Murray Borowitz

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Murray Borowitz

Murray Borowitz (1920-1973) was a trader who has been credited by some as the true creator of financial futures contracts because of his role in introducing foreign exchange (FOREX) futures contracts at the New York-based International Commercial Exchange on April 23, 1970.[1] That was two years before foreign currency futures were launched and successfully developed at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).[2][3]

Borowitz is also said to have suggested the creation of a futures contract on a stock market index such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). Despite his contributions to the industry, Borowitz was never given a title of honor as the “founder” of financial futures, like Leo Melamed, or the “father” of financial futures like Dr. Richard Sandor. The contracts with which he was directly involved initially saw only limited success.

Borowitz traced his roots back to the trucking business. He'd become a member of the New York Produce Exchange and approached the exchange with the idea of financial futures.[4] He was made the non-executive chairman of the exchange - eventually renamed the International Commercial Exchange -to help make the contract happen. In 1970, he was listed by the New York Times as president of the exchange in an article about the trading of money futures.[5]

In his book "Escape To the Futures," Melamed characterized the exchange as an "old gasping" exchange that had "managed to turn itself into a glorified currency exchange." Melamed had toured the exchange with concern over potential competition with contracts that were under development in Chicago. Melamed wrote, however, that when he arrived at the exchange he saw that "on one wall was a listing of the currency contracts" but that the place was "as quiet as a library reading room - it was deserted." He characterized the New York exchange's product as "tiny," as well as "rudimentary" with the size of the contracts too small for commercial use.[6]

It's also believed that with the Bretton Woods agreement still in effect, the exchange's attempt at listing currency futures may have been a bit premature.[7]

In the book "A Sesquicentennial Look at the Chicago Board of Trade," William D. Falloon wrote that Borowitz, who "originally developed the concept of a futures contract on a basket of stocks" and led the New York Produce Exchange's effort to petition the Securities and Exchange Commission to trade it, didn't stand a chance with his proposal to regulators for that product. The contract idea was presented in 1968 - just a short time after the Great Salad Oil Scandal set off by Tino DeAngelis cost the banks and companies involved upwards of $100 million.[8][9]

Education

Resources

  • Market Maker: A Sesquicentennial Look at the Chicago Board of Trade. By William D. Falloon. Chicago: Chicago Board of Trade, 1998.
  • Leo Melamed: Escape to the Futures. By Leo Melamed with Bob Tamarkin. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996.

References

  1. The Birth of FX Futures. Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
  2. Simpson's Leader-Times from Kittanning, Pennsylvania · Page 4. Newspapers.com.
  3. CHICAGO’S DECADE OF INNOVATION: 1972-1982. World Federation of Exchanges.
  4. Negotiating a Market, Performing Theory: The Historical Sociology of a Financial Derivatives Exchange. Social Science Research Network.
  5. EXCHANGE TO DEAL IN MONEY FUTURES. New York Times.
  6. Leo Melamed: Escape to the Futures (1996). Leo Melamed.com.
  7. Trading Organizations. CFTC.
  8. Market Maker: A Sesquicentennial Look at the Chicago Board of Trade (1998). Amazon.com.
  9. Justice Steps In. Time/CNN.