On December 1, 2017, the CFTC issued a statement concerning the launch of bitcoin futures contracts on three CFTC-regulated futures exchanges – the CME, the CFE and the Cantor Exchange, cautioning that “market participants should take note that the relatively nascent underlying cash markets and exchanges for bitcoin remain largely unregulated markets over which the CFTC has limited statutory authority. There are concerns about the price volatility and trading practices of participants in these markets. We
Each Fund intends to use, on a regular basis, leveraged investment techniques in pursuing its investment objective. Leverage exists when a Fund achieves the right to a return on a capital base that exceeds the Fund’s assets. Utilization of leverage involves special risks and should be considered to be speculative. Specifically, leverage creates the potential for greater gains to Fund shareholders during favorable market conditions and the risk of magnified losses during adverse market conditions. Leverage is likely to cause higher volatility of the NAVs of these Funds’ Shares. Leverage may also involve the creation of a liability that does not entail any interest costs or the creation of a liability that requires the Fund to pay interest which would decrease the Fund’s total return to shareholders. If these Funds achieve their investment objectives, during adverse market conditions, shareholders should experience a loss greater than they would have incurred had these Funds not been leveraged.
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 ICON technology (ICX) is incredibly exciting because it aims to harbor the single largest decentralized global network. It aims to provide its users a certain degree of connectivity between countries and cultures around the world that’s currently just not possible or non-existent. This network gives way to businesses and individuals to communicate, transfer, deposit, and in many different ways cooperate with each other in a never seen before way. ICON shows extraordinary potential for the future, but it’s already boasting a large community made of reputable security institutions, banks, hospitals, insurances, universities and institutions in many other sectors. Crucially, ICON is NOT yet tradable in South Korea – when that changes I expect this coin to moon.
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The Advisor may give consideration to placing portfolio transactions with those brokers and dealers that also furnish research and other execution related services to the Fund or the Advisor. Such services may include, but are not limited to, any one or more of the following: information as to the availability of securities for purchase or sale; statistical or factual information or opinions pertaining to investment; information about market conditions generally; equipment that facilitates and improves trade execution; and appraisals or evaluations of portfolio securities.
For example, a Fund may cover its long position in a futures contract by purchasing a put option on the same futures contract with a strike price (i.e., an exercise price) as high as or higher than the price of the futures contract, or, if the strike price of the put is less than the price of the futures contract, the Fund will earmark/segregate cash or liquid instruments equal in value to the difference between the strike price of the put and the price of the future. A Fund may also “cover” its long position in a futures contract by taking a short position in the instruments underlying the futures contract, or by taking positions in instruments whose prices are expected to move relatively consistently, with a short position in the futures contract. A Fund may “cover” its short position in a futures contract by purchasing a call option on the same futures contract with a strike price (i.e., an exercise price) as low as or lower than the price of the futures contract, or, if the strike price of the call is greater than the price of the futures contract, the Fund will earmark /segregate cash or liquid instruments equal in value to the difference between the strike price of the call and the price of the future. A Fund may also “cover” its short position in a futures contract by taking a long position in the instruments underlying the futures contract, or by taking positions in instruments whose prices are expected to move relatively consistently with a long position in the futures contract.
The price of bitcoin on individual bitcoin exchanges, as well as the broader Bitcoin Exchange Market generally, has experienced periods of extreme volatility. This volatility is due in part to low liquidity and the changes exhibited by an early stage technological innovation. Speculators and investors who seek to profit from trading and holding bitcoin currently account for a significant portion of bitcoin demand. Such speculation regarding the potential future appreciation in the value of bitcoin may artificially inflate the price of bitcoin causing a negative impact on the performance of certain Funds which take a short position in bitcoin futures contracts. Conversely, government regulation and the perception of onerous regulatory actions may cause a drop in the price of bitcoin causing a negative impact on the performance of certain Funds which take a long position in bitcoin futures contracts. Developments related to the Bitcoin Network’s operations, Bitcoin Exchanges and the overall Bitcoin Exchange Market also contribute to the volatility in the price of bitcoin. These factors may continue to increase the volatility of the price of bitcoin which may have a negative impact on the performance of the Bitcoin Instruments and on the performance of the Funds.
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.
With the increased use of technologies such as the Internet and the dependence on computer systems to perform necessary business functions, the Funds and the digital assets that underline the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Funds invest are susceptible to operational and information security risk. The digital nature of bitcoins and the irreversible nature of bitcoin transactions makes bitcoin an attractive target for theft, hacking and other cyber-attacks. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber-attacks include, but are not limited to gaining unauthorized access to digital systems for purposes of misappropriating assets such as bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies or gaining access to sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyber-attacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites. Such events have historically correlated with a drop in the price of bitcoin, which may adversely affect your investment in a Fund. Cyber security failures or breaches of a Fund’s third party service provider (including, but not limited to, index providers, the administrator and transfer agent) or the issuers of the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Funds invest, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in financial losses, the inability of a Fund’s shareholders to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, and/or additional compliance costs. In addition, substantial costs may be incurred in order to prevent any cyber incidents in the future. The Funds their service providers, counterparties and other market participants on which the Funds rely could be negatively impacted as a result. While the Funds have established business continuity plans and systems to prevent such cyber-attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified.
Traders A and B in the previous example are hedgers. However, futures contracts, once they exist, can also be bought and sold in their own right. This is where futures get interesting for speculators. Say that Speculator X believes the price of a ton of pork belly will rise to 1,200 USD in 3 months’ time, so buying the futures contract at 1,000 USD is a good deal. He can then sell the contract to bacon producers who want to buy pork bellies at 1,000 USD. The option to buy at a specified price in the future is known as a call option. The price of call options rise when traders assume that the price of the underlying asset will rise.