Introduction to total return swaps are a type of credit derivative and off-balance sheet financing tool that creates the potential for tremendous leverage. Total return swaps are a form of credit derivative. They allow two parties to exchange the cash flows arising from the reference instrument (perhaps a loan or. A total return swap is a means of transferring the total economic exposure, including both market and credit risk, of the underlying asset.


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By summing the present value of the price returns and the present values of the cashflows we find the value of the total return leg. Some of the outputs of the total return swap include fair value clean and dirty, the bond price return, present value of the bond coupons and BPV.

Total Return Swap - Video | Investopedia

For more detail one can output both the price returns and the bond cashflows. In exchange, they must pay the asset owner the set rate over the life of the swap.

On the total return swap hand, the asset owner expects to generate additional income in the form of LIBOR-based payments and getting a guarantee against capital losses. CDO issuers enter into a TRS agreement as protection sellers in order to gain exposure to the underlying asset without having to purchase it.

The issuers receive interest on the underlying asset while the asset owner mitigates against credit risk. Benefits of Total Return Swaps One of the benefits of total return swaps is their operational efficiency.

In a TRS agreement, the total total return swap receiver does not have to deal with interest collection, settlements, payment calculations, and reports that are required in a transfer of ownership transaction.

The asset owner retains ownership of the asset, and the receiver does not have to deal with the asset transfer process. A total return total return swap is a contract in which a payer and receiver exchange the credit risk and market risk of an underlying asset.

These swaps are popular with hedge funds because they get the benefit of a large exposure with a minimal cash outlay. Lower cost borrowers, with large balance sheets, are natural payers.

Total return swap

In addition, it allows the receiver to gain this exposure in circumstances when the instrument is not available for sale or when the receiver is prevented, for legal or other reasons, from owning the instrument itself.

The receiver total return swap receive any interest payments and other cash flows generated by the reference obligation, in return for the agreed cash flows which need to be paid to the payer. They will also benefit should the reference obligation appreciate in value, as the payer will have to make a compensatory payment.

If this is considered as part of the initial reason for entering into the swap, it is important to recognise that this implies the receiver taking a contrary view to the payer on the likely future value of the reference obligation.

Total return swaps can be used by banks to manage both the credit risk of their portfolios and their balance sheets. Total return swap credit risk can be managed by exchanging cash flows on high risk instruments with lesser cash flows from lower risk ones.

A bank can also manage its balance sheet by selling the underlying instrument and enabling it to purchase alternative assets. It can retain its receipt of the expected cash total return swap by entering into a total return swap with the buyer of the asset.

Total Return Swap

Thus a bank may have reason to operate on one or total return swap side of a total return swap. Potential problems At the heart of all potential problems with any credit derivative is the fact that each one is an additional contract. This means there are additional risks and exposures to manage.

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The two parties have to agree the precise terms and conditions. This places an additional burden on both parties to ensure that they fully understand the terms and the implications of the total return swap.


In most total return swap, a liquid asset is chosen as the reference obligation. This means it is relatively easy to establish the market price for the instrument. However, if a less liquid instrument is chosen, establishing a market price is more difficult.

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