Derivatives Time Bomb

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Derivatives Time Bomb'

A possibile situation where the financial markets plunge into chaos if the massive derivatives positions owned by hedge funds and the large banks were to move against those parties.

Institutional investors have increasingly used derivatives to either hedge their existing positions, or to speculate on given markets or commodities. The growing popularity of these instruments is both good and bad because although derivatives can be used to mitigate portfolio risk. Institutions that are highly leveraged can suffer huge losses if their positions move against them.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Derivatives Time Bomb'

A number of well-known hedge funds have imploded in recent years as their derivative positions declined dramatically in value, forcing them to sell their securities at markedly lower prices to meet margin calls and customer redemptions. One of the largest hedge funds to collapse in recent years as a result of adverse movements in its derivatives positions was Long Term Capital Management (LTCM).

Investors use the leverage afforded by derivatives as a means of increasing their investment returns. When used properly, this goal is met. However, when leverage becomes too large, or when the underlying securities decline substantially in value, the loss to the derivative holder is amplified. The term "derivatives time bomb" relates to the speculation that the large number of derivatives positions and increasing leverage taken on by hedge funds and investment banks could lead to an industry-wide meltdown.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and ...

    A compendium of federal regulations, primarily affecting financial ...
  2. Financial Analysis

    The process of evaluating businesses, projects, budgets and other ...
  3. Risk Analysis

    The study of the underlying uncertainty of a given course of ...
  4. Hedge

    Making an investment to reduce the risk of adverse price movements ...
  5. Leverage

    1. The use of various financial instruments or borrowed capital, ...
  6. Exotic Option

    An option that differs from common American or European options ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the difference between hedging and speculation?

    Hedging involves taking an offsetting position in a derivative in order to balance any gains and losses to the underlying ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Options & Futures

    Are Derivatives A Disaster Waiting To Happen?

    They've contributed to some major market scandals, but these instruments aren't all bad.
  2. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Taking A Look Behind Hedge Funds

    Hedge funds can draw returns well above the market average even in a weak economy. Learn about the risks.
  3. Options & Futures

    Massive Hedge Fund Failures

    Flying high one day but not the next - see the stories behind some spectacular meltdowns.
  4. Options & Futures

    These Financial Products Are Too Complex For The Average Joe

    Structured financial products are so elaborate that investors are unable to assess costs and risk.
  5. Investing

    Is the Best Plan for Pot Investing 'Wait-and-see?'

    Legalized marijuana is an emerging industry and those interested in investing in it should proceed with caution.
  6. Options & Futures

    Give Yourself More Options With Real Estate Options

    Real estate options have many benefits, including a smaller initial capital requirement.
  7. Investing

    Hedged ETFs That Help You Cushion Currency Impact

    If you’re an investor holding non-U.S. assets, the returns on your investments will be affected when you translate your investment from its local currency
  8. Investing

    Ready To Invest In Financial Leverage Funds?

    Whenever you invest in a leveraged financial fund or are thinking about doing so, it's important to know the risks that could weigh on its returns.
  9. Options & Futures

    The Fancy Way To Diversify Your Portfolio: Precious Metal Options

    A guide with strategies on how to invest or trade in precious metals by using options.
  10. Options & Futures

    When And How To Take Profits On Options

    Here are the different criteria to ensure maximum profit taking while trading options.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Subsidy

    A benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction. The subsidy ...
  2. Sunk Cost

    A cost that has already been incurred and thus cannot be recovered. A sunk cost differs from other, future costs that a business ...
  3. Technical Skills

    1. The knowledge and abilities needed to accomplish mathematical, engineering, scientific or computer-related duties, as ...
  4. Prepaid Expense

    A type of asset that arises on a balance sheet as a result of business making payments for goods and services to be received ...
  5. Gordon Growth Model

    A model for determining the intrinsic value of a stock, based on a future series of dividends that grow at a constant rate. ...
  6. Cost Accounting

    A type of accounting process that aims to capture a company's costs of production by assessing the input costs of each step ...
Trading Center