New altcoins often make unsubstantiated claims about their products. Recently the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed fraud charges against two ICOs it says were sold on the basis of fraudulent claims. China has banned the sale of ICOs, and many individuals familiar with fraud, including the famed Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, have described ICOs as the biggest scam ever.
The CFTC, in conjunction with other federal regulators, also recently proposed stricter margin requirements for certain swap transactions. If adopted, the proposed requirements could increase the amount of margin necessary to conduct many swap transactions, limit the types of assets that can be used as collateral for such transactions, and impose other restrictions. The rule proposal may affect the ability of the Funds to use swap agreements (as well as futures contracts and options on futures contracts or commodities) and may substantially increase regulatory compliance costs for the Advisor and the Funds. As of the date of this SAI, the ultimate impact of the rule proposal on the Funds is uncertain. It is possible, however, that any adopted rule may adversely affect the Advisor’s ability to manage the Funds, may impair a Funds’ ability to achieve its investment objective and/or may result in reduced returns to Fund investors.
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.
The Fund expects to gain exposure to bitcoin futures contracts by investing a portion of its assets in a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Fund organized under the laws of the Cayman Islands (the “Subsidiary”). The Subsidiary is not registered under the 1940 Act and, unless otherwise noted in this Prospectus, is not subject to all of the investor protections of the 1940 Act. Thus, the Fund, as the sole investor in the subsidiary, will not have all of the protections offered to shareholders of registered investment companies.
A key attribute of a futures market is how its contract’s prices vary by expiration date. The succession of futures prices over time is called the “term structure”. If supply is stable (no seasonality or shortages) then typically futures prices will increase with expirations further in the future. This term structure configuration is called “contango” and it accounts for the fact that carry costs (e.g., time value of money) and profit expectations increase with time. Unless there are big changes in interest rates or the way that Bitcoin exchanges work I expect the level of contango in the Bitcoin futures term structure to be small. Bitcoins don’t cost much to hodl (once you have your hardware wallet) and there’s no apparent seasonality. The chart below from VIX Central shows a typical Bitcoin term structure (click on chart to get current data):
Jump up ^ Iansiti, Marco; Lakhani, Karim R. (January 2017). "The Truth About Blockchain". Harvard Business Review. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017. The technology at the heart of bitcoin and other virtual currencies, blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.
As discussed above in “Investment in a Subsidiary”, each of the Managed Futures Strategy ETF, the Crude Oil Strategy ETF the Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF, the Short Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF, the Blockchain/Bitcoin Strategy ETF, and the Bitcoin Futures/Equity Strategy ETF (each, a “Parent Fund”) intends to achieve commodity exposure through investment in a wholly-owned foreign subsidiary (each a “Subsidiary”). Each Subsidiary is classified as a corporation and is treated as a “controlled foreign corporation” (“CFC”) for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Each Parent Fund will limit its investments in its Subsidiary in the aggregate to 25% of the Parent Fund’s total assets. Each Parent Fund does not expect that income from its investment in its Subsidiary will be eligible to be treated as qualified dividend income or that distributions from its Subsidiary will be eligible for the corporate dividends-received deduction.
A Fund’s current obligations under most swap agreements (total return swaps, equity/index swaps, interest rate swaps) will be accrued daily (offset against any amounts owed to the Fund) and any accrued but unpaid net amounts owed to a swap counterparty will be covered by segregating or earmarking cash or other assets determined to be liquid, but typically no payments will be made until the settlement date. In connection with CDS in which a Fund is a “buyer”, the Fund will segregate or earmark cash or assets determined to be liquid by the Advisor, with a value at least equal to the Fund’s maximum potential exposure under the swap (e.g., any accrued but unpaid net amounts owed by the Fund to any clearinghouse counterparty). In connection with CDS in which a Fund is a “seller”, however, the Fund will segregate or earmark cash or assets determined to be liquid by the Advisor, with a value at least equal to the full notional amount of the swap (minus any variation margin or amounts owed to the Fund under an offsetting cleared transaction). This segregation or earmarking is intended to ensure that a Fund has assets available to satisfy its potential obligations with respect to the transaction. Each Fund reserves the right to modify its asset segregation policies in the future, including modifications to comply with any changes in the positions articulated by the SEC or its staff regarding asset segregation. Swap agreements that cannot be terminated in the ordinary course of business within seven days at approximately the amount a Fund has valued the asset may be considered to be illiquid for purposes of the Fund’s illiquid investment limitations.
The investment techniques and strategies discussed below may be used by a Fund if, in the opinion of the Advisor, the techniques or strategies may be advantageous to the Fund. A Fund may reduce or eliminate its use of any of these techniques or strategies without changing the Fund’s fundamental policies. There is no assurance that any of the techniques or strategies listed below, or any of the other methods of investment available to a Fund, will result in the achievement of the Fund’s objectives. Also, there can be no assurance that any Fund will grow to, or maintain, an economically viable size, and management may determine to liquidate a Fund at a time that may not be opportune for shareholders.
Crypto derivatives were naturally discovered as an interesting addition to cryptocurrency exchanges first – probably as individual contracts between interested investors on these exchanges. Nowadays, there are already a couple of exchanges that offer crypto derivatives trading as a standard feature: BitMEX is the current market leader, according to The Merkle News; others are OKCoin, Crypto Facilities, Coinpit, and Deribit, as well as LedgerX (the first regulated cryptocurrency exchange in the US).
Cryptocurrency is based on knowledge sharing on a distributed platform. The entire transactional history is for everyone to see. One blockchain is one thread of transaction. One unit or one block stores many transactions. The size of the block is 1MB and generally stores around 1000 to 2000 transactions. The data entered cannot be altered, nor can it be removed, enabling a system of complete transparency and trust. The entire money flow for the working model is beyond the traditional practices of controlling tax rates, credit usage, and money supply in the market.
Trader A is a producer of pork bellies. In order to insure herself against a price drop in pork bellies in the future, she enters a futures contract with Trader B. Trader B uses these pork bellies to manufacture sliced breakfast bacon. Thus, he is not worried that prices might fall in the future – his worry is that prices will go up. Both traders agree that Trader A will sell a metric ton of pork bellies for 1,000 USD 3 months from now. This increases security for both of their businesses. Because a futures contract is a binding contract between two parties, neither party can drop out of the contract: Even if the price for pork bellies is 1,200 USD at the time of execution, trader A is still contractually obliged to sell for 1,000 USD.
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