I under-performed the market in 2017. A crypto market that went up several hundred percent and having read 24 books on finance and trading throughout the process, these were my biggest takeaways. Remember, these are notes I wrote to myself, so they may not work for your trading style. This version was summarized exclusively for CryptoMarket360 – a full version is hyperlinked at the bottom.
Cryptocurrencies have been compared to Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes and economic bubbles, such as housing market bubbles. Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management stated in 2017 that digital currencies were "nothing but an unfounded fad (or perhaps even a pyramid scheme), based on a willingness to ascribe value to something that has little or none beyond what people will pay for it", and compared them to the tulip mania (1637), South Sea Bubble (1720), and dot-com bubble (1999).
Portfolio holdings information may not be provided prior to its public availability (“Non-Standard Disclosure”) in other circumstances except where appropriate confidentiality arrangements limiting the use of such information are in effect. Non-Standard Disclosure may be authorized by the Trust’s CCO or, in his absence, any other authorized officer of the Trust if he determines that such disclosure is in the best interests of the Fund’s shareholders, no conflict exists between the interests of the Fund’s shareholders and those of the Advisor or Distributor and such disclosure serves a legitimate business purpose, and measures discussed in the previous paragraph regarding confidentiality are satisfied. The lag time between the date of the information and the date on which the information is disclosed shall be determined by the officer authorizing the disclosure. The CCO is responsible for ensuring that portfolio holdings disclosures are made in accordance with this Policy.
As a result of compounding, for periods greater than one day, the use of leverage tends to cause the performance of a Fund to vary from its benchmark performance times the stated multiple or inverse multiple in the Fund’s investment objective, before accounting for fees and fund expenses. Compounding affects all investments, but has a more significant impact on geared funds. Four factors significantly affect how close daily compounded returns are to longer-term benchmark returns times the fund’s multiple: the length of the holding period, benchmark volatility, whether the multiple is positive or inverse, and its leverage level. Longer holding periods, higher benchmark volatility, inverse exposure and greater leverage each can lead to returns farther from the multiple times the benchmark return. As the tables below show, particularly during periods of higher benchmark volatility, compounding will cause longer term results to vary from the benchmark performance times the stated multiple in the Fund’s investment objective. This effect becomes more pronounced as volatility increases.
Each Fund may invest in master limited partnerships (“MLPs”), which are commonly treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes and publicly traded on national securities exchanges. Such MLPs are limited by the Internal Revenue Code to apply to enterprises that engage in certain businesses, mostly pertaining to the use of natural resources, such as natural gas extraction and transportation. Some real estate enterprises may also qualify as MLPs.
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.
There are also tax risks associated with investments in MLPs. While there are benefits to MLPs that are treated as partnerships for federal income tax purposes, a change to current tax law or in the underlying business of a given MLP could result in the MLP being treated as a corporation for federal income tax purposes. If the MLP were treated as a corporation, the MLP would be required to pay federal income tax on its taxable income, which would reduce the amount of cash available for distribution by the MLP. In addition, because MLPs generally conduct business in multiple states, the Fund may be subject to income or franchise tax in each of the states in which the partnership does business. The additional cost of preparing and filing the tax returns and paying related taxes may adversely impact the Fund’s return.
Bitcoin futures contracts are a new type of futures contract that began trading in December 2017. Unlike the established futures markets for traditional physical commodities, the market for bitcoin futures contracts is in the developmental stage and has very limited volume, trading and operational history. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a new and developing asset class subject to both developmental and regulatory uncertainty. Ownership of bitcoin is thought to be very concentrated and the supply and liquidity of bitcoin is limited. The price of bitcoin could drop precipitously for a variety of reasons including but not limited to regulatory changes, a crisis of confidence in the bitcoin network or a change in user preference to competing cryptocurrencies. As such, bitcoin futures contracts and the market for bitcoin futures contracts may be riskier, less liquid, more volatile and more vulnerable to economic, market, industry, regulatory and other changes than more established futures contracts and futures markets. There is no assurance that a liquid market will emerge or be sustained for bitcoin futures contracts. The liquidity of the market for bitcoin futures contracts will depend on, among other things, the supply and demand for bitcoin futures contracts, the adoption of bitcoin and the commercial and speculative interest in the market for bitcoin futures contracts. The price of bitcoin has been subject to periods of sudden and high volatility and, as a result, the price of bitcoin futures contracts also may experience periods of sudden and high volatility. Margin requirements for bitcoin futures contracts currently are, and may continue to be, materially higher than the typical margin requirements for more established types of futures contracts. Each of these factors could have a negative impact on the performance of the Fund and the market for Fund shares.
As noted above, swap agreements typically are settled on a net basis, which means that the payment streams are netted out, with the Fund receiving or paying, as the case may be, only the net amount of the two payments. Payments may be made at the conclusion of a swap agreement or periodically during its term. The timing and character of any income, gain or loss recognized by a Fund on the payment or payments made or received on a swap will vary depending upon the terms of the particular swap. Swap agreements do not involve the delivery of securities or other underlying assets. Accordingly, the risk of loss with respect to swap agreements is limited to the net amount of payments that a Fund is contractually obligated to make. If the other party to a swap agreement defaults, a Fund’s risk of loss consists of the net amount of payments that such Fund is contractually entitled to receive, if any. The net amount of the excess, if any, of a Fund’s obligations over its entitlements with respect to each swap will be accrued on a daily basis and an amount of cash or liquid assets, having an aggregate NAV at least equal to such accrued excess will be earmarked or segregated by a Fund’s custodian (though, as noted above, in connection with CDS in which a Fund is a “seller”, the Fund will segregate or earmark cash or assets determined to be liquid, with a value at least equal to the full notional amount of the swap (minus any variation margin or amounts owed to the Fund under an offsetting transaction)). Inasmuch as these transactions are entered into for hedging purposes or are offset by earmarked or segregated cash or liquid assets, as permitted by applicable law, the Funds and their Advisor believe that these transactions do not constitute senior securities within the meaning of the 1940 Act, and, accordingly, will not treat them as being subject to a Fund’s borrowing restrictions.
For purchases and sales of derivatives (i.e., financial instruments whose value is derived from the value of an underlying asset, interest rate or index) the Advisor evaluates counterparties on the following factors: reputation and financial strength; execution prices; commission costs; ability to handle complex orders; ability to give prompt and full execution, including the ability to handle difficult trades; accuracy of reports and confirmations provided; reliability, type and quality of research provided; financing costs and other associated costs related to the transaction; and whether the total cost or proceeds in each transaction is the most favorable under the circumstances.
Each Fund may invest in a wide range of fixed income securities, which may include foreign sovereign, sub-sovereign and supranational bonds, as well as any other obligations of any rating or maturity such as foreign and domestic investment grade corporate debt securities and lower-rated corporate debt securities (commonly known as “junk bonds”). Lower-rated or high yield debt securities include corporate high yield debt securities, zero-coupon securities, payment-in-kind securities, and STRIPS. Investment grade corporate bonds are those rated BBB or better by Standard & Poor’s Rating Group (“S&P”) or Baa or better by Moody’s Investor Services (“Moody’s”). Securities rated BBB by S&P are considered investment grade, but Moody’s considers securities rated Baa to have speculative characteristics. See Appendix A for a description of corporate bond ratings. The Funds may also invest in unrated securities.
If the tip is valid, it would make Morgan Stanley the latest in legacy financial groups looking to open a doorway for institutional investors to enter the cryptocurrency market. Despite false reports claiming that Goldman Sachs had put hopes for a bitcoin strategy behind it, the bank has a strategy desk in the works, a service that, if opened, would add to the bitcoin futures options it facilitates for its clients.
By now you may ask yourself, “If I think that the price of an asset is going to rise, why should I buy a call option and not the asset itself?” The answer is this: Options give you leverage. That means that with a limited amount of capital, you can profit much more by buying options than assets – but also lose much more. This is because a small difference in the price of the underlying asset immediately leads to a substantial change in the price of the derivative. For example, when pork belly prices rise from 1,000 USD to 1,100 USD (an increase of 10%), call options for 1,000 USD suddenly become much more valuable – their prices may rise from 10.5 USD to 105 USD. Thus, if you have invested all of your capital in pork bellies, you will win 10% – if you have invested in pork belly call options, you will pocket a 1,000% profit.