Demystifying SOFR: Understanding the Calculation Behind the New Benchmark

Apr 20, 2024

As the financial industry transitions away from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) has emerged as a key replacement benchmark. However, understanding the calculation behind this new benchmark can be complex and daunting for many market participants.

What is SOFR?

SOFR is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by Treasury securities. It is based on actual transactions and is considered a more reliable benchmark compared to LIBOR, which was based on banks' estimates of their borrowing costs.

Calculation Methodology

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York calculates SOFR as a volume-weighted median of transaction-level tri-party repo data, GCF Repo transaction data, and bilateral Treasury repo transactions cleared through the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation. This calculation methodology ensures that SOFR is based on actual market transactions, providing a more accurate representation of the overnight Treasury repo market.

Components of SOFR

SOFR comprises several components, including general collateral finance repo, bilateral Treasury repo, and GCF Repo. Each component reflects different segments of the overnight Treasury repo market, contributing to the overall calculation of SOFR.

Advantages of SOFR

One of the key advantages of SOFR is its robustness and reliability, as it is based on a large and diverse set of transactions. This reduces the risk of manipulation and provides a more transparent and accurate benchmark for financial products and contracts.

Transition from LIBOR to SOFR

Given the impending cessation of LIBOR at the end of 2021, market participants are actively transitioning their existing contracts and financial products to reference SOFR instead. This transition involves recalibrating pricing models, updating documentation, and implementing operational changes to accommodate the use of SOFR as the new benchmark rate.

Challenges and Considerations

While SOFR presents numerous benefits, its adoption also poses challenges for market participants. These challenges include the need to adjust legacy contracts, manage basis risk between SOFR and LIBOR, and navigate the implications for derivative markets.

SOFR challenges

Regulatory Support and Guidance

To facilitate a smooth transition to SOFR, regulatory authorities and industry organizations have been providing guidance and support to market participants. This includes the development of fallback language for contracts, educational resources, and initiatives to promote the adoption of SOFR-based products.


Understanding the calculation behind SOFR is essential for market participants as they navigate the transition away from LIBOR. With its robust methodology and regulatory support, SOFR is poised to become the new standard for benchmark rates, offering greater transparency and reliability in the financial markets.