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Myths behind Derivatives

Need for derivatives in India today

In less than three decades of their coming into vogue, derivatives markets have become the most important markets in the world. Today, derivatives have become part and parcel of the day-to-day life for ordinary people in major part of the world.

Until the advent of NSE, the Indian capital market had no access to the latest trading methods and was using traditional out dated methods of trading. There was a huge gap between the investors aspirations of the markets and the available means of trading. The opening of Indian economy has precipitated the process of integration of Indias financial markets with the international financial markets. Introduction of risk management instruments in India has gained momentum in last few years thanks to Reserve Bank of Indias efforts in allowing forward contracts, cross currency options etc. which have developed into a very large market.

NSE is planning to introduce Futures and Options trading in India. NSE proposes to introduce equity based derivatives with index futures as the first product to be traded on.

Myths and realities about derivatives

In less than three decades of their coming into vogue, derivatives markets have become the most important markets in the world. Financial derivatives came into the spotlight along with the rise in uncertainty of post-1970, when US announced an end to the Bretton Woods System of fixed exchange rates leading to introduction of currency derivatives followed by other innovations including stock index futures. Today, derivatives have become part and parcel of the day-to-day life for ordinary people in major parts of the world. While this is true for many countries, there are still apprehensions about the introduction of derivatives. There are many myths about derivatives but the realities that are different especially for Exchange traded derivatives which are well regulated with all the safety mechanisms in place.

What are these myths behind derivatives?

Derivatives increase speculation and do not serve any economic purpose

While the fact is...

Numerous studies of derivatives activity have led to a broad consensus, both in the private and public sectors, that derivatives provide numerous and substantial benefits to the users. Derivatives are a low-cost, effective method for users to hedge and manage their exposures to interest rates, commodity prices, or exchange rates.

The need for derivatives as hedging tool was felt first in the commodities market. Agricultural futures and options helped farmers and processors hedge against commodity price risk. After the fallout of Bretton wood agreement, the financial markets in the world started undergoing radical changes. This period is marked by remarkable innovations in the financial markets such as introduction of floating rates for the currencies, increased trading in variety of derivatives instruments, on-line trading in the capital markets, etc. As the complexity of instruments increased many folds, the accompanying risk factors grew in gigantic proportions. This situation led to development derivatives as effective risk management tools for the market participants.

Looking at the equity market, derivatives allow corporations and institutional investors to effectively manage their portfolios of assets and liabilities through instruments like stock index futures and options. An equity fund, for example, can reduce its exposure to the stock market quickly and at a relatively low cost without selling off part of its equity assets by using stock index futures or index options.

By providing investors and issuers with a wider array of tools for managing risks and raising capital, derivatives improve the allocation of credit and the sharing of risk in the global economy, lowering the cost of capital formation and stimulating economic growth.

Now that world markets for trade and finance have become more integrated, derivatives have strengthened these important linkages between global markets, increasing market liquidity and efficiency and facilitating the flow of trade and finance.

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