Transitioning from LIBOR: Explaining the cash fallback rates

14-09-2021 | treasuryXL | Refinitiv | Jacob Rank-Broadley

The LIBOR transition: We explain what fallback rates for the USD cash markets are and provide practical insights on how these rates can be used.


  1. Refinitiv USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks are designed to ensure existing USD LIBOR referencing products such as loans, bonds and securitisations can continue to operate post-USD LIBOR cessation.
  2. There are two versions of the Refinitiv USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks: those for consumer products and those for institutional products.
  3. Initially, market participants can use the prototype USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks to become more familiar with the rates and test technical connectivity.

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During my previous blog on fallbacks in April 2021, I outlined the importance of introducing robust fallback rates into the USD cash markets.

There is a substantial exposure of cash instruments that have no effective means to easily transition away from LIBOR upon its cessation. New LIBOR legislation signed into State of New York law reduces the adverse economic outcomes associated with the instruments by requiring them to use the Alternative Reference Rates Committee’s (ARRC) recommended fallback language.

In March, the ARRC announced Refinitiv as publisher of its fallback rates for cash products. Since then, Refinitiv has been working with the Federal Reserve and the ARRC to finalise the design of the USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks.

Refinitiv is committed to supporting you through the LIBOR transition with LIBOR Transition and Replacement Rate solutions

Fallback rate economically equivalent to USD LIBOR

The Refinitiv USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks provide the rates described in the ARRC’s recommended fallback language.

These are composed of two components: the adjusted Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) part measures the average SOFR rate for the relevant tenor. Added to this is a spread adjustment, which measures the difference between the USD LIBOR for each tenor and SOFR compounded in arrears for that tenor.

Adding these two components together gives an all-in fallback rate that is economically equivalent to USD LIBOR.

There are two version of the Refinitiv USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks: those for consumer products and those for institutional products. Both are published to five decimal places and include the adjusted SOFR rate, the spread adjustment and the all-in rate.

Watch: Refinitiv Perspectives LIVE – The LIBOR Transition: Risk-Free Term Rates

Consumer cash fallbacks

Refinitiv USD IBOR Consumer Cash Fallbacks are designed to ensure existing USD LIBOR referencing consumer cash products such as mortgages and student loans can continue to operate post-USD LIBOR cessation.

These rates are based upon compound SOFR in advance, which means the rate is known at the start of the interest period, plus the spread adjustment.

Prior to 1 July 2023, the spread adjustment will be calculated as the median difference between USD LIBOR and SOFR compound in arrears for the previous 10 working days, resulting in the spread adjustment changing on a daily basis.

This is an indicative rate, and while it should not be used as a reference rate in financial products, it is designed to aid familiarity with the USD IBOR Consumer Cash Fallbacks prior to adoption in July 2023.

Following 30 June 2024, the spread adjustment will be calculated as the median of the historical differences between USD LIBOR for each tenor and the compounded in arrears SOFR for that tenor over a five-year period prior to 5 March 2021.

For the period between 1 July 2023 and 30 June 2024, the spread adjustment will be calculated as the linear interpolation between the two rates outlined above.

A floored version of the consumer cash fallbacks is also available, meaning that if the average SOFR across all days in the tenor is below zero, then the all-in published fallback rate will be solely the corresponding spread adjustment.

Refinitiv USD IBOR Consumer Cash Fallbacks will be published in 1-month, 3-month and 6-month tenors.

Institutional cash fallbacks

Refinitiv USD IBOR Institutional Cash Fallbacks are designed to ensure existing USD LIBOR referencing commercial cash products such as bilateral business loans, floating rate notes, securitisations and syndicated loans can continue to operate post USD LIBOR cessation.

In order to account for different conventions in different markets, there are a number of different versions of the Refinitiv USD IBOR Institutional Cash Fallbacks. There are three different ways of capturing the average SOFR rate: SOFR compound in arrears, Simple SOFR in arrears and SOFR compound in advance.

Added to this is the spread adjustment, which is calculated as the median of the historical differences between USD LIBOR for each tenor and the compounded in arrears SOFR for that tenor over a five-year period prior to 5 March 2021.

Unlike Refinitiv USD IBOR Consumer Cash Fallbacks, there is no transition period. This means that the spread adjustment remains fixed for perpetuity.

Each of the SOFR compound in arrears and Daily Simple SOFR rates will be available in up to seven tenors in a variety of different forms in order to conform to convention in different markets.

The 3-, 5- and 10-day lookback without observation shift versions give counterparties more notice by applying the SOFR rate from three, five and ten business days prior to the rate publication date.

The 2-, 3- and 5-days lookback with an observation shift versions also give counterparties more notice by applying the SOFR rate from two, three and five business days prior to the publication date, but in contrast to a lookback without observation shift, it applies that rate for the number of calendar days associated with the rate two, three and five business days prior.

The 2- and 3-day lockout versions fix the SOFR rate for the last two and three days prior to publication.

The plain version has no lookback, observation shift, or lockout.

The SOFR compound in advance rates for institutional products will be available in 1-month, 3-month and 6-month tenors.

Navigating the LIBOR transition

What’s the next step?

Initially, market participants can use the prototype USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks to become more familiar with the rates and test technical connectivity.

Following the ARRC’s recent endorsement of Term SOFR, Refinitiv plans to supplement the initial prototype with a forward-looking term rate version in due course.

During the prototype phase, we anticipate changes to the methodology based on user feedback to ensure full alignment with industry standards prior to publication of the production rates.

Production rates for the institutional cash fallbacks should be available from autumn 2021, and for the consumer cash fallbacks they will be available from July 2023.

How to access the rates

Prototype rates are now available from the Refinitiv website and through Refinitiv products including Refinitiv® Eikon, Refinitiv Real-Time and Refinitiv® DataScope.

For more information on these rates, including the methodology and identifiers (RICs), please visit our Refinitiv USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks page.

Refinitiv is committed to supporting you through the LIBOR transition with LIBOR Transition and Replacement Rate solutions

 

 

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