The Economics of Clearing in Derivatives Markets: Netting, Asymmetric Information, and the Sharing of Default Risks Through a Central Counterparty
University of Houston - Department of Finance
January 8, 2009
Credit derivatives have received intense scrutiny -- and criticism -- as a major contributor to the ongoing financial crisis. In response, regulators have proposed requiring the formation of a central clearinghouse to share default risk on these contracts. A comparative economic analysis of the costs and benefits of alternative default risk sharing mechanisms casts considerable doubt on the advisability of central clearing of credit derivatives. These products are likely to be subject to severe information asymmetry problems regarding their value, risk, and the creditworthiness of those who trade them, and these information asymmetries are likely to be less severe in bilateral markets than in centrally cleared systems. Moreover, although regulators have argued that clearing would reduce systemic risk, a more complete analysis demonstrates that clearing could actually increase risks to the broader financial system.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 78
Keywords: derivatives, default risk, counterparty risk, clearing
JEL Classification: G18, G21, G28
Date posted: February 11, 2009
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