The first U.S. bitcoin futures are here. Bitcoin futures opened for trading on the Cboe Futures Exchange, LLC (CFE) on December 10, 2017. This is one of the biggest milestones for bitcoin since it emerged in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis. Bitcoin futures will bring much-needed transparency, greater liquidity and efficient price discovery to the ecosystem. Cboe will be soon joined by CME Group as it prepares to launch bitcoin futures contracts on December 18, 2017.
ProShares Crude Oil Strategy ETF is an actively managed fund that seeks to provide total return through actively managed exposure to the West Texas Intermediate (“WTI”) crude oil futures markets. The Fund’s strategy seeks to outperform certain index based strategies by actively managing the rolling of WTI crude oil futures contracts. “Rolling” means selling a futures contract as it nears its expiration date and replacing it with a new futures contract that has a later expiration date. The Fund generally selects between WTI crude oil futures contracts with the three nearest expiration dates (known as the front, second and third month contracts) based on ProShare Advisors’ analysis of the liquidity and cost of establishing and maintaining such positions. Each month, the Fund will evaluate this strategy on or about the fifth business day of the month and may roll its position from the fifth through ninth business days into the contract month determined by the Fund’s active investment strategy.
How can this be? How can you have more futures contracts for gold than actual gold? Because you don't have to deliver a bar of gold when the contract matures. Many futures contracts settle on a "cash" basis – instead of physical delivery for the sale, the buyer receives the difference between the futures price (= the agreed-upon price) and the spot (= market) price.
its distribution requirements, and could affect the amount, timing or character of the income distributed to shareholders by the Fund. Investments by a Fund in a foreign subsidiary and shares of other investment companies could affect the amount, timing or character of the Fund’s distributions to shareholders relative to the Fund’s distributions had it invested directly in the securities held by such a foreign subsidiary or such other investment companies.
Decentralized cryptocurrency is produced by the entire cryptocurrency system collectively, at a rate which is defined when the system is created and which is publicly known. In centralized banking and economic systems such as the Federal Reserve System, corporate boards or governments control the supply of currency by printing units of fiat money or demanding additions to digital banking ledgers. In case of decentralized cryptocurrency, companies or governments cannot produce new units, and have not so far provided backing for other firms, banks or corporate entities which hold asset value measured in it. The underlying technical system upon which decentralized cryptocurrencies are based was created by the group or individual known as Satoshi Nakamoto.
A dividend or Capital Gain Dividend with respect to shares of a Fund held by a tax-deferred or qualified plan, such as an IRA, retirement plan, or corporate pension or profit sharing plan, generally will not be taxable to the plan. Distributions from such plans will be taxable to individual participants under applicable tax rules without regard to the character of the income earned by the qualified plan. Shareholders should consult their tax advisors to determine the suitability of shares of a Fund as an investment through such plans and the precise effect of an investment on their particular situation.
Each Fund may also enter into reverse repurchase agreements, which may be viewed as a form of borrowing, with financial institutions. However, under current pronouncements, to the extent a Fund “covers” its repurchase obligations, as described above in “Reverse Repurchase Agreements,” such agreement will not be considered to be a “senior security” and, therefore, will not be subject to the 300% asset coverage requirement otherwise applicable to borrowings by that Fund.
Alexander Ilyasov, ProShare Advisors: Senior Portfolio Manager since October 2013 and Portfolio Manager from November 2009 through September 2013. ProFund Advisors LLC: Senior Portfolio Manager since October 2013 and Portfolio Manager from November 2009 through September 2013. Ryan Dofflemeyer, ProShare Advisors: Portfolio Manager since January 2011, and a registered associated person and an NFA associate member of ProShares Capital Management LLC since October 2010.
The information herein represents the opinion of the author(s), but not necessarily those of VanEck, and these opinions may change at any time and from time to time. Non-VanEck proprietary information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Not intended to be a forecast of future events, a guarantee of future results or investment advice. Historical performance is not indicative of future results. Current data may differ from data quoted. Any graphs shown herein are for illustrative purposes only. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of VanEck.
Some exchanges offer trading on margin. When such an option is available, Bitcoiners are allowed to borrow funds from peer liquidity providers to carry out trades. The term "liquidity provider" refers to those who are ready to deposit their bitcoins and/or dollars with the exchange for use by others for a certain pre-fixed duration, rate, and amount. For example, say a Bitcoiner wants to buy 20 Bitcoins, anticipating that its price would rise in future and thus hopes to profit by selling them at a later date. If the person does not have sufficient funds to buy the 20 bitcoins, the margin facility allows him to borrow the amount required (20 X the price of bitcoins in USD) from a liquidity provider. When the Bitcoiner chooses to close the position, he needs to repay the amount borrowed plus the interest accrued during this time period. Remember that the amount accrued (loan + interest) needs to be reimbursed regardless of profit or loss at the time of settlement.
Each of the Exchanges has established limitations governing the maximum number of call or put options on the same index which may be bought or written (sold) by a single investor, whether acting alone or in concert with others (regardless of whether such options are written on the same or different Exchanges or are held or written on one or more accounts or through one or more brokers). Under these limitations, option positions of all investment companies advised by the same investment adviser are combined for purposes of these limits. Pursuant to these limitations, an Exchange may order the liquidation of positions and may impose other sanctions or restrictions. These position limits may restrict the number of listed options which a Fund may buy or sell; however, the Advisor intends to comply with all limitations.
The Board is currently composed of four Trustees, including three Independent Trustees who are not “interested persons” of the Funds, as that term is defined in the 1940 Act (each an “Independent Trustee”). In addition to four regularly scheduled meetings per year, the Board holds executive sessions (with and without employees of the Advisor), special meetings, and/or informal conference calls relating to specific matters that may require discussion or action prior to its next regular meeting. The Independent Trustees have retained “independent legal counsel” as the term is defined in the 1940 Act.
The Board of Trustees of the Trust reserves the right to declare a split or a consolidation in the number of Shares outstanding of any Fund, and may make a corresponding change in the number of Shares constituting a Creation Unit, in the event that the per Share price in the secondary market rises (or declines) to an amount that falls outside the range deemed desirable by the Board.
The Funds are required to identify any securities of its “regular brokers and dealers” (as such term is defined in the 1940 Act) which they may hold at the close of their most recent fiscal year. “Regular brokers or dealers” of the Trust are the ten brokers or dealers that, during the most recent fiscal year: (i) received the greatest dollar amounts of brokerage commissions from the Trust’s portfolio transactions; (ii) engaged as principal in the largest dollar amounts of portfolio transactions of the Trust; or (iii) sold the largest dollar amounts of the Trust’s Shares. Because each of the New Funds was not operational at the end of the Trust’s last fiscal year, information on
The Funds may invest in forward currency contracts for investment or risk management purposes. A forward currency contract is an obligation to buy or sell a specific currency at a future date, which may be any fixed number of days from the date of the contract agreed upon by the parties, at a price set at the time of the contract. These contracts are entered into on the interbank market conducted directly between currency traders (usually large commercial banks) and their customers. Forward currency contracts may be structured for cash settlement, rather than physical delivery.
“Qualified dividend income” received by an individual is taxed at the rates applicable to net capital gain. In order for some portion of the dividends received by a Fund shareholder to be qualified dividend income, the Fund must meet holding period and other requirements with respect to some portion of the dividend-paying stocks in its portfolio and the shareholder must meet holding period and other requirements with respect to the Fund’s Shares. A dividend will not be treated as qualified dividend income (at either the Fund or shareholder level) (1) if the dividend is received with respect to any share of stock held for fewer than 61 days during the 121-day period beginning on the date which is 60 days before the date on which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend (or, in the case of certain preferred stock, 91 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date), (2) to the extent that the recipient is under an obligation (whether pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) to make related payments with respect to positions in substantially similar or related property, (3) if the recipient elects to have the dividend income treated as investment income for purposes of the limitation on deductibility of investment interest, or (4) if the dividend is received from a foreign corporation that is (a) not eligible for the benefits of a comprehensive income tax treaty with the United States (with the exception of dividends paid on stock of such a foreign corporation that is readily tradable on an established securities market in the United States) or (b) treated as a passive foreign investment company. In general, distributions of investment income reported by a Fund as derived from qualified dividend income will be treated as qualified dividend income in the hands of a shareholder taxed as an individual, provided the shareholder meets the holding period and other requirements described above with respect to the Fund’s Shares.
The Custodian is responsible for safeguarding the Funds’ cash and securities, receiving and delivering securities, collecting the Funds’ interest and dividends, and performing certain administrative duties, all as directed by authorized persons. The Custodian is also responsible for the appointment and oversight of any sub-custodian banks and for providing reports regarding such sub-custodian banks and clearing agencies.
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.
While “physical” delivery of Bitcoins as part of a futures contract would certainly be possible it raises regulatory and security issues in today’s environment where the cybercurrency exchanges are mostly unregulated, somewhat unreliable, and theft due to security hacks is distressingly common. By selecting cash settlement the CME and Cboe completely avoid the transfer of custody issues and shift those problems to somebody else—namely the market makers and arbitrageur.
When the Fund has an open futures contract position, it is subject to daily variation margin calls that could be substantial in the event of adverse price movements. If the Fund has insufficient cash to meet daily variation margin requirements, it might need to sell securities at a time when such sales are disadvantageous. Futures markets are highly volatile and the use of or exposure to futures contracts may increase volatility of the Fund’s NAV. Futures contracts are also subject to liquidity risk.
Futures markets create an immense amount of flexibility. They enable investors to readily bet on an asset or bet against it (go long or go short), and they are usually characterised by an immense amount of leverage. In the case of bitcoin, this means one can trade a high volume of coins while only paying for a fraction of them, essentially operating with borrowed money. Leverage is used to amplify profits on a small volume of assets, but it is a double-edged sword in that it also amplifies losses.
In the normal course of business, a Fund enters into standardized contracts created by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. (“ISDA agreements”) with certain counterparties for derivative transactions. These agreements contain, among other conditions, events of default and termination events, and various covenants and representations. Certain of the Fund’s ISDA agreements contain provisions that require the Fund to maintain a pre-determined level of net assets, and/or provide limits regarding the decline of the Fund’s NAV over specific periods of time, which may or may not be exclusive of redemptions. If the Fund were to trigger such provisions and have open derivative positions, at that time counterparties to the ISDA agreements could elect to terminate such ISDA agreements and request immediate payment in an amount equal to the net liability positions, if any, under the relevant ISDA agreement. Pursuant to the terms of its ISDA agreements, the Fund will have already collateralized its liability under such agreements, in some cases only in excess of certain threshold amounts. With uncleared swaps, a Fund bears the risk of loss of the amount expected to be received under a swap agreement in the event of default or bankruptcy of a swap agreement counterparty. If such default occurs, the Fund will have contractual remedies pursuant to the swap agreements, but such remedies may be subject to bankruptcy and insolvency laws that could affect the Fund’s rights as a creditor. Thus, a Fund will typically only enter into uncleared swap agreements with major, global financial institutions that meet the Fund’s standard of creditworthiness. The Funds seek to mitigate risks by generally requiring that the counterparties for each Fund agree to post collateral for the benefit of the Fund, marked to market daily, in an amount approximately equal to what the counterparty owes the Fund subject to certain minimum thresholds, although the Funds may not always be successful. To the extent any such collateral is insufficient or there are delays in accessing the collateral, the Funds will be exposed to the risks described above, including possible delays in recovering amounts as a result of bankruptcy proceedings.
NYSs (or “direct shares”) are foreign stocks denominated in U.S. dollars and traded on American exchanges without being converted into ADRs. These stocks come from countries that do not restrict the trading of their stocks on other nations’ exchanges. Each Fund may also invest in ordinary shares of foreign issuers traded directly on U.S. exchanges.
When the Advisor determines that the price of a security is not readily available or deems the price unreliable, it may, in good faith, establish a fair value for that security in accordance with procedures established by and under the general supervision and responsibility of the Trust’s Board of Trustees. The use of a fair valuation method may be appropriate if, for example, market quotations do not accurately reflect fair value for an investment, an investment’s value has been materially affected by events occurring after the close of the exchange or market on which the investment is principally traded (for example, a foreign exchange or market), a trading halt closes an exchange or market early, or other events result in an exchange or market delaying its normal close.
To seek to achieve its investment objective, as a cash reserve, for liquidity purposes, or as cover for positions it has taken, each Fund may invest all or part of its assets in cash or cash equivalents, which include, but are not limited to, short-term money market instruments, U.S. government securities, certificates of deposit, bankers acceptances, or repurchase agreements secured by U.S. government securities.
Most cryptocurrencies are designed to gradually decrease production of that currency, placing a cap on the total amount of that currency that will ever be in circulation. Compared with ordinary currencies held by financial institutions or kept as cash on hand, cryptocurrencies can be more difficult for seizure by law enforcement. This difficulty is derived from leveraging cryptographic technologies.
shareholders, and were ineligible to or were not to cure such failure, the Fund would be taxed in the same manner as an ordinary corporation subject to U.S. federal income tax on all its income at the fund level. The resulting taxes could substantially reduce the Fund’s net assets and the amount of income available for distribution. In addition, in order to requalify for taxation as a RIC, the Fund could be required to recognize unrealized gains, pay substantial taxes and interest, and make certain distributions.
The price of bitcoin has been subject to periods of high volatility. As a result, the CFE and CME have established margin requirements for bitcoin futures contracts at levels substantially higher than the margin requirements for more established futures contracts. The increased margin requirements may result in much higher upfront costs for the Funds. Market participants may be deterred from incorporating bitcoin futures contracts into their investment strategies due to these higher costs and other limitations created by the high margin requirements, such as the limit on their ability to use leverage to invest in bitcoin futures contracts. A reduction in the adoption of the bitcoin futures contracts will negatively impact the market for bitcoin futures contracts and could negatively impact the performance of the Funds. In addition, the continued volatility in the price of bitcoin may result in further increases to the margin requirements for bitcoin futures contracts by the CFE and CME, as well as some FCMs imposing margin requirements on their customers in amounts that are steeper than the margin required by the exchanges.
For example, you can enter a Bitcoin futures contract with Mortimer Duke saying that you will sell him 1 BTC on March 30, 2018, for the price of 5,000 USD per BTC. (In the actual CME futures contracts, the limit for one contract is 5 BTC, but we will stick with 1 BTC now for the purposes of easy explanation.) You enter into this contract on an exchange like CME.