Globalization of financial markets led to the enormous growth of volume and diversification of financial transactions. Financial derivatives were the basic elements of this growth. Derivatives play a useful and important role in hedging and risk management, but they also pose several dangers to the stability of financial markets and thereby the overall economy. Derivatives are used to hedge and speculate the risk associated with commerce and finance.
When used to hedge risks, derivative instruments transfer the risks from the hedgers, who are unwilling to bear the risks, to parties better able or more willing to bear them. In this regard, derivatives help allocate risks efficiently between different individuals and groups in the economy. Investors can also use derivatives to speculate and to engage in arbitrage activity. Speculators are traders who want to take a position in the market; they are betting that the price of the underlying asset or commodity will move in a particular direction over the life of the contract.
In addition to risk management, derivatives play a very useful economic role in price discovery and arbitrage. Financial derivatives trading are based on leverage techniques, earning enormous profits with small amount of money.