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Loan Credit Default Swap Index (Markit LCDX)


The Markit LCDX is a credit default swap index that represents the credit risk of 100 large, North American companies with high-yield or speculative-grade ratings. This index, managed by Markit, allows investors to buy or sell credit protection for this basket of “leveraged loans”. Essentially, it serves as a benchmark for monitoring the overall health of the leveraged loan market and for hedging credit risk.


Loan Credit Default Swap Index (Markit LCDX): lōn krĕd′ĭt dĭ-fôlt′ swăp ĭn′dĕks (mär′kĭt el-see-dee-ex)

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>The Markit LCDX is a credit derivative index that represents the credit default swap (CDS) market of 100 North American companies with a high yield of leveraged loans. It enables investors to take on or hedge against credit exposure.</li><li>It is designed to reflect the market’s view of the overall credit quality of the leveraged loan market, giving investors a benchmark against which to measure the performance of individual loans or their entire portfolio.</li><li>The index’s value is determined by the prices of the underlying CDS contracts, which fluctuate based on perceived changes in the creditworthiness of the companies in the index. This makes the LCDX a useful tool for speculating on or hedging against broader trends in the credit market.</li></ol>


The Loan Credit Default Swap Index (Markit LCDX) is a crucial financial instrument primarily used by investors, hedge funds, and banks for managing risks associated with syndicated secured loans. It provides a measure of the average credit spread of the North American syndicated loan market and offers investors an efficient way to gain exposure to this market. Furthermore, the Markit LCDX can be used for both hedging and speculative purposes, allowing institutions to protect against defaults and credit risk of a portfolio of 100 companies, or to bet on the health of corporate credit market. Therefore, its importance lies in its ability to provide insights into prevailing market sentiments, facilitate portfolio diversification, and enable effective risk management.


The Markit LCDX is a loan-only credit default swap index that serves as a significant benchmark in the financial markets, providing an efficient, standardized tool to hedge and express views on North American and European credit market direction. The index is generally used by investors for the purpose of hedging credit exposure or speculating on credit risk. In specific, it consists of a basket of credit default swaps (CDS) for 100 diverse, highly liquid entities, allowing market participants to gain broad exposure to the loan market with a standardized product.The Markit LCDX is also utilized for its liquidity and price transparency in the loan market. It’s used to take a broader view of the overall market rather than betting on individual companies. The use of this index has reshaped trading strategies and profoundly affected the loan portfolio management processes of financial institutions around the world. Its pricing can indicate the market’s sentiment towards credit risk and it is an important risk management tool especially for heavily leveraged companies.


1. Goldman Sachs Trading: In 2008, Goldman Sachs, a leading global investment banking firm, used Markit LCDX to manage their exposure to the credit markets. Amid a period of credit crunch, they used LCDX to hedge against the potential defaults in their loan portfolio. As a result, they were able to effectively mitigate the risk of a potential loss and reduce their capital tied up in high-risk investments.2. AIG’s Bailout: AIG, one of the world’s largest insurance companies, experienced a significant loss in 2008 due to their heavy engagement in credit default swaps, including the Markit LCDX. As the credit market tumbled, AIG suffered a substantial devaluation in its credit assets, leading them to a verge of bankruptcy and requiring a massive bailout by the U.S. government.3. JP Morgan’s Regulatory Compliance: In 2016, J.P. Morgan, one of the world’s largest banks, entered into a major compliance project involving their trading activities in the Markit LCDX. They had to address regulatory changes that impacted their capital adequacy, documentary requirements, and reporting duties. Their engagements to adopt the new compliance protocol demonstrated a real-world example of how a financial institution had to adjust to changes in Markit LCDX transactions.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Loan Credit Default Swap Index (Markit LCDX)?

The Markit LCDX is an index of 100 equally weighted reference entities with liquid North American syndicated secured loans. It’s an index trade in the form of standardized credit default swaps and used to hedge against risk or to take a position on a basket of North American companies’ credit conditions.

Who uses the Markit LCDX?

The Markit LCDX is used by a variety of participants in the financial market including banks, asset managers, hedge fund managers, insurance companies, and other institutional investors.

How does the Markit LCDX work?

By purchasing an LCDX contract, a buyer is acquiring protection against default on the underlying loans within the index. The seller of the protection receives regular payments in return for this risk. In the case that a default occurs, a payout is triggered.

What is the term of a Markit LCDX index contract?

Standardized LCDX contracts typically have a 5-year term, although deals can also be tailored to meet specific needs.

What happens when a credit event occurs in the LCDX?

If a credit event occurs, affecting one of the index’s 100 entities, the protection seller has to pay the protection buyer. The amount relates to the decrease in value of the defaulted loan.

How is the LCDX traded?

LCDX is traded over-the-counter (OTC), meaning it is traded directly between two parties, unlike stock or futures which are traded on an exchange.

How can the LCDX be used for hedging?

Investors can use LCDX to hedge a portfolio of leverage loans against systemic risk. For example, if an investor thinks that the economic outlook is gloomy, they can buy a LCDX contract as a protection from potential defaults.

Is the LCDX a liquid index?

Yes, the LCDX is one of the most liquid parts of the synthetic credit market. This helps investors to manage risk more effectively due to the ability to easily enter and exit positions.

Related Finance Terms

  • Markit Group
  • Subprime Mortgage Crisis
  • Credit Event
  • Vertical Spread Strategy
  • Bankruptcy Protection

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