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Windy City exchanges wake up with the blues

A walk around Chicago can be a rewarding experience. It has its skyscrapers like most other US cities, including the tallest, the Sears Tower. But it also has stunning main shopping streets and there's a deceptive and disarmingly quiet pace to life in the Loop, the main financial district. Then there's the city's reputation as the home of blues music, and its overall location on the shores of Lake Michigan. All this gives the city a more balanced air than the bustling, cramped streets of Manhattan.

Chicago: staging the fight for survival between its
exchange giants

The weather, of course, is less balanced: in the summer the heat can be unbearable, and in winter they don't call it the Windy City for nothing. What's more it takes a lot of cold to freeze a mass of water the size of Lake Michigan.

All in all it's a good venue to balance work with play, which makes it all the more surprising that most non-Chicago residents working in finance speak about the city with a degree of invective bordering on the obsessed.

For, despite its attractions, Chicago is not a happy city. That much was evident at the latest Futures Industry Association meeting at the start of November. An article in BusinessWeek from a few weeks before dominated many early discussions: it had branded Chicago as in near terminal decline, unable to keep, let alone extend, its earlier dominance in banking and derivatives.

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