Warren Buffett: Derivatives and risk

“Anytime you have incentives, with people who are quite smart, to mismark things, you’re going to get mismarks, or temptations to take on risk in an inappropriate manner. Originally with derivatives, the argument was made that it would disperse risk. That, you know, the Coca-Cola Company faced foreign exchange risk, or some bank faced, you know, interest rate risk. And the theory was that you would use these derivatives to spread risk around the system. And indeed, there are many people that make that argument now. I would say that that may work in that manner a great percentage of the time. But the time that counts is when the system has intensified risk and placed enormous credit risk on very, very few institutions. Believe me, the Coca-Cola Company is in a better position to accept foreign exchange or interest rate risk in a year than some derivatives dealer who has tons of positions on. And I think, actually, there is much more risk in the system because of derivatives than the proponents of derivatives would say has been dispersed because of the activities. ” –Warren Buffett. 

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