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.
Cboe Futures Exchange, LLC (CFE) launched trading in Cboe bitcoin futures at 5:00 p.m. Central Time on December 10 under the ticker symbol “XBT”. XBT℠ futures are cash-settled contracts based on the Gemini’s auction price for bitcoin, denominated in U.S. dollars. Gemini Trust Company, LLC (Gemini) is a digital asset exchange and custodian founded in 2014 that allows customers to buy, sell, and store digital assets such as bitcoin, and is subject to fiduciary obligations, capital reserve requirements, and banking compliance standards of the New York State Department of Financial Services.3
Certain of the Funds are likely to obtain substantial exposure to the price movements of bitcoin by holding bitcoin linked exchange-traded notes (“ETNs”) that provide exposure to the price of bitcoin. ETNs are unsecured, unsubordinated debt securities of an issuer that are listed and traded on a U.S. stock exchange. An ETN’s returns are generally linked to the performance of a particular market benchmark or strategy minus applicable fees. ETNs do not provide principal protection and may or may not make periodic coupon payments. ETNs are subject to credit risk, which is the risk that the issuer cannot pay interest or repay principal when it is due. Additionally, the value of an ETN may be influenced by time to maturity, level of supply and demand, volatility and lack of liquidity in the underlying market (e.g., the commodities market), changes in interest rates or the issuer’s credit rating, and other economic, legal, political or geographic events. The value of an investment in an ETN may be impacted by fees associated with the ETN. Structural aspects of the ETNs may impact their market value. Trading by affiliates of an ETN sponsor may create conflicts of interest. The issuer of an ETN may be unable to meet its obligations. The potential impact of Bitcoin Network forks on the value of a bitcoin ETN is unclear. ETNs issued by special purpose vehicles may include greater risk. ETNs are subject to risks associated with the underlying asset.
• ADRs represent the right to receive securities of foreign issuers deposited in a bank or trust company. ADRs are an alternative to purchasing the underlying securities in their national markets and currencies. Investment in ADRs has certain advantages over direct investment in the underlying foreign securities because: (i) ADRs are U.S. dollardenominated investments that are easily transferable and for which market quotations are readily available; and (ii) issuers whose securities are represented by ADRs are generally subject to auditing, accounting and financial reporting standards similar to those applied to domestic issuers.
A Fund will be a personal holding company for federal income tax purposes if 50% or more of the Fund’s shares are owned, at any time during the last half of the Fund’s taxable year, directly or indirectly by five or fewer individuals. For this purpose, the term “individual” includes pension trusts, private foundations and certain other tax-exempt trusts. If a Fund becomes a personal holding company, it may be subject to a tax of 20% on all its investment income and on any net short-term gains not distributed to shareholders on or before the fifteenth day of the third month following the close of the Fund’s taxable year. In addition, the Fund’s status as a personal holding company may limit the ability of the Fund to distribute dividends with respect to a taxable year in a manner qualifying for the dividends-paid deduction subsequent to the end of the taxable year and will prevent the Fund from using tax equalization, which may result in the Fund paying a fund-level income tax. Each Fund intends to distribute all of its income and gain in timely manner such that it will not be subject to an income tax or an otherwise applicable personal holding company tax, but there can be no assurance that a Fund will be successful in doing so each year.
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.
Margin-trading is what provides the real reward and potential in daytrading bitcoin. You will be able to access the leverage to profit well from relatively small moves in BTC/USD price. High risk, high reward, high potential for loss. However, you need not use Futures only to speculate, hedging on lower leverage is also a great use case for Bitcoin derivatives if you just want to defend your coins.
The DJ Brookfield Global Infrastructure ETF, the Global Listed Private Equity ETF, the Merger ETF, the MSCI EAFE Dividend Growers ETF, and the MSCI Europe Dividend Growers ETF contain portfolio investments that are primarily listed or traded on foreign markets. To the extent a Fund’s portfolio investments trade in foreign markets on days when a Fund is not open for business or when the primary exchange for the Shares is not open, the value of the Fund’s assets may vary and shareholders may not be able to purchase or sell Fund Shares and Authorized Participants may not be able to create or redeem Creation Units. Also, certain portfolio investments may not be traded on days a Fund is open for business.
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.
• Any distributions from income or short-term capital gains that you receive generally are taxable to you as ordinary dividends for federal income tax purposes. Ordinary dividends you receive that a Fund reports as “qualified dividend income” may be taxed at the same rates as long-term capital gains, but will not be considered long-term capital gains for other federal income tax purposes, including the calculation of net capital losses.
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):
Currently there are a several digital asset trading platforms that provide investors with forms of derivative products such as futures, so one could estimate and synthesize the discrete futures curve from the averages of various curves. MVIS research used BitMEX, OKCoin, CryptoFacilities, and BTCC as sources, to construct and approximate bitcoin futures curve based on non-U.S. bitcoin futures trading on these exchanges.
A U.S. person, including a Fund, who owns (directly or indirectly) 10% or more of the total combined voting power of all classes of stock of a foreign corporation is a “U.S. Shareholder” for purposes of the CFC provisions of the Code. A CFC is a foreign corporation that, on any day of its taxable year, is owned (directly, indirectly, or constructively) more than 50% (measured by voting power or value) by U.S. Shareholders. Because of its investment in its Subsidiary, each Parent Fund is a U.S. Shareholder in a CFC. As a U.S. Shareholder, each Parent Fund is required to include in gross income for U.S. federal income tax purposes for each taxable year of the Fund its pro rata share of its CFC’s “subpart F income” for the CFC’s taxable year ending within the Fund’s taxable year whether or not such income is actually distributed by the CFC, provided that the foreign corporation has been a CFC for at least 30 uninterrupted days in its taxable year. Subpart F income generally includes interest, OID, dividends, net gains from the disposition of stocks or securities, net gains from transactions (including futures, forward, and similar transactions) in commodities, receipts with respect to securities loans, and net payments received with respect to equity swaps and similar derivatives. Subpart F income is treated as ordinary income, regardless of the character of the CFC’s underlying income. Net losses incurred by a CFC during a tax year do not flow through to an investing Fund and thus will not be available to offset income or capital gain generated from that Fund’s other investments. In addition, net losses incurred by a CFC during a tax year generally cannot be carried forward by the CFC to offset gains realized by it in subsequent taxable years. To the extent each Parent Fund invests in its Subsidiary and recognizes subpart F income in excess of actual cash distributions from such the Subsidiary, if any, it may be required to sell assets (including when it is not advantageous to do so) to generate the cash necessary to distribute as dividends to its shareholders all of its income and gains and therefore to eliminate any tax liability at the Fund level. Subpart F income also includes the excess of gains over losses from transactions (including futures, forward and other similar transactions) in commodities.
On 25 March 2014, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that bitcoin will be treated as property for tax purposes. This means bitcoin will be subject to capital gains tax. In a paper published by researchers from Oxford and Warwick, it was shown that bitcoin has some characteristics more like the precious metals market than traditional currencies, hence in agreement with the IRS decision even if based on different reasons.
Although certain securities exchanges attempt to provide continuously liquid markets in which holders and writers of options can close out their positions at any time prior to the expiration of the option, no assurance can be given that a market will exist at all times for all outstanding options purchased or sold by a Fund. If an options market were to become unavailable, the Fund would be unable to realize its profits or limit its losses until the Fund could exercise options it holds, and the Fund would remain obligated until options it wrote were exercised or expired. Reasons for the absence of liquid secondary market on an exchange include the following: (i) there may be insufficient trading interest in certain options; (ii) restrictions may be imposed by an exchange on opening or closing transactions or both; (iii) trading halts, suspensions or other restrictions may be imposed with respect to particular classes or series of options; (iv) unusual or unforeseen circumstances may interrupt normal operations on an exchange; (v) the facilities of an exchange or the OCC may not at all times be adequate to handle current trading volume; or (vi) one or more exchanges could, for economic or other reasons, decide or be compelled at some future date to discontinue the trading of options (or a particular class or series of options) and those options would cease to exist, although outstanding options on that exchange that had been issued by the OCC as a result of trades on that exchange would continue to be exercisable in accordance with their terms.
Like all investments, investing in any of the Funds entails risks. The risk factors most likely to have a significant impact on a Fund’s portfolio are called “principal risks.” The principal risks of each Fund are described in the applicable Fund’s Summary Prospectus and additional information regarding certain of these principal risks, as well as information related to other potential risks to which a particular Fund may be subjected, is provided below. Some risks apply to all of the Funds, while others are specific to the investment strategies of certain Funds, as indicated below. Each Fund may be subject to other risks in addition to those identified as principal risks.
A Bitcoin futures contract is exactly what you would expect from the example above, replacing pork bellies with Bitcoin. It is a contract that enables you to buy Bitcoin at a predetermined price at a specific point in the future. For example, if today’s Bitcoin price is 8,000 USD per BTC and you expect it to rise to 10,000 USD per BTC in 4 weeks, then entering a contract which allows you to buy Bitcoin at 9,000 USD in 4 weeks is highly attractive.