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On Sept. 21, columnist Terry Savage talked for an hour with legendary Chicago trading figure Leo Melamed. If you know Melamed, Chairman Emeritus of CME Group, you listened for his insights on the world today.

If you don’t know him, you were equally mesmerized by his life story as a Holocaust survivor who revolutionized futures markets twice — first by introducing financial instruments trading and then by embracing electronic trading.

Melamed on the need for the U.S. and China to coexist and compete:

“The two of us have to lead the world….In the last century the United States was the innovator of maybe 70 percent of inventions in the world. Why? Because it had an open dialogue, because it believed in the free market ideal, and China used that to become as great as they did. But now that they are in many ways a competitor to the U.S., that doesn’t make us an enemy.”

-Leo Melamed, Chairman Emeritus, CME Group

Melamed on (maybe) his next great idea:

“There probably is a way to take a pill someday that will cure us from cancer and everything else…. There ought to be some futures markets in the pharmaceutical field to lower prices on some of the drugs that we want to use and have to use, but there is no way to ensure that without a future market.”

-Leo Melamed, Chairman Emeritus, CME Group

Savage also got Melamed to share his worldview.

“Are you basically optimistic right now about America’s future?” TS

“You’re talking to the guy who escaped from the Holocaust, running from the KGB as well as the Gestapo, and coming to this country — are you kidding? I am an optimist and always will be an optimist. I can’t help it. If I could survive the world (and what) it dished out to me, then I have to stay and believe that the United States will conquer its problems. It always has and I believe it will continue to lead the world.” LM

Ready for more?

Watch the full program on demand.

Architecting into the Financial Unknown: The Life and Work of Leo Melamed

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