What is mean by Derivative<br /> A derivative can be defined as something which derives its value from an underlying product being a stock, currency, commodity or anything that carries a market price.<br />Derivatives are formally defined in the SCRA, India to include :<br /><ul><li> A security derived from a debt instrument, share, loan whether secured or unsecured, risk instrument or contract for differences or any other form of security, and
A contract which derives its value from the prices, or index of prices, or underlying securities. </li></li></ul><li>Features of Derivatives<br /><ul><li>Derivative are of three kinds future or forward contract, options and swaps and underlying assets can be foreign exchange, equity, commodities markets or financial bearing assets.
As all transactions in derivatives takes place in future specific dates it is easier to short sell then doing the same in cash markets because an individual can take of markets and take the position accordingly because one has more time in derivatives.
Since derivatives have standardized terms due to which it has low counterparty risk, also transactions costs are low in derivative market and hence they tend to be more liquid and one can take large positions in derivative markets quite easily.
When value of underlying assets change then value of derivatives also changes and hence one can construct portfolio which is needed by one and that too without having the underlying asset. So for example if one want to buy some stock and short the market then he can buy the future of a stock and at the same time short sell the market without having to buy or sell the underlying assets.</li></li></ul><li>Characteristics<br />Contd.<br /><ul><li>Measure to hedge against the price risk.
These can be closely matched with specific portfolio requirements.
Close relation with underlying assets.</li></li></ul><li>Why Derivatives<br /><ul><li>Speculate
Hedge a portfolio of shares, bonds, foreign currency.
Undertake arbitrage- i.e. benefits from mispricing.
Engineer or structure desired positions.</li></li></ul><li>Categorization / Types<br /> Derivatives are usually broadly categorized by the:<br /><ul><li>Relationship between the underlying and the derivative (e.g., forward, option, swap)
type of underlying (e.g., equity derivatives, foreign exchange derivatives, interest rate derivatives, commodity derivatives or credit derivatives)
market in which they trade (e.g., exchange-traded or over-the-counter)
pay-off profile (Some derivatives have non-linear payoff diagrams due to embedded optionality)
Another arbitrary distinction is between:</li></ul> 1) vanilla derivatives (simple and more common) and<br /> 2) exotic derivatives (more complicated and specialized)<br />There is no definitive rule for distinguishing one from the other, so the distinction is mostly a matter of custom.<br />
Instruments<br />Derivative instruments can be divided into exchange-traded derivatives and over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives<br />
Contd.<br />Types of OTC<br />OTC (Over the Counter)<br /> Swaps<br />Forward rate Agreements<br />Exotic options<br />
Common Derivative contract Types<br />There are three major classes of derivatives:<br /><ul><li>Futures/Forwards are contracts to buy or sell an asset on or before a future date at a price specified today. A futures contract differs from a forward contract in that the futures contract is a standardized contract written by a clearing house that operates an exchange where the contract can be bought and sold, whereas a forward contract is a non-standardized contract written by the parties themselves.
Options are contracts that give the owner the right, but not the obligation, to buy (in the case of a call option) or sell (in the case of a put option) an asset. The price at which the sale takes place is known as the strike price, and is specified at the time the parties enter into the option. The option contract also specifies a maturity date. </li></li></ul><li>Contd.<br /><ul><li>Swaps are contracts to exchange cash (flows) on or before a specified future date based on the underlying value of currencies/exchange rates, bonds/interest rates, commodities, stocks or other assets.</li></ul>More complex derivatives can be created by combining the elements of these basic types. For example, the holder of a swaption has the right, but not the obligation, to enter into a swap on or before a specified future date.<br />
Uses<br />Derivatives are used by investors to<br /><ul><li>provide leverage or gearing, such that a small movement in the underlying value can cause a large difference in the value of the derivative
speculate and to make a profit if the value of the underlying asset moves the way they expect (e.g., moves in a given direction, stays in or out of a specified range, reaches a certain level)
hedge or mitigate risk in the underlying, by entering into a derivative contract whose value moves in the opposite direction to their underlying position and cancels part or all of it out
obtain exposure to underlying where it is not possible to trade in the underlying (e.g., weather derivatives)
create option ability where the value of the derivative is linked to a specific condition or event (e.g., the underlying reaching a specific price level)</li></li></ul><li>Advantages<br /><ul><li>They are easier to buy and sell than the underlying shares;
They are a useful alternative to holding the underlying shares, which are often difficult to obtain;
Gearing can be achieved through their use (exposure to a stock can be achieved without huge amounts of capital outlay).
Leverage of economy’s Debt.</li></li></ul><li>Conclusion<br /> Derivatives are gaining popularity day by day and are used successfully through out the world, these are providing substitute for badla system. These are providing hedge open position in both cash and future markets.<br />