A Realistic View Of The Reason Derivatives Exist

This is maybe the best summation of the derivatives market that I have read. It is from David Murphy who writes the excellent Deus Ex Macchiato blog. He is responding to another blogger who waxes poetic about the golden age of derivatives.

Oh grow up. I mean, really. Derivatives were always about tax arb and regulatory arb and ratings agency arb and accounting arb/earnings smoothing. There never was a golden age when derivatives were used just to meet risk management needs, and where unicorns lay down with virgins after the market closed. Swaps grew because they allowed the derivatives desk to lend without the credit department finding out. Credit derivatives grew thanks to a massive regulatory arbitrage. It has always been a client facilitiation business, and what the client wanted, the client generally got (albeit at a price).

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