Faces of the CME floor, Part II

The Opening Print
Sept. 5, 2013: The CME Group trading floor doesn’t look so empty.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the floor and how bad it has gotten.. Sure there were over 10,000 people on the floors when the CME Group purchased the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) but a lot has changed since 2007.

The subprime credit crisis hurt a lot of people’s retirement accounts when Lehman and Bear Stearns went out of business, followed by MF Global and PFG. So are all these changes stopping the action on new, combined trading floors of the CME Group?

We asked the only people with first hand knowledge: our friends and fellow traders in the pits.

MrTopStep.com is dedicated to the education and news aspect of the futures and options trading business and today we present you the MrTopStep “Faces of the Floor Part II.” My name is Danny Riley, and I have been on the trading floor for the last 35 years. Our S&P and S&P options trading desk have been part of every major stock market event since 1985.

While the floor has shrunk over the last few years, so has Wall Street. Sure electronic trading has taken over, but it hasn’t it quite  killed all the pits. And yes, we still use hand signals like we did 30 years ago.

Let me introduce you to some of our colleagues.

Faces of the S&P options: Jon Fischel [JF] and Hector Santos of Vision Financial Trading quoting up S&P options on the trading floor. “We still do a lot of business from the desk. I just wish it was busier.”
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Brian Coolie [COOL] has been filling orders in the CME’s S&P 500 futures pits for 20 years. “This is what I do. I don’t make the money I used to but I still love filling orders.”
CME S&P 500 options: TMA Trading. Keith Fracassi [TMA]. Joey Fracassi. William Kurysz. Anthony Kurysz. Eric Wojciechowski. Joseph Fortuna. Ryan Kosiek. When we asked Fracassi why he was still on the floor he replied: “Because of the people and relationships and the action of the floor. After working for myself on the floor all these years I doubt anyone would hire me!”
Meat pits: Daniel Salerno [DRS] (Hog pit before pre-open) (20 years). “It’s what I do. Until things change I am staying right where I am at.”

Eurodollar futures & options. Matthew Johnson [MKJ] – Grant Park Securities (27 years CME & CBOT) “I have been on the floor for almost 27 years. I still do OK and until that changes I am happy the floor is still open.”
Bonds: Sean Walsh [SMW] (20 years). “I still like the action of the trading floor. When the markets are moving I would rather be here than some upstairs office. There is more noise and action down here.”,
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10-yr note options: Danny Salvin [DVN] (32 yrs) filling orders in the pits and his partner Mark Stern [CBH] “We’re doing fine. While more trade may be showing up on the screen we still do a decent amount of biz.”
Soy meal and soybean oil options: Tim McElmury [TDM] (30 years) & Mike Reed [WSP] (14 years). “We are still making a good living on the floor and until the CBOT turns out the lights we’re staying put.”
Futures International LLC. The largest execution operation in the grain room. From left: Tiffany Fourkas [TF] Greg Potter [GP] Gary Sandlund President [GSS] and Dan Simandl [XDS]

Rumors of the death of the pits are greatly exaggerated

No one likes change but the traders of the CME Group are no strangers to that. As the trading pits have evolved, 99% of all futures are traded electronically and 70% of all options are traded in the open outcry markets.

From London to Singapore exchange after exchange has shut down its floors. Last week Smith Barney announced it was pulling all its employees off the floor. Morgan Stanley just took the head of futures off the floor and moved him to New York, but none of that is going to deter the few thousand people who still march to the floor everyday. Most traders and desk people have the attitude of Tim and Mike from the soy meal and oil option pit, that “Until the CME turns out the lights we are staying put.” So the next time someone says the floor is dead, tell them MrTopStep said they are dead wrong.


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