Template:M summ 2016 CSA Credit Support Amount

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Calculating the Credit Support Amount


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.

  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).