Central counterparty clearing
Also see: clearing organization
Central counterparty clearing is the process by which financial transactions are cleared by a single counterparty, generally a well capitalized financial institution such as an exchange. The central counterparty (the exchange's clearing house) becomes a party to every trade, acting as a buyer to every seller and a seller to every buyer. That way, if one trader or firm defaults, other traders and customers are protected.
Central counterparty clearing is a feature of exchange listed products as opposed to the bilateral agreements common in OTC trading, where each party to a trade is at risk that the other party may default.
The central counterparty (CCP) clearing model prevalent in the U.S. futures world is a "vertical" model in which an exchange owns its own clearing house, while the U.S. options industry uses a "horizontal" model (the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC)) in which one clearing utility clears the contracts traded at a number of exchanges.
Advantages of Central Clearing, According To The IDCG
Reduces counterparty credit risk
- Provides Guaranty Fund with financial resources, rules and procedures comparable to existing Clearinghouses
- Eliminates the need for multiple bilateral credit relationships
- Eliminates the need for ISDA agreements and ongoing credit risk management of bilateral contracts
Provides transparency not present in the current OTC market structure
- Includes real-time, normalized pricing data
- Interest rate curve construction and methodology shared with all participants
- Potential opportunity for tighter bid/ask spreads
Reduces transaction costs through streamlined back office processes
Creates more efficient markets enabling greater liquidity
- Operates on fast and efficient electronic platform
- Facilitates the ability to anonymously trade
- Attracts new participants
Provides significant benefits due to cleared futures treatment
- 60/40 tax treatment available where appropriate
- Bankruptcy protection accorded to segregated funds
- Regulatory capital requirements mandated by Basel I/II may be reduced or eliminated