Eurodollar futures contract open 1981

Eurodollars futures open
Opening day of eurodollar futures trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on December 9, 1981

The eurodollar futures contract is over 37 years old and having traded it for about half it’s (and my own) lifetime thus far, I was quite pleased to obtain this roll of film which documented the opening trading day of the contract at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on December 9, 1981. There’s an issue embedding the file so click this link HERE to see the entire film roll of photos which will open up the uploaded 41MB pdf file.

When the LIBOR based contract was launched, the interest rate was over 13% which is pretty much unthinkable now considering the current environment of zero or negative rates across the globe. Not only is the volatility unimaginable with 13% interest rates but I can only think that the bid ask spreads were wide enough to drive a truck through in that trading era. Meanwhile as I write this, the size in front month eurodollars is 70k x 100k (including a single order of 30k on the offer). Another stat I can throw out there is according to my historical data, eurodollars had about 3.5 million open interest when I started as a clerk for some local traders there in 2000 and that ballooned to over 17 million a year ago but is down to about 12.5 million currently.

This FRED chart shows the LIBOR rate going back to the 1970s and illustrates the downward trend in rates since the day pictured, with a lot of credit due to the eurodollar contract and other financial futures, which presented hedging opportunities and reduced uncertainty to the capital markets.

One of the things I found funny was that when I went into the eurodollar pit as a 22 year old to trade, there were a lot of old guys who are pictured in some of these photos as young guys. A small amount of people are also pictured wearing the pinback button which was given out to commemorate the contract launch. Pictured below is one that I have in my collection:

ED futures launch button
Eurodollar futures contract launch button on December 9, 1981 from Chicago Mercantile Exchange

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