Credit derivative

From Academic Kids

A Credit Derivative is a contract (derivative security) to transfer the risk of the total return on a credit asset falling below an agreed level, without transfer of the underlying asset. This is usually achieved by transferring risk on a credit reference asset. Early forms of credit derivative were financial guarantees. Some common forms of credit derivatives are total return swap, credit default swap and credit linked note.


Key concepts of the credit derivatives market

The idea of credit derivatives is to avoid direct ownership of the securities referenced in the transaction. This is achieved, as elsewhere in financial markets, by the use of a reference rate and other reference concepts such as

Reference entity (aka reference credit) 
A specified legal entity, which may be a sovereign, financial institution, corporation, or one of a number of specified entities.
Reference Asset 
A generic term for any holding, obligation, debt or other form of credit instrument that is "referenced" in the transaction
Reference Security 
Usually, a public security issued by the reference entity, but also a reference asset or reference obligation such as a loan or other financial asset.
Credit Event 
An event defined within the credit derivatives contract, that happens in respect of the reference entity. It is usually defined in the Master Agreement of a credit derivatives contract. The three credit events under ISDA (2003) definitions are Bankruptcy, Failure to Pay, Restructuring.

Credit default swap

Main article: credit default swap

The Credit default swap or CDS has become the main engine of the credit derivatives market, offering liquid price discovery and trading on which the rest of the market is based. It is an agreement between a protection buyer and a protection seller whereby the buyer pays a periodic fee in return for a contingent payment by the seller upon a credit event happening in the reference entity. The contingent payment usually replicates the loss incurred by creditors of the reference entity in the event of its default. It covers only the credit risk embedded in the asset, risks arising from other factors such as interest rate movements remaining with the buyer.

Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO)

Main article: collateralized debt obligations

Collateralized Debt Obligations or CDOs are a form of credit derivative offering exposure to a large number of companies in a single instrument. This exposure is sold in slices of varying risk or subordination - each slice is known as a tranche.

In a cashflow CDO, the underlying credit risks are bonds or loans held by the issuer. Alternatively in a synthetic CDO, the exposure to each underlying company is a credit default swap.

Other more complicated CDOs have been developed where each underlying credit risk is itself a CDO tranche. These CDOs are commonly known as CDOs-squared.

Total return swap

Main article: total return swap

A total return swap (a.k.a. Total Rate of Return Swap) is a contract between two counterparties whereby they swap periodic payments for the period of the contract. Typically, one party receives the total return (interest payments plus any capital gains or losses for the payment period) from a specified reference asset, while the other receives a specified fixed or floating cash flow that is not related to the creditworthiness of the reference asset, as with a vanilla Interest rate swap. The payments are based upon the same notional amount. The reference asset may be any asset, index or basket of assets.

The TRS is simply a mechanism that allows one party to derive the economic benefit of owning an asset without use of the balance sheet, and which allows the other to effectively "buy protection" against loss in value due to ownership of a credit asset.


The essential difference between a TRS and a credit default swap (qv) is that the credit default swap provides protection against specific credit events. The total return swap protects the against loss of value irrespective of cause, whether default, widening of credit spreads or anything else.


The calculation of an approximate price for a credit default swap requires the use of arbitrage arguments. Compare (a) the return achieved by one who pays £100 for a risky bond B maturing at time T and (b) the return achieved by one who invests £100 at the risk free rate, until time T, and simultaneously sells protection via a CDS on bond B.

Clearly both positions have a similar risk, which is of bond B going into default. In case (a) the investor gets only the recovery rate attached to B (the amount given a creditor of this type can recover on liquidation), in case (b) the seller of the CDS must purchase bond B for its face value, £100, which entails liquidating the risk free investment, and selling B at its recovery value. Arbitrage arguments suggests that similar risks should be compensated by a similar excess return. Thus the premium paid to the seller of the CDS should be approximately equal to the difference between the coupon of B, and the risk free rate.

To facilitate pricing, premium on a CDS is paid at a similar frequency to that in the swap and bond markets (typically quarterly).

The pricing method is approximate in that it ignores the credit risk of the CDS seller, who may be unable to buy the bond in the event of default (suppose in an extreme case that the seller is also the issuer of the bond which is protected).

Credit Linked Note

Main article: credit linked note

A note whose cash flow depends upon a credit event, which can be a default, credit spread, or rating change. The definition of the relevant credit events must be negotiated by the parties to the note.

A CLN in effect combines a credit-default swap with a regular note (with coupon, maturity, redemption). Given its regular-note features, a CLN is an on-balance-sheet asset, in contrast to a CDS.

Typically, an investment fund manager will purchase such a note to hedge against possible down grades, or loan defaults.

Levels and flows

The BIS reported in december 2004 that notional amount on outstanding credit derivatives was $4.477 trillion with a gross market value of $131 billion(Regular OTC Derivatives Market Statistics (

See also

External links





Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools