Leo Melamed fled Nazi occupied Poland as a child with his family during World War II. After two years and a journey spanning three continents the family arrived safely in the United States.
While studying law at John Marshall, Melamed worked as a runner for Merrill Lynch on the floor of the CME. He received his JD in 1955. However, he became fascinated by commodities trading and gave up the practice of law to become a full-time trader. Elected to the CME board in 1968, Melamed looked to improve the CME’s outdated rule book and diversify the products available for trading.
In 1969 he was named chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Melamed is credited with pioneering the introduction of cash settlement of futures contracts, breaking from the traditional requirement of physical delivery. This paved the way for the trading of interest rate and stock index futures products. In 1972 the CME launched currency futures and created the International Monetary Market (IMM) creating the first futures market for financial instruments.
During Melamed’s time as chairman, the CME introduced many new financial instruments, including futures on US Treasury Bills and Eurodollars. In 1982, the CME introduced the first stock index futures.
In 1987, he lead the introduction of Globex, the world’s first electronic futures trading system.
In 1991 he founded Melamed & Associates, a global markets consulting organization of which he is chairman and chief executive officer.