IRS trading system@@ – Eric of Citi

IRS is not transferable. IRS contract can be re-assigned in some cases, but the original 2 counter parties and the new party must all agree.

Both parties must scrutinize the other’s credit worthiness. Libor rate is for top-credit borrowers. If the floating-payer is lower, then the spread on Libor (or the fixed rate?) will reflect that – a.k.a. credit spread. Alternatively, the counter party (floating receiver) can demand collateral.

There’s no secondary market for IRS like there are in listed securities.

Q: Is there an IRS trading system?
%%A: Most needed system might be a deal management system that tracks all our unexpired IRS contracts. Since each deal is bespoke, volume is not high. The basic entity in the system is known not as a position, but a deal. It’s treated like a trade as there are 2 accounts involved, and multiple settlement dates.

Q: Is IRS market regulated?
A: Regulators set limits on total exposure. Participant’s quarterly balance sheets include these IR swaps. One big swap could push a company above the limit.

ED futures to replicate IRS

I feel FRA is the correct thing to replicate IRS…

The LTCM case P13 footnote very briefly described how to replicate IRS using ED futures.

Say we have a vanilla 10Y IRS based on 3M Libor. There are 40 payments, either incoming or outgoing. First payment is 3M after trade date (assuming Jan 1), when BBA announces the 3M Libor for Apr-Jun. Based on the differential against the pre-agreed fixed rate, one party will pay the other.

Here’s how an ED trader replicates this IRS position — On trade date she would simultaneously buy 40 (or sell 40) futures contracts each with a maturity matching those announcement dates.

In both cases, we are sensitive to all the 40 Libor rates to be announced. Each rate is a 3M spot deposit rate.

OIS fund.rate – which side pay xq@collateral#eg IRS

I think whoever accepting/receiving/holding the collateral would pay interest on the collateral. I think the same guy can also lend it out, perhaps overnight. Similar to a bank holding your deposit…

Consider cash collateral for simplicity…

The original owner of the collateral could earn a daily interest if deposited in a bank. When she pledges it as collateral, she is still entitled to the same interest income. Someone has to pay that interest.

Now consider a MBS or a bond. They all generate a periodic income, just like cash collateral.

IRS intuitively – an orange a day#wrong intuition

Selling an IRS is like signing a 2-year contract to supply oranges monthly (eg: to a nursing home) at a fixed price.

Subsequently orange price rises, then nursing home is happy since they locked in a low price. Orange supplier regrets i.e. suffers a paper loss.

P241 [[complete guide]] — Orange County sold IRS (the oranges) when the floating rate (orange price) was low. Subsequently, in 1994 Fed increased the target overnight FF rate, which sent shock waves through the yield curve. This directly lead to higher swap rates (presumably “par swap rates”). Equivalently, the increased swap rate indicates a market expectation of higher fwd rates. We know each floating rate number on each upcoming reset date is evaluated as a FRA rate i.e. a fwd-starting loan rate.

The higher swap rate means Orange County had previously sold the floating stream (i.e. the oranges) too cheaply. They lost badly and went bankrupt.

It’s crucial to know the key parameters of the context, or you hit paradoxes and incorrect intuitions such as:

Coming back to the fruit illustration. Some beginners may feel that rising fruit price is good for the supplier, but wrong. Our supplier already signed a 2Y contract, so the rising price doesn’t help.

investment bank as IRS market maker

See also – Trac Consultancy course handout includes many practical applications of IRS.

A) A lot of (non-financial) corporations (eg. AQQ) have floating interest cost from short term bank _loans_. (I did the same with Citibank SG. Every time I rolls the loan, the interest is based on some floating index.) For risk control and long term planning, they prefer a fixed borrowing cost. They would seek IRS dealers who gives a quote in terms of the swap rate — dealer to charged fixed interest and “Sell floating interest” i.e. “Sell the swap” or “Sell Libor”.

A muni IRS dealer would determine her swap rate using 70% Libor as the floating rate. For each tenor (3 months to 2 years) the ratio is slightly different from 70%.

B) On the other side of the river, a lot of bond issuers (eg IBM) have a fixed interest cost, but to lower it they want floating cost (pay floating). So they find IRS dealers who quote them a swap rate — dealer to PAY fixed and Buy floating interest Income, i.e. dealer Buy the swap.

It's important to get the above 2 scenarios right.


Q: Is it possible for Company A to directly trade with Company B without a dealer? It's improbable to find such a trading partner at the right time. Even if there is, transaction cost is probably too high.

The same dealer could give quotes to both clients. The 2 swap rates quoted are like the bid/ask “published” by the dealer. Dealer might want to pay 500bps for Libor; and simultaneously want to charge (receive) 530bps for Libor.

Dealer doesn't really publish the 2 swap rates because each IRS contract is bespoke. If a dealer happens to have both client A and B then dealer is lucky. He can earn the difference between the 2 swap rates. Usually there's not a perfect match on tenor and amount etc. In such a (normal) case, dealer has outstanding exposure to be hedged. They hedge by buying (selling also?) Eurodollar futures or trading gov bonds with repo.

In summary

AQQ's Motivation to pay fixed – predictable cost

IBM's Motivation to pay floating – lower cost

IRS motivations – a few tips

See also – Trac Consultancy course handout includes many practical applications of IRS.
see also — There’s a better summary and scenarios in the blog on IRS dealers

I feel IR swap is flexible and “joker card” in a suite — with transformation power.

Company B (Borrower aka Issuer) wants to borrow. Traditional solution is a bond issue or unfortunately …. a bank loan (most expensive of all), either fixed or floating rate. A relatively new Alternative is an IRS.

Note bank loan is the most expensive alternative (in terms of capital charge, balance sheet impact …), so if possible you avoid it. Mostly small companies with no choice take bank loans.

Motivation 1  relative funding advantage
Motivation 2 for company B – reduce cost of borrowing fixed
Motivation 3 for Company B – betting on Libor.
* If B bets on Libor to _rise, B would “buy” the Libor income stream of {12 semi-annual payments}, at a fixed (par) swap rate (like 3.5%) agreed now, which is seen as a dirt cheap price. Next month, the par swap rate may rise (to 3.52%) for the same income stream, so B is lucky to have bought it at 3.5%.
* If B bets on Libor to _drop, B would “sell” (paying) the Libor income stream

Motivation 4 to cater to different borrowing preferences. Say Company C is paying a fixed 5% interest, but believes Libor will fall. C wants to pay floating. C can swap with company A so as to pay libor. C will end up paying floating interest to A and receive 5.2% from A to offset the original 5% cost.

Why would A want to do this? I guess A could be a bank.

increasing corporate bond issues -> swap spread narrowing

Look at the LTCM case.

Almost all the issuers are paying fixed coupons. Many of them want to swap to Receive fixed (and pay floating). This creates an (increasing supply for the LFS i.e. Libor floating stream and) increasing demand on the fixed rate. Suppose Mark is the only swap dealer out there, so he could lower the swap spread to be as Low as he likes, so low that Mark’s paying fixed rate is barely above the treasury yield.

Note increasing demand on the fixed rate doesn’t raise it higher but rather hammer it down. Here’s why — if more job seekers now want to earn a fixed salary as a carpenter, then that fixed salary would Drop.

Oversupply to bonds would suppress bond prices, and increase bond yields. Oversupply of bank loans suppresses interest rate. I get many credit line promotion calls offering very low interest rates.

Now I feel it’s easier to treat the Libor floating stream (LFS) as an asset. The price is the swap spread.

When there’s over-supply of LFS, swap spread will tighten;
When there’s over-demand of LFS, swap spread will widen.