CME Group in 2019
Chicago-based CME Group is the world's largest futures and options marketplace, with annual trading volume of over 4.8 billion contracts in 2018. This case is set in late 2019, as heightened perceptions of risk stemming from the U.S.-China trade war are driving record trading volumes of agricultural futures. CME Group leads the agricultural futures market, but changing global dynamics are raising new questions about the security of its competitive position. With roots dating to the 1850s, CME Group became the market leader by developing liquid markets for reliable products tied to U.S. agricultural production. But the U.S. no longer dominates global grain and oilseed production and trade, raising questions about whether U.S.-domiciled futures and options will remain relevant globally. Other pressures on CME Group include the U.S. political environment-there is talk of taxing futures trades-and potential competition from Chinese futures exchanges. How should the management team adjust their strategy? While this case focuses on CME Group's agricultural products business, some of the questions at play-e.g., about the role of speculators, the usefulness of a financial transactions tax, and the positioning of price discovery in commodity source markets versus destination markets-apply to other lines of business such as foreign exchange or precious metals.