Bitcoin isn’t just an unknown commodity: it will always be an unknown commodity. Bitcoin doesn’t have the fundamentals that investors typically use to analyze an asset. Most stocks or bonds can be analyzed based on some trait of the instrument. Stocks have P/E ratios and dividends, for example, while bonds have return percentages. Bitcoin has no fundamentals that can be easily measured.
The table below shows a performance example of a Short ProShares Fund that has an investment objective to correspond to the inverse (-1x) of the daily performance of an index. In the chart below, areas shaded lighter represent those scenarios where a Short ProShares Fund will return the same or outperform (i.e., return more than) the index performance; conversely, areas shaded darker represent those scenarios where a Short ProShares Fund will underperform (i.e., return less than) the index performance.
The only way that new Bitcoin can be created is through a process called “mining.” Bitcoin mining occurs when users process transactional data into “blocks” and then add them to the blockchain. As payment for this service, miners are awarded specific amounts of new Bitcoin. Upon its launch, the maximum supply of Bitcoin was predetermined to be 21 million.
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.
Litecoin (LTC) is similar to Bitcoin in many of its characteristics and is also one of the more veteran cryptocurrencies out there. However, there are two main differences between Litecoin and Bitcoin: Speed and amount. While it takes 10 minutes to create a Bitcoin block, Litecoin demands roughly 2.5 minutes to create a block – meaning 4 times the speed. Moreover, Litecoin attracts many users, as it can produce 4 times the quantity of Bitcoin! However, as Litecoin uses highly complex cryptography, often mining it is more complicated than other cryptocurrencies.
The tax rules are uncertain with respect to the treatment of income or gains arising in respect of commodity-linked exchange-traded notes (“ETNs”) and certain commodity-linked structured notes; also, the timing and character of income or gains arising from ETNs can be uncertain. An adverse determination or future guidance by the IRS (which determination or guidance could be retroactive) may affect a Fund’s ability to qualify for treatment as a regulated investment company and to avoid a Fund-level tax.
In February 2014 the world's largest bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, declared bankruptcy. The company stated that it had lost nearly $473 million of their customers' bitcoins likely due to theft. This was equivalent to approximately 750,000 bitcoins, or about 7% of all the bitcoins in existence. The price of a bitcoin fell from a high of about $1,160 in December to under $400 in February.
A large investor tends to have portfolios that are diversified enough that they can stomach deviations from expected price movements even with leverage. But smaller investors have smaller accounts, and that is where leverage can be fatal. This is because amplified losses can grow larger than the account balance and cause the need for a margin call when facing the prospect of going into severe debt.
The primary risks associated with the use of futures contracts are imperfect correlation between movements in the price of the futures and the market value of the underlying assets, and the possibility of an illiquid market for a futures contract. Although each Fund intends to sell futures contracts only if there is an active market for such contracts, no assurance can be given that a liquid market will exist for any particular contract at any particular time. Many futures exchanges and boards of trade 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 day. Futures contract prices could move to the limit for several consecutive trading days with little or no trading, thereby preventing prompt liquidation of futures positions and potentially subjecting a Fund to substantial losses. If trading is not possible, or if a Fund determines not to close a futures position in anticipation of adverse price movements, the Fund will be required to make daily cash payments of variation margin. The risk that the Fund will be unable to close out a futures position will be minimized by entering into such transactions on a national exchange with an active and liquid secondary market. In addition, although the counterparty to a futures contract is often a clearing organization, backed by a group of financial institutions, there may be instances in which the counterparty could fail to perform its obligations, causing significant losses to a Fund.
R-1 (middle) – Short term debt rated “R-1 (middle)” is of superior credit quality and, in most cases, ratings in this category differ from “R-1 (high)” credits to only a small degree. Given the extremely tough definition which DBRS has for the “R-1 (high)” category (which few companies are able to achieve), entities rated “R-1 (middle)” are also considered strong credits which typically exemplify above average strength in key areas of consideration for debt protection.
More generally, investments by a Fund in options, futures, forward contracts, swaps and other derivative financial instruments are subject to numerous special and complex tax rules. These rules could affect whether gains and losses recognized by a Fund are treated as ordinary or capital, accelerate the recognition of income or gains to a Fund and defer or possibly prevent the recognition or use of certain losses by a Fund. The rules could, in turn, affect the amount, timing or character of the income distributed to shareholders by a Fund. In addition, because the tax rules applicable to such instruments may be uncertain under current law, an adverse determination or future IRS guidance with respect to these rules (which determination or guidance could be retroactive) may affect whether a Fund has made sufficient distributions and otherwise satisfied the relevant requirements to maintain its qualification as a RIC and avoid a Fund-level tax.
The consideration for purchase of a creation unit of a Fund may, at the discretion of the Advisor, consist of the in-kind deposit of a designated portfolio of securities (“Deposit Securities”) constituting a representation of the index for the Fund, the Balancing Amount, and the appropriate Transaction Fee (collectively, the “Portfolio Deposit”). The “Balancing Amount” will be the amount equal to the differential, if any, between the total aggregate market value of the Deposit Securities (or in the case of redemptions, the total aggregate market value of the Fund Securities as defined below) and the NAV of the Creation Units being purchased and will be paid to, or received from, the Trust after the NAV has been calculated. The Advisor may restrict purchases of Creation Units to be on an in-kind basis at any time and without prior notice, in all cases at the Advisor’s discretion.
Words of caution are appropriate when talking about going short and using leverage. These strategies are incredibly effective because they allow investors to not only profit from a general upward trend in bitcoin but to profit from the fluctuations in the market. At first, it is hard to think of a more perfect asset than bitcoin for such purposes. The upward trends have been fast and extreme, yet fluctuations are very common and tend to be substantial.
A Fund will incur a loss as a result of a short sale if the price of the security increases between the date of the short sale and the date on which the Fund replaces the borrowed security. A Fund will realize a gain if the price of the security declines in price between those dates. The amount of any gain will be decreased, and the amount of any loss will be increased, by the amount of the premium, dividends or interest a Fund may be required to pay, if any, in connection with a short sale.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, four of the 10 biggest proposed initial coin offerings have used Switzerland as a base, where they are frequently registered as non-profit foundations. The Swiss regulatory agency FINMA stated that it would take a “balanced approach“ to ICO projects and would allow “legitimate innovators to navigate the regulatory landscape and so launch their projects in a way consistent with national laws protecting investors and the integrity of the financial system.” In response to numerous requests by industry representatives, a legislative ICO working group began to issue legal guidelines in 2018, which are intended to remove uncertainty from cryptocurrency offerings and to establish sustainable business practices.
When a Fund purchases a put or call option on a futures contract, the Fund pays a premium for the right to sell or purchase the underlying futures contract for a specified price upon exercise at any time during the option period. By writing (selling) a put or call option on a futures contract, a Fund receives a premium in return for granting to the purchaser of the option the right to sell to or buy from the Fund the underlying futures contract for a specified price upon exercise at any time during the option period.
Bitcoin relies on blockchain technology. “Blockchain” is a decentralized database. Transactions are grouped in blocks and then chained together through cryptographic links. Blockchain is designed so that the chain can be added to, but not edited. This structure is called a “distributed ledger.” Transactions in the distributed ledger are permanently recorded and can never disappear, although theft and loss of bitcoin can occur. While bitcoin has grown in popularity, it’s still not nearly as widely accepted as traditional currency.