Claudio Borio, Patrick McGuire, Robert McCauley, 13 February 2020

Foreign exchange swaps and forwards are a key instrument in the global financial system for hedging, position-taking and short-term funding. They involve the exchange of notional amounts at a future date and, as funding vehicles, they are akin to other forms of collateralised borrowing (e.g. repo). The amounts involved are huge, but the instruments remain mysterious in some ways: because of an accounting peculiarity, they are treated very differently from other forms of collateralised debt. This column examines their geography and draws implications for both academics and policymakers. It finds that non-US residents’ US dollar forward payment obligations arising from foreign exchange swaps and forwards are likely to be even larger than the corresponding on-balance sheet US dollar debt. It also highlights the favourable regulatory treatment that these instruments receive, and argues that they represent a critical pressure point in international financial markets.

Fernando Eguren Martin, Matias Ossandon Busch, Dennis Reinhardt, 08 October 2019

One of the markets banks use to fund lending in foreign currencies – namely, using FX swaps to fund FX lending synthetically – has seen large dislocations in its pricing since the Global Crisis. This column documents that such dislocations affect the supply of cross-border FX credit of UK-based banks. Access to foreign relatives matters as banks employ their internal capital markets to shield themselves from the effects, while banks outside the UK not affected by changes to synthetic funding costs are an important source of (partial) substitution.

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