Derivatives are financial instruments that do not hold independent value, but where instead the value of the instrument is based on the underlying value of a given asset, which can range from financial assets such as stocks, bonds and market indexes to commodity assets such as oil, gold or wheat, to more obscure or exotic assets such as weather or other exotic assets. The four main categories of derivative include forwards, futures, options and swaps, each of which is used for a different risk control technique and each of which has its own unique structure, risk, and potential for return. Derivatives are commonly used in financial firms to balance portfolios and reduce risk by spreading it across the market, or in order to mitigate potential risk by limiting it (for example, placing a ceiling or floor on currency exchanges or purchases).
This paper explores the use of derivatives in the financial market, including their use in portfolio management. Following a thorough definition of the derivative, the paper explores the use of derivatives in portfolio management and other banking activities, and offers a substantive risk assessment that addresses the potential difficulties that the use of these instruments may pose as well as a description of the benefits of using derivatives.
The paper also explores ways in which actual financial institutions use derivatives through examination of public reports and other available information, in order to determine what current practice is in the use of these reports. The report concludes with recommendations for portfolio managers within financial institutions regarding the use of these instruments for risk management as well as the potential dangers of their use. The study is intended to provide an overview guide to this material and an analysis of existing research that can be used for further research and understanding of the subject material.
Chapter 1 - Introduction to the Research Project
The use of derivatives in corporate risk management has come under scrutiny recently in the news, following reports of credit risk derivatives being used improperly by some firms and banks during the mortgage lending collapse of 2007-2008. However, while these instruments may be misused, they also hold an important role in both financial and non-financial firms in hedging risk and balancing corporate portfolios and investments. Derivatives can be used in a number of different applications. These applications include balancing risk across a number of different investors, gaining access to foreign currency or reducing currency exchange risk exposure, and reallocating loan risk across lending portfolios within or among banks.
While these instruments clearly have benefits in terms of balancing, spreading and reducing risk to the individual investor, corporation or bank, there are still considerable risks that must be considered. For example, credit risk derivatives were at fault for revenue losses because they were improperly calculated to be less risky than they actually were. Conversely, a currency option, one type of derivative that reduces the potential for risk in currency exchange rates, could end up being a poor rate if the market does not change in the expected manner. These are just a few of the risks that can be encountered within the use of derivatives in financial and non-financial firms.
This paper presents an overview of the types of derivatives available, the risk involved in using the derivative, and other important factors that must be considered in its use.
The main aim of this research is to explore and identify the derivative structures in the financial market and examine different corporate responses to the changes in the market and uses of these derivatives. The research also examines the impact posed by changes in the market on the corporate portfolio strategy. By first providing an overview of the different types of derivative structures available, and then analyzing corporations in order to identify how they use these structures, the research paper analyzes corporate portfolio diversification as a strategy and explores the potential for derivatives in financial markets.
The main research objectives of this project include:
- Definition of the structure and application of derivatives
- Definition of the risk posed by application of derivatives in a competitive market
- Description of the common usage and potential impact of derivatives on the financial institution
- Examination of the impact of market changes in the corporate portfolio within the financial institution
- Identification of the limitations and risks of derivatives as used in the corporate portfolio
- Identification of appropriate risk management and portfolio management strategies
Importance of the paper
Sustained changes in the financial and competitive environment of industries, increasing globalization and increasing complexity of financial markets has led to an unprecedented period of currency and interest rate volatility worldwide. In order to counter this increase in risk, innovative foreign exchange risk and interest rate risk hedging techniques have developed at a rapid pace. Although these derivatives are intended to assist in risk management and risk minimization, particularly in terms of uncertain cash flows and currency exchange rates, their use has been uncertain, as instruments grow increasingly exotic.
This paper will provide a guide to derivatives and their use in the financial market, as well as provide a clear understanding of the risks involved in the use of derivatives and their appropriate application to risk management, as well as discussion of how the risk of the derivatives themselves may be handled. This information can be used by investment risk managers and others in order to guide policies regarding the use of these instruments and allow for an increased understanding of the underlying issues involving these instruments.
The methodology that will be used is that of desk research and meta analysis. This method will assemble information from a large number of sources, including primarily secondary research, and organize and analyze it in such a way as to create an understanding of the research material in the general case. This information will be able to be used for description of the operation and formulation of derivatives in a number of markets.
The main data collection technique used in this discussion will be secondary research or desk research.
This method was chosen both because of the limited time available to perform the survey and because of the amount of information already available on the subject matter. Secondary information will include primarily a literature review, which will provide background and theoretical information that can be used in order to form an overall picture of the theory and practice of using derivatives and derivative structures. Other secondary data will be used to examine the issues at hand for analysis, including materials such as company reports, journal articles and time series, and previously conducted surveys that address the subject matter.
However, it should be noted that derivatives are not ordinarily considered reportable assets, and so may leave little trace on company reports and discussions. As such, generalized information from sources such as the Bank for International Settlements will be used as much as possible rather than specific firm information.
Following the collection of data using the method described above, the data will be analyzed using a number of techniques. Analysis methods are intended to be both quantitative and qualitative, in accordance with the data available for analysis.
Quantitative analysis will be exploratory and descriptive, using data summaries in such methods as charts, tables, and descriptive statistics. Qualitative analysis techniques that will be used will include categorization, development and analysis of relationships, and descriptive techniques. This data analysis will be used in order to create an overall view of the data that can be used in order to explore the research questions.
Organization of the paper
The table below presents the organization of the remainder of the paper in terms of chapter numbers and contents.
|Chapter 2||Literature review and context review|
|Chapter 3||Methodology overview|
|Chapter 4||Presentation of results of analysis, discussion of results and examination of risk and risk mitigation strategies for firms using derivatives|
|Chapter 5||Conclusions and recommendations for further study|
Table 1 Organization of the paper
This chapter has presented an overview of the aims and objectives of the paper as well as the methods that will be used to explore the research objectives. It will provide a guide to the remainder of the paper. The next chapter, the Literature Review, provides insight into the structure and definition of derivatives as well as providing insight into their use in financial markets.
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