Currency Swaps Definition

  • 7 min read
  • Feb 02, 2022

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When the swap is over, if principal amounts were exchanged, they are exchanged once more at the agreed upon rate or the spot rate. Both options and swaps are derivatives; i.e. financial instruments whose value depends on the value of an underlying asset. The key difference between option and swap is that an option is a right, but not an obligation to buy or sell a financial asset on a specific date at a pre-agreed price whereas a swap is an agreement between two parties to exchange financial instruments.

options and swaps

  • Considered to be a foreign exchange transaction, currency swaps are not required by law to be shown on a company’s balance sheet.
  • When the contract comes to maturity, the European company would pay US$1 billion in principal back to the American company and would receive its initial €500 million in exchange.
  • It includes spot exchange of the principal, Continuing exchange of the payment of the interest during the swap terms, and Re-exchange of the principal amount on the date of maturity.

While the underlying instrument can be any security, flows are commonly exchanged in swaps. The most basic type of a swap is referred to as a plain vanilla swap while there are different types of swaps as mentioned below. Commodity swaps involve the exchange of a floating commodity price and consists of a floating leg component and a fixed leg component. The former is linked to the market price of the underlying commodity while the latter is specified in the contract as the producer of the commodity decides to pay a floating rate . The most commonly used commodity for these swaps is crude oil and generally involve large institutions due to the nature and size of the contracts. A commodity swap is usually used to hedge against the price change in the market for crucial and valuable commodities like livestock, oil, etc.

Foreign Exchange (FX) Swaps

An approach to work around this is to select one currency as the funding currency (e.g. USD), and select one curve in this currency as the discount curve (e.g. USD interest rate swap curve against 3M LIBOR). Cashflows in any other currency are first swapped into the funding currency via a cross currency swap and then discounted. A foreign exchange swap should not be confused with a currency swap, which is a rarer long-term transaction governed by different rules. Once a foreign exchange transaction settles, the holder is left with a positive (or “long”) position in one currency and a negative (or “short”) position in another. In order to collect or pay any overnight interest due on these foreign balances, at the end of every day institutions will close out any foreign balances and re-institute them for the following day.

Currency swaps don’t need to appear on a company’s balance sheet, while a loan would. A currency swap is often referred to as a cross-currency swap, and for all practical purposes, the two are basically the same. Technically, a cross-currency swap is the same as an FX swap, except the two parties also exchange interest payments on the loans during the life of the swap, as well as the principal amounts at the beginning and end. The fixed-for-fixed rate currency swap involves exchanging fixed interest payments in one currency for fixed interest payments in another.

Types of Currency Swap Contracts

Thus, both companies will seek to obtain the necessary funds through debt financing. Company A and Company B will prefer to borrow in their domestic currencies and then enter into the currency swap agreement with each other. In a currency swap, or FX swap, the counter-parties exchange given amounts in the two currencies. For example, one party might receive 100 million British pounds , while the other receives $125 million.


Further you can also file TDS returns, generate Form-16, use our Tax Calculator software, claim HRA, check refund status and generate rent receipts for Income Tax Filing. Swaps can be considered as a relatively new type of derivative as they were introduced in the late 1980s and have quickly become one of the most commonly and frequently used traded financial contracts. Assessing Competitive AdvantageDollarsSwiss FrancsGroup A 6%10%Group B 5%11%In this example, Group A enjoys a comparative advantage over Group B in borrowing Swiss francs, but Party A wants to borrow dollars. They are also used as a construction tool to build collateralized discount curves to value future cash flows denominated in one currency but collateralized with another.

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A currency swap consists of two streams of fixed or floating interest payments denominated in two currencies. In addition, if the swap counterparties previously agreed to exchange principal amounts, those amounts must also be exchanged on the maturity date at the same exchange rate. Foreign currency swaps can involve the exchange of fixed rate interest payments on currencies. Or, one party to the agreement may exchange a fixed rate interest payment for the floating rate interest payment of the other party. A swap agreement may also involve the exchange of the floating rate interest payments of both parties.

Initiated as a way of avoiding currency regulations, the practice had, by the mid-1990s, largely been replaced by currency swaps. • FX swap is a contract between two parties that simultaneously agrees to buy a specific amount of a currency at an agreed on rate, and to sell the same amount of currency at a later date at an agreed on rate. In a currency swap, a currency’s interest and occasionally principal are exchanged for the equivalent amount in another. An XCS allows parties to lock in the exchange rate at the point of origin, ensuring that cash flows are predictable. The borrower may wind up paying far more than they would have if they had taken up the loan at the higher international rate initially available if the spot rate changes negatively.



Posted: Fri, 24 Feb 2023 11:14:08 GMT [source]

While the idea of a swap by definition normally refers to a simple exchange of property or assets between parties, a currency swap also involves the conditions determining the relative value of the assets involved. That includes the exchange rate value of each currency and the interest rate environment of the countries that have issued them. The currency rate can be either fixed or floating, whichever one of the parties chooses. A fixed currency rate is set by the party with the base currency, while the floating currency rate is based on the floating exchange rate. In essence, a currency swap can be viewed at as an incentive to place long-term trades in the forex market.

How Do Currency Swaps Work?

Credit and funding risks still exist for collateralised trades but to a much lesser extent. The Piper Company will then pass the $150 million to swap bank that will pass it on to the British Petroleum Company who will use the funds to finance the construction of its U.S. refinery. To secure cheaper debt (by borrowing at the best available rate regardless of currency and then swapping for debt in desired currency using a back-to-back-loan).

These contracts allow two parties to buy or sell an asset at a specific price and future time…. In this article, we are going to dig in and look at what currency swaps are, some examples, and their benefits. Familiarity with the wide variety of forex trading strategies may help traders adapt and improve their success rates in ever-changing market conditions. One is a UK business looking to expand into the US and one is a US business looking to expand into the UK.

Currency swap

The currency swap is useful when a company forecasts a short-term liquidity shortfall in a specific currency, and has sufficient funds in a different currency to effect a swap into the currency where the funds are needed. There are different kinds of currency swaps, such as exchange of principle, exchange of interest rates or both. You have to be very careful when you are making a currency swap because there are many things that you will have to keep track of. You will have to keep track of the yearly LIBOR rate and the exchange rate fluctuations, among other things. A currency swap is a way for you to increase your ROI by reducing your forex exposure. In other words, you can free up capital that would otherwise be used in the forex market, which will make more money available for other investments.

The involved in this swap are called total return payer and total return receiver. An alternate way to get cash flows in foreign currencies is to borrow in local currency and exchange the cash flows at the spot rate. Assume the British party wants to borrow $150 million and lends £50 million to the American party. The British party gets an introductory swap price and interest payments from its counterparty in pounds for the length of the contract. Cross-currency swaps are necessary to measure yields on a standardized USD basis, making them a crucial part of contemporary financial markets. It includes spot exchange of the principal, Continuing exchange of the payment of the interest during the swap terms, and Re-exchange of the principal amount on the date of maturity.

  • The Federal Reserve holds the foreign currency in an account at the foreign central bank.
  • In a transaction arranged by investment banking firm, Salomon Brothers, the World Bank entered into the very first currency swap in 1981 with IBM.
  • We have already covered the main purpose of a currency swap, which is to reduce exposure to risk.
  • An American company may be able to borrow in the United States at a rate of 6%, but requires a loan in rand for an investment in South Africa, where the relevant borrowing rate is 9%.
  • As a result, the locked-in rate may appear relatively dismal or great after the transaction.

As traders know roughly how much holding a currency position will make or cost on a daily basis, specific trades are put on based on this; these are referred to as carry trades. It is also common to trade “forward-forward” transactions, where the first leg is not a spot transaction, but already a forward date. The success of the currency swap market and the success of the Eurobond market are explicitly linked.

The foreign currency that the Federal Reserve acquires is an asset on the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. Because the swap is unwound at the same exchange rate that is used in the initial draw, the dollar value of the asset is not affected by changes in the market exchange rate. The dollar funds deposited in the accounts that foreign central banks maintains at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are a Federal Reserve liability.


In the second case, two parties agree to exchange their interest rate payments obligations on underlying loans. There is no principal exchanged at the outset, and the two parties are in a legally binding contract independent of the underlying lenders. Companies can agree to exchange interest rate payments to reduce the cost of borrowing or to guard against other uncertainties related to the underlying principal amount. Consider a company that is holding U.S. dollars and needs British pounds to fund a new operation in Britain. Meanwhile, a British company needs U.S. dollars for an investment in the U.S. The two seek each other out through their banks and come to an agreement where they both get the cash they want without having to go to a foreign bank to get a loan, which would likely involve higher interest rates and increase their debt loads.

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