Everette B. Harris

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Everette B. Harris

Everette Bagby Harris was an American businessman and Chicago exchange executive who served as the president of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange from 1953 to 1978, with a brief interruption in the early '60s. Before joining the CME, Harris had been secretary of the Chicago Board of Trade.[1][2][3]

Harris was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article in 1993 about why he stayed at the CME so long. He said, "The action. That's where the action was. A floating crap game."[4]

Background

Harris was born April 18, 1913, on an 80-acre farm just outside of Norris, IL in Fulton County. He died in 1993 at the age of 80.[5]

He was married to Marguerite Solberg, whom he met while attending the University of Illinois.

His first post collegiate job was in the advertising department of Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co. He earned a weekly salary of $85.

He took a job in the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, DC and Chicago during World War II. He later served as an economist for Mandel Brothers, Inc., a large retail store on State Street in Chicago.

During and after World War II he worked for the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington and Chicago, and later as an economist for Mandel Bros. Inc., the storied retail giant on State Street.

In 1949, after graduating from the University of Chicago with a masters degree in economics, he was hired by the Chicago Board of Trade as its secretary. He stayed in that position until 1953.

In 1953, the CME hired Harris and doubled his $10,000 a year salary and made him president of the exchange.

When Harris joined the CME, exchange memberships were trading between $2000 and $4000. By 1969, after a slew of new products were introduced, a CME membership would trade at $90,000. In 1993, prior to his death, memberships were trading at $620,000.

Harris helped engineer a move of the CME to a new site in 1972, the steel-and-girder building at 444 W. Jackson Blvd on the Chicago river and right above Union Station.

He was described as a university trained economist before becoming secretary of the Chicago Board of Trade.[6]

During his tenure as president of the CME, many new products were introduced, from cattle to foreign exchange futures. Pork Bellies were launched in 1961, Cattle were introduced in 1964 and trading in chickens started in 1968.[7][8][9][10]

New products were needed at the CME because of changes in markets for some of their leading products. Butter trading was negatively impacted by government support programs. The onion futures market was outlawed by federal legislation after a price-rigging scheme rocked the exchange.

Harris lobbied hard against the bill to ban onion trading.

Education

Harris received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1935. He came to the school in in 1931 and paid for this tuition with an academic scholarship and by waiting tables at the old Southern Tea Room in Champaign.

He earned a masters in economics from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

References

  1. Chicago Mercantile Exchange Being Accused on Pork Bellies. New York Times.
  2. The Birth of FX Futures. CME Group.
  3. 15 Illinois towns you've never heard of. Pantagraph.
  4. MERC'S EX-CHIEF LOOKS AT A LIFETIME WHERE THE FUTURES ACTION WAS. Chicago Tribune.
  5. E.B. HARRIS, 80; LED MERC TO NATIONAL PROMINENCE. Chicago Tribune.
  6. The Prospects for Trading in Live Hog Futures. farmdoc.Illinois.edu.
  7. Timeline of CME Group Achievements. CME Group.
  8. TRADING IS BEGUN IN BEEF FUTURES; Activity Brisk in First Trial for Commodity on Hoof. New York Times.
  9. Who was E.B. Harris?. Biographies.net.
  10. Chicago: futures and fraud. Northern Illinois University Libraries.