Counterparty risk is the risk that a counterparty to a contract will not perform their part of the contract, such as repay a deposit of cash, settle an invoice or supply goods when due. This is called ‘default risk’. It also refers to how much of the contract is performed. In some defaults, all the amounts at risk might be received (for example, in a secured lending), or just some might, or indeed none at all. The total amount of funds lost is known as ‘loss given default’.
This article considers how counterparty risk arises, how it might be measured, and how it can be managed.