Market Risk

Risk that the value of an investment may vary or decrease owing to changes in unpredictable market circumstances

Author: Naveeth Rishwan Habeeb
Naveeth  Rishwan Habeeb
Naveeth Rishwan Habeeb
I graduated from the esteemed PSG College of Arts & Science with a Bachelor's in Commerce, specializing in Computer Applications. Furthering my academic journey, I earned a Master's in Business Administration with a focus on Finance and Data Analytics from the distinguished Kumaraguru College of Technology Business School. My professional journey commenced at Wall Street Oasis, where I flourished within the Research and Development team, eventually assuming the role of Finance Chief Editor. Presently, I'm soaring as an Investment Banking Fellow at the renowned Marquee Fellowship Program. Armed with prowess in Financial Analysis, Forecasting, Market Research, and Corporate Communications, I am on the lookout for an entry-level position in financial services. Eager to embark on an exhilarating journey, I invite opportunities that promise to send shivers down my spine. Let's craft a narrative that resonates and embark on a thrilling chapter together.
Reviewed By: Elliot Meade
Elliot Meade
Elliot Meade
Private Equity | Investment Banking

Elliot currently works as a Private Equity Associate at Greenridge Investment Partners, a middle market fund based in Austin, TX. He was previously an Analyst in Piper Jaffray's Leveraged Finance group, working across all industry verticals on LBOs, acquisition financings, refinancings, and recapitalizations. Prior to Piper Jaffray, he spent 2 years at Citi in the Leveraged Finance Credit Portfolio group focused on origination and ongoing credit monitoring of outstanding loans and was also a member of the Columbia recruiting committee for the Investment Banking Division for incoming summer and full-time analysts.

Elliot has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Columbia University.

Last Updated:February 16, 2024

What Is The Market Risk?

Market risk is the risk that the value of an investment may vary or decrease owing to changes in unpredictable market circumstances.

It includes changes in 

  • Currency exchange rates
  • Interest rates 
  • Stock prices
  • Rate of inflation 
  • Commodity prices affect a company's assets.

Major financial institutions, for instance, hold a variety of financial instruments, including derivatives, stock goods, etc. The worth of these holdings will fluctuate daily depending on changes in various market risk variables, including interest rates and foreign currency rates.

Any of these risk variables might suddenly and unexpectedly change, potentially resulting in significantly larger losses than anticipated. Therefore, firms must efficiently monitor and manage this risk to protect themselves from negative consequences.

These market conditions might include 

  • Crisis or Depressive Disorders 
  • Changes in government policies impacting important interest rates 
  • Natural catastrophes
  • Political upheaval
  • Terrorism, etc

Key Takeaways

  • Market risk arises from unpredictable factors like currency, interest rates, stocks, inflation, and commodities, impacting investments.
  • Diversification, active monitoring, and hedging through futures and options help mitigate market risk.
  • Interest rate, currency, commodity price, and equity price risks affect investments differently.
  • Market risk requires informed decision-making, diversification, and ongoing monitoring for effective management.

Understanding Market Risk

Market Risk is also known as "Systematic risk," as it impacts the whole financial market. As a result, no one or organization has authority over these. However, various risk management strategies can be employed to mitigate or limit such risks.

The strategies may recommend diversification of investments. Moreover, diversification should extend across asset classes and portfolios not correlated with the market.

A lack of association with the stock market can contribute to stability in the portfolio or financial assets.


Continuous monitoring and active management by investors are essential. This will assist businesses in keeping a close eye on macroeconomic factors such as interest and inflation rates to reduce market risk.

Market risk and specific/unsystematic risk are two main categories that can be used to classify the overall investment risk.

Unlike specific or unsystematic risk, market risk depends on the overall performance of the market rather than any individual firm, industry, or sector. Investors must, therefore, be cognizant of the macroeconomic factors impacting the financial market.

There are also different types of risk associated with market risk. The systematic risk depends on the outcome of the entire market and is not explicitly linked to the business or sector in which an investor has invested.

Investors must monitor factors such as the balance of payments, inflation, fiscal deficits, geopolitical concerns, and other relevant macroeconomic variables affecting the financial market.

Managing Market Risk

Holding two or more positions simultaneously to offset potential losses from one position with gains from another is known as hedging. As discussed earlier, hedging market risk is one method of controlling trading risk.

Investors use diverse hedging techniques to protect themselves from unanticipated market volatility. By possibly balancing losses during market downturns, futures hedging may help minimize risk in a portfolio.

Futures are often used for hedging due to their leverage, enabling investors to manage large assets with a relatively small investment. Some investors prefer options trading because it allows them to employ strategies like delta hedging and risk reversal to protect their positions.

While acknowledging that certain risks are inherent in seeking long-term profits, hedging offers a means of risk mitigation while maintaining desired exposure.


You can utilize a variety of financial tools for hedging. The market you're trading will determine your hedging approach.

Additionally, some investors use futures contracts to mitigate uncertainty regarding the future price of underlying securities and hedge their positions in commodities, stocks, bonds, etc.

Other Types Of Risk

The four main categories of market risk are interest rate, foreign currency, commodity price, and equity price risk.

1. Risk of interest

This kind of risk manifests itself when a security's value declines due to shifts in the current and longer-term interest rates. 

Further categories of interest rate risk are:

Changes in an economy's interest rate typically significantly impact fixed-income products such as bonds. This is because a country's central bank can change the interest rates now being applied in the economy by changing its monetary policy. 

Such fluctuations in interest rates directly impact the prices of investments and securities. Therefore, the demand for instruments with lower interest rates will decrease when the market interest rate is high. 

Similarly, investors may shift their investments to financial instruments offering higher interest rates when the market interest rate decreases. Conversely, sudden increases or decreases in interest rates will likely lead to increased market volatility.

Interest rate changes affect asset prices by influencing the pace of consumption and investment in a country, leading to potential growth or decline.

Consumers often tend to reduce spending and increase savings when interest rates increase compared to when they decrease.


Interest rate risk affects various marketplaces, including shares, commodities, and bonds. For instance, a US corporation could wish to borrow fewer dollars from banks if the Federal Reserve's (Fed) Funds rate increases, which would reduce its investment and spending.

The market value of different bonds and financial instruments is affected by changes in interest rates. The value of the current securities will decrease if interest rates rise and vice versa.

2. Risk of Currency Conversion

Variations in exchange values between currencies, such as the US dollar and others, give rise to currency risk.

Exchange rates are not solely based on the exchange of currency prices worldwide; various factors influence them, including economic conditions, interest rates, and geopolitical events.

As a result, currency risk is more likely to affect investors investing in global markets and foreign nations. Currency fluctuations impact businesses engaged in international trade as changes in currency rates can affect their net inflows and outflows.

3. Risk of Commodity Price

The price variations of commodities like gold, silver, oil, etc., give rise to this risk. The risk associated with commodity prices impacts international corporations and common individuals.

Commodity risk arises from fluctuations in the prices of essential commodities traded on international markets, such as crude oil, which can have ripple effects on global financial markets

While certain factors contributing to commodity price fluctuations may be uncontrollable, such as shifts in supply and demand, others, like governmental regulations, can be influenced by policies and actions.


Price swings for significant commodities like bullion, steel, copper, and natural gas may pose similar risks.

4. Risk of Equity Price

Stock price swings are referred to as this form of risk. In addition, the total market risk contains a significant amount of equity price risk. Equity risk is the danger of potential fluctuations in stock prices and stock indexes. 

Numerous factors may be to blame for this. These are:

  • Major discoveries or innovations 
  • Launch of new goods
  • Changes to laws and regulations 
  • Shifts in the general economic environment
  • Big epidemics, etc


The volatility of stock prices can be greater than that of certain other asset groups. This is because a security's price can fluctuate drastically quickly, frequently resulting in a decline in value. Equity price risk is the term for this. 

There are just two categories of equity risk:

  • Systematic Risk
  • Unsystematic Risk

Despite the numerous factors influencing share prices, margin risk arises from unfavorable margin calls, which occur when the value of assets in a margin account falls below a certain threshold, potentially leading to forced liquidation of positions.

5. Risk of Marginality

Unfavorable margin calls covering a position cause margin risk. As a result, investors may experience unpredictable cash flows.

Measuring Market Risk

How do you do the Assessment of Market Risk? VaR and Beta are the two main techniques for quantifying market risk for the assessment.

1. VaR

VaR is a statistical technique used over a predetermined period to calculate the greatest possible loss of the portfolio's value and the likelihood of such a loss. It is a metric used to evaluate the long-term financial risk to an organization, investment portfolio, or open position. 

VaR quantifies the maximum potential loss and the probability of that loss occurring. Beta measures a stock's volatility relative to the overall market based on its historical performance.

The advantages and disadvantages are:

VaR Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages Disadvantages
The idea of market risk makes it much easier to comprehend how volatile financial goods may be While market risk cannot be entirely eliminated, it can be mitigated through hedging, albeit at a cost and with associated risks
Investors may use it to calculate the actual return on investment as well In times of recession or cyclical swings in the economy, managing market risk is especially difficult
 - VaR provides an estimate of the maximum probable loss within a specified confidence level

It is denoted mathematically by the following:

Portfolio Value * Z-score within the given Confidence Interval

2. Coefficient Beta

The beta coefficient is a metric for comparing an investment or portfolio's fluctuation to the market. For example, the beta coefficient measures a security's or investment portfolio's sensitivity or connection to changes in the general market. 

It provides information on asset return in light of systematic risk and is useful in the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM). Adding a stock or asset to a diverse portfolio aids in determining the risk increase.

3. Market Risk Premium

The MRP offers a numerical representation of the increased return that market players want due to the more risk they are willing to assume. It is denoted mathematically by the following:

Market Risk Premium = Expected Return - The Risk-Free Rate Of Return

All types of investment assets, such as derivatives, stocks, and bonds, are covered by this. It aids in determining the profit potential of various assets and the appropriate amount to invest in a given investment opportunity.

Several restrictions apply to the VAR technique as well. The approach includes calculating each asset's risk, return, and correlation. Therefore, calculating VAR becomes exceedingly difficult if a portfolio has many varied assets.

It also assumes that the holdings will remain the same for a specific period. Consequently, because the investment portfolio's contents are continually changing, it is more useful for investments that are short-term and inaccurate for long-term ones.


A financial investment with a beta coefficient of "1" is just as unpredictable as the market. In other words, the asset or stock is said to have a high level of market correlation and will react to movements in the market accordingly.

By evaluating the returns of a single asset or portfolio to the return of the whole market, we may determine a statistical indicator of risk and determine the percentage of risk that can be assigned to the market.

A systematic risk to the market can likewise be considered to exist concerning this asset.

A beta number larger than '1' denotes higher volatility than the market, not necessarily increased market volatility. It can rise faster than the market in an upturning economy and vice versa.


Beta is commonly used in valuation models to estimate the cost of equity (Re).

CAPM estimates an asset's beta based on its sensitivity to systematic risk, not the market's overall risk. The cost of equity calculated by the CAPM reflects that most clients have diversified portfolios in which inefficient risk has been successfully mitigated.

The investment is, therefore, quite risky, but it also has the potential for substantially larger returns than the market. A beta coefficient below one indicates that the investment is less volatile than the market.

As a result, the investment is a safe, low-risk choice, but the potential returns are also constrained.

Laws Governing Market Risk

Regarding the disclosure of the market risk of investments, there are some rules as well.

According to Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, companies must include a section in all annual reports on Form 10-K that discloses their exposure to market risk.

Companies must explain their involvement in financial markets and how market volatility may affect them. For example, many businesses appear to operate simply to the public, yet they may be engaged in investing and trading in sophisticated financial instruments and derivatives. 

Through such risky investment practices, they may jeopardize the funds of trusting investors. An investor can, therefore, assess the risk of buying into such a firm using the mandatory data in its Annual Report.

The Market Risk Rule (MRR) establishes capital requirements and risk management guidelines for banking organizations involved in significant trading activities. Worldwide banks that reach specified asset or trading criteria are subject to the rule.

The rule is based on market risks associated with the trading positions, including interest rate, foreign currency, stock, and commodities risks.


In addition to stress testing, the regulation mandates independent risk management practices for banks to mitigate marketplace risks. The regulation has been revised to reflect changes in national risk categories and securitization positions.


Market risk affects the entire market but can be partially mitigated through diversification. However, the best course of action is for investors to assess market risk using the available tools before hedging against it.

Market risk is the chance of losing money due to shifting interest rates, geopolitical instability, or recessions that affect how well the financial markets function.

Market risk, often called systemic risk, cannot be entirely eliminated by diversification due to its broad impact on the market. Contrarily, the specific risk is exclusive to a given stock or business area and may be reduced by diversification.

Inflation can increase the risk by influencing corporate performance, consumer behavior, and investor confidence. As a result, higher interest rates may be employed by monetary policy to combat inflation, although doing so might trigger a recession and slow down the market as a whole.

Inflationary risk, distinct from market risk, refers to the potential for investments to underperform due to rising costs caused by inflation. Inflationary risk is a significant aspect of investment risk that does not directly impact overall market performance.

It is a form of investment risk, though. The inflationary risk may be reduced by diversification, early investment to benefit from compound interest, and aggressive investing when you are younger. 

You may discover WSO's Financial statement modeling course here if you still need materials to help with your knowledge of Market risk.

Researched & Authored by Naveeth Rishwan Habeeb | LinkedIn

Reviewed and edited by Parul GuptaLinkedIn

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