Swaps v/s Options v/s Futures v/s Forwards

08/09/2022 0 By indiafreenotes
  • The primary options vs swaps difference is that an option is a right to buy/sell an asset on a particular date at a pre-fixed price while a swap is an agreement between two people/parties to exchange cash flows from different financial instruments. The seller or writer of a call option would however have the obligation to sell the asset that’s underlying at a pre-set price if the call option is exercised. In a swap, both parties are obliged for the cash flow exchange.
  • Another swap vs option difference is that options involve the trading of securities as per their actual value and not merely the cash flows as in swap contracts.
  • A key difference between swap and option is that a swap is not traded via the exchanges. A swap is an over-the-counter (OTC) derivative type that is customised and traded privately between two parties whereas an option can be either an OTC or exchange-traded derivative.
  • Acquiring an option involves premium payment whereas there is no such payment involved in a swap.

Futures and Forwards

The definitions should make clear why there can be confusion surrounding these derivatives. Every contract type involves an agreement to make an exchange at a certain pre-defined future date. Given the nearly identical description, Futures and Forwards are the most similar contracts.

A forward contract is a customized contractual agreement where two private parties agree to trade a particular asset with each other at an agreed specific price and time in the future. Forward contracts are traded privately over-the-counter, not on an exchange.

A futures contract: often referred to as futures is a standardized version of a forward contract that is publicly traded on a futures exchange. Like a forward contract, a futures contract includes an agreed upon price and time in the future to buy or sell an asset usually stocks, bonds, or commodities, like gold.

The main differentiating feature between futures and forward contracts that futures are publicly traded on an exchange while forwards are privately traded results in several operational differences between them. This comparison examines differences like counterparty risk, daily centralized clearing and mark-to-market, price transparency, and efficiency.

Assume Alice and Bob enter into a Forward contract where they agree to exchange 1 Bitcoin at the current price of $10,000 three months from now. Bob is the seller and thus has a short position, while Alice the buyer and therefore has a long position. If the actual price of Bitcoin rises to $11,000 by the end of the contract, it would mean a loss of $1,000 to Bob. Bob has to deliver 1 Bitcoin, which he has to buy for $11,000, for which he’ll only receive the agreed price of $10,000. On the other hand, Alice will have a profit of $1,000. She gets 1 Bitcoin for the agreed price of $10,000, while it is worth $11,000. This is the final outcome for both the Forward and Futures contract at the expiry date.