The use of interest rate swaps by nonprofit organizations: Evidence from nonprofit health care providers

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Although the use of derivatives, particularly interest rate swaps, has grown explosively over the past decade, derivative financial instrument use by nonprofits has received only limited attention in the research literature. Because little is known about the risk management activities of nonprofits, the impact of these instruments on the ability of nonprofits to raise capital may have significant public policy implications. The primary motivation of this study is to determine the types of derivatives used by nonprofits and estimate the frequency of their use among these organizations. Our study also extends contemporary finance theory by an empirical examination of the motivation for interest rate swap usage among nonprofits. Our empirical data came from 193 large nonprofit health care providers that issued debt to the public between 2000 and 2003. We used a univariate analysis and a multivariate analysis relying on logistic regression models to test alternative explanations of interest rate swaps usage by nonprofits, finding that more than 45 percent of our sample, 88 organizations, used interest rate swaps with an aggregate notional value in excess of $8.3 billion. Our empirical tests indicate the primary motive for nonprofits to use interest rate derivatives is to hedge their exposure to interest rate risk. Although these derivatives are a useful risk management tool, under conditions of falling bond market interest rates these derivatives may also expose a nonprofit swap user to the risk of a material unscheduled termination payment. Finally, we found considerable diversity in the informativeness of footnote disclosure among sample organizations that used interest rate swaps. Many nonprofits did not disclose these risks in their financial statements. In conclusion, we find financial managers in large nonprofits commonly use derivative financial instruments as risk management tools, but the use of interest rate swaps by nonprofits may expose them to other risks that are not adequately disclosed in their financial statements. © 2006 Aspen Publishers. Inc.

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Journal of Health Care Finance

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