Under an investment advisory agreement between ProShare Advisors and the Trust, on behalf of each Fund (the “Agreement” or “Advisory Agreement”), each Fund (other than the Morningstar Alternatives Solution ETF, the Global Listed Private Equity ETF, the Short Term USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF, the Inflation Expectations ETF and the CDS Short North American HY Credit ETF) pays ProShare Advisors a fee at an annualized rate, based on its average daily net assets, of 0.75%. ProShare Advisors has entered into an Advisory Fee Waiver Agreement for each of these Funds that reduces the annualized rate based on its average daily net assets, as follows: 0.75% of the first $4.0 billion of average daily net assets of the Fund; 0.70% of the average daily net assets of the Fund over $4.0 billion to $5.5 billion; 0.65% of the average daily net assets of the Fund over $5.5 billion to $7.0 billion; 0.60% of the average daily net assets of the Fund over $7.0 billion to $8.5 billion; and 0.55% of the average daily net assets of the Fund over $8.5 billion. The fee waiver arrangement will remain in effect through at least September 30, 2018 and prior to such date ProShare Advisors may not terminate the arrangement without the approval of the Board.
Currently the front month future is the January contract which at last check could be sold for $17,600. This contract settles in a cash transfer based on the 4:00 pm eastern bitcoin auction price on Wednesday January 17, 2018 established by Gemini who is partnering with Cboe Global Markets. The bitcoin price at Gemini is close to $16,600 so I will use that for the underlying bitcoin price in this example.
Example: spot BTC/USD is $500. A weekly futures contract expires in 7 days. What should it be trading at? Using a 5% APY USD rate and a 1% BTC rate, you borrow $500, invest in 1 BTC. 7 days later, you will have paid $0.48 in USD interest, and earned 0.0002 BTC ($0.10 at current spot price). A reasonable price for the futures contract would be somewhere more than $0.38 (the difference between the $0.48 interest paid $0.10 expected interest received) above spot price. This is because you would be able to lock in the sale of the 1 BTC that is being invested at a higher price. You know you have to pay back $500 plus interest, and you earn a little interest on the bitcoin, so any futures contract trading significantly above that $0.38 deficit in the spot play would give you a great arbitrage opportunity:
• 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.
Each Fund may enter into swap agreements to invest in a market without owning or taking physical custody of securities. On a typical long swap, the counterparty will generally agree to pay the Fund the amount, if any, by which the notional amount of the swap agreement would have increased in value had it been invested in the particular underlying assets (e.g., an ETF, or securities comprising a benchmark index), plus the dividends or interest that would have been received on those assets. The Fund will agree to pay to the counterparty a floating rate of interest on the notional amount of the swap agreement plus the amount, if any, by which the notional amount would have decreased in value had it been invested in such assets plus, in certain instances, commissions or trading spreads on the notional amount. Therefore, the return to the Fund on such swap agreements should be the gain or loss on the notional amount plus dividends or interest on the assets less the interest paid by the Fund on the notional amount. As a trading technique, the Advisor may substitute physical securities with a swap agreement having investment characteristics substantially similar to the underlying securities. Some Funds may also enter into swap agreements that provide the opposite return of their benchmark or a security. Their operations are similar to that of the swaps disclosed above except that the counterparty pays interest to each Fund on the notional amount outstanding and that dividends or interest on the underlying instruments reduce the value of the swap, plus, in certain instances, each Fund will agree to pay to the counterparty commissions or trading spreads on the notional amount. These amounts are often netted with any unrealized gain or loss to determine the value of the swap.
Each Fund may consider changing its index at any time, including if, for example: the current index becomes unavailable; the Board believes that the current index no longer serves the investment needs of a majority of shareholders or that another index may better serve their needs; or the financial or economic environment makes it difficult for the Fund’s investment results to correspond sufficiently to its current index. If believed appropriate, a Fund may specify an index for itself that is “leveraged” or proprietary. There can be no assurance that a Fund will achieve its objective.
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.
Mortgage-backed securities are most commonly issued or guaranteed by GNMA, FNMA or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“FHLMC”), but may also be issued or guaranteed by other private issuers. GNMA is a government-owned corporation that is an agency of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It guarantees, with the full faith and credit of the United States, full and timely payment of all monthly principal and interest on its mortgage-backed securities. FNMA is a publicly owned, government-sponsored corporation that mostly packages mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, but also sells some non-governmentally backed mortgages. Pass-through securities issued by FNMA are guaranteed as to timely payment of principal and interest only by FNMA. The FHLMC is a publicly chartered agency that buys qualifying residential mortgages from lenders, re-packages them and provides certain guarantees. The corporation’s stock is owned by savings institutions across the United States and is held in trust by the Federal Home Loan Bank System. Pass-through securities issued by the FHLMC are guaranteed as to timely payment of principal and interest only by the FHLMC.
Bitcoin futures promise more flexibility for investors and potentially a more stable price. Yet, there is a chance that volatility could increase in the interim and while strategies like shorting and using leverage hold a lot of potential when used within the right infrastructure, they can be detrimental to smaller investors and, in the worst case scenario, could derail the market in dangerous ways.
BOFA MERRILL LYNCH AND THE EXCHANGES AND ENTITIES DO NOT GUARANTEE THE ACCURACY AND/OR THE COMPLETENESS OF THE INDEX OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN AND BOFA MERRILL LYNCH AND THE EXCHANGES AND ENTITIES SHALL HAVE NO LIABILITY FOR ANY ERRORS, OMISSIONS, OR INTERRUPTIONS THEREIN. BOFA MERRILL LYNCH AND THE EXCHANGES AND ENTITIES MAKE NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED BY TRUST, OWNERS OF THE SHARES OR ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY FROM THE USE OF THE INDEX OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. BOFA MERRILL LYNCH AND THE EXCHANGES AND ENTITIES MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE WITH RESPECT TO THE INDEX OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING, IN NO EVENT SHALL BOFA MERRILL LYNCH OR THE EXCHANGES AND ENTITIES HAVE ANY LIABILITY FOR ANY SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOST PROFITS), EVEN IF NOTIFIED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
An Authorized Participant may place an order to purchase (or redeem) Creation Units (i) through the Continuous Net Settlement clearing processes of NSCC as such processes have been enhanced to effect purchases (and redemptions) of Creation Units, such processes being referred to herein as the “Clearing Process,” or (ii) outside the Clearing Process, though orders for Global Funds (as defined below) may not be placed through the Clearing Process. In either case, a purchase order for a Fund must be received by the following cut-off times (which may be earlier if the relevant Exchange or any relevant bond market closes early). In all cases purchase/redeem procedures are at the discretion of the Advisor and may be changed without notice.
Market Spotlight – Bitcoin - A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure transactions, control creation, and verify transactions. The first such cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was introduced in 2009. In 2017, the exchanges launched a Bitcoin futures contract. The CBOE contract launched on Sunday, December 10, while the CME contract launched on Monday, December 18.
• A decline in the adoption of bitcoin could have a negative effect on the price of bitcoin and bitcoin-related investments. Bitcoin’s adoption has been on a generally continuous climb since bitcoin first gained mass media attention in 2013. However, there can be no guarantees this growth will continue. Further, adoption of bitcoin as a means of payment has been limited when compared with the increase in the price of bitcoin, indicating that the majority of bitcoin’s use is for investment and speculative purposes. A lack of acceptance of bitcoin as a means of payment could negatively impact the price of the Bitcoin Futures contracts in which the Fund invests.
These are fundraising mechanisms for newly launched cryptocurrencies. Investors in ICOs receive tokens in the new venture. Investors have poured billions of dollars into more than 1,000 ICOs over the past year. While many ICOs are legitimate, the vast majority have no real business plans or technology behind them. Many get launched with nothing more than a whitepaper by individuals with no technology or industry experience.
Collateralized mortgage obligations (“CMOs”) are debt obligations collateralized by mortgage loans or mortgage pass-through securities (collateral collectively hereinafter referred to as “Mortgage Assets”). Multi-class pass-through securities are interests in a trust composed of Mortgage Assets and all references in this section to CMOs include multi-class pass-through securities. Principal prepayments on the Mortgage Assets may cause the CMOs to be retired substantially earlier than their stated maturities or final distribution dates, resulting in a loss of all or part of the premium if any has been paid. Interest is paid or accrues on all classes of the CMOs on a monthly, quarterly or semi-annual basis. The principal and interest payments on the Mortgage Assets may be allocated among the various classes of CMOs in several ways. Typically, payments of principal, including any prepayments, on the underlying mortgages are applied to the classes in the order of their respective stated maturities or final distribution dates, so that no payment of principal is made on CMOs of a class until all CMOs of other classes having earlier stated maturities or final distribution dates have been paid in full.
Because most ETFs are investment companies, absent exemptive relief or reliance on an applicable exemptive statute or rule, a Fund’s investments in such investment companies generally would be limited under applicable federal statutory provisions. Those provisions typically restrict a Fund’s investment in the shares of another investment company to up to 5% of its assets (which may represent no more than 3% of the securities of such other investment company) and limit aggregate investments in all investment companies to 10% of assets. A Fund may invest in certain ETFs in excess of the statutory limit in reliance on an exemptive order issued by the SEC to those entities or pursuant to statutory or exemptive relief and pursuant to procedures approved by the Board provided that the Fund complies with the conditions of the exemptive relief, as they may be amended from time to time, and any other applicable investment limitations.
Transaction fees payable to the Trust are imposed to compensate the Trust for the transfer and other transaction costs of a Fund associated with the issuance and redemption of Creation Units of Shares. A fixed Transaction Fee is applicable to each creation or redemption transaction, regardless of the number of Creation Units purchased or redeemed. In addition, a variable Transaction Fee equal to a percentage of the value of each Creation Unit purchased or redeemed may be applicable to a creation or redemption transaction. Purchasers of Creation Units of the Matching and Ultra ProShares Funds for cash may also be required to pay an additional charge to compensate the relevant Fund for brokerage, market impact or other expenses. Where the Trust permits an in-kind purchaser to substitute cash in lieu of depositing a portion of the Deposit Securities, the purchaser will be assessed an additional charge for cash purchases. The maximum Transaction Fee on purchases and redemptions will be 2.00% of the NAV of any Creation Unit, except that for the High Yield—Interest Rate Hedged, the Investment Grade—Interest Rate Hedged and the Short Term USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF, a Transaction Fee up to 3.00% will be charged on the cash used in lieu of depositing all or a portion of the Deposit Securities or the cash portion of any redemption transaction. The Transaction Fees charged to each Fund are presented in the Authorized Participant Handbook.
Now there is an open interest in the futures contract created. The simple act of two traders with no open interest, one making a limit order which then gets filled by the other, is what creates this position. The exchange then holds the 0.2 BTC margin of each party and the Profit and Loss (PNL) of the contract seesaws between counterparties based on market movements. If the exchange is liquid and rational, then the market price of the contract will change as the spot market moves. So if bitcoin price starts going up, futures traders will bid the price up.
When rolling futures contracts that are in contango, a Bitcoin Fund may sell the expiring bitcoin futures contract at a lower price and buy a longer-dated bitcoin futures contract at a higher price, resulting in a negative roll yield (i.e., a loss). When rolling futures contracts that are in backwardation, a Bitcoin Fund may sell the expiring bitcoin futures contract at a higher price and buy the longer-dated bitcoin futures contract at a lower price, resulting in a positive roll yield (i.e., a gain).
• Subsidiary Investment Risk — Changes in the laws of the United States and/or the Cayman Islands, under which the Fund and the Subsidiary are organized, respectively, could result in the inability of the Fund to operate as intended and could negatively affect the Fund and its shareholders. The Subsidiary is not registered under the 1940 Act and is not subject to all the investor protections of the 1940 Act. Thus, the Fund, as an investor in the Subsidiary, will not have all the protections offered to investors in registered investment companies.
The exceptions to withholding for Capital Gain Dividends and short-term capital gain dividends do not apply to (A) distributions to an individual foreign shareholder who is present in the United States for a period or periods aggregating 183 days or more during the year of the distribution and (B) distributions attributable to gain that is treated as effectively connected with the conduct by the foreign shareholder of a trade or business within the United States under special rules regarding the disposition of U.S. real property interests as described below. The exception to withholding for interest-related dividends does not apply to distributions to a foreign shareholder (A) that has not provided a satisfactory statement that the beneficial owner is not a U.S. person, (B) to the extent that the dividend is attributable to certain interest on an obligation if the foreign shareholder is the issuer or is a 10% shareholder of the issuer, (C) that is within certain foreign countries that have inadequate information exchange with the United States, or (D) to the extent the dividend is attributable to interest paid by a person that is a related person of the foreign shareholder and the foreign shareholder is a controlled foreign corporation. If a Fund invests in a RIC that pays Capital Gain Dividends, short-term capital gain dividends or interest-related dividends to the Fund, such distributions retain their character as not subject to withholding if properly reported when paid by the Fund to foreign shareholders. A Fund is permitted to report such part of its dividends as interest-related and/or short-term capital gain dividends as are eligible, but is not required to do so.
Futures contracts derive their value from an asset and more or less follow the movements of the underlying commodity, in our case: bitcoin. They ultimately settle at price of the commodity in the future on a particular exchange, or an index that represents a basket of prices at different exchanges. So if you have a weekly future's contract and you don't want to sell out of it on the market, then it will expire at the price at a specific time when Friday comes and if you want to maintain your position you must re-open on the new contract period. In the weekly example, if a contract is issued at April 14, 2017, it dies on April 21, 2017. If you buy the contract at a price of $1,100 and you don't sell it for the whole week, and the price ends on April 21 at $1,200, then you profit.
Consistent with a client’s investment objective, the Advisor may enter into guarantee close agreements with certain brokers. In all such cases, the agreement calls for the execution price at least to match the closing price of the security. In some cases, depending upon the circumstances, the broker may obtain a price that is better than the closing price and which under the agreement provides additional benefits to clients. The Advisor will generally distribute such benefits pro rata to applicable client trades.
The Trust, the Advisor and the Distributor each have adopted a consolidated code of ethics (the “COE”), under Rule 17j-1 of the 1940 Act, which is reasonably designed to ensure that all acts, practices and courses of business engaged in by personnel of the Trust, the Advisor and the Distributor reflect high standards of conduct and comply with the requirements of the federal securities laws. There can be no assurance that the COE will be effective in preventing deceptive, manipulative or fraudulent activities. The COE permits personnel subject to it to invest in securities, including securities that may be held or purchased by a Fund; however, such transactions are reported on a regular basis. The Advisor’s personnel that are Access Persons, as the term is defined in the COE, subject to the COE are also required to report transactions in registered open-end investment companies advised or sub-advised by the Advisor. The COE is on file with the SEC and is available to the public.
In the event that a Fund invests in an Underlying RIC that is not publicly offered within the meaning of the Code, the Fund’s redemption of shares of such Underlying RIC may cause the Fund to be treated as receiving a dividend taxable as ordinary income on the full amount of the redemption instead of being treated as realizing capital gain (or loss) on the redemption of the shares of the Underlying RIC.
Let’s say Larry owns one bitcoin and the current price is $16,600, be believes the price is overdone to the upside for a short period of time. This is a fictional example, so don’t beat me up on the outlook, you can criticize Larry, but he’s made up too. Larry has a futures account and sees that he can sell short a January XBT Future at $17,600. He decides to do this and is now short 1 January XBT Future at $17,600.
On September 17, 2015, the CFTC provided clarity regarding the regulatory treatment of bitcoin in the Coinflip civil enforcement case. There the CFTC determined that bitcoin and other virtual currencies are regulated as commodities under the CEA. Based on this determination, the CFTC applied CEA provisions and CFTC regulations that apply to a bitcoin derivatives trading platform. Also of significance, the CFTC took the position that bitcoin is not encompassed by the definition of currency under the CEA and CFTC regulations. The CFTC defined bitcoin and other “virtual currencies” as “a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and/or a store of value, but does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction. Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are distinct from ‘real’ currencies, which are the coin and paper money of the United States or another country that are designated as legal tender, circulate, and are customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance.” On July 6, 2017, the CFTC granted LedgerX, LLC an order of registration as a Swap Execution Facility for digital assets and on July 24, 2017, the CFTC approved Ledger X, LLC as the first derivatives clearing organization for digital currency. On September 21, 2017, the CFTC filed a civil enforcement action in federal court against a New York corporation and its principal, charging them with fraud, misappropriation, and issuing false account statements in connection with a Ponzi scheme involving investments in bitcoin, which the CFTC asserted is a commodity subject to its jurisdiction.
I used to find it odd that these hypothetical AIs were supposed to be smart enough to solve problems that no human could, yet they were incapable of doing something most every adult has done: taking a step back and asking whether their current course of action is really a good idea. Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations. Corporations don’t operate autonomously, of course, and the humans in charge of them are presumably capable of insight, but capitalism doesn’t reward them for using it. On the contrary, capitalism actively erodes this capacity in people by demanding that they replace their own judgment of what “good” means with “whatever the market decides.”
In order to qualify for the withholding exemptions for interest-related and short term capital gain dividends, a foreign shareholder is required to comply with applicable certification requirements relating to its non-U.S. status (including, in general, furnishing the applicable W-8 form or substitute form). In the case of shares held through an intermediary, the intermediary may withhold even if the Fund reports all or a portion of a payment as an interest-related or short-term capital gain dividend to shareholders. Foreign shareholders should consult their tax advisors or intermediaries, as applicable, regarding the application of these rules to their accounts.
• A Fund’s income from or the proceeds of dispositions of its non-U.S. investments may be subject to withholding and other taxes imposed by foreign countries, which will reduce the Fund’s return on and taxable distributions in respect of its non-U.S. investments. Tax conventions between certain countries and the United States may reduce or eliminate these taxes. If more than 50% of the value of a Fund’s total assets at the close of a taxable year consists of securities of foreign corporations, the Fund will be eligible to elect to “pass through” to you foreign income taxes that it has paid. If this election is made, you will be required to include your share of those taxes in gross income as a distribution from the Fund and you generally will be allowed to claim a credit (or a deduction, if you itemize deductions) for these amounts on your federal U.S. income tax return, subject to certain limitations.