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Basis Rate Swap

Basis Rate Swap

What Is a Basis Rate Swap?

A basis rate swap (or basis swap) is a type of swap agreement in which two gatherings consent to swap variable interest rates in light of various money market reference rates. The goal of a basis rate swap is for a company to limit the interest rate risk it faces because of having different lending and borrowing rates.

For instance, a company loans money to people at a variable rate that is tied to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), yet they borrow money in view of the Treasury Bill (T-Bill) rate. This difference between the borrowing and lending rates (the spread) leads to interest rate risk, which alludes to the possible that a change in interest rates could lead to investment losses. By going into a basis rate swap — where the company exchanges the T-Bill rate for the LIBOR rate — the company disposes of this interest rate risk.

Understanding Basis Rate Swaps

Basis rate swaps are a form of interest rate swap including the exchange of the floating interest rates of two financial assets. These types of swaps permit the exchange of variable interest rate payments that depend on two different interest rates. This type of contract permits a financial institution to transform one floating-rate into another and is generally utilized for trading liquidity.

Ordinarily, basis rate swap cash flows are gotten in view of the difference between the two rates of the contract. This is not normal for common currency swaps where all cash flows incorporate interest and principal payments.

Basis Risk

Basis rate swaps help to relieve (hedge) basis risk, which is a type of risk associated with imperfect hedging. This type of risk emerges when an investor or institution has a position in a contract or security that has something like one stream of payable cash flows and no less than one stream of receivable cash flows, where the factors influencing those cash flows are not the same as each other, and the correlation between them is short of what one.

Basis rate swaps can assist with lessening the possible gains or losses emerging from basis risk, and in light of the fact that this is their primary purpose, are normally utilized for hedging. In any case, certain elements in all actuality do utilize these contracts to express directional perspectives in rates, for example, the heading of LIBOR-based spreads, sees on consumer credit quality, and, surprisingly, the divergence of the federal funds' effective rate versus the federal funds' target rate.

Illustration of Basis Rate Swaps

While these types of contracts are tweaked between two counterparties over-the-counter (OTC), and not exchange traded, four of the more well known basis rate swaps include:

  • Fed funds rate/LIBOR
  • Prime rate/LIBOR
  • Prime rate/fed funds rate

Payments on these types of swaps will likewise be modified, yet it is pervasive for the payments to happen on a quarterly schedule.

In a LIBOR/LIBOR swap, one counterparty may receive three-month LIBOR and pay half year LIBOR, while the other counterparty does the inverse. Or on the other hand, one counterparty may receive one-month USD LIBOR and pay one-month GBP LIBOR, while the other does the inverse.

As per a declaration by the Federal Reserve in November 2020, banks ought to stop composing contracts utilizing LIBOR toward the finish of 2021. The Intercontinental Exchange, the authority responsible for LIBOR, will stop distributing multi week and multi month LIBOR after Dec. 31, 2021. All contracts utilizing LIBOR must be wrapped up by June 30, 2023.

Special Considerations

One common form of interest rate swap is the plain vanilla swap. This simple swap portrays an agreement between two gatherings where a floating interest rate is exchanged for a fixed rate or vice versa. For each party, there are two legs or parts to the vanilla swap: a fixed leg and a floating leg. The two legs of the swap are expressed in a similar currency.

For the life of the swap, the notional principal continues as before, and interest payments are gotten. A financial institution could take part in a plain vanilla interest rate swap to hedge a floating rate exposure or to benefit from declining rates and move from a fixed to a floating rate.


  • One of the most common forms of a basis rate swap is a plain vanilla swap, where a floating interest rate is exchanged for a fixed interest rate or vice versa.
  • A basis rate swap (otherwise called a basis swap) is an agreement between two gatherings to swap variable interest rates in light of various money market reference rates.
  • A basis rate swap assists a company with hedging against the interest rate risk that happens as the consequence of the company having different lending and borrowing rates.
  • The two gatherings to the contract (known as counterparties) can modify the basis rate swap terms, including the schedule of payments.