Financial Derivatives

In this course the practical use of forwards, futures, options and swaps is presented. Those financial contracts are named as financial derivatives.

Financial derivatives are used in practice to: (i) reduce the price risk of commodities or financial assets; (ii) speculate within certain risk levels; (iii) restructure the balance sheet of a firm in a cheap way to manage financial risk. In this course, we study the rights and obligations included in each financial derivative contract. We also study the future cash flows and the appropriate present values (i.e. estimation of correct price), and the determinants of those present values for each financial derivative contract.

We review a number of practical case studies related to each financial derivative. Those case studies will involve the solution of exercises in Excel. For some exercises for which statistical estimation is done we will use the GRETL program. For most case studies we take the point of view of a Guatemalan firm and study how price risks can be managed and speculation by using financial derivatives can be undertaken.

The material to be presented in this course is useful for small firms that wish to manage a certain type of price risk (for example price of a certain commodity), or for large firms that wish to manage the risk of large financial portfolios (for example of a commercial bank or a large industrial or services firm). The course will be the solution of set of case studies. No preliminary knowledge on financial derivatives is required for this course.