‘Wrong type of liquidity’ spells trouble for energy hedges

Cyclical lull conceals structural shift as liquidity becomes shorter-dated and more flighty

tap-dripping

Oil and gas producers are hedging less of their output; airlines have slashed their use of swaps by up to 90%; the over-the-counter commodity derivatives market has shrivelled to one-tenth of its 2008 peak.

On the face of it, these three data points tell a story of risk management in retreat, and appear to bear out warnings that seven years of bank and swaps market reform would deter hedging activity by driving up costs, stunting liquidity and stifling access. The reality is more nuanced.

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