The Office of the Chief Economist produces original research papers on a broad range of topics relevant to the CFTC’s mandate to foster open, transparent, competitive, and financially sound markets in U.S. futures, option on futures, and U.S. swaps markets. In this role, the papers are written, in part, to inform the public on derivatives market issues and can be freely accessed below. They are commonly presented at academic conferences, universities, government agencies, and other research settings. The papers help inform the agency’s policy and regulatory work, and many are published in peer-review journals and other scholarly outlets.
The analyses and conclusions expressed in the papers are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of other members of the Office of Chief Economist, other Commission staff or the Commission itself.
We study the usage of interest rate swaps (IRS) by U.S. public defined-benefit pension plans, their role in interest rate risk management, and transparency to the public.
We first describe the duration risk of these pensions, show that it is large, and review how it is commonly believed to be hedged with IRS.
Using regulatory data from the CFTC, we document that the pensions collectively hold material positions in IRS. However, these positions are held by a minority of funds, are small relative to their duration hedging needs, and the net positions are often in the wrong direction to serve as hedges. Swaptions and interest rate futures are not generally used as substitute hedges.
We analyze the public disclosures of pensions identified as IRS users in the data. We find that most are not sufficiently transparent to conduct interest rate risk analysis, some do not clearly disclose the existence of IRS in their portfolios, and the transparency of their disclosures is not significantly related to whether their IRS usage is consistent with hedging.
The Financial Review (forthcoming) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fire.12366
• We examine systematic and idiosyncratic determinants of Amihud price impact and microstructure noise proxying for permanent and transitory components of commodity futures liquidity.
• For idiosyncratic factors, we identify that excess hedging demand increases price impact and noise while active position taking (by market-makers) in excess of the hedging demand reduces noise.
• For systematic factors, lack of competition among liquidity providers adversely impact liquidity, but this effect is mitigated if liquidity providers are well capitalized.
• We also show that the Supplementary leverage ratio (SLR) makes holding inventory costlier and is associated with lower liquidity.
Journal of Securities Operations & Custody, Volume 15, No. 3, 2023. Link
The Uncleared Margin Rule (UMR) was a global regulation that requires entities to post a minimum amount of collateral (margin) on their uncleared swaps. The goal of the rule was both to provide greater security for uncleared swaps, and to encourage central clearing of swaps.
The rule was phased in over time, initially applying to the largest financial entities, while eventually covering virtually all swap traders. We examine the impact of the final two phases on trading and clearing in Non-Deliverable Forward (NDF) foreign exchange markets.
While the trade press suggested that imposition of the rule on the last two phases of entities would inhibit trading, we find little evidence of that. We show that trading volume was largely unaffected by the extension of the rule to these additional entities.
We find evidence that some of the newly in-scope entities reacted to the UMR by increasing their use of central clearing; from less than 9% of trades prior to phase 5 to over 15% after phase 6 went into effect.
These changes were somewhat in contrast to the effect of previous phases. In the earlier phases, the UMR largely affected the clearing decisions of entities that were clearing members of the London Clearinghouse. In contrast, we observe large changes in clearing for phase 5 and 6 entities, even though none of those entities were members of the clearinghouse.
Overall, clearing in the NDF market increased from 31% prior to phase 5 to almost 44% after phase 6.
We use rich regulatory data on intraday transactions and end-of-day positions of traders to examine how participation of high-frequency traders (HFTs) affects market quality.
Panel estimation evidence shows that greater participation by HFTs is strongly associated with improvements in market quality, whereas higher rates of aggressive, directional trading produce an adverse, partially offsetting effect.
While futures contracts are sensitive to market uncertainty, as measured by the VIX, they are even more sensitive to own price volatility.
We take advantage of the 2015 change in CME's daily settlement methodology for agricultural commodities to address potential endogeneity using a fixed-effects difference-in-difference setup.
Our results are robust to relying on alternative estimation techniques, using overly conservative (clustered) standard errors, modeling various forms of cross-sectional and temporal dependence, as well as studying each market separately.
We measure how quickly market participants enter an order into the limit order book after their existing order was executed or cancelled
We find that traders take longer to place a new market order compared to a new limit order
We also find that market participants are quicker to place a new order if there are more executions taking place in the market, if there are more new orders being placed on the limit order book; but market participants are slower to place a new order if there are more cancellations happening on the limit order book.
Our study examines whether U.S. banks use interest rate swaps to hedge the interest rate risk of their loans and securities.
Data from the largest 250 U.S. banks show that the average bank has a large notional amount of swaps, more than 10 times its assets.
However, after accounting for offsetting swap positions, the average bank has almost no exposure to interest rate risk from its swap positions.
While there is some variation across banks, with some bank swap positions decreasing and some increasing with rates, but aggregating swap positions at the level of the banking system reveals that most swap exposure are offsetting.
Therefore, as a description of prevailing practice, we conclude that swap positions are not economically significant in hedging the interest rate risk of bank assets.
This paper proposes Entity-Netted Notionals (ENNs) as a metric of interest rate risk transfer in the interest rate swap (IRS) market. Unlike notional amounts, ENNs normalize for risk and account for bilateral netting of long and short positions.
As of March, 2019, IRS notional amount for U.S.-reporting entities is $231 trillion, but ENNs are only $13.9 trillion in 5-year swap equivalents. Measured with ENNs, the size of the IRS market is approximately the same as other large U.S. fixed income markets.
This paper quantifies the size and direction of IRS positions across and within business sectors. The extensive netting of IRS longs and shorts is due to relatively few, large entities: over all entities, 92% are either exclusively long or exclusively short, consistent with being prototypical end users.
Some sector-specific findings call for additional research. While pension funds and insurance companies are net long, as sectors, presumably to hedge long-term liabilities, approximately 50% of these entities are actually net short.