Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have evolved from a playful experiment among technical experts to an established and growing branch of the global financial industry. This means that the times in which cryptocurrency traders and investors only concerned themselves with straightforward buying and selling are over. Derivatives are now entering the picture.
The digital investment expert and CEO of BKCM LLC, Brian Kelly believes that the Bitcoin rally has started and the market is at the initial stage of a long bull run. The reason for this is told to be the Bitcoin ETF, which rumored to come in the month of August. Of late, this has been the talk of the Bitcoin town and impacted the market on a huge level.
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Having said that, bitcoin price action remains fraught with wild and inexplicable gaps, like a $400 drop and rise in an hour in the late hours of July 30, according to Bloomberg. This particular trade, and unwind seems to have affected bitcoin pricing globally and likely impacted trading of the U.S. listed contracts as well. Volumes and open interest seemed to have increased around the time of this large trade unwind. It could be a coincidence, though I suspect that some smart traders, aware of the situation, put short trades on in these future contracts to take advantage of the forced unwind.
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To illustrate the point, recall that futures markets are just counterparty contracts. Let's say I want to SHORT the market and profit off a decline in BTC/USD. If I put an order to sell Weekly futures contract at $400, and someone buys that offer, then we have created a futures contract. If it goes down, I profit and he loses, if it goes up, he profits and I lose. However, what if price goes down really fast, and my counterparty only had a little margin backing his position? Well, he gets margin-called when it goes down enough, and the system takes his contract and forces it to be sold to a different counterparty that wants to take the LONG side of my contract.
The proof-of-stake is a method of securing a cryptocurrency network and achieving distributed consensus through requesting users to show ownership of a certain amount of currency. It is different from proof-of-work systems that run difficult hashing algorithms to validate electronic transactions. The scheme is largely dependent on the coin, and there's currently no standard form of it. Some cryptocurrencies use a combined proof-of-work/proof-of-stake scheme.
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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.
Note that the market value of the contract fluctuates before settlement. You are not forced to hold the contract to expiration. As the spot market moves, the traded futures contract price also moves. There is a live orderbook of traders placing buy and sell orders and you are able to realize your profit or loss prior to expiration, just as if you were buying and selling a stock.
Let's not even go into the paradigm shift that this development implies. The growth of a bitcoin futures market positions it even more as a commodity than a currency (in the US, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission regulates futures markets). And even more as an investment asset than a technology that has the potential to change the plumbing of finance.
If I held the opinion that an asset was going to go one way, but then made the research and it turned out that I started thinking it might actually be headed the other way, I should feel no obligation to hold on to my original opinion, just because I didnt want to feel I’ve been initially wrong. This seems obvious but is much tougher in practice for inexperienced investors.
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Lawrence Pines is a Princeton University graduate with more than 25 years of experience as an equity and foreign exchange options trader for multinational banks and proprietary trading groups. Mr. Pines has traded on the NYSE, CBOE and Pacific Stock Exchange. In 2011, Mr. Pines started his own consulting firm through which he advises law firms and investment professionals on issues related to trading, and derivatives. Lawrence has served as an expert witness in a number of high profile trials in US Federal and international courts.
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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 (i) the equity securities of blockchain technology companies, (ii) bitcoin futures, options and swap contracts that provide exposure to the price movements of bitcoin (“Bitcoin Derivatives”) and (iii) bitcoin related securities, such as bitcoin linked exchange traded notes (“ETNs”), funds and trusts (“Bitcoin Securities”) (collectively, with Bitcoin Securities, “Bitcoin Investments”). The Fund targets a minimum of 30% exposure to Bitcoin Investments. The Fund’s other assets will be invested in the equity securities of blockchain technology companies — companies that the Fund’s investment advisor determines are well-positioned to benefit from blockchain technology. The securities of blockchain technology companies may be listed on U.S. or non-U.S. exchanges and must meet certain minimum capitalization and liquidity requirements. The Fund intends to concentrate its investment in blockchain technology companies and/or technology companies.
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Only invest what you can lose. During the recent crash in January 2018, hobby-investors got burned. Reports of frustration and losses came at the cost of broken monitors, smashed laptops, and heavy monetary losses. While the rules are in more particular order of importance, it’s safe to assume that this is the most important rule, the rule to rule the rules. As soon as your money is converted into cryptocurrency, consider it lost forever. There is absolutely no guarantee you can get it back. Losses don’t simply come from dips in the market; extraordinary factors such as hacks, bugs, and government regulation can mean you’ll never see any of your money again. If you are investing money you can’t afford to lose, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your current financial situation, because what you’re about to do is an act of desperation. This includes: using credit cards, taking out mortgages, applying for loans, or selling everything and traveling the world (as glamorous as that sounds).
Yes but ... in cryptocurrencies? If you had borrowed 100 bitcoins to finance your working capital needs a year ago, you'd have financed about $79,000 worth of working capital. If you had to pay back 112 bitcoins today, that would come to a bit over $2 million, a dollar interest rate of over 2,400 percent. (If you'd borrowed ether you'd be paying over 12,000 percent.) Unless your working capital was bitcoin, you will not be able to pay back that loan. The lesson here is: Probably don't borrow an asset caught in a massive speculative frenzy to fund your working capital needs.
As we have seen above, a futures contract has an expiration date. This is the date on which you can purchase the ton of pork bellies for 1,000 USD – this is called a physical settlement. Alternatively, futures contracts can be settled with cash as well. In these contracts, you receive the difference between the current price of the underlying asset and the price in your contract as cash.