What Is a Credit Default Swap?

What Is a Credit Default Swap?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

A Credit Default Swap (CDS) is a financial agreement or contract that acts as a form of protection against the risk of a credit event. In simple terms, it’s like an insurance policy where the buyer of the CDS makes payments to the seller, and in return, receives a payoff if an investment defaults. The payer of the CDS receives the assurance that their credit or investment is protected if a credit event occurs, like bankruptcy or default. Thus, the CDS reduces the risk involved in financial transactions.

Related Questions

1. Who are the parties involved in a Credit Default Swap?

In a Credit Default Swap, there are primarily two parties involved: the buyer and the seller. The buyer is the one who seeks protection against a potential default of a loan, while the seller offers the protection or coverage and receives regular premium payments from the buyer.

2. How is a Credit Default Swap priced?

Want More Financial Tips?

Get Our Best Stuff First (for FREE)
We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe anytime.

The pricing of a CDS can depend on various factors. These include the perceived risk of default by the reference entity, the duration of the contract, and prevailing market conditions. The higher the perceived risk, the higher the cost of the swap.

3. What is the role of a Credit Default Swap in investment?

Credit Default Swaps can be used for speculative purposes or to hedge against potential credit risk. Investors can purchase CDS as a way to indirectly invest in a firm’s credit risk. If the firm goes into default, the investor, as the buyer of the CDS, stands to profit.

4. What happens when a credit event occurs?

When a credit event such as bankruptcy or default occurs, the buyer of the CDS can sell the defaulted loan to the seller at its face value. The seller then takes a loss equal to the difference between the actual market price and the agreed-upon insured price.

5. What are the risks associated with Credit Default Swaps?

Credit Default Swaps are not devoid of risk. For the buyer, the risk lies in the seller’s ability to pay in the event of a credit default. For the seller, the risk is in the reference entity’s potential to default.