A swap is an agreement between two parties to exchange sequences of cash flows for a set period of time. Usually, at the time the contract is initiated, at least one of these series of cash flows is determined by a random or uncertain variable, such as an interest rate, foreign exchange rate, equity price or commodity price. Conceptually, one may view a swap as either a portfolio of forward contracts, or as a long position in one bond coupled with a short position in another bond. This article will discuss the two most common and most basic types of swaps: the plain vanilla interest rate and currency swaps
Type of swap:
Credit default swap: The buyer of a credit default swap receives credit protection, whereas the seller of the swap guarantees the credit worthiness of the debt security. In doing so, the risk of default is transferred from the holder of the fixed income security to the seller of the swap.
Interest rate swap:
Exchange rate swap:
Reason for using swap:
The motivations for using swap contracts fall into two basic categories: commercial needs and comparative advantage. The normal business operations of some firms lead to certain types of interest rate or currency exposures that swaps can alleviate. For example, consider a bank, which pays a floating rate of interest on deposits (e.g. liabilities) and earns a fixed rate of interest on loans (e.g. assets). This mismatch between assets and liabilities can cause tremendous difficulties. The bank could use a fixed-pay swap (pay a fixed rate and receive a floating rate) to convert its fixed-rate assets into floating-rate assets, which would match up well with its floating-rate liabilities.
Some companies have a comparative advantage in acquiring certain types of financing. However, this comparative advantage may not be for the type of financing desired. In this case, the company may acquire the financing for which it has a comparative advantage, then use a swap...