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Concept# Swap (finance)

Summary

In finance, a swap is an agreement between two counterparties to exchange financial instruments, cashflows, or payments for a certain time. The instruments can be almost anything but most swaps involve cash based on a notional principal amount.
The general swap can also be seen as a series of forward contracts through which two parties exchange financial instruments, resulting in a common series of exchange dates and two streams of instruments, the legs of the swap. The legs can be almost anything but usually one leg involves cash flows based on a notional principal amount that both parties agree to. This principal usually does not change hands during or at the end of the swap;
this is contrary to a future, a forward or an option.
In practice one leg is generally fixed while the other is variable, that is determined by an uncertain variable such as a benchmark interest rate, a foreign exchange rate, an index price, or a commodity price.
Swaps are primarily over-the-counter contr

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This paper provides a brief overview of the stochastic modeling of variance swap curves. Focus is on affine factor models. We propose a novel drift parametrization which assures that the components of the state process can be matched with any pre-specified points on the variance swap curve. This should facilitate the empirical estimation for such stochastic models. Moreover, sufficient and yet flexible conditions that guarantee positivity of the rates are readily available. We finally discuss the relation and differences to affine yield-factor models introduced by Duffie and Kan. It turns out that, in contrast to variance swap models, their yield factor representation requires imposing constraints on systems of nonlinear equations that are often not solvable in closed form.

2012This thesis analyzes the interrelation between market structure and price formation in credit derivatives markets. Traditionally, credit derivatives are traded in relatively opaque over-the-counter markets in which trading is segmented and subject to many imperfections from which illiquidity may arise. Recent regulatory reforms have brought transparency to some credit derivatives markets without affecting their segmented structures. The first chapter, which is joint work with Anders B. Trolle, analyzes whether liquidity risk is priced in the cross section of returns on credit default swaps (CDSs). The analysis is based on a factor pricing model and a tradable liquidity factor that is constructed from returns on index arbitrage strategies. The underlying presumption is that violations of simple no-arbitrage relations between different CDS contracts reflect constraints on the risk-bearing capacity of CDS market intermediaries and, in broad terms, CDS market illiquidity. The analysis reveals priced liquidity risk in that credit protection sellers earn higher expected excess returns on CDS contracts with higher liquidity exposures. The liquidity risk premium is significant and accounts for 24% of CDS spreads, on average. CDS risk premia correlate negatively with proxies for the risk-bearing capacity of CDS market intermediaries, which is consistent with intermediary frictions affecting the pricing of CDSs. The second chapter, which is joint work with Pierre Collin-Dufresne and Anders B. Trolle, analyzes transaction costs in the dealer-to-customer (D2C) and dealer-to-dealer (D2D) segments of the post-Dodd-Frank index CDS market. Dodd-Frank regulations that made all-to-all trading possible had the potential to break up the market's segmented structure but failed to do so. This led to a controversy with some market participants arguing that the segmented structure is optimal and other market participants arguing that dealers maintain the segmented structure in order to limit competition by alternative liquidity providers. The analysis reveals that D2C trades indeed have larger transaction costs than D2D trades but that the differences in transaction costs reflect differences in price impacts rather than differences in profits from liquidity provision. D2C trades are even competitive relative to executable bids and offers in the D2D segment, suggesting that the market structure delivers favorable prices for customers who value immediacy. The third chapter documents a decline of transaction costs and profits from liquidity provision in the index CDS market over a two-and-a-half-year period during which Dodd-Frank regulations were implemented. Transaction costs and profits from liquidity provision declined around the introduction of so-called swap execution facilities (SEFs); i.e., regulated trading platforms that offer pre-trade transparent methods of trade execution. Trades that are executed on SEFs have lower transaction costs and are less profitable from a liquidity provider's perspective in comparison to bilaterally negotiated trades, which is consistent with better comparison shopping and stronger price competition on SEFs. Dodd-Frank regulations mandating on-SEF trade execution that were implemented after the introduction of SEFs did not affect transaction costs and profits from liquidity provision, suggesting that there is no incremental effect associated with mandatory pre-trade transparency.

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We introduce a novel class of term structure models for variance swaps. The multivariate state process is characterized by a quadratic diffusion function. The variance swap curve is quadratic in the state variable and available in closed form, greatly facilitating empirical analysis. Various goodness-of-fit tests show that quadratic models fit variance swaps on the S&P 500 remarkably well, and outperform affine models. We solve a dynamic optimal portfolio problem in variance swaps, index option, stock index and bond. An empirical analysis uncovers robust features of the optimal investment strategy. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.