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A quanto is a type of derivative in which the underlying is denominated in one currency,but the instrument itself is settled in another currency at some fixed rate. Such products are attractive for speculators and investors who wish to have exposure to a foreign asset, but without the corresponding exchange rate risk.

Quantos are attractive because they shield the purchaser from exchange rate fluctuations. If a US investor were to invest directly in the Japanese stocks that comprise the Nikkei, he would be exposed to both fluctuations in the Nikkei index and fluctuations in the USD/JPY exchange rate. Essentially, a quanto has an embedded currency forward with a variable notional amount. It is that variable notional amount that give quantos their name—"quanto" is short for "quantity adjusting option."

Quanto options have both the strike price and underlier denominated in the foreign currency. At exercise, the value of the option is calculated as the option's intrinsic value in the foreign currency, which is then converted to the domestic currency at the fixed exchange rate.

Another type of structure is called Quanto in the weather/energy markets. In these markets, a Quanto is a weather-contingent energy (or commodity) derivative. Weather contingent means that a payoff is triggered if some weather variable (typically temperature, but also precipitation or any other weather variable) crosses (from above or from below) a specified strike value. For the...
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