurodollar is the reason it’s picking up steam today. 

“The Eurodollar is the busiest pit with the most volume.  As much as traders bitched and moaned, now the Eurodollar with the media present really made a splash,” the trader told us.

Here’s something interesting we noticed. Two other traders we spoke to had similar comments about the locals’ actions today comparing floor traders to “dinosaurs.”  

Here’s one response:

“Dumb? Dunno but this dinosaur left the tar pit a long time ago
Where r they going? Cog hill?”

Here’s another.

“I think it’s just a sign of the times that the floor trader is probably becoming a dinosaur,” an independent commodities trader told us.  “It’s the last bastion in the pit.  Option locals make money off the bid-ask.  In theory, if they manage positions they get paid on volume and when volume doesn’t come to the pit, their ability to make profit is hindered.  It’s a sign that the pit trader is rapidly becoming extinct.”

In the meantime, check out CNBC’s Rick Santelli discuss today’s protests on the “Santelli Exchange.” 

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