Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
RISKS IN FOREIGN EXCHANGE OPERATIONS
#1
DEFINITION OF RISK
A risk can be defined as "uncertainties which may result in reduced earnings or outright loss" in the context of
financial transactions"
RISKS IN FOREIGN EXCHANGE OPERATIONS
Foreign exchange is a highly volatile commodity. The volume of foreign exchange transactions undertaken by the
banks is also increasing day by day because of liberalization of foreign trade and steps being initiated towards
globalization. Therefore, a strict discipline and internal controls emanating from Dealing Room are necessary to
avoid loss and to be on the safer side. The different types of Risks that exist in Forex operations are as follows:
EXCHANGE RISK :Foreign Exchange Risk is the risk which the banks face when they deal in multi-currencies and
take positions in these currencies. As is known, foreign market is open 24 hours of the day and the values of the
currencies are being determined every second by the markets factoring in all the information that come in to their
hands then and there. Demand, supply, balance of payments, trade deficit, government borrowings, inflation,
interest rate and political environment are the fundamentals which influence the markets. Using this information,
fluctuations in currencies are anticipated to a certain extent, but the element of uncertainty will always be there.
This element of uncertainty which may result in the value of the Currency ( in which the assets are held)
depreciating is called the Exchange risk. Banks necessarily get in to different positions in foreign currencies due to
merchant transactions entered with their constituents. An open position (open to risk) arises when the assets and
outstanding contracts to purchase that particular currency. (Forward purchase contracts) exceed the liability plus
outstanding sale contracts in that currency. Here, the bank has a long (overbought) _position. If the value of the
currency in terms of other currencies remains same, there is no risk. For example, let us say the ,,bank has an
open position in USD at USD 1 million. Today, it would get Rs.45 million against USD. Overnight if the rupee
appreciates against the dollar by a rupee (for example), the value of the holdings in USD in terms of the Indian
rupee would then
go down by one million rupees. Similar risks arise in oversold positions also. Thus exchange risks are inevitable if
there are open positions.
TYPES OF EXCHANGE RISK

TRANSACTION EXPOSURE: Transaction exposure measures the risk involved due to a change in the foreign
exchangerate between the time, the transaction is executed and the time it is settled..
TRANSLATION EXPOSURE: This relates to valuation of foreign currency assets and liabilities at the end of
accounting year realizable values. These losses and gains are also known as accounting losses/gains. For example, if the bank has
granted a foreign currency loan (FCL or PCFC) for USD 100,000. to a customer and has accounted for the loan at
Rs.45 /USD in its books, The asset value would appear eroded if the rate at the end of the accounting year shows
Rs.44/USD. It may be noted that the asset° value continues at USD100,000 only but in the books of the bank
which is written in INR, there is value erosion. Translation losses affect a bank's accounting profits and
consequently valuations of banks in the market will suffer. This is significant for banks which have overseas
branches and subsidiaries. It is important to note that Translation exposures will ultimately become transaction
exposure when the asset or liability is actually converted / realized.
MANAGING FOREIGN EXCHANGE RISK
The magnitude of this risk is dependent on the level of exposures. Level of exposure is the only element, which is
within one's control. The first step in Forex risk management is therefore fixing its open foreign exchange open
position limits.
These open position limits are classified as two types. Daylight limit & Overnight limits
Overnight limits are the maximum amounts the bank is willing to put at risk at the time the foreign exchange
market is closed in the time-zone in which the bank is operating.
Daylight limits refers to the maximum amount that the bank is willing to put at risk at any point during the
dealing day.
The Daylight limit is normally higher because:
The dealers need a higher limit to accommodate client flows during business hours. It is easier to manage
exchange risk when the markets are open. Overnight position is lower being susceptible to uncertainty during the
time when the dealer is not viewing the markets which are active elsewhere in the world. The overall limits fixed
by the top management are further distributed amongst the various dealing rooms (if more than one is present),
within each centre, dealer wise limits are allocated such that the aggregates fall within the stipulated limits.
During the day real-time monitors are in place and overnight-day end positions are aggregated and checked.
Mismatched Positions and Gap limits: If the maturity spread between foreign currency assets and liabilities are at
variance, a mismatched position would arise. Mismatched positions lead to gaps which have to be bridged using
various hedge tools. Banks have to be particularly careful if liabilities mature earlier to assets as t he risk is higher
(It may become difficult to borrow funds at reasonable cost or conclude a deal & ensure that bank has necessary
foreign currency funds to meet the liability on due dates)
COUNTRY RISK: Country Risk may be defined as the risk to operating cash flows, or to the value of investment,
resulting from operating in a particular country. At the macro level, Country Risk includes both sovereign risk and
currency risk. The major elements of Country Risk are: Economic Risks• Political Risks • Social and Cultural
Risks.
Political stability, in itself may not be a sufficient reason for not doing business with or in a country. The Banks
need to look at all the dimensions of country before reaching a conclusion on whether or not to do business with a
particular country. Banks are required to formulate a Country Risk Management Policy (CRM) for dealing with the
country risk problems only in respect of that country, where a bank's net funded exposure is 2 per cent or more
of its total assets. The CRM policy should stipulate rigorous application of the 'Know Your Customer' (KYC)
principle in international activities
which should not be compromised by availability of collateral or shortening of maturities. Country risk element'
should be explicitly recognized while assessing the counter-party risk.
Provisioning I Capital requirement: Banks in India have to make provisions (with effect from the year ending
31 March 2003)on the net funded country exposures on a graded scale ranging from 0. 25 to 100 per cent,
according to the risk categories
CREDIT RISKS : Credit Risk arises when a party to a contract is either unable or unwilling to perform his
obligation of a contract. The failure to execute may also be due to official regulation. Thus the risk associated with
default is the element of credit risk in foreign exchange transactions. The default risk has: two elements
associated with it. These are termed as "Revaluation Risk" and Settlement Risk".
Revaluation Risk: It is the cost (in the event of a counter party default) of replacing non-settled contracts. For
example, if ABC
bank needs USD One million on a particular day and gets in to a contract with XYZ Bank for getting the dollars, it
will suffer the revaluation risk being the cost associated with arranging for USD One million at short notice if XYZ
Bank defaults in its contractual obligation of selling the required USD One million as per its contractual obligation
to ABC Bank.
Settlement Risk: Let us say that a bank buys USD 1 million from Bank B. What if after receiving the INR
equivalent, Bank B fails to deliver the foreign currency? This risk of the Counter-party failing to deliver is known
as Settlement risk. Famously known as the Herstatt or Temporal Risk, this risk is incurred 'By Chance" where one
party honors the contract but the other party fails to do so because it is across border and the business hours on
the other end are either over, or have not yet started. Such risks occur when counter parties are located in
different time zones. This is called Herstatt risk because in 1974, several banks that had entered in to
transactions with Bank Herstatt in Germany faced losses when Herstatt bank was put under liquidation after the
transactions were initiated by these banks but before they were settled by the German bank due to the difference
in the time-zone. Herstatt risk can be controlled by matching the time zones (notionally) and also by putting
counter-party limits in place.
LEGAL RISK: Legal risks are the risk of non-enforceability of a contract.
SYSTEMIC RISK: The risk of the entire system collapsing due to collapse of a major institution. In recent times-
Subprime crisis in major banks in U.S.A led to a chain of events but was fortunately halted by the US Fed & other
Investors taking prompt action)
OPERATIONAL RISK: Risk arising out of human errors, frauds, technology failures etc. Operational risk arises as
a result of human, machine failures, judgmental errors, frauds and so on. The very famous case of judgmental
errors and trading by a single individual (a dealer called Nick Lesson) resulting in the collapse of his bank itself
(Barings—UK) and recently Jerome Kerviel of Societe General resulting in multibillion losses are well known
examples of operational risk.
For effective control of suck risks few measures as follows are commonly taken: Segregating Dealing,
Accounting (Back-up) and Control (Audit). Each of these functions should be independent of the others such that
checks and balances are in place.

Proper information channels should be in place Selection, training and Job rotation of staff in key positions is
critical to risk management in these areas. Reconciliation of Nostro accounts (with mirror accounts) and control
Over Nostro transactions, funding. Concurrent and on-site audits. Review mechanism to analyze losses and
investigate reasons Proper security systems. Here Security involves both physical security of Hardware and digital
security.
DERIVATIVES- ORIGIN & ROLE IN RISK MANAGEMENT : Derivatives are hedging instruments derived from
the values of the underlying exposures such as commodities, currencies or shares and bonds. Derivatives are
financial contracts which derive their value off a spot price time-series, which is called the "underlying". Common
derivative instruments are Forward contracts, Options, Swaps, Forward rate agreements, and 'Futures.
Derivatives do not have independent existence without underlying product and market. The underlying assets
could be a stock index, a foreign currency, a commodity or an individual stock. The simplest form of derivatives is
the forward contract (known as the forefather of the derivatives).
FUNCTIONS OF DERIVATIVES: The primary purpose of the derivative instruments is not to borrow or lend
funds but to transfer prii risks associated with fluctuation in asset values. The derivatives provide three important
economic functions viz.
a) Risk Management. b) Price Discovery c) Transnational Efficiency.
TYPES OF DERIVATIVES: The commonly used derivatives are as follows: a) Forward contracts b) Futures
c) Options d) Swaps
FORWARD CONTRACTS:'Authorized dealers (Banks) have been permitted under FEMA to enter in to Forward
contracts for sale or purchase of Foreign Currency with their customers who are exposed to foreign currency risks
arising out of their normal transactions which are permitted under current regulations. The mechanism of Forward
Contract is very simple. On being approached by a customer for a forward cover, the AD would satisfy himself
that there exists a genuine exposure and quote a rate. For example, if an Importer who is required to pay an
inward bill maturing after one month may approach his banker for a forward cover. This is because the importer is
either risk averse or feels that the rupee / dollar rate would move against him in the intervening month. The bank
would then quote a forward rate. If the customer is satisfied with the quotation, he would sign the contract which
would bind him to the rate and the date. Contract documents are signed and charges if any are collected. If the
customer fails to perform his part of the contract, the contract is cancelled and Swap charges are recovered
where necessary. Similar contracts can be entered in to different customers based on their requirements. In other
words subject to RBI / FEDAI guidelines, banks enter in to contracts to seli or buy specified amount of foreign
currency- on specified futUre dates.

Forward Contracts are either Forward purchase contracts or Forward Sale contracts depending on the nature of
the transaction. Exporters, NRIs, holders and so on would enter in to Forward purchase contracts. Importers,
Constituents who have to make payments under foreign currency loans and so on would enter in to Forward sale
contracts. It is again emphasized that the word purchase and Sale are used from the point of view of the Bank
and not the customer. Forward Contracts in India are governed by RBI guidelines and FEDAI rules RBI has
permitted all entities having Exchange risk exposures permission to enter in to Forward contracts subject to rules
and limits
FUTURE CONTRACTS: A future contract is defined as a "commitment to buy or sell at a specified future
settlement date a designated amount of commodity or a financial asset. It is a legally binding contract by two
parties to make / take delivery of commodity at Certain point of time in the future.
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)