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credit default swap (CDS
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A credit default swap (CDS) is a credit derivative contract between two counterparties, whereby the "buyer" or "fixed rate payer" pays periodic payments to the "seller" or "floating rate payer" in exchange for the right to a payoff if there is a default[1] or "credit event" in respect of a third party or "reference entity".

If a credit event occurs, the typical contract either settles by delivery by the buyer to the seller of a (usually defaulted) debt obligation of the reference entity against a payment by the seller of the par value ("physical settlement") or the seller pays the buyer the difference between the par value and the market price of a specified debt obligation, typically determined in an auction ("cash settlement").

A credit default swap resembles an insurance policy, as it can be used by a debt holder to hedge, or insure against a default under the debt instrument. However, because there is no requirement to actually hold any asset or suffer a loss, a credit default swap can also be used for speculative purposes and is not generally considered insurance for regulatory purposes.

Credit default swaps are the most widely traded credit derivative product[2] and the Bank for International Settlements reported the notional amount on outstanding OTC credit default swaps to be $42.6 trillion[1] in June 2007, up from $28.9 trillion in December 2006 ($13.9 trillion in December 2005) and by the end of 2007 there were an estimated USD 45 trillion worth of Credit Default Swap contracts.[3]

But by the end of 2007 there were an estimated USD 62.2 trillion.[4]

In the US, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency reported the notional amount on outstanding credit derivatives from reporting banks to be $16.4 trillion at the end of March, 2008.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_default_swap


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