The bash will cost $ 350,000, but hey, it's not every day that Leo Melamed retires. This is the man who built the once lowly Chicago Mercantile Exchange into a worldwide marketplace and was present at the creation of many of the exotic financial futures that portfolio managers now rely on. Some 1,700 of Melamed's closest friends are expected to attend, including Nobel economist Milton Friedman and Republican National Committee Chairman Clayton Yeutter.

Clearly, Melamed has plenty to celebrate, but the funny thing is, once he steps down as chairman, he isn't going anywhere. He's the prime mover of the Merc's effort to develop computerized futures trading, and he heads a Merc committee considering a merger with the Chicago Board of Trade. At this rate, Melamed will eventually need another retirement party. The Merc may wish it had stuck with a gold watch.

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