|FAQs ON DERIVATIVES|
What is a swap?
Classification of swaps is done on the basis of what the payments are based on. The different types of swaps are as follows.
Interest rate swaps
Additionally, there will be a spread of a pre-determined amount of basis points. This is just one type of interest rate swap. Sometimes payments tied to floating rates are used for interest rate swaps. The notional principal is the exchange of interest payments based on face value. The notional principal itself is not exchanged. On the day of each payment, the party who owes more to the other makes a net payment. Only one party makes a payment.
Currency swaps help eliminate the differences between international capital markets. Interest rates swaps help eliminate barriers caused by regulatory structures. While currency swaps result in exchange of one currency with another, interest rate swaps help exchange a fixed rate of interest with a variable rate. The needs of the parties in a swap transaction are diametrically different. Swaps are not traded or listed on exchange but they do have an informal market and are traded among dealers.
A swap is a contract, which can be effectively combined with other type of derivative instruments. An option on a swap gives the party the right, but not the obligation to enter into a swap at a later date.
Commodity swaps are used for hedging against
A Company that uses commodities as input may find its profits becoming very volatile if the commodity prices become volatile. This is particularly so when the output prices may not change as frequently as the commodity prices change. In such cases, the company would enter into a swap whereby it receives payment linked to commodity prices and pays a fixed rate in exchange. A producer of a commodity may want to reduce the variability of his revenues by being a receiver of a fixed rate in exchange for a rate linked to the commodity prices.
What are the components of a swap price?
Benchmark price: Swap rates are based on a series of benchmark instruments. They may be quoted as a spread over the yield on these benchmark instruments or on an absolute interest rate basis. In the Indian markets the common benchmarks are MIBOR, 14, 91, 182 & 364 day T-bills, CP rates and PLR rates.
Liquidity: Liquidity, which is function of supply and demand, plays an important role in swaps pricing. This is also affected by the swap duration. It may be difficult to have counterparties for long duration swaps, especially so in India.
Transaction Costs: Transaction costs include the cost of hedging a swap. Say in case of a bank, which has a floating obligation of 91 day T. Bill. Now in order to hedge the bank would go long on a 91 day T. Bill. For doing so the bank must obtain funds. The transaction cost would thus involve such a difference.
Yield on 91 day T. Bill - 9.5%
Cost of fund (e.g.- Repo rate) 10%
The transaction cost in this case would involve 0.5%
Credit Risk: Credit risk must also be built into the swap pricing. Based upon the credit rating of the counterparty a spread would have to be incorporated. Say for e.g. it would be 0.5% for an AAA rating.