• The Code generally imposes a 3.8% Medicare contribution tax on the “net investment income” of certain individuals, trusts and estates to the extent their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. For these purposes, “net investment income” generally includes, among other things, (i) distributions paid by a Fund of ordinary dividends and capital gain dividends, and (ii) any net gain from the sale, redemption or exchange of Fund shares. Shareholders are advised to consult their tax advisors regarding the possible implications of this additional tax on their investment in a Fund.
The CFTC, in conjunction with other federal regulators, also recently proposed stricter margin requirements for certain swap transactions. If adopted, the proposed requirements could increase the amount of margin necessary to conduct many swap transactions, limit the types of assets that can be used as collateral for such transactions, and impose other restrictions. The rule proposal may affect the ability of the Funds to use swap agreements (as well as futures contracts and options on futures contracts or commodities) and may substantially increase regulatory compliance costs for the Advisor and the Funds. As of the date of this SAI, the ultimate impact of the rule proposal on the Funds is uncertain. It is possible, however, that any adopted rule may adversely affect the Advisor’s ability to manage the Funds, may impair a Funds’ ability to achieve its investment objective and/or may result in reduced returns to Fund investors.
The Board has established an Audit Committee to assist the Board in performing oversight responsibilities. The Audit Committee is composed exclusively of Independent Trustees. Currently, the Audit Committee is composed of Messrs. Reynolds, Wachs and Fertig. Among other things, the Audit Committee makes recommendations to the full Board of Trustees with respect to the engagement of an independent registered public accounting firm and reviews with the independent registered public accounting firm the plan and results of the internal controls, audit engagement and matters having a material effect on the Trust’s financial operations. During the past fiscal year, the Audit Committee met five times, and the Board of Trustees met four times.
The Funds may invest in a combination of forward currency contracts and U.S. dollar-denominated market instruments in an attempt to obtain an investment result that is substantially the same as a direct investment in a foreign currency-denominated instrument. This investment technique creates a “synthetic” position in the particular foreign currency instrument whose performance the manager is trying to duplicate. For example, investing in a combination of U.S. dollar-denominated instruments with “long” forward currency exchange contracts creates a position economically equivalent to investing in a money market instrument denominated in the foreign currency itself. Such combined positions are sometimes necessary when the money market in a particular foreign currency is small or relatively illiquid.
Recent bitcoin futures contract announcements from CBOE, CME, and Nasdaq have generated tremendous interest in digital assets. Bitcoin futures have been highly anticipated as they will provide traditional financial institutions with one of the first opportunities to meaningfully participate in the digital asset space via a regulated investment framework. It is an opportunity for Wall Street to catch up with Main Street on bitcoin. With the impending launch of U.S.-listed bitcoin futures, investors may wonder what the bitcoin futures curve might look like. Using information from existing digital asset derivative trading platforms such as Bitmex, OKCoin, CryptoFacilities, and BTCC (all exchanges outside of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission purview), MVIS Research has constructed an approximate curve based on non-U.S. bitcoin futures trading on these exchanges. These are real trading platforms revealing real volume.
The Code generally imposes a 3.8% Medicare contribution tax on the net investment income of certain individuals, trusts, and estates to the extent their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. For these purposes, “net investment income” generally includes, among other things, (i) distributions paid by a Fund of ordinary dividends and capital gain dividends as described above, and (ii) any net gain from the sale, redemption or exchange of Fund shares. Shareholders are advised to consult their tax advisors regarding the possible implications of this additional tax on their investment in a Fund.
The ProShares Bitcoin/Blockchain Strategy ETF contains portfolio investments that are primarily listed on foreign markets. To the extent the Fund’s portfolio investments trade in foreign markets on days when the Fund is not open for business or when the primary exchange for its shares is not open, the value of the Fund’s assets may vary on days when shareholders may not be able to purchase or sell Fund shares and Authorized Participants may not be able to create or redeem Creation Units. Also, certain portfolio investments may not be traded on days the Fund is open for business.
Additions such as Zerocoin have been suggested, which would allow for true anonymity. In recent years, anonymizing technologies like zero-knowledge proofs and ring signatures have been employed in the cryptocurrencies Zcash and Monero, respectively. Cryptocurrency anonymizing implementations such as Cloakcoin, Dash, and PIVX use built in mixing services, also known as tumblers.
Taking their prices from bitcoin futures, the swaps will not handle bitcoin directly. Seeing as Morgan Stanley is a regulated and established financial institution, tying the product to futures contracts is a safer bet than basing them on bitcoin’s spot price, as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Exchange offer fully-regulated bitcoin futures from which Morgan Stanley can pool pricing data.
Coinbase is not alone in making moves toward becoming an ATS. Recently, mobile payment app company Circle acquired Poloniex, another U.S.-based exchange, with plans to “clean up” the exchange. A slide that was initially leaked from a Circle presentation stated, “Circle has briefed the SEC on the transaction and indicated that upon closing that we will begin the process of registering the new entity with the SEC and FINRA as a Broker/Dealer and in turn as a licensed ATS…”
The Fund is an actively managed exchange traded fund. The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing substantially all of its assets in a combination of bitcoin futures contracts and money market instruments. The Fund is designed to benefit when the price of bitcoin futures contracts increases. The Fund generally seeks to have 30% of the value of its portfolio invested in bitcoin futures contracts and 70% of the value of its portfolio invested in money market instruments. The Fund does not invest directly in bitcoin.
Orders to redeem Creation Units outside the Clearing Process (other than for Global Fund orders), including all cash-only redemptions, must be delivered through a DTC Participant that has executed the Authorized Participant Agreement. A DTC Participant who wishes to place an order for redemption of Creation Units to be effected outside the Clearing Process need not be a “participating party” under the Authorized Participant Agreement, but such orders must state that the DTC Participant is not using the Clearing Process and that the redemption of Creation Units will instead be effected through a transfer of Shares directly through DTC. A redemption order for a Fund must be received by the cut-off times set forth in “Redemption Cut-Off Times” above. The order must be accompanied or preceded by the requisite number of Shares of Funds specified in such order, which delivery must be made through DTC to the Custodian by the second Business Day (T+3) following such transmittal date. All other procedures set forth in the Authorized Participant Agreement must be properly followed in order to receive the next determined NAV.
You may wonder: where do these contracts come from? We know on the spot market that bitcoins are being bought and sold for fiat, but how the heck are bitcoins being used to trade bitcoin futures contracts? Let's walk through a really simple example showing how an exchange functions when there's just a simple two traders who want to go long and short.
However, many of these investors are still waiting to be convinced to take the leap into crypto. One thing that is still giving many institutional investors pause is the fact that trade management systems in the crypto world simply do not offer the sophistication they are used to in conventional trading. They’ve become accustomed to the support of reliable automated tools, and the prospect of working without those can be a serious roadblock.
The idea is simple; if the future is trading above the underlying asset (Bitcoin) today, we buy the asset and sell the future, thus receiving cash and locking in a profit. Then on the delivery date, we sell the bitcoin to cover the costs of settling the futures contract. For the deal to be profitable, the price difference has to be large enough to cover interest between today and the delivery date as well as all costs fees.
As discussed in more detail below, FATCA (as defined below) generally imposes a reporting and 30% withholding tax regime with respect to certain U.S.-source income (“withholdable payments”) paid to “foreign financial institutions” and certain other non-U.S. entities when those entities fail to satisfy the applicable account documentation, information reporting, withholding, registration, certification and/or other requirements applicable to their status under FATCA. A Subsidiary will be subject to the 30% withholding tax in respect of any withholdable payment it receives if it fails to satisfy these requirements, as may be applicable to the Subsidiary. Each Subsidiary expects to satisfy these requirements, as may be applicable to it, so as to avoid this additional 30% withholding. See “Certain Additional Reporting and Withholding Requirements” below for more discussion of these rules.
The Funds may invest directly or indirectly in residual interests in real estate mortgage conduits (“REMICs”) (including by investing in residual interests in collateralized mortgage obligations (“CMOs”) with respect to which an election to be treated as a REMIC is in effect) or taxable mortgage pools (“TMPs”). Under a Notice issued by the IRS in October 2006 and Treasury regulations that have yet to be issued but may apply retroactively, a portion of a Fund’s income (including income allocated to the Fund from a REIT or other pass-through entity) that is attributable to a residual interest in a REMIC or an equity interest in a TMP (referred to in the Code as an “excess inclusion”) will be subject to federal income tax in all events. This Notice also provides, and the regulations are expected to provide, that excess inclusion income of a RIC will be allocated to shareholders of the RIC in proportion to the dividends received by such shareholders, with the same consequences as if the shareholders held the related interest directly. As a result, Funds investing in such interests may not be a suitable investment for charitable remainder trusts (see Unrelated Business Taxable Income, below).
State the general effect of any contract, arrangements or statute under which any director, officer, underwriter or affiliated person of the registrant is insured or indemnified against any liability incurred in their official capacity, other than insurance provided by any director, officer, affiliated person, or underwriter for their own protection.
A Fund may in its discretion exercise its option to redeem such Shares in cash, and the redeeming shareholder will be required to receive its redemption proceeds in cash. In addition, an investor may request a redemption in cash which a Fund may, in its sole discretion, permit. In either case, the investor will receive a cash payment equal to the NAV of its Shares based on the NAV of Shares of the relevant Fund next determined after the redemption request is received in proper form (minus a redemption Transaction Fee and additional charge for requested cash redemptions, to offset the Fund’s brokerage and other transaction costs associated with the disposition of Fund Securities).
Cryptocurrencies are a potential tool to evade economic sanctions for example against Russia, Iran, or Venezuela. In April 2018, Russian and Iranian economic representatives met to discuss how to bypass the global SWIFT system through decentralized blockchain technology. Russia also secretly supported Venezuela with the creation of the petro (El Petro), a national cryptocurrency initiated by the Maduro government to obtain valuable oil revenues by circumventing US sanctions.
Elsewhere, here is the story of block.one, which "has raised about $700 million and counting" by selling EOS tokens that it says "do not have any rights, uses, purpose, attributes, functionalities or features." Block.one is using the money to build "a new blockchain architecture designed to enable vertical and horizontal scaling of decentralized applications," as its white paper explains, and the white paper also includes a disclaimer in bold capitals:
The Trustees, their birth date, term of office and length of time served, principal business occupations during the past five years and the number of portfolios in the Fund Complex overseen and other directorships, if any, held by each Trustee, are shown below. Unless noted otherwise, the addresses of each Trustee is: c/o ProShares Trust, 7501 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 1000E, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Each of the Funds may enter into repurchase agreements with financial institutions in pursuit of its investment objectives, as “cover” for the investment techniques it employs, or for liquidity purposes. Under a repurchase agreement, a Fund purchases a debt security and simultaneously agrees to sell the security back to the seller at a mutually agreed-upon future price and date, normally one day or a few days later. The resale price is greater than the purchase price, reflecting an agreed-upon market interest rate during the purchaser’s holding period. While the maturities of the underlying securities in repurchase transactions may be more than one year, the term of each repurchase agreement will always be less than one year. The Funds follow certain procedures designed to minimize the risks inherent in such agreements. These procedures include effecting repurchase transactions generally with major global financial institutions. The creditworthiness of each of the firms that is a party to a repurchase agreement with the Funds will be monitored by the Advisor. In addition, the value of the collateral underlying the repurchase agreement will always be at least equal to the repurchase price, including any accrued interest earned on the repurchase agreement. In the event of a default or bankruptcy by a selling financial institution, a Fund will seek to liquidate such collateral which could involve certain costs or delays and, to the extent that proceeds from any sale upon a default of the obligation to repurchase were less than the repurchase price, the Fund could suffer a loss. A Fund also may experience difficulties and incur certain costs in exercising its rights to the collateral and may lose the interest the Fund expected to receive under the repurchase agreement. Repurchase agreements usually are for short periods, such as one week or less, but may be longer. It is the current policy of the Funds not to invest in repurchase agreements that do not mature within seven days if any such investment, together with any other illiquid assets held by the Fund, amounts to more than 15% of the Fund’s total net assets. The investments of each of the Funds in repurchase agreements at times may be substantial when, in the view of the Advisor, liquidity, investment, regulatory, or other considerations so warrant.
The Bitcoin Network and bitcoin, as an asset, currently hold a “first-to-market” advantage, often referred to as a “network effect,” over other digital assets. This first-to-market advantage has resulted in the Bitcoin Network evolving into the most well developed network of any digital asset. The Bitcoin Network enjoys the largest user base of any digital asset and, more importantly, the largest combined mining power in use to secure the Bitcoin Blockchain. Having a large mining network enhances user confidence regarding the security of the Bitcoin Blockchain and long-term stability of the Bitcoin Network. Despite the marked network effect advantage of the Bitcoin Network over other digital assets, it is possible that real or perceived shortcomings in the Bitcoin Network, technological, regulatory or other developments could result in a decline in popularity and acceptance of bitcoin and the Bitcoin Network.
• Intellectual property rights claims may adversely affect the operation of the Bitcoin Network. Third parties may assert intellectual property rights claims relating to the operation of the Bitcoin Network. Regardless of the merit of any intellectual property or other legal action, any threatened action that reduces confidence in the Bitcoin Network’s long-term viability or the ability of end-users to hold and transfer bitcoin may adversely affect the price of bitcoin and adversely affect the price of the bitcoin futures contracts held by the Fund.
In general, dividends of net investment income received by corporate shareholders of a Fund may qualify for the 70% dividends-received deduction generally available to corporations to the extent of the amount of eligible dividends received by the Fund from domestic corporations for the taxable year. A dividend received by a Fund will not be treated as a dividend eligible for the dividends-received deduction (1) if it has been received with respect to any share of stock that the Fund has held for less than 46 days (91 days in the case of certain preferred stock) during the 91-day period beginning on the date which is 45 days before the date on which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend (during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date in the case of certain preferred stock) or (2) to the extent that the Fund is under an obligation (pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) to make related payments with respect to positions in substantially similar or related property. Moreover, the dividends received deduction may otherwise be disallowed or reduced (1) if the corporate shareholder fails to satisfy the foregoing requirements with respect to its shares of the Fund or (2) by application of various provisions of the Code (for instance, the dividends-received deduction is reduced in the case of a dividend received on debt-financed portfolio stock (generally, stock acquired with borrowed funds)). The corporate alternative minimum tax may disallow the dividends received deduction in certain circumstances.
Although certain securities exchanges attempt to provide continuously liquid markets in which holders and writers of options can close out their positions at any time prior to the expiration of the option, no assurance can be given that a market will exist at all times for all outstanding options purchased or sold by a Fund. If an options market were to become unavailable, the Fund would be unable to realize its profits or limit its losses until the Fund could exercise options it holds, and the Fund would remain obligated until options it wrote were exercised or expired. Reasons for the absence of liquid secondary market on an exchange include the following: (i) there may be insufficient trading interest in certain options; (ii) restrictions may be imposed by an exchange on opening or closing transactions or both; (iii) trading halts, suspensions or other restrictions may be imposed with respect to particular classes or series of options; (iv) unusual or unforeseen circumstances may interrupt normal operations on an exchange; (v) the facilities of an exchange or the OCC may not at all times be adequate to handle current trading volume; or (vi) one or more exchanges could, for economic or other reasons, decide or be compelled at some future date to discontinue the trading of options (or a particular class or series of options) and those options would cease to exist, although outstanding options on that exchange that had been issued by the OCC as a result of trades on that exchange would continue to be exercisable in accordance with their terms.
In general, a beneficial owner of Fund Shares who or which is a foreign shareholder is not subject to U.S. federal income tax on gains (and is not allowed a deduction for losses) realized on a sale of shares of the Fund unless (i) such gain effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business carried on by such holder within the United States, (ii) in the case of an individual holder, the holder is present in the United States for a period or periods aggregating 183 days or more during the year of the sale or and certain other conditions are met, or (iii) the special rules relating to gain attributable to the sale or exchange of “U.S. real property interests” (“USRPIs”) apply to the foreign shareholder’s sale of shares of the Fund (as described below).
Each Fund may invest in real estate investment trusts (“REITs”). Equity REITs invest primarily in real property, while mortgage REITs invest in construction, development and long-term mortgage loans. Their value may be affected by changes in the value of the underlying property of the REIT, the creditworthiness of the issuer, property taxes, interest rates, and tax and regulatory requirements, such as those relating to the environment. REITs are dependent upon management skill, are not diversified and are subject to heavy cash flow dependency, default by borrowers, self-liquidation and the possibility of failing to qualify for tax-free pass-through of income under the Code and failing to maintain exempt status under the 1940 Act.
A Fund may cover its sale of a call option on a futures contract by taking a long position in the underlying futures contract at a price less than or equal to the strike price of the call option, or, if the long position in the underlying futures contract is established at a price greater than the strike price of the written (sold) call, the Fund will earmark/segregate liquid instruments equal in value to the difference between the strike price of the call and the price of the future. A Fund may also cover its sale of a call option by taking positions in instruments whose prices are expected to move relatively consistently with the call option. A Fund may cover its sale of a put option on a futures contract by taking a short position in the underlying futures contract at a price greater than or equal to the strike price of the put option, or, if the short position in the underlying futures contract is established at a price less than the strike price of the written put, the Fund will segregate cash or liquid instruments equal in value to the difference between the strike price of the put and the price of the future. A Fund may also cover its sale of a put option by taking positions in instruments whose prices are expected to move relatively consistently to the put option.
Transactions in options, futures, forward contracts, swaps and certain positions undertaken by the Funds may result in “straddles” for federal income tax purposes. The straddle rules may affect the character of gains (or losses) realized by a Fund, and losses realized by the Fund on positions that are part of a straddle may be deferred under the straddle rules, rather than being taken into account in calculating taxable income for the taxable year in which the losses are realized. In addition, certain carrying charges (including interest expense) associated with positions in a straddle may be required to be capitalized rather than deducted currently. Certain elections that a Fund may make with respect to its straddle positions may also affect the amount, character and timing of the recognition of gains or losses from the affected positions.
A key attribute of a futures market is how its contract’s prices vary by expiration date. The succession of futures prices over time is called the “term structure”. If supply is stable (no seasonality or shortages) then typically futures prices will increase with expirations further in the future. This term structure configuration is called “contango” and it accounts for the fact that carry costs (e.g., time value of money) and profit expectations increase with time. Unless there are big changes in interest rates or the way that Bitcoin exchanges work I expect the level of contango in the Bitcoin futures term structure to be small. Bitcoins don’t cost much to hodl (once you have your hardware wallet) and there’s no apparent seasonality. The chart below from VIX Central shows a typical Bitcoin term structure (click on chart to get current data):
Never put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify. While the potential to earn more is increased with the amount of money you invest into a coin, the potential to lose more is also magnified. Another way to think about it is to look at the cryptocurrency market as a whole; if you believe that this is just the beginning, then more than likely the entire market cap of cryptocurrencies will increase. What are the chances that this market cap increase will be entirely driven by one coin vs. being driven by many coins? The best way to safely capture the overall growth of cryptocurrency is to diversify and reap the benefits of growth from multiple coins. Also, fun fact — Between January 2016 and January 2018, Corgicoin has increased by 60,000x, and Verge has increased by 13,000x. During the same period, Bitcoin has increased by 34x. While you would have gotten impressive gains from Bitcoin, expanding into other coins could have landed you potentially larger ones.
Assume there is 0 contracts open and 2 traders, and a new futures contract expiring in 7 days opens. You can "create" a contract by putting a limit sell order in the orderbook at a given price. If someone market buys that limit order, an open contract is created between you and the other trader. This is how you can go from a position of 0 to a negative exposure just by selling a contract.
Since the introduction of futures, the price of bitcoin has gone up, suggesting that there were more As -- people who wanted to be long bitcoin synthetically -- than Cs -- people who wanted to be short synthetically -- though again it is still early. Crudely speaking, the arbitrage spread suggests that there are also more As than Bs: There are a lot of people who want to be long bitcoin without owning bitcoin, but not so many people who want to own bitcoin without being long bitcoin. (Which makes sense! If you bought a bitcoin and sold a futures contract when Cboe launched its futures last week, you could have locked in a risk-free arbitrage profit of something like $1,200. But if you had just bought a bitcoin, you'd be up about $3,000 by now.) The costs of trading actual bitcoins on bitcoin exchanges -- in terms of blockchain transaction costs, exchange withdrawal limits, etc. -- are significant enough that people who want bitcoin exposure are willing to pay about 2 percent to avoid them.
Currently, Bitcoin futures have very high margin requirements. The Cboe requires 40% of the notional amount for maintenance margin, the CME requires 43%. Your broker will likely require more than that. The culprit behind these high requirements is Bitcoin’s high volatility—until that calms down the exchanges will protect themselves by requiring a bunch of up-front money. If you don’t come up with the money for a margin call they want to close out your position without leaving a negative balance.
• Daily Position Limit Risk - Many U.S. futures exchanges limit the amount of fluctuation permitted in futures contract prices during a single trading day. Once the daily limit has been reached in a particular contract, no trades may be made that day at a price beyond that limit or trading may be suspended for specified periods during the trading day. In addition, these exchanges have established limits on the maximum amount of futures positions that any person may hold or control on such exchanges. These limits may restrict the amount of assets the Fund is able to invest in bitcoin futures contracts or have a negative impact on the price of such contracts. In order to comply with such limits, the Fund may be required to reduce the size of its outstanding positions or not enter into new positions that would otherwise be taken for the Fund. This could potentially subject the Funds to substantial losses or periods in which the Fund does not accept additional Creation Units.
There may be circumstances outside the control of the Advisor, Trust, Administrator (as defined below), transfer agent, Custodian (as defined below), any sub-custodian, Distributor (as defined below), and/or a Fund that make it, for all practical purposes, impossible to re-position such Fund and/or to process a purchase or redemption order. Examples of such circumstances include: natural disasters; public service disruptions or utility problems such as those caused by fires, floods, extreme weather conditions, and power outages resulting in telephone, telecopy, and computer failures; market conditions or activities causing trading halts; systems failures involving computer or other information systems affecting the aforementioned parties, as well as the DTC, the NSCC, or any other participant in the purchase process; and similar extraordinary events. Accordingly, while the Advisor has implemented and tested a business continuity plan that transfers functions of any disrupted facility to another location and has effected a disaster recovery plan, circumstances, such as those above, may prevent a Fund from being operated in a manner consistent with its investment objective and/or principal investment strategies.
• Credit Risk — The Fund could lose money if the issuer or guarantor of a fixed-income instrument or a counterparty to a derivatives transaction or other transaction is, or is perceived to be, unable or unwilling to pay interest, repay principal on time, or defaults. The value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning as a result of issuer defaults or actual or perceived changes in the credit ratings of the Fund’s portfolio investments or to an issuer’s financial strength.
The e-coin that is considered Ethereum’s biggest competitor. The EOS blockchain gained its fame because of the way it effectively records and secures transactions. It is similar to the Ethereum blockchain but faster, more scalable, and allows users to build decentralized applications more efficiently. Market analysts are promoting the currency as ‘The Most Powerful Infrastructure for Decentralized Applications’ and expect the coin to be dumped and pumped, which could provide some interesting short-term opportunities.
There's a lot of ins and outs which can get confusing in arbitrage trading. We won't go into the technicals of why futures contracts trade at a premium to spot price. You can read a full explanation here. If it's not of interest to you, all you need to know is that there's a tendency, the further out in time the futures contract expires, for the premium to spot to be higher and higher in nominal percentage terms.