What is a Bermuda Swaption?
A Bermuda swaption is an option that offers the buyer the right – but not the obligation – to take part in an interest rate swap on specified dates during the life of the option. Similar to Bermuda options, the Bermuda swaption is so called because the dates for interest rate swapping are specified within the swaption contract and can only be conducted on said dates.
The terms of the swaption also spell out if the buyer is going to pay the floating rate or the fixed rate.
- A Bermuda swaption gives the buyer the option to engage in an interest rate swap on a specified date during the life of the option.
- The terms of such swaptions are agreed upon by the buyer and the seller.
- The pricing for Bermuda swaptions is more complex than for vanilla swaptions; the Monte Carlo Simulation pricing method is commonly used.
Floating Rate vs. Fixed Rate
As addressed above, the swaption buyer will either pay the floating interest rate or the fixed interest rate for the option.
The floating rate changes periodically. The rate is usually updated, every few months, over the life of the options. The fixed rate, as its name implies, is fixed, doesn’t change. The interest rate is the same month to month for the option.
Swaptions are essentially just options that give buyers the right to enter into underlying interest rate swaps at some point during the life of the option.
As with any option, a swaption includes a buyer and a seller. Because options are traditionally traded over-the-counter (OTC), swaptions are conducted privately and allow the buyer and seller to agree on the terms of the swaption contract.
The buyer and the seller must agree on several elements of a swaption, including:
- Option length – The period during which the option is viable. In most cases, the option period typically ends a day or two before the start of the underlying swap.
- Price – The cost of the swaption, otherwise known as the premium.
- Underlying swap terms – Within the swaption, the buyer and seller must agree on the terms of the interest rate swap, which include the:
- Notional amount
- Fixed rate (equivalent to the strike price), and how frequently payments must be made
The swaption is settled in one of two ways. First, when the swaption expires, both parties enter into the swap. Second, when the swaption expires, the value of the non-used swap is paid out, using a market-standard formula.
Pricing Bermuda Swaptions
It is more difficult to price Bermuda swaptions than plain swaptions because there are a number of dates within the swaption on which the buyer can exercise his right to enter into the interest rate swap. It makes calculating swaption prices tricky.
For this reason, counterparties tend to avoid using traditional swaption and option-pricing models. Instead, they typically lean more towards the Monte Carlo Simulation pricing method.
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