IEM Basics

WHAT IS THE IEM?

The Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM) is a real-money, small-scale futures exchange in which the ultimate values of the contracts traded are determined by political events, financial events and economic indicators. Participants in these markets invest their own funds, buy and sell listed contracts, and bear the risk of losing money as well as earning profits.

The exclusive purposes of the IEM are teaching and research. Through the IEM as a teaching device, participants learn first-hand about the operation of a financial market. Because they have an added incentive to do so, they often become better informed about events determining the ultimate value of the contract being traded -- be that a political race, the earnings per share of a company, the stock return of a company, or the exchange rate between a foreign currency and the dollar. Through the IEM as a research venture, the markets provide insights into market and trader behavior. Participation in the IEM is open to students, faculty, and staff at colleges and universities worldwide; IEM political markets are also open to non-academic participants. The market operates on computer systems at the Henry B. Tippie College of Business of the University of Iowa; traders gain access through the World Wide Web.

The IEM is operated as a not-for-profit venture. No commissions or transactions fees are charged, and the method of issuing contracts and making final payoffs on these contracts ensures that the IEM does not realize financial profits or suffer losses from market transactions. Although the IEM is under the regulatory purview of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), it is not regulated by, nor are its operator registered with, the CFTC or any other regulatory authority.


IEM ADMINISTRATION

A Board of Governors provides long-term oversight to the IEM. This Board is composed of faculty from the Departments of Accounting, Economics, and Finance at the University of Iowa/Henry B. Tippie College of Business. A market administrator oversees the day to day operations of the IEM and supervises an office staff that processes trader accounts and inquiries and supports the use of the IEM in research and teaching.

  • Board of Governors: Professors Joyce Berg, Robert Forsythe, Thomas Gruca, Forrest Nelson, George Neumann, and Thomas Reitz.
  • Market Administrator: Matthew Anfinson


CONTACTING THE IEM

Administrative office:
Iowa Electronic Markets
W283 PBAB
Tippie College of Business
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone Number: (319) 335-0881

E-mail Address: iem@uiowa.edu

WWW Address: www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem


ACCESSING DATA

The IEM operates on computer systems in the College of Business Administration at the University of Iowa. Access to the market is achieved by use of a Web Browser (for example, Netscape, Internet Explorer or AOL) from any computer with access to the Internet.

Public access to current IEM contract prices is available at the IEM website (www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem). To access this information, follow the links for the market in which you are interested. Prices are posted every 15 minutes. Links are also provided to access historical prices and price graphs.

The IEM uses the WebExchange Trading System to execute trades and provide information to traders. The system includes practice markets which enable new and potential traders to become accustomed to the mechanics of trading without risking their own funds.

To view the WebExchange Manual and access the practice markets, go to iemweb.biz.uiowa.edu. Follow the instructions on the screen to log in as a practice trader.

You must have a personal loginID and password to access the trading engine for the real-money IEM markets. To access your real-money trading account, go to iemweb.biz.uiowa.edu. After you log into your individual accounts, you can access information about current market prices and execute trades. You will also have access to private information, including your current cash balance, contract holdings, outstanding orders, previous and expired orders, and contract purchases and sales.


APPLYING FOR AN ACCOUNT

Participants enroll in the IEM by completing the online signup form at iemweb.biz.uiowa.edu/signup and submitting a check for their initial investment deposit to the IEM office. The minimum investment for U.S. Dollar denominated accounts is $5.00 and the maximum is $500 per account. Investments may be increased at any time, provided they do not exceed the maximum $500 limit, by completing the Additional Investment form found at the IEM website and submitting a check to the IEM office. All invested funds (in U.S. dollars) placed in traders' accounts will be held on deposit by the University of Iowa.

No commissions or transaction fees are charged for trading on the IEM, but service charges of two types may be imposed on U.S. dollar denominated accounts. First, there is a one time, non-refundable account activation charge of $5.00 for each account established on the IEM. Second, inactive accounts (accounts showing no logins in the previous six months) will be assessed a $5.00 inactivity charge. These charges are assessed July 1 (for the period January 1 to June 30), and January 1 (for the period July 1 to December 31). Inactivity fees can be avoided entirely by logging in at least once during each six month period, or by closing your account before the end of the period.


CLOSING YOUR ACCOUNT

You can close your account or request a full or partial withdrawal of your cash account balance at any time. Subject to reasonable accommodations for the academic calendar, these requests are generally processed on the 15th and 30th of each month.

Before requesting that we close your account, you must:

    - cancel your outstanding orders
    - liquidate your contract holdings

We cannot make trades on your behalf, so we cannot close your account until you have liquidated all contracts in your account.

When your account is closed, or you request a withdrawal of funds, a check will be issued to you and mailed the the address that we currently have on file for you.

To close you account you may do one of the following:

    - Fill out the online withdrawal request form

    - Send your name, social security number, traderID and mailing address and a request to close your account via email to iem@uiowa.edu or via US Mail to: W283 PBAB, Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242.


SURVEYS

Because the IEM is part of an ongoing research project, we collect demographic and preference information about its traders. If you enroll in the IEM, from time to time, we will request that you complete a survey.

Generally surveys are 6 to 8 questions long, dealing with recent business or economic events. You are free to choose not to complete the survey, but please consider that completing the survey will provide us with valuable research information.


ANONYMITY

All trading and all bids to buy and offers to sell are anonymous. Other traders will not know your identity when you trade, nor will we identify you in any research papers.

The trading system will of course know the identity - more precisely the account ID - of each trader, the source of all bids and asks, the number and specifications of all bids and asks in the queues, and the portfolios of each trader. But, each trader will have only that information which applies to his or her own account. Public information about the market is restricted to current high bid, low ask and last trade prices, and summaries of prices and trading volumes over previous time periods.

From time to time, we receive requests from the media to talk to our traders. We may contact you by email to ask whether you are willing to talk to the media. We will not disclose any information about you unless you consent in advance.


SECURITY

Because the IEM involves real cash transactions, security is a major concern. We have taken steps to assure the integrity of the exchange data base as well as our office procedures. In the unlikely event that the database is corrupted because of hardware, software or other problems, the market will be restored to its position as of the most recent time it is known to be uncorrupted.

The IEM assumes no responsibility for unauthorized access to individual accounts. The surest defense against such activity is for you to guard your account number and password closely. The trading system allows you to change your password. We encourage you to do so. Any string from one to fifteen letters or numbers can be used for passwords.

The system administrator will know only your initial password and cannot recover a password that has been changed. Should you forget your password, the administrator can reset your password, so that you can access the market.