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Basis Risk


Basis Risk refers to the financial risk that offsetting investments in a hedging strategy will not experience price changes in entirely opposite directions from each other. This imperfect correlation between the two investments creates the potential for excess gains or losses in a hedging strategy, thereby adding risk to the position. In simpler terms, it’s the risk that the price of the futures contract won’t move in line with the price of the underlying asset.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Basis Risk” is: “bey-sis risk”

Key Takeaways

  1. Definition: Basis risk refers to the risk that an asset and a hedge will not move in opposite directions, as expected. This can happen when an individual or firm tries to hedge their risk exposure to an asset’s price movement but fails due to differences in the price movements of the asset and its hedge.
  2. Causes: Basis risk can be caused by various factors including geographical differences, quality differences, timing differences, or any other factors that can lead to a disparity between the price of the hedging instrument and the price of the underlying asset or liability.
  3. Implications: If not managed properly, basis risk can lead to substantial financial losses, particularly for hedged portfolios. It also makes it more difficult to predict future cash flows and changes in value. Thus, understanding and managing basis risk is crucial for effective risk management and financial planning.


Basis risk is crucial in business/finance as it denotes the potential for inconsistencies or risk between an asset’s value and the value of the instrument meant to hedge that asset. This discrepancy occurs when the price behavior of a financial instrument being hedged does not align with the instrument used in hedging. Such a gap may lead to losses, directly impacting the financial standing of a business. By understanding basis risk, businesses can implement effective hedging strategies to manage price uncertainties, enhancing financial stability and ensuring their hedging strategies are effective in risk management. This detailed comprehension of basis risk is fundamental in risk management and financial planning process.


Basis risk plays a significant role in business finance, specifically in financial markets where hedging is practiced as a risk management tool. Hedge contracts typically involve two rates, such as the interest rate or price of a commodity, which don’t always move in perfect harmony, creating basis risk. When the values of the hedged asset and the hedging instrument don’t change equally, this difference can result in a less effective hedge or in worst cases, potential losses. It’s important for businesses and investors to understand basis risk because it directly influences their profit margins and financial stability. In the world of trading and investments, basis risk is mainly used to measure the effectiveness of a hedging strategy. If a company, for instance, relies heavily on a specific commodity and wishes to hedge against future price increases, they might buy futures contracts at a certain price. However, if the spot price (the price of the asset “on the spot” or at the current moment) and the futures price do not change consistently, the company might still end up paying more or less than anticipated due to basis risk. So, this risk essentially makes the price protection less perfect and adds unpredictability to the hedge performance.


1. Interest Rate Swap: Consider a company that has a floating rate loan and wants to swap it to a fixed rate loan through an interest rate swap. The company will pay a fixed rate to the counter party and receive a floating rate. The basis risk occurs because the floating rate of the loan may not match with the floating rate that the company receives from the counter party in the swap. This mismatch creates basis risk, as the company is not perfectly hedged against interest rate fluctuations. 2. Commodity Trading: An oil producing company might sell its product in the futures market to lock in a price and mitigate the risk of price fluctuations. However, there is a risk that the local price of oil (where the company sells its product) might not move in tandem with the global price (the futures price). This risk – that the local and global prices diverge – is the basis risk. 3. Foreign Exchange Risk: A company based in the US, doing business in Europe, wants to hedge its Euro to US dollar exchange rate risk. It enters into a forward contract to sell Euros at a predetermined rate on a future date. However, the company’s actual cash flows may not align perfectly with the settlement date of the forward contract. This mismatch between the timing of the actual business transaction and the financial hedge creates a basis risk.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Basis Risk?
Basis Risk is the risk that the price of the underlying asset in a futures contract or derivative may not move in the same pattern as the spot price, causing a loss for the investor.
How does Basis Risk occur?
Basis risk occurs due to the discrepancy between the futures price and the underlying asset’s spot price. This difference can result from changes in supply and demand factors affecting the spot and futures markets differently.
What is the ‘Basis’ in Basis Risk?
In finance and trading, the ‘Basis’ refers to the difference between the spot price of an asset and the futures price of that same asset.
Can Basis Risk be eliminated?
It is very challenging to entirely eliminate basis risk as it’s largely dependent on market factors which are unpredictable. However, basis risk can be managed and minimized through diversified investments and strategic hedging.
How does Basis Risk impact hedging strategies?
Since basis risk creates a possible discrepancy between spot and futures prices, it can lead to unforeseen losses in a hedging strategy. This can make the hedging less effective, as a change in the basis can offset potential gains from the hedge.
Is Basis Risk present in all types of futures contracts?
Yes, basis risk can be present in any type of futures or derivative contract where there’s a possibility of a change in the correlation between the price of the underlying asset and the contract itself.
How can investors cope with Basis Risk?
Investors can cope with basis risk by partaking in thorough market analysis, maintaining portfolio diversification, and implementing effective risk management strategies. Regular monitoring of the market and the basis is also crucial to minimize potential losses.
What are common causes of Basis Risk?
Common causes of basis risk can include changes in spot and futures market conditions, supply and demand shifts, differences in asset quality, changes in transportation costs, interest rates, and various other market factors.

Related Finance Terms

  • Hedging
  • Financial Derivatives
  • Commodity Contracts
  • Price Volatility
  • Futures Contract

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