The fall of Bretton Wood system in early 1970s weakened of the pound. It was imperative to stop the downward slide of the pound. In order to control the flow of foreign exchange during 1970s the British Government imposed various types of restrictions. The British firms were not allowed to undertake large-scale investments or big projects outside the country without paying heavy prices. These restrictions eroded the competitiveness of the British firms in the overseas market. Therefore, these firms engineered a methodology by which they could raise funds and make overseas investments. These firms started taking loans in home currency and exchanged them with their counterparts abroad. For example, a firm willing to make investments in America would take loans in British pounds in UK and exchange it with a company in US which has taken a loan in US dollars. Thus genesis of the Swaps market emerged from these transactions.
The emergence of the swap market in the earlier period was not free from obstacles. The problem was of mounting paper work and accounting. The loans undertaken by the firms were two separate transactions, which caused inflationary figures in the balance sheet. The banks in evaluating such companies could not rate them higher because of the data reflected in the balance sheet. But introduction of the Currency swap, the first formal swap instrument, alleviated the problem. Thereafter the underlying principal was treated as an off-balance sheet item.
The swap market thus came into existence in the late seventies as the currency traders employed the technique of swaps to evade the British controls on the movement of foreign currency. The swap on currency was earlier in the form of back-to-back parallel loans. Parallel loans/back-to-back loans are currency agreements whereby a UK holding company will lend pounds to the US subsidiary in the UK and the US firm will lend dollars to the UK subsidiary in the US to avoid exchange control. But these transactions during the earlier period were not only expensive but also time consuming, because no structured environment/ market existed.