Saturday, May 22, 2010

Clearinghouse for Derivatives = Good

The reason why the big boys don't want a clearinghouse is because they are able to profit on information asymmetry. A good portion of profits on derivatives is made off of buying CDS, taking a cut, and then selling the CDS to someone else with a lower "premium" payout. So I sell a CDS to Bank A and receive $40,000 per year for every $10M insured. If I can purchase a CDS on the same company for under $40,000, I've just made money risk free. No not really risk free in reality, but it is to these guys. A clearinghouse would stop these transactions because everyone would know that the market price is $40,000.

The reason why there are so many CDS outstanding is because everyone plays the, pass it along and take a cut, game. I can purchase a CDS for $50,000 a year, then I write out a CDS for $60,000 a year, giving me a $10,000 a year profit that is hedged away for risk. My buyer can take my $60,000 CDS and sell his own for $65,000 a year, and get $5,000 in "risk-free" profits per year. And on and on this goes until you get a guy who wants to hold on to the CDS because he actually has the bonds to insure, or you find the biggest sucker who can't sell for a higher markup and is stuck with the CDS.

These type of profits provide no value and are born of inefficiencies that can be eliminated by way of a clearinghouse or exchange that posts the prices of the last trade

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