March 6, 2013

Futurised Swaps – Video of the CME and LCH Point of View at the CFTC Roundtable

The CFTC had a large meeting to discuss futurised OTC products, below is a 15 minute extract of the full 6 hours where Kim Taylor (President of their Clearing Business) and Dan Maguire (President of Yorkshire, and a Senior in SwapClear US), speak about the topic.

Key points from Kim

  • Capital was insufficient to cover market losses in the crisis, leading to a spiral of margin calls and a bail out, Dodd Frank is the US approach to solving this problem
  • The DFA is one solution, to redesign the OTC market, and enhanced use of Futures is also a legitimate approach to the same goals
  • There are 40-50 ‘line items’ for Deliverable Swap Futures, meaning 40-50 distinct products
  • There were 60,000 ‘line items’ for Lehman in SwapClear. BH: I don’t count each slight permutation of an IRS as a distinct “product”, so an IRS based on ACT/360 isn’t so different from a swap based on ACT/365, in my opinion
  • The diverse set of line items in the OTC market prevents liquidity formation. BH: I disagree, true liquidity can be measured from market activity by looking inside MarkitWire / SwapClear, and then into the CME Deliverable Swap Future stats.
  • Compare turnover of trades to open positions, in futures the market rotates 25 times per year, in OTCs about 2.5 times (no background data provided)
  • There are an estimated 5m participants in the futures market, compared to 30,000 in the OTC market.
    • BH comments:
    • But do those 5m all trade deliverable swap futures? And would they step up to take the other side of a DSF when CME were trying to sell off a defaulters portfolio?
    • The SwapClear model mandates that surviving members must participate in the auction process, of which there are now around 70 corporate groups representing a large proportion of the whole swap market.
    • Are traders in DSFs obliged to participate in a liquidation situation?
  • The reduced number of line items means trade netting is an order of magnitude better in futures than OTC
    • BH: Both CME and SwapClear provide trade netting of OTC IRS in their CCPs, it’s relatively easy, although not intrinsic to the IRS product the way a future contract is
  • Methods of liquidation in Deliverable Swap Futures
    • Open market sale
    • Private negotiated sale
    • Competitive auction
  • For an OTC default CME only use a competitive auction, due to the different profile of an IRS portfolio
  • An FCM must post the minimum CCP margin, but can collect more if they wish

Key points from Dan

  • SwapClear contains 60-70% of the global OTC IR swap market
  • SwapClear has cleared $19trn of the $20trn buy-side Swaps anywhere in the world (i.e. other CCPs have only captured $1trn of buy-side business)
  • SwapClear clears $2trn notional per day, higher than implied by Kim perhaps
  • Also torn up $170trn of IRS (I assume he means in partnership with TriOptima / TriReduce)
  • Workflow for OTC is now more standardised, the flow from execution to clearing is much smoother
  • OTC products hedge non-standard risks – the raison d’être of the market
  • The portfolio at SwapClear when Lehman defaulted was 66,000 IRS in 5 currencies, $9trn of notional, maximum maturity of 30 years
  •  30% to 40% of Lehman’s IM was used during the Default Management Process, the remainder returned to the estate of Lehman / their administrators
  • No-one in SwapClear lost a penny as a result (is that a US cent or an English 1p?)
  • Rate risk can be transferred and transformed, but doesn’t “disappear” so transmuting OTC Swaps into Futures will just move the problem, not solve it
  • Why would a $10m DV01 in exposure attract a 2 day VaR holding period on an Exchange, and the same risk as an OTC cleared product attract a 5 day holding period?
  • The key is: do you have access to liquidity in a default?
  • Shouldn’t the holding period in any market be derived from the liquidity [and other key issues in a default], rather than by top down regulatory mandate?

I cut Dan off slighty short on the video, sorry Dan.

My key points

  • You can download a spreadsheet of volumes of DSFs here:
  • More work needs to be done to relate the holding period on a VaR calculation back to the participants in the market, and conditions in a default.
  • Likewise the legal basis which obliges (or doesn’t) oblige folks to take a defaulters positions need examination
  • The point about DV01 above is worth more examination

Source videos, 6 hours long:

[wpvideo nEMn4OzR]

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