Margin (finance)

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In finance, margin is collateral that the holder of a financial instrument has to deposit with a counterparty (most often their broker or an exchange) to cover some or all of the credit risk the holder poses for the counterparty. This risk can arise if the holder has done any of the following:

Finance Academic discipline studying businesses and investments

Finance is a field that is concerned with the allocation (investment) of assets and liabilities over space and time, often under conditions of risk or uncertainty. Finance can also be defined as the art of money management. Participants in the market aim to price assets based on their risk level, fundamental value, and their expected rate of return. Finance can be split into three sub-categories: public finance, corporate finance and personal finance.

In lending agreements, collateral is a borrower's pledge of specific property to a lender, to secure repayment of a loan. The collateral serves as a lender's protection against a borrower's default and so can be used to offset the loan if the borrower fails to pay the principal and interest satisfactorily under the terms of the lending agreement.

Financial instrument monetary contract between parties

Financial instruments are monetary contracts between parties. They can be created, traded, modified and settled. They can be cash (currency), evidence of an ownership interest in an entity (share), or a contractual right to receive or deliver cash (bond).

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Short (finance) practice of selling securities or other financial instruments that are not currently owned

In finance, a short sale is the assumption of a legal obligation to deliver to a buyer a financial asset that the seller does not own.

Derivative (finance) Operation in calculus

In finance, a derivative is a contract that derives its value from the performance of an underlying entity. This underlying entity can be an asset, index, or interest rate, and is often simply called the "underlying". Derivatives can be used for a number of purposes, including insuring against price movements (hedging), increasing exposure to price movements for speculation or getting access to otherwise hard-to-trade assets or markets. Some of the more common derivatives include forwards, futures, options, swaps, and variations of these such as synthetic collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps. Most derivatives are traded over-the-counter (off-exchange) or on an exchange such as the New York Stock Exchange, while most insurance contracts have developed into a separate industry. In the United States, after the financial crisis of 2007–2009, there has been increased pressure to move derivatives to trade on exchanges. Derivatives are one of the three main categories of financial instruments, the other two being stocks and debt. The oldest example of a derivative in history, attested to by Aristotle, is thought to be a contract transaction of olives, entered into by ancient Greek philosopher Thales, who made a profit in the exchange. Bucket shops, outlawed a century ago, are a more recent historical example.

The collateral for a margin account can be the cash deposited in the account or securities provided, and represents the funds available to the account holder for further share trading. On United States futures exchanges, margins were formerly called performance bonds. Most of the exchanges today use SPAN ("Standard Portfolio Analysis of Risk") methodology, which was developed by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1988, for calculating margins for options and futures.

Futures exchange Central financial exchange where people can trade standardized futures contracts

A futures exchange or futures market is a central financial exchange where people can trade standardized futures contracts; that is, a contract to buy specific quantities of a commodity or financial instrument at a specified price with delivery set at a specified time in the future. These types of contracts fall into the category of derivatives. The opposite of the futures market is the spots market, where trades will occur immediately after a transaction agreement has been made, rather than at a predetermined time in the future. Futures instruments are priced according to the movement of the underlying asset. The aforementioned category is named "derivatives" because the value of these instruments are derived from another asset class.

A performance bond, also known as a contract bond, is a surety bond issued by an insurance company or a bank to guarantee satisfactory completion of a project by a contractor. The term is also used to denote a collateral deposit of good faith money, intended to secure a futures contract, commonly known as margin.

The Standard Portfolio Analysis of Risk, or SPAN, is a system for calculating margin requirements for futures and options on futures. It was developed by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1988.

Margin account

A margin account is a loan account by a share trader with a broker which can be used for share trading. The funds available under the margin loan are determined by the broker based on the securities owned and provided by the trader, which act as collateral over the loan. The broker usually has the right to change the percentage of the value of each security it will allow towards further advances to the trader, and may consequently make a margin call if the balance available falls below the amount actually utilised. In any event, the broker will usually charge interest, and other fees, on the amount drawn on the margin account.

Interest A sum paid for the use of money

Interest, in finance and economics, is payment from a borrower or deposit-taking financial institution to a lender or depositor of an amount above repayment of the principal sum, at a particular rate. It is distinct from a fee which the borrower may pay the lender or some third party. It is also distinct from dividend which is paid by a company to its shareholders (owners) from its profit or reserve, but not at a particular rate decided beforehand, rather on a pro rata basis as a share in the reward gained by risk taking entrepreneurs when the revenue earned exceeds the total costs.

If the cash balance of a margin account is negative, the amount is owed to the broker, and usually attracts interest. If the cash balance is positive, the money is available to the account holder to reinvest, or may be withdrawn by the holder or left in the account and may earn interest. In terms of futures and cleared derivatives, the margin balance would refer to the total value of collateral pledged to the CCP (Central Counterparty Clearing) and or futures commission merchants.

Margin buying

Examples

Jane buys a share in a company for $100 using $20 of her own money and $80 borrowed from her broker. The net value (the share price minus the amount borrowed) is $20. The broker wants a minimum margin requirement of $10.

Suppose the share price drops to $85. The net value is now only $5 (the previous net value of $20 minus the share's $15 drop in price), so, to maintain the broker's minimum margin, Jane needs to increase this net value to $10 or more, either by selling the share or repaying part of the loan.

Margin buying refers to the buying of securities with cash borrowed from a broker, using the bought securities as collateral. This has the effect of magnifying any profit or loss made on the securities. The securities serve as collateral for the loan. The net value—the difference between the value of the securities and the loan—is initially equal to the amount of one's own cash used. This difference has to stay above a minimum margin requirement, the purpose of which is to protect the broker against a fall in the value of the securities to the point that the investor can no longer cover the loan.

In finance, securities lending or stock lending refers to the lending of securities by one party to another. The terms of the loan will be governed by a "Securities Lending Agreement", which requires that the borrower provides the lender with collateral, in the form of cash or non-cash securities, of value equal to or greater than the loaned securities plus agreed-upon margin. Non-cash refers to the subset of collateral that is not pure cash, including equities, government bonds, convertible bonds, corporate bonds, and other products. The agreement is a contract enforceable under relevant law, which is often specified in the agreement.

In the 1920s, margin requirements were loose. In other words, brokers required investors to put in very little of their own money. Whereas today, the Federal Reserve's margin requirement (under Regulation T) limits debt to 50 percent. During the 1920s leverage rates of up to 90 percent debt were not uncommon. [1] When the stock market started to contract, many individuals received margin calls. They had to deliver more money to their brokers or their shares would be sold. Since many individuals did not have the equity to cover their margin positions, their shares were sold, causing further market declines and further margin calls. This was one of the major contributing factors which led to the Stock Market Crash of 1929, which in turn contributed to the Great Depression. [1] However, as reported in Peter Rappoport and Eugene N. White's 1994 paper published in The American Economic Review , "Was the Crash of 1929 Expected", [2] all sources indicate that beginning in either late 1928 or early 1929, "margin requirements began to rise to historic new levels. The typical peak rates on brokers' loans were 40–50 percent. Brokerage houses followed suit and demanded higher margin from investors".

Short selling

Examples

Jane sells a share in a company she does not own for $100 and puts $20 of her own money as collateral, resulting $120 cash in the account. The net value (the cash amount minus the share price) is $20. The broker wants a minimum margin requirement of $10.

Suppose the share price rises to $115. The net value is now only $5 (the previous net value of $20 minus the share's $15 rise in price), so, to maintain the broker's minimum margin, Jane needs to increase this net value to $10 or more, either by buying the share back or depositing additional cash.

Short selling refers to the selling of securities that the trader does not own, borrowing them from a broker, and using the cash as collateral. This has the effect of reversing any profit or loss made on the securities. The initial cash deposited by the trader, together with the amount obtained from the sale, serve as collateral for the loan. The net value—the difference between the cash amount and the value of loan security — is initially equal to the amount of one's own cash used. This difference has to stay above a minimum margin requirement, the purpose of which is to protect the broker against a rise in the value of the borrowed securities to the point that the investor can no longer cover the loan.

Types of margin requirements

Margin strategies

Enhanced leverage is a strategy offered by some brokers that provides 4:1 or 6:1+ leverage. This requires maintaining two sets of accounts, long and short.

Example 1
An investor sells a put option, where the buyer has the right to require the seller to buy his 100 shares in Universal Widgets S.A. at 90¢. He receives an option premium of 14¢. The value of the option is 14¢, so this is the premium margin. The exchange has calculated, using historical prices, that the option value will not exceed 17¢ the next day, with 99% certainty. Therefore, the additional margin requirement is set at 3¢, and the investor has to post at least 14¢ (obtained from the sale) + 3¢ = 17¢ in his margin account as collateral.
Example 2
Futures contracts on sweet crude oil closed the day at $65. The exchange sets the additional margin requirement at $2, which the holder of a long position pays as collateral in her margin account. A day later, the futures close at $66. The exchange now pays the profit of $1 in the mark-to-market to the holder. The margin account still holds only the $2.
Example 3
An investor is long 50 shares in Universal Widgets Ltd, trading at 120 pence (£1.20) each. The broker sets an additional margin requirement of 20 pence per share, so £10 for the total position. The current liquidating margin is currently £60 "in favour of the investor". The minimum margin requirement is now -£60 + £10 = -£50. In other words, the investor can run a deficit of £50 in his margin account and still fulfil his margin obligations. This is the same as saying he can borrow up to £50 from the broker.

Initial and maintenance margin requirements

The initial margin requirement is the amount of collateral required to open a position. Thereafter, the collateral required until the position is closed is the maintenance requirement. The maintenance requirement is the minimum amount of collateral required to keep the position open and is generally lower than the initial requirement. This allows the price to move against the margin without forcing a margin call immediately after the initial transaction. When the total value of collateral after haircuts dips below the maintenance margin requirement, the position holder must pledge additional collateral to bring their total balance after haircuts back up to or above the initial margin requirement. On instruments determined to be especially risky, however, the regulators, the exchange, or the broker may set the maintenance requirement higher than normal or equal to the initial requirement to reduce their exposure to the risk accepted by the trader. For speculative futures and derivatives clearing accounts, futures commission merchants may charge a premium or margin multiplier to exchange requirements. This is typically an additional 10%–25%.

Margin call

The broker may at any time revise the value of the collateral securities (margin), based, for example, on market factors. If this results in the market value of the collateral securities for a margin account falling below the revised margin, the broker or exchange immediately issues a "margin call", requiring the investor to bring the margin account back into line. To do so, the investor must either pay funds (the call) into the margin account, provide additional collateral or dispose some of the securities. If the investor fails to bring the account back into line, the broker can sell the investor's collateral securities to bring the account back into line.

If a margin call occurs unexpectedly, it can cause a domino effect of selling which will lead to other margin calls and so forth, effectively crashing an asset class or group of asset classes. The "Bunker Hunt Day" crash of the silver market on Silver Thursday, March 27, 1980 is one such example. This situation most frequently happens as a result of an adverse change in the market value of the leveraged asset or contract. It could also happen when the margin requirement is raised, either due to increased volatility or due to legislation. In extreme cases, certain securities may cease to qualify for margin trading; in such a case, the brokerage will require the trader to either fully fund their position, or to liquidate it.

Price of stock for margin calls

The minimum margin requirement, sometimes called the maintenance margin requirement, is the ratio set for:

So the maintenance margin requirement uses the variables above to form a ratio that investors have to abide by in order to keep the account active.

Assume the maintenance margin requirement is 25%. That means the customer has to maintain Net Value equal to 25% of the total stock equity. That means they have to maintain net equity of $50,000 × 0.25 = $12,500. So at what price would the investor be getting a margin call? For stock price P the stock equity will be (in this example) 1,000P.

So if the stock price drops from $50 to $26.66, investors will be called to add additional funds to the account to make up for the loss in stock equity.

Alternatively, one can calculate P using where P0 is the initial price of the stock. Using the same example to demonstrate this:

Reduced margins

Margin requirements are reduced for positions that offset each other. For instance spread traders who have offsetting futures contracts do not have to deposit collateral both for their short position and their long position. The exchange calculates the loss in a worst-case scenario of the total position. Similarly an investor who creates a collar has reduced risk since any loss on the call is offset by a gain in the stock, and a large loss in the stock is offset by a gain on the put; in general, covered calls have less strict requirements than naked call writing.

Margin-equity ratio

The margin-equity ratio is a term used by speculators, representing the amount of their trading capital that is being held as margin at any particular time. Traders would rarely (and unadvisedly) hold 100% of their capital as margin. The probability of losing their entire capital at some point would be high. By contrast, if the margin-equity ratio is so low as to make the trader's capital equal to the value of the futures contract itself, then they would not profit from the inherent leverage implicit in futures trading. A conservative trader might hold a margin-equity ratio of 15%, while a more aggressive trader might hold 40%.

Return on margin

Return on margin (ROM) is often used to judge performance because it represents the net gain or net loss compared to the exchange's perceived risk as reflected in required margin. ROM may be calculated (realized return) / (initial margin). The annualized ROM is equal to

(ROM + 1)(1/trade duration in years) - 1

For example, if a trader earns 10% on margin in two months, that would be about 77% annualized

Annualized ROM = (ROM +1)1/(2/12) - 1

that is, Annualized ROM = 1.16 - 1 = 77%

Sometimes, return on margin will also take into account peripheral charges such as brokerage fees and interest paid on the sum borrowed. The margin interest rate is usually based on the broker's call.

See also

Related Research Articles

Security (finance) tradable financial asset

A security is a tradable financial asset. The term commonly refers to any form of financial instrument, but its legal definition varies by jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions the term specifically excludes financial instruments other than equities and fixed income instruments. In some jurisdictions it includes some instruments that are close to equities and fixed income, e.g., equity warrants. In some countries and languages the term "security" is commonly used in day-to-day parlance to mean any form of financial instrument, even though the underlying legal and regulatory regime may not have such a broad definition.

Day trading Buying and selling financial instruments within the same trading day

Day trading is speculation in securities, specifically buying and selling financial instruments within the same trading day, such that all positions are closed before the market closes for the trading day. Traders who trade in this capacity with the motive of profit are therefore speculators. The methods of quick trading contrast with the long-term trades underlying buy and hold and value investing strategies. Day traders exit positions before the market closes to avoid unmanageable risks and negative price gaps between one day's close and the next day's price at the open.

Futures contract standardized legal agreement to buy or sell something (usually a commodity or financial instrument) at a predetermined price (“forward price”) at a specified time (“delivery date”) in the future

In finance, a futures contract is a standardized forward contract, a legal agreement to buy or sell something at a predetermined price at a specified time in the future, between parties not known to each other. The asset transacted is usually a commodity or financial instrument. The predetermined price the parties agree to buy and sell the asset for is known as the forward price. The specified time in the future—which is when delivery and payment occur—is known as the delivery date. Because it is a function of an underlying asset, a futures contract is a derivative product.

In finance, an equity derivative is a class of derivatives whose value is at least partly derived from one or more underlying equity securities. Options and futures are by far the most common equity derivatives, however there are many other types of equity derivatives that are actively traded.

In finance, a haircut is the difference between the market value of an asset used as loan collateral and the value ascribed to that asset when used as collateral for that loan. The amount of the haircut reflects the perceived risk of the asset falling in value or being sold in a fire sale: The larger the risk is perceived to be, the larger the haircut will be. The lender will, however, still hold a lien for the entire value of the asset. In the event the collateral must be sold to repay the loan, the haircut is intended to protect the lender from recovering less than the full value of the outstanding loan amount from sale of that collateral, even allowing for reductions in the market value.

Mark-to-market accounting Accounting practice

Mark-to-market or fair value accounting refers to accounting for the "fair value" of an asset or liability based on the current market price, or the price for similar assets and liabilities, or based on another objectively assessed "fair" value. Fair value accounting has been a part of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the United States since the early 1990s, and is now regarded as the "gold standard" in some circles. Failure to use it is viewed as the cause of the Orange County Bankruptcy, even though its use is considered to be one of the reasons for the Enron scandal and the eventual bankruptcy of the company, as well as the closure of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen.

Swap (finance) financial derivative product

A swap is a derivative in which two counterparties exchange cash flows of one party's financial instrument for those of the other party's financial instrument. The benefits in question depend on the type of financial instruments involved. For example, in the case of a swap involving two bonds, the benefits in question can be the periodic interest (coupon) payments associated with such bonds. Specifically, two counterparties agree to exchange one stream of cash flows against another stream. These streams are called the legs of the swap. The swap agreement defines the dates when the cash flows are to be paid and the way they are accrued and calculated. Usually at the time when the contract is initiated, at least one of these series of cash flows is determined by an uncertain variable such as a floating interest rate, foreign exchange rate, equity price, or commodity price.

Repurchase agreement Very short-term collateralized financial loan between two parties.

A repurchase agreement, also known as a repo, is a form of short-term borrowing, mainly in government securities. The dealer sells the underlying security to investors and buys them back shortly afterwards, usually the following day, at a slightly higher price.

In finance, a contract for difference (CFD) is a contract between two parties, typically described as "buyer" and "seller", stipulating that the seller will pay to the buyer the difference between the current value of an asset and its value at contract time.

Syndicated loan

A syndicated loan is one that is provided by a group of lenders and is structured, arranged, and administered by one or several commercial banks or investment banks known as lead arrangers.

In finance, leverage is any technique involving the use of debt rather than fresh equity in the purchase of an asset, with the expectation that the after-tax profit to equity holders from the transaction will exceed the borrowing cost, frequently by several multiples⁠ ⁠— hence the provenance of the word from the effect of a lever in physics, a simple machine which amplifies the application of a comparatively small input force into a correspondingly greater output force. Normally, the lender will set a limit on how much risk it is prepared to take and will set a limit on how much leverage it will permit, and would require the acquired asset to be provided as collateral security for the loan. For example, for a residential property the finance provider may lend up to, say, 80% of the property's market value, for a commercial property it may be 70%, while on shares it may lend up to, say, 60% or none at all on certain volatile shares.

Prime brokerage is the generic name for a bundled package of services offered by investment banks, wealth management firms, and securities dealers to hedge funds which need the ability to borrow securities and cash in order to be able to invest on a netted basis and achieve an absolute return. The prime broker provides a centralized securities clearing facility for the hedge fund so the hedge fund's collateral requirements are netted across all deals handled by the prime broker. These two features are advantageous to their clients.

Pattern day trader is a FINRA designation for a stock market trader who executes four or more day trades in five business days in a margin account, provided the number of day trades are more than six percent of the customer's total trading activity for that same five-day period.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to finance:

Collateral has been used for hundreds of years to provide security against the possibility of payment default by the opposing party in a trade. Collateral management began in the 1980s, with Bankers Trust and Salomon Brothers taking collateral against credit exposure. There were no legal standards, and most calculations were performed manually on spreadsheets. Collateralisation of derivatives exposures became widespread in the early 1990s. Standardisation began in 1994 via the first ISDA documentation.

Stock financial instrument

The stock of a corporation is all of the shares into which ownership of the corporation is divided. In American English, the shares are commonly known as "stocks". A single share of the stock represents fractional ownership of the corporation in proportion to the total number of shares. This typically entitles the stockholder to that fraction of the company's earnings, proceeds from liquidation of assets, or voting power, often dividing these up in proportion to the amount of money each stockholder has invested. Not all stock is necessarily equal, as certain classes of stock may be issued for example without voting rights, with enhanced voting rights, or with a certain priority to receive profits or liquidation proceeds before or after other classes of shareholders.

References

  1. 1 2 Cundiff, Kirby R. (January 2007). "Monetary-Policy Disasters of the Twentieth Century". The Freeman Online. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
  2. Rappoport, Peter; White, Eugene N. (March 1994). "Was the Crash of 1929 Expected". The American Economic Review . United States: American Economic Association. 84 (1): 271–281. JSTOR   2117982.