Leo Melamed is the chairman emeritus of CME Group (formerly Chicago Mercantile Exchange) and a pioneer of financial futures.  He is a current board member of CME Group and chairman of its Strategic Steering Committee. 
Melamed, an attorney by profession, became chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1969. In 1972, under his leadership, the CME created the International Monetary Market (IMM), the world's first financial futures exchange, and launched currency futures. In the years that followed, Melamed led the CME and IMM in the creation of a number of financial instruments, including futures on US Treasury bills in 1976, Eurodollars in 1981, and stock index futures in 1982.
In 1987, Melamed spearheaded the creation and introduction of Globex, the world's first electronic trading system, and became its founding chairman.
Twenty years after their inception, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Merton Miller, named financial futures as "the most significant innovation of the past two decades." At the close of 1999, the former editor of the Chicago Tribune, named Melamed, "among the ten most important Chicagoans in business of the 20th Century."
In 1991 he founded his own consulting firm, Melamed & Associates, of which he is chairman and chief executive officer. He formerly was a member of the global markets advisory committee of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)  and has served as a special advisor on futures markets to governments worldwide. Melamed serves on the prestigious Chinese International Advisory Council of Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).
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Melamed was born in Bialystok, Poland. The family name at the time was Melamdovich. In 1939, they were captured by the Nazis at the outbreak of World War II. Their escape took two years and spanned three continents. In 1940, the Japanese consul general to Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara, issued his family a life-saving transit visa, and they made the long trek across Siberia to safe haven in Japan. They crossed the Pacific to the US in spring 1941 and the family settled in Chicago.
In a 1998 interview with Derivatives Strategy magazine, Melamed said that he became involved in futures trading as an accident, "the hand of fate." Melamed said: "I was in law school looking for a law clerk job and answered a want ad. The firm in question, Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Bean, was looking for a 'runner' to work between the hours of 9:00 and 1:00, which was perfect for my class schedule. With that many names, how could this firm be anything but an established law firm looking for a clerk to run to court?" Throughout law school, he worked as a runner in the produce futures markets of the CME, learning about the business. He practiced law until 1965 and was elected to the CME board in 1967. Two years later he became its chairman.
Throughout the next three decades and into the 21st Century, Melamed held many CME titles including: Special Counsel to the Board; Chairman of the Executive Committee; and Senior Policy Advisor, but remained the acknowledged leader of the CME. In 2002, he led the CME membership to become the first U.S. financial exchange to go public.
In a speech in January 2005, Melamed traced the origin of his ideas about finance to his childhood wartime experiences.
In Tokyo in March of 1941, he asked his father, Isaac Melamdovich, a mathematics teacher, to explain how the community of Jewish residents in that city had enough money to support the sudden influx of some 3,000 refugees such as themselves.
"Well, to understand that, my father explained, you have to understand the intricacies of the marketplace."
Specifically, the elder Melamdovich explained, "you must never trust the official rate of currency exchange announced by government." The real value was to be found in the Black Market, which exists anywhere—on any street or in any shop, where no government official is looking.
When a Jewish family in Japan received an exit visa in that period, the Refugee Committee would provide the family with 5,000 yen to deposit in a bank (as allowed by law) and receive US dollars (or the currency of the country to which it planned to travel) at the official rate—say, US$50. That money was quickly and discreetly returned to the Refugee Committee where it was sold on the Black Market for the true yen/dollar exchange rate, which was vastly higher. The outgoing family returned the 5,000 yen, and the Refugee Committee retained the profit to help new arrivals.
Melamed has lectured and written extensively on the markets. His published works include:
- An Anthology: The Merits of Flexible Exchange Rates, (George Mason University Press:1988), Editor
- Leo Melamed on the Markets: twenty years of financial history as seen by the man who revolutionized the markets, (John Wiley & Sons: 1992)
- Escape to the Futures, (John Wiley & Sons: 1996); prize-winning memoirs which have been published in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian
- The Tenth Planet (Bonus Books, 1984), (Science fiction)
- "For Crying Out Loud", (John Wiley & Sons; 2009), memoirs continuation, translated into Chinese and Japanese
- Essays and speeches
- "CME Group to launch renminbi futures". ft.com. September 13, 2012.
- "CME Group Foundation Launched With More Than $600,000 in Grants". CME Group. December 28, 2008.
- Leo Melamed Biography on leomelamed.com
- "Global Markets Advisory Committee Members". U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. December 29, 2008.
- Leo Meland Biography on leomeland.com
- "The World According to Leo Melamed," Derivatives Strategy, April 1998
- Chiune Sugihara
- "A Titan Returns to Shake Up CME's Executive Committee, The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 10, 1997
- "The World According to Leo Melamed," interview with Leo Melamed, Derivatives Strategy, April 1998
-  Kurt Schemers interview on Traders NationTM of Leo Melamed, For Crying Out Loud, Sept. 2009
- "Leo Melamed: Escape to the Futures," by Leo Melamed. (Wiley: 1996) ISBN 0-471-11215-1
- "Leo Melamed on The Markets: Twenty Years of Financial History as Seen by the Man Who Revolutionized the Markets." by Leo Melamed (Wiley: 1992), ISBN 0-471-57524-0
- "Merits of Flexible Exchange Rates: An Anthology," edited by Leo Melamed (George Mason University Press:1988) ASIN: B000M3U0VO