NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

A Transparency Standard for Derivatives

Viral V. Acharya

NBER Working Paper No. 17558
Issued in November 2011
NBER Program(s):   AP   CF

Derivatives exposures across large financial institutions often contribute to - if not necessarily create - systemic risk. Current reporting standards for derivatives exposures are nevertheless inadequate for assessing these systemic risk contributions. In this paper, I explain how a transparency standard, in contrast to the current standard, would facilitate such risk analysis. I also demonstrate that such a standard is implementable by providing examples of existing disclosures from large dealer firms in their quarterly filings. These disclosures often contain useful firm-level data on derivatives, but due to a lack of standardization, they cannot be aggregated to assess the risk to the system. I highlight the important contribution that reporting the "margin coverage ratio" (MCR), namely the ratio of a derivatives dealer's cash (or liquidity, more broadly) to its contingent collateral or margin calls in case of a significant downgrade of its credit quality, could make toward assessing systemic risk contributions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17558

Published: A Transparency Standard for Derivatives, Viral V. Acharya. in Risk Topography: Systemic Risk and Macro Modeling, Brunnermeier and Krishnamurthy. 2014

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