WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Last Call for Wheat Trading in KC

Jun 27, 2013

For 157 years, the price of most wheat grown on the plains has been set by the Kansas City Board of Trade. That will soon come to an end.

In October 2012, Chicago-based CME Group acquired the Kansas City Board of Trade. Operations move to Chicago as of July 1 – and the last call on the Kansas City trading floor takes place on Friday, June 28.

Jac T.Bowen constructed 'Sheaves of Wheat' for the exterior of the Board of Trade building in Kansas City.
Credit Julie Denesha/KCUR

Harold Bradley, who has a long affiliation with the KCBT, said he wasn’t surprised when Chicago’s CME Group, which also owns the Chicago and New York Mercantile Exchanges and the Chicago Board of Trade, bought Kansas City’s exchange for $126 million.

"Money moves electronically," Bradley said. "And I can reach you immediately, if I’m a buyer of May wheat, and you’re a seller of May wheat, I don’t need to send an order to a stinking floor: your order is on a number of electronic venues and it trades out.

"So what that means is you have massive excess infrastructure. That used to serve the trading. It’s not that it was never important – it was vital, vital! But now, it’s expensive real estate."

Bradley started an investment career in the early 1980s as a floor trader at the Board of Trade. He went on to work at American Century, and then the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (he retired as CIO in 2012).

The Board of Trade’s real estate, the building at 48th and Main, is up for sale with the acquisition by CME.

Laura Spencer reported on the story for Harvest Public Media.  You can read more and listen to the radio story on the Harvest Public Media website.