Different Types of Swaps (2024)

Swapsare derivative instruments that representan agreement between two parties to exchange a series of cash flows over a specific period of time. Swaps offer great flexibility indesigning and structuringcontracts based on mutual agreement. This flexibility generatesmanyswap variations, with each serving a specific purpose.

There are multiple reasons why parties agree to such an exchange:

  • Investment objectives or repayment scenarios may have changed.
  • There may be increased financialbenefit inswitching to newly available or alternativecash flow streams.
  • The need may arise tohedge ormitigaterisk associated with a floating rate loan repayment.

Interest Rate Swaps

The most popular types of swaps are plain vanillainterest rate swaps. They allow two parties to exchange fixed and floating cash flows on an interest-bearing investment or loan.

Businesses or individuals attempt to secure cost-effective loans buttheir selected marketsmay not offer preferred loan solutions. For instance, an investor may get a cheaper loan in a floating rate market, but they prefer a fixed rate. Interest rate swaps enable the investor to switch the cash flows, as desired.

Assume Paul prefers a fixed rate loanand has loans available at a floating rate (LIBOR+0.5%) or at a fixed rate (10.75%). Mary prefers a floating rate loanand has loans available at a floating rate (LIBOR+0.25%) or at a fixed rate (10%). Due to abetter credit rating, Mary has the advantage over Paul in both the floating rate market (by 0.25%) and in the fixed rate market (by 0.75%). Her advantage is greater in the fixed rate marketso she picks upthe fixed rate loan. However, since she prefers the floating rate, she gets into a swap contract with a bank to pay LIBOR and receive a 10% fixed rate.

Paul borrows at floating (LIBOR+0.5%), but since he prefers fixed, he enters into a swap contract with the bank to pay fixed 10.10% and receive the floating rate.

Benefits: Paul pays (LIBOR+0.5%) to the lender and 10.10% to the bank, and receives LIBOR from the bank. His net payment is 10.6% (fixed). The swap effectively converted his original floating payment to a fixed rate, getting him the most economical rate. Similarly, Mary pays 10% to the lender and LIBOR to the bank and receives 10% from the bank. Her net payment is LIBOR (floating). The swap effectively converted her original fixed payment to the desired floating, getting her the most economical rate. The bank takes a cut of 0.10% from what it receives from Paul and pays to Mary.

Currency Swaps

The transactional value of capital that changes hands in currency markets surpasses that of all other markets. Currency swaps offer efficient ways to hedge forex risk.

Assume an Australian company is setting up a business in the UK and needs GBP 10 million. Assuming the AUD/GBP exchange rate is at 0.5, the total comes to AUD 20 million. Similarly, a UK-based company wants to set up a plant in Australia and needs AUD 20 million. The cost of a loan in the UK is 10% for foreigners and 6% for locals, while in Australia it's 9% for foreigners and 5% for locals. Apart from the high loan costfor foreign companies, it might be difficult to get the loan easily due to procedural difficulties. Both companies have a competitive advantage in their domestic loan markets. The Australian firm can take a low-cost loan of AUD 20 million in Australia, while the English firm can take a low-cost loan of GBP 10 million in the UK. Assume both loans need six monthly repayments.

Both companies then executea currency swap agreement. At the start, the Australian firm gives AUD 20 million to the English firmand receives GBP 10 million, enabling both firms to start a business in their respective foreign lands. Every six months, the Australian firm pays the English firm the interest payment for the English loan = (notional GBP amount * interest rate * period) = (10 million * 6% * 0.5) = GBP 300,000 whilethe English firm pays the Australian firm the interest payment for the Australian loan = (notional AUD amount * interest rate * period) = (20 million * 5% * 0.5) = AUD 500,000. Interest payments continue until the end of the swap agreement, at which timethe original notional forex amounts will be exchanged back to each other.

Benefits: By getting into a swap, both firms were able to secure low-cost loans andhedge against interest rate fluctuations. Variations also exist incurrency swaps, including fixed vs. floating and floating vs. floating. In sum, parties are able to hedge against volatility in forex rates, secure improved lending rates, and receive foreign capital.

Commodity Swaps

Commodity swaps are common among individualsor companies that use raw materials to produce goods or finished products. Profit from a finished product may sufferif commodity prices vary, as output prices may not change in sync with commodity prices. A commodity swap allows receipt of payment linked to the commodity price against a fixed rate.

Assume two parties get into a commodity swap over one million barrels of crude oil. One party agrees to make six-monthly payments at a fixed price of $60 per barrel and receive the existing (floating) price. The other party will receive the fixed rate and pay the floating.

Ifcrudeoil rises to $62 at the end of six months, the first party will be liable to pay the fixed ($60 *1 million) = $60 millionand receive the variable ($62 * 1 million) = $62 million from the second party. Netcash flow in this scenario will be $2 million transferred from the second party to the first. Alternatively, if crude oil dropsto $57 in the next six months, the first party will pay $3 million to the second party.

Benefits: The first party has locked in the price of the commodity by using a currency swap, achieving a price hedge. Commodity swaps are effective hedging tools against variations in commodity prices or against variation in spreads between the final product and raw material prices.

Credit Default Swaps

Thecredit default swapoffers insurance in case of default bya third-party borrower. Assume Peter bought a 15-year long bond issued by ABC, Inc. The bond is worth $1,000 and pays annual interest of $50 (i.e., 5% coupon rate). Peter worries that ABC, Inc. may defaultso he executesa credit default swap contract with Paul. Under the swap agreement, Peter (CDS buyer) agrees to pay $15 per year to Paul (CDS seller). Paul trusts ABC, Inc. and is ready to take the default risk on its behalf. For the $15 receipt per year, Paul will offer insurance to Peter for his investment and returns. IfABC, Inc. defaults, Paul will pay Peter $1,000 plus any remaining interest payments. IfABC, Inc. does not default duringthe 15-year long bond duration, Paul benefits by keeping the $15 per year without any payables to Peter.

Benefits: The CDS works as insurance to protect lenders and bondholders from borrowers’ default risk.

Zero Coupon Swaps

Similar to the interest rate swap, the zero coupon swap offers flexibility to one of the parties in the swap transaction. In a fixed-to-floating zero coupon swap, the fixed rate cash flows are not paid periodically,but justonce at the end of the maturity of the swap contract. The other party who paysfloating rate keeps makingregular periodic payments following the standard swap payment schedule.

A fixed-fixed zero coupon swap is also available, wherein one party does not make any interim payments, but the other party keeps paying fixed payments as per the schedule.

Benefits: The zero coupon swap (ZCS) isprimarily used by businesses to hedge a loan in which interest is paid at maturity or by banks that issue bonds with end-of-maturity interest payments.

Total Return Swaps

A total return swapgivesan investor the benefits of owning securities, without actualownership. A TRS is a contract between a total return payer and total return receiver. The payer usually pays the total return of agreed security to the receiver and receives a fixed/floating rate payment in exchange. The agreed (or referenced) security can be a bond, index, equity, loan, or commodity. The total return will include all generated income and capital appreciation.

Assume Paul (the payer) and Mary (the receiver) enter into a TRS agreement on a bond issued by ABC Inc. If ABC Inc.’s share price rises(capital appreciation) and pays a dividend (income generation) during the swap'sduration, Paul will pay Mary those benefits. In return, Mary hasto pay Paul a pre-determined fixed/floating rate during the duration.

Benefits:Mary receives a total rate of return (in absolute terms) without owning the security andhas the advantage of leverage. Sherepresents a hedge fund or a bank that benefits from the leverage andadditional income without owning the security.Paul transfers the credit risk and market risk to Mary, in exchange for a fixed/floating stream of payments. He represents a traderwhose long positions can be convertedto a short-hedged position while also deferring the loss or gain to the end of swap maturity.

The Bottom Line

Swap contractscan be easily customized to meet the needs of all parties. They offer win-win agreementsfor participants, including intermediaries like banks that facilitate the transactions. Even so, participants should be aware of potential pitfalls because these contracts are executed over the counterwithout regulations.

Swaps are derivative instruments that involve an agreement between two parties to exchange a series of cash flows over a specific period of time. They offer flexibility in designing and structuring contracts based on mutual agreement. Swaps have various variations, each serving a specific purpose [[1]].

Interest Rate Swaps: One of the most popular types of swaps is the plain vanilla interest rate swap. It allows two parties to exchange fixed and floating cash flows on an interest-bearing investment or loan. Interest rate swaps are commonly used when businesses or individuals want to secure cost-effective loans but the available loan solutions in their selected markets may not be ideal for their needs. For example, an investor may find a cheaper loan in a floating rate market but prefers a fixed rate. By entering into an interest rate swap, the investor can switch the cash flows as desired [[1]].

Currency Swaps: Currency swaps are used to hedge foreign exchange (forex) risk. They are particularly useful when companies or individuals need to borrow in a foreign currency to fund their operations in another country. Currency swaps allow them to obtain low-cost loans in their respective domestic loan markets and then exchange the notional amounts of the loans. This enables both parties to benefit from competitive advantages in their domestic loan markets and hedge against interest rate fluctuations [[1]].

Commodity Swaps: Commodity swaps are commonly used by individuals or companies that rely on raw materials to produce goods or finished products. These swaps allow them to receive payments linked to the commodity price against a fixed rate. Commodity swaps are effective hedging tools against variations in commodity prices or variations in spreads between the final product and raw material prices [[1]].

Credit Default Swaps: Credit default swaps (CDS) provide insurance in case of default by a third-party borrower. They are commonly used by investors who want to protect themselves against the default risk of a particular bond or loan. In a credit default swap, the buyer agrees to pay a premium to the seller in exchange for protection against default. If the borrower defaults, the seller compensates the buyer for the loss [[1]].

Zero Coupon Swaps: Zero coupon swaps (ZCS) offer flexibility to one of the parties involved in the swap transaction. In a fixed-to-floating zero coupon swap, the fixed rate cash flows are not paid periodically but only at the end of the maturity of the swap contract. The other party, who pays the floating rate, continues to make regular periodic payments following the standard swap payment schedule. Zero coupon swaps are primarily used by businesses to hedge loans in which interest is paid at maturity or by banks that issue bonds with end-of-maturity interest payments [[1]].

Total Return Swaps: Total return swaps (TRS) allow investors to benefit from owning securities without actually owning them. In a TRS, the total return payer pays the total return of an agreed security to the total return receiver and receives a fixed or floating rate payment in exchange. The agreed security can be a bond, index, equity, loan, or commodity. The total return includes all generated income and capital appreciation [[1]].

In conclusion, swaps are versatile financial instruments that offer participants the ability to customize contracts to meet their specific needs. They provide win-win agreements for all parties involved, including intermediaries like banks that facilitate the transactions. However, participants should be aware of potential risks as these contracts are executed over the counter without regulations [[1]].

Different Types of Swaps (2024)

FAQs

How many types of swaps are there? ›

Types of swaps. The generic types of swaps, in order of their quantitative importance, are: interest rate swaps, basis swaps, currency swaps, inflation swaps, credit default swaps, commodity swaps and equity swaps. There are also many other types of swaps.

What is the most common type of swap? ›

The most popular types of swaps are plain vanilla interest rate swaps. They allow two parties to exchange fixed and floating cash flows on an interest-bearing investment or loan.

What are examples of a swap? ›

A swap is a derivative contract where one party exchanges or "swaps" the cash flows or value of one asset for another. For example, a company paying a variable rate of interest may swap its interest payments with another company that will then pay the first company a fixed rate.

Which of the following are common types of swaps? ›

Swaps are customized contracts traded in the over-the-counter market privately, versus options and futures traded on a public exchange. The plain vanilla interest rate and currency swaps are the two most common and basic types of swaps.

What are the 2 commonly used swaps? ›

The most popular types include:
  • #1 Interest rate swap.
  • #2 Currency swap.
  • #3 Commodity swap.
  • #4 Credit default swap.

What are the two major types of swaps? ›

In the previous chapter, we introduced two simple kinds of generic swaps: interest rate and currency swaps. These are usually known as “plain vanilla” deals because the structures of these swaps are simple and more or less similar, except for the contract details. These constitute a large part of derivatives trading.

What are the major swap categories? ›

The tests apply to a person's swap positions in each of four major swap categories: rate swaps (any swap based on reference rates such as interest rates or currency exchange rates), credit swaps (any swap based on instruments of indebtedness or related indices), equity swaps (any swap based on equities or equity ...

Is a swap a type of M&A? ›

Stock swaps can constitute the entirety of the consideration paid in a merger and acquisition (M&A) deal; they can be a portion of an M&A deal along with a cash payment to shareholders of the target firm, or they can be calculated for both acquirer and target for a newly-formed entity.

What are the types of swap derivatives? ›

Types of Swaps Derivatives
  • Interest Rate Swaps. Interest rate swaps are powerful financial instruments that effectively mitigate financial risk and optimise business cash flow. ...
  • Currency Swaps. ...
  • Credit Default Swaps. ...
  • Commodity Swaps. ...
  • Equity Swaps.

How do you explain swaps? ›

A swap is an agreement for a financial exchange in which one of the two parties promises to make, with an established frequency, a series of payments, in exchange for receiving another set of payments from the other party. These flows normally respond to interest payments based on the nominal amount of the swap.

What is a basic swap? ›

A basis rate swap (or basis swap) is a type of swap agreement in which two parties agree to swap variable interest rates based on different money market reference rates. The goal of a basis rate swap is for a company to limit the interest rate risk it faces as a result of having different lending and borrowing rates.

How do banks make money on swaps? ›

The bank's profit is the difference between the higher fixed rate the bank receives from the customer and the lower fixed rate it pays to the market on its hedge. The bank looks in the wholesale swap market to determine what rate it can pay on a swap to hedge itself.

Are swaps high risk? ›

What are the risks. Like most non-government fixed income investments, interest-rate swaps involve two primary risks: interest rate risk and credit risk, which is known in the swaps market as counterparty risk. Because actual interest rate movements do not always match expectations, swaps entail interest-rate risk.

What is the difference between swaps and derivatives? ›

Swaps are a type of derivative with a value based on cash flow, as opposed to a specific asset. Parties enter into derivatives contracts to manage the risk associated with buying, selling, or trading assets with fluctuating prices.

What is the difference between swaps and options? ›

An option is the right to buy or sell a certain asset at a fixed price and date, whereas a swap is a contract between two parties wherein they exchange the cash flows from different financial instruments.

How many swaps are required? ›

What is the number of swaps to sort an array using selection sort in each case? In the best case of selection sort, no swaps are required as all the elements are correctly arranged. In the worst-case n-1 passes are there, so swaps are required for n-1 different passes.

What are the basics of swaps? ›

A swap is an agreement for a financial exchange in which one of the two parties promises to make, with an established frequency, a series of payments, in exchange for receiving another set of payments from the other party. These flows normally respond to interest payments based on the nominal amount of the swap.

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