There are two USA regulated Bitcoin futures exchanges in operation. The CME’s contract unit is five Bitcoins whereas the Cboe’s contract unit is one—that’s the biggest difference between these futures. The upfront money to buy or sell short a CME contract will be about five times higher than the Cboe contract. Larger investors won’t care but this will be an issue for smaller investors. Another difference is the spot/settlement process that the exchanges use. In the case of Cboe futures, the contracts will be settled to a 4 pm ET Gemini exchange auction price on the day of expiration, for the CME futures the settlement price is a complex calculation using an hour of volume weighted data from multiple exchanges (currently Bitstamp, itBit, Kraken, and GDAX). With the CME’s approach, it will be harder to manipulate the settlement price but it doesn’t give arbitrageurs a physical mechanism to trade their positions—possibly an issue.
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Trading these futures instead of actual bitcoins is smart because you are able to access higher leverage by entering contracts with counterparties, while keeping your coins safe in cold storage or elsewhere. Additionally, unlike trading margin on Kraken or Bitfinex, you do NOT have to pay interest on the leverage you have! This is the result of the counterparty structure of futures. High leverage trading, low-fees, and high profit potential.
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Disclaimer: Trading carries a high level of risk, and may not be suitable for all investors. Before deciding to invest you should carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite. The possibility exists that you could sustain a loss of some or all of your initial investment and therefore you should not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. You should be aware of all the risks associated with foreign exchange trading, and seek advice from an independent financial advisor if you have any doubts.
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Bitcoin is a relatively new type of currency—a digital or cryptocurrency secured through cryptography, or codes that can’t be read without a key. Traditional currencies are made up of paper bills and coins. Unlike traditional currencies, the bitcoin is not issued by any central government. Rather, a computer algorithm determines how many bitcoins are produced and added to the economy. This is much different than a traditional currency, where central banks typically determine how much money to print.
The Fund is an actively managed exchange traded fund. The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing substantially all of its assets in U.S. large capitalization equity securities and bitcoin futures contracts. The Fund is designed to benefit when the prices of U.S. large capitalization equity securities and bitcoin futures contracts increases. The Fund generally seeks to have 70% of the value of its portfolio invested in the equity securities of the 500 largest U.S. public companies and 30% of the value of its portfolio invested in bitcoin futures contracts. The Fund does not invest directly in bitcoin.
When you hear "margin", you may be thinking that you are borrowing money to trade bitcoin futures. This is not quite true. A key feature of these futures contracts is that the leverage comes from counterparties providing it to one another, not from the exchange lending funds and not from any bitcoin being lent from third parties. The contracts are simply like stocks with a market price, which represents the agreements between traders to take the opposing sides of where price of bitcoin will go, so no actual bitcoins are being exchanged per se, however the profit and loss between counterparties is very real!
One traditional attraction of trading futures is the ability to use relatively small amounts of money to potentially achieve outsized returns. In many futures markets the margin, the amount of money that your broker requires up-front before executing the trade can be quite small compared to the ultimate value of the contract. For example, as of 22-Dec-2017, each E-mini S&P 500 contract was worth $134K ($50*S&P 500 index value)—this “list price” of the contract is called its notional value. The CME only requires you to maintain a minimum margin of $4.5K (3.4% of notional) to control this contract (brokers often require additional margin). Margin requirements this low are only possible because the volatility of the S&P 500 is well understood and your margin account balance is adjusted at the end of every trading day to account for the winnings or losses of the day. If your account balance falls below the margin minimum of $4.5K you’ll need to quickly add money to your account or your position will be summarily closed out by your broker. On the plus side, if you’ve predicted the S&P’s direction correctly your profits will be that same as if you completely owned the underlying stocks in the index. A +1% daily move in the S&P500 would yield $1340 in profit even though you only have $4500 invested— a 29% return—this multiplier effect is called leverage.
Many expect bitcoin futures to stabilise the markets because big institutional investors will be able to trade bitcoin using all the flexibility present in sophisticated trading markets, with effective risk management and hedging strategies. Since the CME plans to set price limits on the trading range of bitcoin futures, the price of the coin is expected to become more stable. That is the optimistic outlook. It is reasonable to assume that if futures markets will indeed take off the way they are expected to, the market will eventually gravitate towards a less volatile state.
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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.
On top of that, the cryptocurrency market travels at lightspeed compared to other markets. New coins enter the market on a daily basis (in 2016, there were about 550 different coins, today there are about 1,500), and each one has news every day. I’m not doubting your ability to consume and analyze news, but that level of information bombardment will always be more effectively consumed as a group. In these communities, you’ll see members link news and relevant articles about coins you’ve invested in and coins you’ve never heard of. The community will definitely expand your knowledge much faster than doing it all yourself.
Bob's transaction confirms first so he goes on BFE and looks at the contract selections. He wants to trade on the January 9 expiration contract. The orderbook is empty and Bob wants to go long (profit off an increase in bitcoin). Since there are no offers available, he places a limit order in the orderbook for a bid at 400 of 1 contract, using his 0.2btc as collateral for the position.
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):
For each of the following Funds that hold Non-U.S. Investments: the DJ Brookfield Global Infrastructure ETF; the Global Listed Private Equity ETF; the MSCI EAFE Dividend Growers ETF; the MSCI Europe Dividend Growers; the Short Term USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF; and the Merger ETF (each a “Global Fund” and collectively the “Global Funds”), when a purchase order is placed, the Distributor will inform the Advisor and the Custodian. The Custodian shall cause local sub-custodians of the applicable Global Fund to maintain an account into which the Authorized Participant shall deliver, on behalf of itself or the party on whose behalf it is acting, the Deposit Securities “free of payment,” with any appropriate adjustments as advised by the Trust, in accordance with the terms and conditions applicable to such account in such jurisdiction. If applicable, the sub-custodian(s) will confirm to the Custodian that the required Deposit Securities have been delivered and the Custodian will notify the Advisor and Distributor. The Authorized Participant must also make available to the Custodian no later than 12:00 noon Eastern Time (or earlier in the event that the relevant Exchange or the relevant bond markets close early) by the second Business Day after the order is deemed received through the Federal Reserve Bank wire transfer system, immediately available or same day funds in U.S. dollars estimated by the Trust to be sufficient to pay the Balancing Amount next determined after acceptance of the purchase order, together with any applicable Transaction Fees. For Global Funds, the Index Receipt Agent will not make available through the NSCC on each Business Day, the list of the names and the required number of shares of each Deposit Security to be included in the current Portfolio Deposit.
The Funds may make short sales “against the box,” i.e., when a security identical to or convertible or exchangeable into one owned by a Fund is borrowed and sold short. Whenever a Fund engages in short sales, it earmarks or segregates liquid securities or cash in an amount that, when combined with the amount of collateral deposited with the broker in connection with the short sale, equals the current market value of the security sold short. The earmarked or segregated assets are marked-to-market daily.
expect that the futures exchanges, through information sharing agreements, will be monitoring the trading activity on the relevant cash platforms for potential impacts on the futures contracts’ price discovery process, including potential market manipulation and market dislocations due to flash rallies and crashes and trading outages. Nevertheless, investors should be aware of the potentially high level of volatility and risk in trading these contracts . . . it is incumbent on market participants to conduct appropriate due diligence to determine the particular appropriateness of these products, which at times have exhibited extreme volatility and unique risks.”
Note that any losses on the bitcoin position is offset by the short position in the Jan XBT Futures contract. Because Jan XBT was trading at a $1,000 premium to spot bitcoin, the profit for this trade is equal to that difference. Now, keep in mind if bitcoin doubles between now and January 17 settlement the maximum profit is $1000. Larry is giving up some upside to assure a return of $1000.
Investments by a Fund in a wholly-owned foreign subsidiary, debt obligations issued or purchased at a discount and certain derivative instruments could cause the Fund to recognize taxable income in excess of the cash generated by such investments, potentially requiring the Fund to dispose of investments (including when otherwise disadvantageous to do so) in order to meet
The ProShares Bitcoin/Blockchain Strategy ETF contains portfolio investments that are primarily listed on foreign markets. To the extent the Fund’s portfolio investments trade in foreign markets on days when the Fund is not open for business or when the primary exchange for its shares is not open, the value of the Fund’s assets may vary on days when 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 the Fund is open for business.
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form, number and at such place as such DTC Participant may reasonably request, in order that such notice, statement or communication may be transmitted by such DTC Participant, directly or indirectly, to such Beneficial owners. In addition, the Trust shall pay to each such DTC Participant a fair and reasonable amount as reimbursement for the expenses attendant to such transmittal, all subject to applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
• Intellectual property rights claims may adversely affect the operation of the Bitcoin Network. Third parties may assert intellectual property rights claims relating to the operation of the Bitcoin Network. Regardless of the merit of any intellectual property or other legal action, any threatened action that reduces confidence in the Bitcoin Network’s long-term viability or the ability of end-users to hold and transfer bitcoin may adversely affect the price of bitcoin and adversely affect the price of the bitcoin futures contracts held by the Fund.
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You could imagine the spread going the other way, though. If everyone really was clamoring to short bitcoin, and if the futures offered a more convenient way to do it than the bitcoin exchanges, then you'd expect the short sellers to pay a premium to short via futures. Instead of selling a bitcoin at $18,000 today, they'd be willing to sell a synthetic bitcoin for $17,500, paying the spread to an arbitrageur who was willing to do the actual shorting for them. But the fact that the spread is mostly positive, and that bitcoin's price has been mostly going up, suggests that the demand has mostly been for synthetic long positions, not short.
Important agents interacting with those prices are operating in one of three roles: individual speculator, market maker, or arbitrageur. A key role is market maker—a firm that has agreed to simultaneously act as both a buyer and seller for a specific security. When companies sign up for this role they agree to keep the bid/ask prices relatively close to each other—for example even if they aren’t keen on selling Bitcoins at the moment they can’t just set the ask price to an outrageous level. The agreed-upon maximum bid/ask ranges might be tied to market conditions (e.g., wider when deemed a “fast market”) and might allow time-outs but in general, the market maker agrees to act as a buffer between supply and demand.