Derivatives are "financial weapons of mass destruction."
Derivatives, traded in an unregulated $600 trillion market, were partly blamed for the financial crisis that ignited a year ago. The value of derivatives hinges on an underlying investment or commodity -- such as currency rates, oil futures or interest rates. The derivative is designed to reduce the risk of loss from the underlying asset. Derivatives trading is dominated by about 20 big banks worldwide....
Credit default swaps, a form of insurance against loan defaults, account for an estimated $60 trillion of the over-the-counter derivatives market. The collapse of the swaps brought the downfall of Wall Street banking house Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. about a year ago and nearly toppled American International Group Inc., prompting the government to support the insurance conglomerate with more than $180 billion in aid....
Congress is weighing legislation to impose broad new oversight on derivatives. The Obama administration's proposal, part of its plan for overhauling U.S. financial rules, would subject the banks that trade derivatives to requirements for holding capital reserves against risk and other rules. A new network of clearinghouses would be established to provide transparency for derivatives trades.
US banks made $5.2B trading [financial weapons of
mass destruction] derivatives in 2Q
By Marcy Gordon, AP Business Writer
On Friday September 25, 2009, 12:48 pm EDT