Understanding Interest Rate Swaps

Edited by CPAs for CPAs, it aims to provide accounting and other financial professionals with the information and analysis they need to succeed in today’s business environment. Josef Rashty, CPA has held managerial positions with several technology based public business entities in Silicon Valley and is an adjunct professor of accounting at Golden Gate University, San Francisco, Calif.

  • The interest rate swap market in USD is closely linked to the Eurodollar futures market which trades among others at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
  • Interest rate swap and floor graph showing the three potential outcomes over time.
  • The Swap Transaction will use terms and conditions as set forth in the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. (hereinafter “ISDA”) Master Agreement.
  • Standards of creditworthiness, as measured by the credit ratings, will determine eligible counterparties.

The FHLBNY makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to the content contained herein, such representations and warranties being expressly disclaimed. Implementing a blend-and-extend approach can be complex, so it’s important to fully understand options before you get started. If you have questions about these transactions or would like to discuss next steps, contact your Moss Adams professional. The following graphic shows the steep drop in interest rates since the beginning of 2019, as calculated by the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate . The CPA Journal is a publication of the New York State Society of CPAs, and is internationally recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication for accounting practitioners, educators, and other financial professionals all over the globe.

Interest Rate Swap

One of the parties will be right and the other will be wrong, but it may not be clear at the time, which is why interest rate swaps tend to be inherently risky. Depending on the notional amount involved, being on the wrong side of the swap can be an incredibly costly proposition. If you have a loan with a variable rate, there’s a good chance that you keep a close eye on interest rates.

  • An amortizing swap is an interest rate swap where the notional principal amount is reduced at the underlying fixed and floating rates.
  • If the forward LIBOR curve, or floating-rate curve, is correct, the 2.5% he receives will initially be better than the current floating 1% LIBOR rate, but after some time, his fixed 2.5% will be lower than the floating rate.
  • For borrowers, these swaps became significant balance-sheet liabilities, particularly after the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent.
  • James Chen, CMT is an expert trader, investment adviser, and global market strategist.
  • Interest rate swaps are forward contracts where one stream of future interest payments is exchanged for another based on a specified principal amount.
  • Interest rate swaps are also used speculatively by hedge funds or other investors who expect a change in interest rates or the relationships between them.

By entering into the swap, the borrower agrees to pay a pre-agreed fixed rate of interest in return for a floating rate. By purchasing a floor, the borrower acquires the opportunity to benefit if the floating rate falls below the floor strike rate. Because actual interest rate movements do not always match expectations, swaps entail interest-rate risk.

Different Types Of Swaps

Because the parties involved are typically large companies or financial institutions, counterparty risk is usually relatively low. But if it should happen that one of the two parties defaults and is unable to meet its obligations under the interest rate swap agreement, then it would be difficult for the other party to collect. It would have an enforceable contract, but following the legal process might well be a long and twisting road.

The interest rate swap market in USD is closely linked to the Eurodollar futures market which trades among others at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Interest rate swaps are also popular for the arbitrage opportunities they provide.

TSI and the bank choose the preferred floating-rate index, which is usually LIBOR for a one-, three-, or six-month maturity. TSI then receives LIBOR plus or minus a spread that reflects both interest rate conditions in the market and its credit rating.


The immediate upside of a blend-and-extend strategy for borrowers is a reduction in short-term cash interest expense during a time when interest rates are extremely low. By spreading out a two-year liability over five years, a borrower pays out less cash each period even though the total term of the liability increases. Additionally, a longer-term transaction allows swap interest-rate protections to stay in place for a longer period of time. Additionally, as interest rates plunged, transactions resulted in significant cash outlays to settle interest rate swaps, even as many companies were in need of short-term cash liquidity relief to run their businesses in a volatile economic environment. As a result, various lenders and borrowers began considering blend-and-extend strategies with respect to their interest rate swaps. The U.S. economy has been improving steadily for the past seven years, and interest rates have remained at historical lows. Nevertheless, there will be an economic slowdown at some point in the future, and the economy will be better positioned if interest rates are relatively high when the downturn starts.

In doing so, a new contractual-swap fixed interest rate is set such that the mark-to-market value of the new swap with the new contractual rate and maturity date approximates the current mark-to-market value of the existing transaction. Due to the drop in US interest rates and market volatility created by the COVID-19 pandemic, lenders and borrows are seeking opportunities to restructure previously executed interest-rate hedges executed to effectively fix interest rates on variable-rate debt. One of these strategies involves executing a blend-and-extend approach with respect to interest rate swaps.

Third, compute and recognize the semiannual interest expense using the combined rate and the fixed-rate debt’s principal amount. Changes in the fair value of hedged items are exactly the same as changes in the fair value of derivatives, and as a result there is no impact on earnings. The floating rate is based on the same index and includes the same constant adjustment or no adjustment. Guide Interest rate swaption An interest rate swaption is an option that provides the borrower with the right but not the obligation to enter into an interest rate swap on an agreed date in the future on terms protected by the swaption. Interest rate swap and floor graph showing the three potential outcomes over time. The LIBOR rate is a commonly used benchmark for determining other interest rates that lenders charge for various types of financing.

Interest Rate Collar

A change in interest rates will impact your borrowing costs and make your monthly payments uncertain. Changes in variable-rate indexes can make it difficult to forecast debt service levels.

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This could cause a significant disconnect between cash received or paid for interest and the related interest revenue or expense recognized in a given financial reporting period. The steep drop in US interest rates has created challenges for companies that have hedged variable-rate debt obligations with an interest rate swap. Over the past few years, many companies have locked into interest rate swaps in the 2%–3% range. For borrowers, these swaps became significant balance-sheet liabilities, particularly after the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent. “Hedge effectiveness” refers to the extent that changes in the fair value of hedge instrument offsets changes in the fair value of the hedged item. The measurement of hedge effectiveness must be consistent with company’s risk management strategies and the method of assessing hedge effectiveness that company has initially documented.

The University shall have the right to optionally terminate a Swap Agreement at any time over the term of the Agreement . Threshold collateral amounts shall be determined by the University on a case-by-case basis. The University will determine the reasonable threshold limits for the initial deposit and for increments of collateral posting thereafter. Collateral shall be pledged to the trustee, an independent third-party, or as mutually agreed upon between the University and the counterparty.

Varying levels of creditworthiness means that there is often a positive quality spread differential that allows both parties to benefit from an interest rate swap. Each currency has its own standard market conventions regarding the frequency of payments, the day count conventions and the end-of-month rule.

Who would use a swap?

Who Would Use a Swap? The motivations for using swap contracts fall into two basic categories: commercial needs and comparative advantage. The normal business operations of some firms lead to certain types of interest rate or currency exposures that swaps can alleviate.

The borrower can seek compensation if the swap was carried out at rates lower than predetermined swap rates. A list of all Swaps with notional value and interest rates, a list of counterparties and their respective credit ratings, and other key terms. Liquidity risk is the risk that the University would be unable to renew a liquidity facility on a floating-rate bond issue.

Interest rate swaps are an effective type of derivative that may be of benefit to both parties involved in using them, in a number of different ways. During the life of the swap the same valuation technique is used, but since, over time, both the discounting factors and the forward rates change, the PV of the swap will deviate from its initial value.

interest rate swap

In December 2015, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark key interest rate by 0.25% for the first time in nearly ten years. Over time, as interest rates implied by the curve change and as credit spreads fluctuate, the balance between the green zone and the blue zone will shift. If interest rates fall or stay lower than expected, the “receiver” of fixed will profit .

In conjunction with the new transaction, extinguishment payments relating to the old swap are financed over the life of the new swap transaction. At the time of de-designation, the gain or loss related to the swap instrument generally must be frozen in other comprehensive income. It must then be amortized into earnings using a rational method—assuming the underlying interest payments remain probable of occurring.

interest rate swap

Thus, understanding the concepts of fixed-rate loans vs. floating rate loans is crucial to understanding interest rate swaps. Consider that Company A issued $10 million in 2-year bonds that have a variable interest rate of the London Interbank Offered Rate plus 1%. Since the company is worried that interest rates may rise, it finds Company B that agrees to pay Company A the LIBOR annual rate plus 1% for two years on the notional principal of $10 million.

With the coexistence of “old” and “new” rates in the market, multi-curve and OIS curve “management” is necessary, with changes required to incorporate new discounting and compounding conventions, while the underlying logic is unaffected; see. Interest rate swaps are used to hedge against or speculate on changes in interest rates. Fixed leg versus fixed leg swaps are rare, and generally constitute a form of specialised loan agreement. Interest rate swaps are sometimes called plain vanilla swaps, since they were the original and often the simplest such swap instruments. A swap can also involve the exchange of one type of floating-rate for another, which is called a basis swap. This article is intended to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered.

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