Credit Support Amount - CSA Provision

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CSA Anatomy™

In a Nutshell Section Credit Support Amount:

Template:Nutshell 1995 CSA Credit Support Amount view template

1995 ISDA CSA full text of Section Credit Support Amount:

Credit Support Amount” means, with respect to a Transferor on a Valuation Date, (i) the Transferee’s Exposure plus (ii) all Independent Amounts applicable to the Transferor, if any, minus (iii) all Independent Amounts applicable to the Transferee, if any, minus (iv) the Transferor’s Threshold; provided, however, that the Credit Support Amount will be deemed to be zero whenever the calculation of Credit Support Amount yields a number less than zero.
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Related Agreements
Click here for the text of Section Credit Support Amount in the 1995 English Law CSA
Click here for the text of Section Credit Support Amount in the 2016 English Law VM CSA
Click [[{{{3}}} - NY VM CSA Provision|here]] for the text of the equivalent, Section [[{{{3}}} - NY VM CSA Provision|{{{3}}}]] in the 2016 NY Law VM CSA
Template:Csadiff Credit Support Amount
{{nycsadiff {{{3}}}}}

Resources Full wikitext | Nutshell wikitext
Navigation 1 (Interpretation) | 2 (Credit Support Obligations) | 3 (Transfers, Calculations and Exchanges) | 4 (Dispute Resolution) | 5 (Title Transfer etc) | 6 (Default) | 7 (Representation) | 8 (Expenses) | 9 (Miscellaneous) | 10 (Definitions) | 11 (Elections and Variables)

Index: Click to expand:

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Under a 1995 ISDA CSA the Credit Support Amount is the total amount one counterparty must have delivered to the other at any time: the combination of the Exposure to that party and the net Independent Amounts it must post, minus any agreed Threshold.

No equivalent in the 2016 ISDA VM CSA

There is no concept of a Credit Support Amount in the 2016 ISDA VM CSA because the Credit Support Amount a party may require is no more than its Exposure to the other party — as already defined in the 2016 English law VM CSA. In the old 1995 English Law CSA one had to consider any pertinent Independent Amounts and the agreed Threshold.

No Independent Amounts

Life is much simpler in the world of regulatory variation margin for which the 2016 ISDA VM CSA is designed. Its only concern is variation margin. That is, there are no Independent Amounts.[1] In the old 1995 English Law CSA, Independent Amounts were there to protect counterparties against potential swings in Exposure that might happen before the next margin call: that is, they are a buffer against the risk of market moves.

But in the old world, Independent Amounts were transferred outright to the Transferee, by title transfer.[2] This created a conceptual issue for regulators, who were trying to minimise credit exposure between the parties: a title transfer of collateral to cover an Exposure that doesn’t yet — and might never — exist creates a negative exposure, because the holder of an Independent Amount would be indebted to the Transferor for its return.[3]

All that said, there is a custom-built addition in Paragraph 11[4] that lets you build an Independent Amount concept back in if you really want one. And who, in their right chicken-lickeny mind, wouldn’t?

No Threshold either

And what about the Threshold? Well, there shouldn’t be one of those either: The thrust of the margin reforms in the different jurisdictions was to require counterparties to collateralise their total mark-to-market exposure, not just most of it, so in a rush of uncharacteristic blood to the head, ISDA did away with the concept altogether. There is usually some flex in the regulations, and don’t be surprised to see your more tempestuous counterparties hotly insisting on a Threshold, even just a nominal one.

So the Credit Support Amount vanishes, in a puff of logic and existential redundancy.

Calculating your 1995 English Law CSA

Superficially things are quite different between the 1995 English Law CSA and the 2016 English law VM CSA, but this all boils down to the fact that the 2016 English law VM CSA is meant to be a zero-threshold, variation margin-only affair, so the concepts of Independent Amount and Threshold, both of which confuse the 1995 English Law CSA, aren’t there to get in the way. Unless you go and put them in anyway, as we shall see...

1995 English Law CSA

How the IA contributes to the Credit Support Amount — being the amount of credit support in total that one party must have given the other at any time[5] under the 1995 English Law CSA can be mind-boggling.

It pans out for a Transferee like so:

This leaves you with a formula for a Transferee’s Credit Support Amount as follows: Max[0, (ETee + IATor - IATee + Threshold)].

Let’s plug in some numbers. Say:

Your Credit Support Amount is therefore the greater of zero and 10,000,000 + 2,000,000 - 0 + 5,000,000) = 7,000,000.

Now, whether you have to pay anything or receive anything as a result — whether there is a Delivery Amount or a Return Amount, in other words — depends whether your Credit Support Amount is greater or smaller than your prevailing Credit Support Balance, by at least the Minimum Transfer Amount.

2016 English law VM CSA with no IA amendment

Since the 2016 English law VM CSA assumes there is no Independent Amounts and no Thresholds, it is quite a lot easier. It is just the Exposure. So much so, that there isn’t even a concept of the “Credit Support Amount” under the 2016 English law VM CSA, unless you have retrofitted one, and who in their right mind would do that?


You have, haven’t you. You’ve gone and co-opted the Credit Support Amount (VM/IA) concept in your Paragraph 11 elections. Yes you did. No, don’t blame your credit department; don’t say you were just following orders. You did it.

2016 English law VM CSA with a customised IA amendment

Never mind. Well, just for you, the formula is a sort of half-way house: Under this unholy bastardisation of a 2016 English law VM CSA, a Transferee’s Credit Support Amount will be: Max[0, (ETee + IATor - IATee)].

Relevance of Section 6 to the peacetime operation of the Credit Support Annex

The calculation of {{{{{1}}}|Exposure}} under the CSA is modelled on the Section 6(e)(ii) termination methodology following a Termination Event where there is one Affected Party, which in turn tracks the Section 6(e)(i) methodology following an Event of Default, only taking mid-market valuations and not those on the Non-Defaulting Party’s side.

This means you calculate the {{{{{1}}}|Exposure}} as:

(a) the Close-out Amounts for each Terminated Transaction plus
(b) Unpaid Amounts due to the Non-defaulting Party; minus
(c) Unpaid Amounts due to the Defaulting Party.

There aren’t really likely, in peacetime, to be Unpaid Amounts loafing about — an amount that you are due to pay today or tomorrow wouldn’t, yet, qualify as “unpaid”, but would be factored into the Close-out Amount calculation.

There is a little bit of a dissonance here, since “{{{{{1}}}|Exposure}}” is a snapshot calculation that treats all future cashflows, whether due in a day, a month or a year from today, the same way: it discounts them back to today, adds them up and sets them off. Your {{{{{1}}}|Delivery Amount}} or {{{{{1}}}|Return Amount}}, as the case may be, is just the difference between that Exposure and whatever the existing {{{{{1}}}|Credit Support Balance}} is. The future is the future: unknowable, unpredictable, but discountable, whether it happens in a day or a thousand years.

All the same, this can seem kind of weird when your CSA you have to pay him an amount today when he owes you an even bigger amount tomorrow. It’s like, “hang on: why am I paying you margin when, tomorrow, you are going to be in the hole to me? Like, by double, if I pay you this margin and you fail to me tomorrow.”

The thing which, I think, causes all the confusion is the dates and amounts of payments under normal Transactions are deterministic, anticipatable, and specified in the Confirmation, whereas whether one is required under a CSA on any day, and how much it will be, depend on things you only usually find out about at the last minute. CSA payments are due “a regular settlement cycle after they are called” — loosey goosey, right? — (or even same day if you are under a VMV CSA and you are on the ball with your calls) whereas normal swap payments are due (say) “on the 15th of March”

So, a scenario to illustrate:

  • Day 1: Party A has an {{{{{1}}}|Exposure}} — is out of the money — to the tune of 100. Its prevailing {{{{{1}}}|Credit Support Balance}} is 90, so (let’s say, for fun, after the {{{{{1}}}|Notification Time}} on the {{{{{1}}}|Demand Date}}) Party B has called it for a {{{{{1}}}|Delivery Amount}} of a further 10, which it must pay, but not until tomorrow.
  • Day 2: Meanwhile, Party A has a Transaction payment of 10 that falls due to Party B, also tomorrow. The arrival of this payment will change Party A’s Exposure to Party B so it is 90. Assuming Party A also pays the Delivery Amount, by knock-off time tomorrow it will have posted a {{{{{1}}}|Credit Support Balance}} of 100, and its Exposure to Party B will only be 90. This means it will be entitled to call Party B for a {{{{{1}}}|Return Amount}} of 10.

This seems rather a waste of operational effort, and will also take years off your credit officer’s life and may even cause his hair to catch fire. Can Party A just not pay the further Delivery Acount in anticipation of what will happen tomorrow?

Fun times in the world of collateral operations.

Transaction flows and collateral flows

In a fully margined ISDA Master Agreement, all other things being equal, the termination of a Transaction will lead to two equal and opposite effects:

The strict sequence of these payments ought to be that the Transaction termination payment goes first, and the collateral return follows, since it can only really be calculated and called once the termination payment has been made.

I know what you’re thinking. Hang on! that means the termination payer pays knowing this will increase its Exposure for the couple of days it will take for that collateral return to find its way back. That’s stupid!

What with the regulators’ obsession minimise systemic counterparty credit risk, wouldn’t it be better to apply some kind of settlement netting in anticipation, to keep the credit exposure down?

Now, dear reader, have you learned nothing? It might be better, but “better” is not how ISDA documentation rolls. The theory of the ISDA and CSA settlement flows puts the Transaction payment egg before the variation margin chicken so, at the moment, Transaction flows and collateral flows tend to be handled by different operations teams, and their systems don’t talk. Currently, the payer of a terminating transaction has its heart in its mouth for a day or so.

Industry efforts to date have been targeting at shortening the period between the Exposure calculation and the final payment of the collateral transfer.


  1. Well, alright, should be no Independent Amounts.
  2. Under Engliush law CSAs, at any rate. But the effect was the same where rehypothecation was allowed under a 1994 ISDA CSA (NY law) too.
  3. Hence, regulatory initial margin cannot be cash, and must be pledged and not title transferred.
  4. For more information see Credit Support Amount (VM/IA).
  5. As opposed to the amount required to be transferred on that day, considering the “Credit Support Balance” the Transferee already holds — that’s the Delivery Amount or Return Amount, as the case may be.
  6. There’s something faintly absurd both parties exchanging Independent Amounts by title transfer — they net off against each other — but that’s as may be. Stupider things have happened. SFTR disclosure, for example.