Economics of the Financial System
Show how transactions in derivatives can be used to either hedge risk or to open speculative positions.
Derivatives have become popular in response to the increasing volatility and complexity of financial markets. A diverse range of new financial products have been created to enable market participants to handle the risks arising from trade in securities and to speculate on future expected movements in securities prices, without direct trade in the assets themselves. Derivative contract creates a promise to deliver or trade an underlying product at some time in the future. The contract gives one party a claim on an
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It is therefore advisable to use future contracts when the investor is certain of future outcome as the contract fixes the value of an asset. However, hedging via options is more expensive as it protects from downside loss while leaving upside potentials open with the right but no obligation to purchase asset at a fixed price. Derivatives allow firms to hedge against security prices and interest rate movements, the latter being the most actively traded future contract used by banks and treasury managers. A pension fund manager holds an equity portfolio which closely resembles the US stock market in its compositions. If he thinks the US market is going to fall and wishes to turn his portfolio into cash. He has two choices, he could either sell shares which would not be as profitable because share prices might be depressed if it is a large portfolio plus it is time consuming. Or she could simply sell stock index futures against her portfolio. If accurate, the loss incurred on her equity portfolio will be counterbalanced by a profit on her financial futures position. Derivatives reduce the cost of protection through sophisticated risk management. Firms that are adversely affected by interest rate