Guide to Secured Overnight Financing Rates (SOFR)


The SOFR is a great show of interest rates for dollar-denominated derivatives and lendings. The SOFR is thought to come into the place of the London inter-bank offered rate (LIBOR).


  • SOFR represents interest rates for a dollar-expressed derivative and lending, and it will be replacing London inter-bank offered rate.
  • Secured Overnight Financing Rates are founded based on transfers in the Treasury buyback marketplace. They are more enticing than LIBOR because it is founded on info from the obvious transfer instead of the approximated borrowing levels, which can happen with the London inter-bank offered rate.
  • Although this rate is becoming a standard one for the aforementioned derivatives and lendings, some nations looked for their alternatives – SONIA and EONIA come to mind.

Getting to Know SOFR

This rate has a lot of influence on a bank when it prices the dollar-expressed derivatives and loans. The daily rate is founded on transfers in the Treasury buyback marketplace, and it sees an investor offering a bank overnight lending founded on the bond instruments. The Federal Reserve Bank in NYC started announcing rates in April 2018 to replace London inter-bank offered rate, which was in use until then,

Such rates like SOFR are important in derivative trades, like interest-rate swaps, which firms use to handle risks and bid on shifts in borrowing prices. Interest-rate swaps mean that those involved agree to exchange set-rate interest payments for a floating-rate interest payment. In an ordinary swap, one side says they will pay out a set interest level and get in return from the other side a paid floating interest rate founded on SOFR, which can have a bigger or smaller rate than Secured Overnight Financing Rates, founded on the other side’s credit standing and interest-rate terms. If this happens, the payer will receive something from interest rates going up since the valuation of the upcoming Secured Overnight Financing Rates payment is currently higher, despite the price of the set-rate payments of the other side staying the same. An inverse happens if the rate falls.

The LIBOR was a standard since being established in the eighties as an interest rate for all parties. It was made of 5 currencies and 7 maturities, and LIBOR was then decided by calculations of the approximate interest rate used by big world financial institutions to borrow between them. The currencies in question are USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, and CHF. A quite popular one is the 3-month US dollar level, called the current London inter-bank offered rate.

Nonetheless, following the 2008 crisis, authorities have become suspicious of over-reliance on that measure. For beginners, LIBOR is primarily based on the approximation from the polled worldwide banks and not actually on transactions. The disadvantage of allowing financial institutions that freedom became evident in 2012 was that financial firms were changing their data to gain greater gains on derivatives dependent on the London interbank offered rate. In addition, following the economic crisis, banking regulations meant less interbank borrowing was occurring. Some professionals voiced concerns that the trading activity’s restricted volume-rendered the rates even more insecure. In fact, the UK regulator collecting LIBOR rates states banks will not be allowed to request details on interbank lendings following 2021. That put developing nations scurrying to locate an alternative rate of reference which would come into its place.

A while ago, the Fed put together the Alternative Reference Rate Committee to pick another backing rate for the US, comprising a few big financial institutions. The committee has picked SOFR to be the new standard for dollar-expressed contracts.

There is lots of trade happening in the Treasury repo-marketplace, which LIBOR doesn’t have. Around 1,5k times more than those of inter-bank borrowings as of 2018, this was a better indicator of the borrowing cost. It is also founded on info from trades rather on estimates from borrowing levels, which can occur with London inter-bank offered rate.

Some governments have been looking to find their own solutions for the London interbank offered rate. The UK has selected Sterling Overnight Interbank Average Rate, an overnight borrowing rate, as it is standard for a potential sterling contract. The European Central Bank uses the Euro Overnight Index Average, founded on non-secured overnight lendings, and Japan shall use its own so-called TONAR rates.

Switching on to SOFR

SOFR and LIBOR can exist one against the other for the time being. But SOFR will take over in the upcoming years and will become the main standard. The aim is to achieve this by 2021.

It’s not easy to switch to another standard level because the London inter-bank offered rate has a trillions worth of contracts waiting, and some will not mature until London inter-bank offered rate retires. For instance, the popular 3-month dollar London interbank offered rate has around two hundred trillion connected to it.

Adjusting to new prices is difficult since the 2 interest levels possess some impactful differences. LIBOR stands for unsecured lending, and Secured Overnight Financing Rates stand for lendings secured by a Treasury bond, and it is free of risks. Also, the London inter-bank offered rate has thirty-five various rates, and Secured Overnight Financing Rates has one based on the overnight lending.

The move to Secured Overnight Financing Rates will leave a huge mark on the derivative marketplace. The rates may be significant in the user credit-products, like adjustable-rate debts and student lending, and debt instruments like commercial paper. When it comes to adjustable-rate debt founded on Secured Overnight Financing Rates, the move will determine how debtors shall be paid when the determined-interest time frame of the lending comes to an end. If Secured Overnight Financing Rates end up bigger after the lending reboots, owners of homes will have to pay more, too.