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A Brief Guide to
Financial Derivatives
Hedge Funds
Robert M. Hayes
 A “financial derivative” (or, briefly, a derivative) is a contractual
relationship established by two (or more) parties where payment is
based on or "derived" from some agreed-upon benchmark.
 Since individuals can "create" a derivative product by means of an
agreement, the types of derivative products that can be developed
are limited only by the human imagination. Therefore, there can
be no definitive list of derivative products.
 However, some common financial derivatives will be described
later in this presentation, both to illustrate the concept and to
highlight what are readily available.
 Financial derivatives, on the one hand, have great utility. But, on
the other hand, they have been the basis of serious financial losses
suffered by municipal governments, well-known corporations,
banks and mutual funds that had invested in these products.
 They are among the principal tools of investment by “hedge
funds”, so those will also be discussed.
 Derivatives are a type of financial instrument that few of us
understand and fewer still fully appreciate, although many of us
have invested indirectly in derivatives by purchasing mutual funds
or participating in a pension plan whose underlying assets include
derivative products.
 When one enters into a derivative product arrangement, the
medium and rate of repayment are specified in detail. For
instance, repayment may be in currency, securities, or a physical
commodity such as gold or silver. Similarly, the amount of
repayment may be tied to movement of interest rates, stock
indexes or foreign currency.
 Derivative products also may contain leveraging, i.e., the use of
borrowed money to pay for significant portions of the cost.
 Leveraging acts to multiply (favorably or unfavorably) the impact
on the total repayment obligations of the parties to the derivative
Why Have Financial Derivatives?
 Basically, derivatives are intended to be risk-shifting devices.
 Initially, they were used to reduce exposure to changes in foreign
exchange rates, interest rates, or stock indexes. For example, if an
American company expects payment for a shipment of goods in
British Pound Sterling, it may enter into a derivative contract with
another party to reduce the risk that the exchange rate with the
U.S. Dollar will be more unfavorable at the time the bill is due and
paid. Under the derivative instrument, the other party is obligated
to pay the company the amount due at the exchange rate in effect
when the derivative contract was executed. By using a derivative
product, the company has shifted the risk of exchange rate
movement to another party.
Derivatives in a broader sense
 It is worthwhile to recognize that, while financial derivates as we
will discuss them are relatively recent, there is a long history of
their use in well established ways.
 An Insurance Policy is a derivative, in which the underlying asset
is the person insured and the risks relate to age, job, health,
liability, etc.
 The Share Price on a stock is a derivative, in which the underlying
assets are the resources of the company, its revenue, profit, interest
rate, competitors. And the risks, of course, relate to all of those.
 A Bank Loan is a derivative, in which the underlying asset is the
collateral and the risks are the uncertainties in payment.
 A Mutual Fund is a derivative, in which the underlying assets are
the stocks in which the mutual fund has invested, the risks are
those in managing any investment.
 More recently, derivatives have been used to segregate categories
of investment risk that may appeal to different investment
strategies used by mutual fund managers, corporate treasurers, or
pension fund administrators. These investment managers may
decide that it is more beneficial to assume a specific "risk"
characteristic of a security.
 For instance, several derivative products may be created based on
debt securities that represent an interest in a pool of residential
home mortgages. One derivative product may provide that the
purchaser receives only the interest payments made on the
mortgages while another product may specify that the purchaser
receives only the principal payments. These derivative products,
which react differently to movements in interest rates, may have
specific appeal to different investment strategies employed by
investment managers.
 The financial markets increasingly have become subject to greater
"swings" in interest rate movements than in past decades. As a
result, financial derivatives have appealed to corporate treasurers
who wish to take advantage of favorable interest rates in the
management of corporate debt without the expense of issuing new
debt securities. For example, if a corporation has issued long term
debt with an interest rate of 7 percent and current interest rates
are 5 percent, the corporate treasurer may choose to exchange (i.e.,
Swap), interest rate payments on the long term debt for a floating
interest rate, without disturbing the underlying principal amount
of the debt itself. (See, Description of Common Financial
Derivatives ).
The Risks
 As derivatives are intended to be risk-shifting devices, it is
important to know the risks being assumed, evaluate those risks,
and continuously monitor and manage those risks. Each party to a
derivative contract should be able to identify all the risks that are
being assumed (interest rate, currency exchange, stock index, long
or short-term bond rates, etc.) before entering into a derivative
 Part of the process in identifying risks is to determine the monetary
exposure of the parties under the terms of the derivative. A problem
in doing so arises when money is not due until the specified date of
performance of the parties' obligations, so the lack of an up-front
commitment of cash may obscure the eventual monetary
significance of the parties' obligations.
 There is need for constant monitoring and managing of the risks
represented by the derivative. Unlike the purchase of an equity or
debt security, the relationships established in the derivative
instrument require constant monitoring for signs of unacceptable
 In particular, while there may have been a degree of risk which
one party was willing to assume initially, that willingness could
change greatly due to intervening and unexpected events.
 Each party to the derivative contract therefore needs to monitor
continuously the commitments represented by the derivative
product and the effect of events on those commitments.
 Financial derivative instruments that have leveraging features
demand closer, even to daily or hourly, monitoring and
 Derivative instruments also may have special income tax and
accounting considerations.
 For example, a Stripped Mortgage Backed Security (SMBS) splits
the cash flows from an underlying pool of mortgages into classes,
called "tranches" which represent different amounts of principal
and interest. One tranche may contain only the principal on the
underlying mortgages, while another may represent only interest
payments. The type of SMBS purchased will determine how the
income is taxed at the federal level.
 Some derivative products may include leveraging features in
which a significant portion of the costs are paid through
borrowing. For example, if only 10% of the costs have been paid
directly, any gains or losses effectively are multiplied by 10.
 These features act to multiply the impact of some agreed-upon
benchmark in the derivative instrument. Negative movement of a
benchmark in a leveraged instrument can act to increase greatly a
party's total repayment obligation.
 When a derivative instrument is the result of negotiation between
the parties for risk-shifting purposes, the leveraging component, if
any, is likely to be unique to that instrument.
 For example, assume a party to a derivative instrument stands to
be affected negatively if the prime interest rate rises before it is
obliged to perform on the instrument. This leveraged derivative
may call for the party to be liable for ten times the amount
represented by the intervening rise in the prime rate. Because of
this leveraging feature, a small rise in the prime interest rate
dramatically would affect the obligation of the party. A significant
rise in the prime interest rate, when multiplied by the leveraging
feature, could be catastrophic.
Combined Derivative Products
 As has already been identified, the range of derivative products is
limited only by the human imagination. Therefore, it is not
unusual for financial derivatives to be merged in various
combinations to form new derivative products.
 For instance, a company may find it advantageous to finance
operations by issuing debt, the interest rate of which, is
determined by some unrelated index and where the company has
exchanged the liability for interest payments with another party.
 This product combines a derivative known as a Structured Note
with another derivative known as an interest rate Swap.
Trading of Derivatives
 Some derivative products are traded on national exchanges.
Regulation of national futures exchanges is the responsibility of the
U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
 National securities exchanges are regulated by the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC).
 Certain financial derivative products, like options traded on a
national securities exchange, have been standardized and are
issued by a separate clearing corporation to sophisticated investors
pursuant to an explanatory offering circular. Performance of the
parties under these standardized options is guaranteed by the
issuing clearing corporation. Both the exchange and the clearing
corporation are subject to SEC oversight.
 Other derivative products are traded over-the-counter (OTC) and
represent agreements that are individually negotiated between
parties. It is especially important to be sure of the reliability of the
parties involved in such cases.
Derivatives in Mutual Funds
 Mutual funds and public companies are regulated by the SEC with
respect to disclosure of material information to the securities
markets and investors purchasing securities of those entities. The
SEC requires these entities to provide disclosure to investors when
offering their securities for sale to the public and mandates filing
of periodic public reports on the condition of the company or
mutual fund.
 The SEC recently has urged mutual funds and public companies to
provide investors and the securities markets with more detailed
information about their exposure to derivative products. The SEC
also has requested that mutual funds limit their investment in
derivatives to those that are necessary to further the fund's stated
investment objectives.
 If you own shares in a mutual fund or participate in a pension plan
and want to know if either the fund or the plan has invested in
financial derivatives, read the annual or quarterly reports
(including notes to the financial statements) and call or write the
fund manager or pension plan administrator in order to receive a
complete response to your inquiry.
Common Financial Derivatives
 There are a number of well known financial derivatives that can
serve as illustrations of the kinds of instruments that are possible:
Forward Contracts.
Stripped Mortgage-Backed Securities
Structured Notes
An Option represents the right (but not the obligation) to buy or
sell a security or other asset during a given time for a specified
price (the "Strike" price).
An Option to buy is known as a "Call“, and an Option to sell is
called a "Put“.
You can purchase Options (the right to buy or sell the security in
question) or sell (write) Options.
If you are a seller of an option, you would become obligated to sell
a security to, or buy a security from, the party that purchased the
Options can be either "Covered" or "Naked“. In a Covered
Option, the contract is backed by the asset underlying the Option,
e.g. , you could purchase a Put on 300 shares of the ABC Corp.
that you now own. In a Naked Option, the contract is not backed
by the security underlying the Option. Options are traded on
organized exchanges and OTC.
Forward Contracts.
 In a Forward Contract, the purchaser and its counterparty are
obligated to trade a security or other asset at a specified date in the
future. The price paid for the security or asset is agreed upon at
the time the contract is entered into, or may be determined at
delivery. Forward Contracts generally are traded OTC.
 A Future represents the right to buy or sell a standard quantity
and quality of an asset or security at a specified date and price.
 Futures are similar to Forward Contracts, but are standardized
and traded on an exchange, and are valued, or "Marked to
Market " daily. The Marking to Market provides both parties with
a daily accounting of their financial obligations under the terms of
the Future.
 Unlike Forward Contracts, the counterparty to a Futures contract
is the clearing corporation on the appropriate exchange. Futures
often are settled in cash or cash equivalents, rather than requiring
physical delivery of the underlying asset. Parties to a Futures
contract may buy or write Options on Futures.
Stripped Mortgage-Backed Securities
 Stripped Mortgage-Backed Securities, called "SMBS, " represent
interests in a pool of mortgages, called "Tranches ," the cash flow
of which has been separated into interest and principal
 Interest only securities, called "IOs ," receive the interest portion
of the mortgage payment and generally increase in value as
interest rates rise and decrease in value as interest rates fall.
Where the underlying mortgages for an IO carry variable
("floating") rates of interest, the value of the IOs tend to increase
in periods of rising interest rates due to anticipated higher interest
payments on the underlying mortgages. For IOs that have
underlying mortgages at a fixed rate, the value of IOs also tends to
increase in value during periods of rising interest rates because
individual homeowners are less likely to refinance and prepay
their mortgages. The value of the SMBS would therefore, tend to
increase over the "life" of the mortgage instrument.
 Principal only securities, called "POs ," receive the principal
portion of the mortgage payment and respond inversely to interest
rate movement. As interest rates go up, the value of the PO would
tend to fall, as the PO becomes less attractive compared with other
investment opportunities in the marketplace.
 Some Tranches may offer interest and principal payments in
various combinations. Planned Amortization Classes "PACs, " for
instance, provide stable interest and principal repayments if the
rates of prepayments on the underlying mortgages stay within a
specified predetermined range.
Pooled Mortgages
 Another potential derivative in which the underlying assets are a
set of mortgages might pool the mortgages based on time period.
Thus, one might pool mortgages that will end within five years,
another within ten years, etc.
 In this way, the lender holding those mortgages can transfer the
risk related to them to investors who evaluate the risk based on the
time when the lent funds will be returned.
Structured Notes
 Structured Notes are debt instruments where the principal and/or
the interest rate is indexed to an unrelated indicator.
 An example of a Structured Note would be a bond whose interest
rate is decided by interest rates in England or the price of a barrel
of crude oil.
 Sometimes the two elements of a Structured Note are inversely
related, so as the index goes up, the rate of payment (the "coupon
rate") goes down. This instrument is known as an "Inverse
 With leveraging, Structured Notes may fluctuate to a greater
degree than the underlying index. Therefore, Structured Notes can
be an extremely volatile derivative with high risk potential and a
need for close monitoring. Structured Notes generally are traded
 A Swap is a simultaneous buying and selling of the same security
or obligation. Perhaps the best-known Swap occurs when two
parties exchange interest payments based on an identical principal
amount, called the "notional principal amount."
 Think of an interest rate Swap as follows: Party A holds a 10-year
$10,000 home equity loan that has a fixed interest rate of 7
percent, and Party B holds a 10-year $10,000 home equity loan
that has an adjustable interest rate that will change over the "life"
of the mortgage. If Party A and Party B were to exchange interest
rate payments on their otherwise identical mortgages, they would
have engaged in an interest rate Swap.
 The "Swaps market" has grown dramatically. Today, Swaps
involve exchanges other than interest rates, such as mortgages,
currencies, and "cross-national" arrangements. Swaps may
involve cross-currency payments (U.S. Dollars vs. Mexican Pesos)
and crossmarket payments, e.g., U.S. short-term rates vs. U.K.
short-term rates. Swaps may include "Caps“, "Floors“, or Caps
and Floors combined ("Collars").
 A derivative consisting of an Option to enter into an interest rate
Swap, or to cancel an existing Swap in the future is called a
"Swaption ." You can also combine a interest rate and currency
Swap (called a "Circus" Swap).
 Swaps generally are traded OTC through Swap dealers, which
generally consist of large financial institution, or other large
brokerage houses. There is a recent trend for Swap dealers to
Mark to Market the Swap to reduce the risk of counterparty
Hedge Funds
 Like mutual funds, hedge funds collect pools of money from
investors. However, they differ in the respect that:
Hedge funds are not required to register with the SEC.
Hedge funds are not required to maintain any particular
degree of diversification or liquidity.
Hedge fund investors must qualify as “financially
sophisticated” investors.
 Hedge fund managers have considerable freedom to follow various
investment strategies, or styles.
 The objective is to obtain above-average returns using aggressive,
high-risk strategies unavailable to mutual funds and other
traditional money managers
 Hedge fund fees:
General management fee of 1-2% of fund assets
Performance fee of 20-40% of profits
Hedge Funds Strategies
 Investing strategies include, but are not limited, to:
Short selling
Alan Greenspan, on Hedge Funds 1
 “Of course, much of the unease about credit risk transfer outside
the banking system reflects the growing role that hedge funds play
in those markets and in the financial system generally. Although
comprehensive data on the size of the hedge fund sector do not
exist, total assets under management are estimated to be around $1
trillion. Inflows to hedge funds have been especially heavy since
2001, as investors have sought alternatives to long-only investment
strategies in the wake of the bursting of the equity bubble. By
some estimates, the size of the hedge fund sector doubled between
2001 and 2004. A substantial portion of the inflows to hedge funds
in recent years reportedly has come from pension funds,
endowments, and other institutional investors rather than from
wealthy individuals.
Alan Greenspan, on Hedge Funds 2
 “Hedge funds have become increasingly valuable in our financial
markets. They actively pursue arbitrage opportunities across
markets and in the process often reduce or eliminate mispricing of
financial assets. Their willingness to take short positions can act as
an antidote to the sometimes-excessive enthusiasm of long-only
investors. Perhaps most important, they often provide valuable
liquidity to financial markets, both in normal market conditions
and especially during periods of stress. They can ordinarily
perform these functions more effectively than other types of
financial intermediaries because their investors often have a
greater appetite for risk and because they are largely free from
regulatory constraints on investment strategies.”
Why Are Hedge Funds Interesting?
 Due to their unregulated nature, hedge funds can take on huge
positions, affect market dynamics and cause financial collapses:
LTCM in the 1997 Asian crisis and the 1998 Russian debt crisis
($3.6 billion bailout plan to rescue the fund)
Soros in the 1992 ERM crisis (funded a $10 billion short position
in sterling, using collateral and margins)
 Understanding the role of hedge funds in the global financial
markets might help prevent future crises
Greenspan’s Big Blunders 1
 By the end of September 1998 Greenspan was caught with blood
on his hands when one of the 4,000 hedge funds, mediocre Long
Term Capital Management (LTCM) was about to go bankrupt in
running short 13 million ounces of gold, having misjudged its price
resistance at $294 as against the anticipated bearer price of $270.
In carrying a debt load 100 times as great as its net assets,
Greenspan rushed to its aid by twisting the arm of 16 large banks
in providing $3.5 billion rescue package. It is easy to work out that
the Fed, in order to depress the gold price at $300 less 10% equals
$270, corresponding to 5% times the Fed's gold holding of 261
million ounces equals 13 million ounces, times $270 totals $3.5
billion, represented the Fed's bearer transaction with LTCM in
line with the policy statement made by Greenspan on 30 July 1998.
Greenspan’s Big Blunders 2
 It demonstrates that the Fed had no scruples to engage itself in
such large bearer transaction with the undercapitalised LTCM, an
outright risky deal which should not have been entertained by a
Central Bank at all. A most deceptive leasing transaction,
unworthy in the books of any banker, certainly a Central Bank
looked upon to protect the reserves of the nation. In the process
the Union Bank of Switzerland lost $700 million, and fired its
President, Cabiollovetta.
 It is pretty obvious that the Fed, in having arranged such a lifeboat
for the LTCM, guarantees must have been given to the 16 large
banks and other hedge funds engaged in gold-bearer sales to make
good the large R3.5 billion assistance by providing more large
bearer gold lease contracts to depress the price further, and
compensate those 16 banks whilst facilitating other hedge funds in
their bearer gold transactions.
Types of Hedge Funds
Macro funds
Global funds
Long only funds
Market-neutral funds
Sectoral hedge funds
Dedicated short sales
Event-driven funds
Funds of funds
Special situation funds
Pure equity funds
Convertible arbitrage funds
Commodity trading advisor
Private equity funds
Risk arbitrage funds
Emerging market funds
Restructured or defaulted
security funds
Hedging Examples
 A US company will pay £10 million for imports from Britain in 3
months and decides to hedge using a long position in a forward
 An investor owns 1,000 Microsoft shares currently worth $73 per
share. A two-month put for 100 shares with a strike price of $65
costs $2.50. The investor decides to hedge by buying 10 contracts.
Speculation Example
 An investor with $4,000 to invest feels that Cisco’s stock price will
increase over the next 2 months. The current stock price is $20 and
the price of a 2-month call option with a strike of 25 is $1
 What are the alternative strategies?
Arbitrage Example
 A stock price is quoted as £100 in London and $172 in New York
 The current exchange rate is 1.7500
 What is the arbitrage opportunity?
The End