Derivatives and Systemic Risk: Netting, Collateral, and Closeout
Robert R. Bliss
Wake Forest University - Schools of Business
George G. Kaufman
Loyola University Chicago
May 10, 2005
FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. 2005-03
In the U.S., as in most countries with well-developed securities markets, derivative securities enjoy special protections under insolvency resolution laws. Most creditors are "stayed" from enforcing their rights while a firm is in bankruptcy. However, many derivatives contracts are exempt from these stays. Furthermore, derivatives enjoy netting and close-out, or termination, privileges which are not always available to most other creditors. The primary argument used to motivate passage of legislation granting these extraordinary protections is that derivatives markets are a major source of systemic risk in financial markets and that netting and close-out reduce this risk. To date, these assertions have not been subjected to rigorous economic scrutiny. This paper critically reexamines this hypothesis. These relationships are more complex than often perceived. We conclude that it is not clear whether netting, collateral, and/or close-out lead to reduced systemic risk, once the impact of these protections on the size and structure of the derivatives market has been taken into account.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 34
Keywords: systemic risk, derivatives, close-out netting
JEL Classification: G18, G28, G33
Date posted: May 28, 2005
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