Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

 

Account Management

Enrolling/Withdrawing

Market Actions

IEM Data

Market Information


GENERAL INFORMATION

What is the IEM?

The IEM is an online futures market where contract payoffs are based on real-world events such as political outcomes, companies' earnings per share (EPS), and stock price returns. The market is operated by University of Iowa Henry B. Tippie College of Business faculty as an educational and research project.     Top

Who can participate in the IEM?

The IEM is operated for research and teaching purposes. All interested participants world-wide can trade in our political markets. Other markets--such as the earnings and returns markets--are open only to academic traders.     Top

Are the participants playing with real money?

YES. Trading accounts can be opened for $5 to $500. Participants then use their funds to buy and sell contracts. Traders therefore have the opportunity to profit from their trades but must also bear the risk of losing money.    Top

Is the IEM regulated?

The IEM is an experimental market operated for academic research and teaching purposes. The IEM is not regulated by, nor are its operators registered with, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission or any other regulatory authority.

The IEM has received two no-action-letters from the Division of Trading and Markets of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Without explicitly asserting jurisdiction over the IEM or any of its submarkets, these letters, dated February 5, 1992, and June 18, 1993, extended no-action relief to the IEM’s Political and Economic Indicator Markets. The letters are available at the CFTC website as part of their Freedom of Information Act documents:
www.cftc.gov/files/foia/repfoia/foirf0503b002.pdf
www.cftc.gov/files/foia/repfoia/foirf0503b004.pdf

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Why would anyone operate a not-for-profit real-money market?

The IEM is operated by faculty at the University of Iowa Henry B. Tippie College of Business for educational and research purposes.

As business educators, we are concerned with preparing our students to be intelligent market participants. We and many of our colleagues at other institutions integrate the IEM into our courses. Students in these courses learn first-hand about the operation of financial markets and as a result become more well-informed traders in their future market interactions.

As business researchers, we are interested in market and trader behavior. The IEM provides a rich source of data for our research.    Top

How does the IEM safeguard my money?

The IEM is operated under the auspices of the University of Iowa. You write your check to the University of Iowa and the funds are deposited to a University of Iowa account. When funds are withdrawn from your account, the University of Iowa accounting group (a group independent of the IEM) writes a check and mails it directly to your last known address. As a university operation, the IEM is subject to audits by university and state auditors.     Top

I live in Europe--can I still trade in the US political markets?

The US political markets are open to traders, world-wide. To open an account, you will need to send some form of US currency (personal check, money order, electronic transfer) to the IEM office.    Top

Can I trade in the foreign political markets?

Generally, foreign political markets use the currency of the relevant foreign country as the medium of exchange. Investment deposits in that currency are collected, held, and redistributed by IEM Collaborators in that country, and there may be market specific restrictions on participation. Enrollment in those markets, therefore, generally requires separate signups and a new account, even if you already have an IEM account. Refer to the home page for each market for specific information on enrolling.     Top

I am interested in using the IEM for my class. How do I sign up my students?

Signing up your class is easy.

Instructors must set up an IEM Class Description before their students can open their IEM trading accounts. Please send an email to iem@uiowa.edu or call (319) 335-0881 with the following information:

Once we receive this information we will create a course for you.

Students will set up an account under your course by following these directions.
Please note that there is a one-time account set-up fee of $5.00 on all trader accounts.

When we receive the initial investment we will activate the student's account.

If you would like to receive class activity reports, contact the IEM Office. For phone number and additional details about this process, see Procedures for Setting up an IEM Class.    Top

Can I try out the IEM without investing money?

YES. Login to the IEM and follow the directions on the screen to log into the practice market. You will be able to do everything a trader can do, except trade in our real-money contracts.    Top

How can I learn more about the IEM?

You can read our general description of the IEM Or, you can access our Trader's Manual.

Or, you can send an e-mail to iem@uiowa.edu with your questions.    Top



ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT

How do I sign up?

Sign up procedures are simple. You will open an account and obtain and read the Trader's Manual.

Once you have opened your account, you will be notified of your trader-ID and password by email within 24–48 hours of receipt of payment. If you do not have email, we will sent it to you by US mail.     Top

What if I have trouble logging in?

There are several reasons you may be unable to log in. You might have typed in a wrong trader-ID or password, or the server itself may be down (this happens occasionally, but rarely). First make sure that you are typing your ID and password correctly. Then check the alternatives below:

If the system is down for an extended period please call or send us an email at iem@uiowa.edu; we will try to solve the problem as soon as possible.     Top

What if I have lost or cannot remember my password?

Go to the login and password help page or send an e-mail with your name, trader ID, address and telephone number and we will reset your password. Top

I want to close my account. Do I have to liquidate the contracts I'm holding?

We are not permitted to make trades on your behalf. So, if you want to close your account, you must first liquidate any contract that you are holding.     Top

How do I get my money back ?

Fill out and submit the online IEM Withdrawal Form. Or print a copy from our website or the end of the Trader's Manual, and mail it to us. Or, send e-mail to us with the following information:

You will receive a check from the University of Iowa in 2 to 4 weeks. Please note: your balance must be at least $2.00 for us to send you a refund.     Top

How do I use the market system?

The best way to learn about the market system is to review the IEM Trader's Manual or the WebExchange Users' Guide.     Top

I already have an IEM account. Can I still trade using my old account, or should I apply again?

The Iowa Electronic Market does not allow duplicate accounts. In order to resume trading on the IEM, you can simply use your old account.

If you registered for an account prior to January 1999, your account is registered in the telnet system. To transfer your telnet account to the new WebEx system, click here and follow the instructions on the transfer screen. You will be allowed three options. You can either transfer all funds to the new web-based system, transfer a portion of your funds and withdraw the remainder, or withdraw all funds from your prior account.

If you registered for an account after January 1999, your account is registered in the new WebEx system. To continue trading, login to your account as usual. as usual. In the case that you have forgotten your password to your prior account, please click on the "Forget Your Password?" option on the login screen.

If you registered for an account after January 1999 for a course in the IEM*IDEA project, you will still be able to use your previous account, as your account is still listed in the system. If you withdrew all your funds, please contact the iem via email and we will adjust your account balance for the new course. In addition, please contact the IEM at iem@uiowa.edu if you have questions concerning the status of your prior account. Again, in the case that you have forgotten your password to your account, click on the "Forget Your Password?" option on the login screen.     Top

How do I trade?

The IEM is accessible via the IEM login page. It's simple to use. Our Trader's Manual contains details about how to trade.

You can also practice trading in our Practice Markets without risking your funds.

However, all trades in our real-markets are final. So, if you execute a trade that is not in our Practice Market, you cannot undo it.     Top

I made mistake when trading. Can I undo this mistake?

You can withdraw your asks or bids if they have not been executed. However, once an order is executed you can not undo it because it has resulted in a real-money trade. All trades in our real-money markets are final.    Top

How can I view all contracts on my trading screen without scrolling up and down?

All market pages are created to fit on one browser screen, so that even after an update (or market page refresh), all contracts can be viewed without scrolling. However, there are two possible solutions if you find all the contracts do not fit on your browser screen:

1) check to make sure your monitor's screen is sized correctly for the browser you are using, and

2) reduce your browser's font size until all contracts become viewable.     Top

How do I view my personal trading history?

After logging in to a market, select "My Account" from the trading toolbar located on the bottom of your screen. On the next screen, select "View Order History." This will provide you with a screen where you can select the market, the asset, and the time period from which you would like to view your Order History. If you wish to view your entire trading history, simply select "All Orders," and click on the Get Order History button.    Top

IEM DATA

Can I find out how many contracts are in circulation within each market?

Yes. After logging into a market (any market will suffice), select "Market Info" from the trading toolbar located on the bottom of your screen. On the next screen, select your desired market. Along with other relevant market information, you will find the net number of bundles sold for each bundle relevant to that market. Since new contracts enter into circulation only through the purchase of bundles, this number coincides with the number of contracts in circulation for each asset contained in the respective bundle.     Top

How can I get the Price History for a market while in the WebExchange?

After logging in to the markets, select "Market Info" from the trading toolbar located on the bottom of your screen. On the next screen select your desired market. Select "Price History" from the Market Information page to view the price history for your desired market.     Top

How do I import data from a WebEx screen to a spreadsheet?

As you've discovered, cutting and pasting tabular data from webpages into a spreadsheet or word processor will produce a result with a single entry per line and a varying number of blank spaces to the left of each entry. If your spreadsheet program can import HTML documents (see the note below), you can achieve a better result by saving the webpage to your hard disk and then importing it. Specifically, with the desired data appearing on the WebEx screen, proceed as follows.

1) click somewhere on the screen containing the information you want, to make sure the relevant frame is the current one.

2) click on your browser's "File" button and select "Save As" or "Save Frame As".

3) select a folder where you would like to save the file, and give the file a name with the suffix "html". Note that the default suffix could be "dll", "cfm", "htm" or "html". Whatever it is, change it to "html".

4) import the file into your spreadsheet program -- select its "File" button, choose "Open", change the "Files of type:" field at the bottom left of the OPEN dialog to indicate an HTML document, find and select the document you saved in step 3, and click on "Open".

[Note: Recent versions of spreadsheets by Microsoft and Corel permit the importing of webpages, and others may too. When you "Open" a file in your spreadsheet, is "HTML documents" one of the choices under "Files of Type:"? If so, then the above procedure should work for you. If not, you may be able to add that option using your installation disk.]     Top



MARKET INFORMATION

Are short sales possible/allowed in the IEM?

Short sales are not allowed in the IEM. If you submit an ask to sell contracts you don't have in your portfolio, the offer to sell will be processed, but the moment your offer becomes the best offer in the ask queue and would thus be revealed to other traders, it will be ruled infeasible and canceled.     Top

Does the IEM offer anything similar to short sales?

Yes. First, buy a contract bundle, giving you one unit of each contract listed in the market at a total cost of $1.00. If you hold all of those contracts until after the market is closed and liquidated, you would get exactly your $1.00 back. If, on the other hand, you sell one (or more) of those contracts, that action is very much like selling short on other futures exchanges. And the $1.00 you paid for the bundle was like a margin deposit.

For example. Suppose that you want to sell short AAPLi. You effectively place $1 on deposit with us by buying a unit portfolio consisting of AAPLi, IBMi, MSFTi, and SP500i. Then, you sell the AAPLi. If AAPLi does not pay off $1, you get your dollar deposit back as the liquidating payout on one of the other three contracts you hold. If AAPLi does pay off $1 we give the dollar you placed on deposit with us to the trader who bought the AAPLi who effectively shorted from you. Thus, you are out $1. The ONLY difference between this and "real" shorting is that you generally put up a margin account that covers only a portion of your possible losses. Of course, if you lose your margin your position is liquidated and you cannot make a deposit to maintain your margin account, you lose everything. Since we cannot demand additional deposits from you in all situations (you can only deposit $500 maximum), we require that the initial margin account (the $1 you spend to buy the portfolio) cover all possible contingencies.     Top

Why bundles instead of short sales?

We use contract bundles to place contracts in circulation rather than short sales because:

1) in the markets we operate we can always define a contract bundle which is worth exactly $1.00 regardless of the outcome of the event on which the market is based, and

2) they provide an iron clad way to guarantee that the IEM neither makes nor loses money as a result of some trader defaulting on a short sale or a margin account.     Top

Why aren't you offering a market for X?

With thousands of worldwide local, state, and national elections each year and even more "events" which might serve as the basis for a market, selecting those few to which to apply our limited resources is not easy. The choices made by our Board of Directors ultimately depend upon subjective and objective assessment of many factors including the following:

1) the "significance" of the election or event

2) availability of necessary resources

3) the timing of the event and conflicts with other markets

4) whether we can find collaborators who will share costs and work load

5) whether the event fits the research interests of our faculty

6) access to the relevant pool of potential traders and the likely success and ease of trader recruitment     Top

Can I see the size of all orders?

The only information we now provide about the order queues are the prices of the best orders--the highest bid and the lowest ask. The principal purposes of these markets are research and education; the limit on order book information was a market design decision implemented because it best represented the market structure we wanted to study. We may well expand on the amount of information revealed at some time in the future so we can investigate its effect on market performance, but at present the restriction to the best bid and ask will remain.     Top