There are two "types" of bitcoin -- Quanto and Inverse. Vast majority of bitcoin futures contracts are INVERSE, not Quanto. This means that the PNL is smoothed in USD terms, so that the contract value is maintained through price fluctuations. Put simply, it allows you to make a perfect USD-value hedge when you short with Bitcoin, which makes it ideal for speculators and hedgers. This means that if the BTC/USD value drops 1% you will earn more raw BTC than if it increases 1%. This is because when the price is falling, the USD value of the BTC is also falling, so the payout mathematically adjusts for this and increases as the price falls, compensating for the reduced USD value.
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 introduction of futures didn't lead to a wave of hedge-fund money shorting bitcoin. It led to retail and institutional money going long bitcoin. We talked last week about the spread between Cboe's bitcoin futures price and the actual price of bitcoin, which was wider than $1,000 for a while. The spread has tightened considerably -- as of 8:15 a.m. today, the CME futures traded at $18,585, Cboe futures at $18,670, and spot bitcoin at about $18,245, for a spread of about 2 percent -- but it still exists. Why would you pay more for a synthetic bitcoin in a month than you would for an actual bitcoin today? The answer, presumably, is that the synthetic bitcoin is more valuable to you: You want bitcoin exposure, but you'd prefer to get it through a standardized contract on a regulated exchange that settles in dollars.
That's why liquidity and volume are essential to a quality exchange. If you enter that contract at $400 and you see bitcoin spot price jumping to $500 but nobody is trading futures so you can't sell it to them, you get screwed. Luckily at this point in 2016 there are numerous options for trading futures that are liquid and settle on short time horizons. So you can typically trade contracts and get in and out of them with decent spreads and reasonable fees.
Unlike many commodity futures, Bitcoin futures are cash settled rather than physically settled. Cash settlement is a relatively new development in futures trading, first introduced in 1981 for Eurodollar futures, that addresses the problem of how to settle futures contracts on things that are difficult/impossible to deliver physicially—things like interest rates, large stock indexes (e.g., S&P 500), and volatility indexes (Cboe’s VIX). Futures physical settlement involves actual shipment/change of ownership of the underlying product to the contract holder but in practice, it’s rarely used (~2% of the time). Instead, most organizations that are using futures to hedge prices of future production/usage will make separate arrangements with suppliers/customers for physical delivery and just use the futures to protect against contrary price changes. In practice, the final settlement price of the contract can be used to provide the desired price protection regardless of whether the futures contract specifies physically delivery or cash-settlement.
The Fund may invest in stocks of large-cap companies. Although returns on investments in large-cap companies are often perceived as being less volatile than the returns of companies with smaller market capitalizations, the return on large-cap securities could trail the returns on investments in smaller and mid-sized companies for a number of reasons. For example, large-cap companies may be unable to respond quickly to new competitive challenges, such as changes in technology, and also may not be able to attain the high growth rate of successful smaller companies.
• New Fund Risk — The Fund recently commenced operations, has a limited operating history, and started operations with a small asset base. There can be no assurance that the Fund will be successful or grow to or maintain a viable size, that an active trading market for the Fund’s shares will develop or be maintained, or that the Fund’s shares’ listing will continue unchanged.
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Creation Units of all Funds may, at the discretion of the Advisor, be sold for cash (the “Cash Purchase Amount”). Creation Units are sold at their NAV plus a Transaction Fee, as described below. The Advisor may also restrict purchases of Creation Units to be on a cash-only basis at any time and without prior notice, in all cases at the Advisor’s discretion.
The Board has appointed Michael L. Sapir to serve as Chairman of the Board. Mr. Sapir is also the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Advisor and, as such, is not an Independent Trustee. The Chairman’s primary role is to participate in the preparation of the agenda for Board meetings, determine (with the advice of counsel) which matters need to be acted upon by the Board, and to ensure that the Board obtains all the information necessary to perform its functions and take action. The Chairman also presides at all meetings of the Board and acts, with the assistance of staff, as a liaison with service providers, officers, attorneys and the Independent Trustees between meetings. The Chairman may perform such other functions as may be requested by the Board from time to time. The Board does not have a lead Independent Trustee.
The Fund seeks inverse or “short” exposure through short positions in bitcoin futures contracts and other financial instruments. This will cause the Fund to be exposed to certain risks associated with selling securities short. These risks include, under certain market conditions, an increase in the volatility and decrease in the liquidity of asset underlying the short position, which may lower the Fund’s return, result in a loss, have the effect of limiting the Fund’s ability to obtain inverse exposure through financial instruments such as swap agreements and futures contracts, or require the Fund to seek inverse exposure through alternative investment strategies that may be less desirable or more costly to implement. To the extent that, at any particular point in time, the asset underlying the short position may be thinly traded or have a limited market, including due to regulatory action, the Fund may be unable to meet its investment objective due to a lack of available securities or counterparties. During such periods, the Fund’s ability to issue additional Creation Units may be adversely affected. Obtaining inverse exposure through these instruments may be considered an aggressive investment technique. Any income, dividends or payments by the assets underlying the Fund’s short positions will negatively impact the Fund.
The Funds may invest in equity securities. The market price of securities owned by a Fund may go up or down, sometimes rapidly or unpredictably. Securities may decline in value due to factors affecting securities markets generally or particular industries represented in the securities markets. The value of a security may decline due to general market conditions not specifically related to a particular company, such as real or perceived adverse economic conditions, changes in the general outlook for corporate earnings, changes in interest or currency rates, or adverse investor sentiment generally. A security’s value may also decline due to factors that affect a particular industry or industries, such as labor shortages or increased production costs and competitive conditions within an industry. The value of a security may also decline for a number of reasons that directly relate to the issuer, such as management performance, financial leverage and reduced demand for the issuer’s goods or services. Equity securities generally have greater price volatility than fixed income securities, and the Funds are particularly sensitive to these market risks.
The Board oversight of the Trust and the Funds extends to the Trust’s risk management processes. The Board and its Audit Committee consider risk management issues as part of their responsibilities throughout the year at regular and special meetings. The Advisor and other service providers prepare regular reports for Board and Audit Committee meetings that address a variety of risk-related matters, and the Board as a whole or the Audit Committee may also receive special written reports or presentations on a variety of risk issues at the request of the Board or the Audit Committee. For example, the portfolio managers of the Funds meet regularly with the Board to discuss portfolio performance, including investment risk, counterparty risk and the impact on the Funds of investments in particular securities or derivatives. As noted above, given the relatively small size of the Board, the Board determined it is not necessary to adopt a complex leadership structure in order for the Board to effectively exercise its risk oversight function.
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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.
FOREIGN SOVEREIGN, SUB-SOVEREIGN, QUASI SOVEREIGN AND SUPRANATIONAL SECURITIES. The Funds may invest in fixed-rate debt securities issued by: non-U.S. governments (foreign sovereign bonds); local governments, entities or agencies of a non-U.S. country (foreign sub-sovereign bonds); corporations with significant government ownership (“Quasi-Sovereigns”); or two or more central governments or institutions (supranational bonds). These types of debt securities are typically
• An interruption in Internet service or a limitation of Internet access could have a negative impact on bitcoin. The Bitcoin Network relies on users access to the Internet. A significant disruption of Internet connectivity could impede the functionality of the Bitcoin Network and adversely affect the price of bitcoin. Any technical disruptions or regulatory limitations that affect Internet access may have an adverse effect on the Bitcoin Network, the price of bitcoin and the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Fund invests. In addition to technical disruptions such as cyber-attacks, the potential elimination of the net neutrality regulations in the U.S. may have a negative impact on bitcoin and the Bitcoin ecosystem.
• Investments by a Fund in options, futures, forward contracts, swap agreements and other derivative financial instruments are subject to numerous special and complex tax rules. These rules could affect the amount, timing or character of the distributions to shareholders by a Fund. In addition, because the application of these rules may be uncertain under current law, an adverse determination or future Internal Revenue Service guidance with respect to these rules may affect whether a Fund has made sufficient distributions, and otherwise satisfied the relevant requirements, to maintain its qualification as a regulated investment company and avoid fund-level tax.
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.
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.