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.
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• Foreign Investments Risk — Investing in securities of foreign issuers may provide the Fund with increased risk. Various factors related to foreign investments may negatively impact the Fund’s performance, such as: i) fluctuations in the value of the applicable foreign currency; ii) differences in securities settlement practices; iii) uncertainty associated with evidence of ownership of investments in countries that lack centralized custodial services; iv) possible regulation of, or other limitations on, investments by U.S. investors in foreign investments; v) potentially higher brokerage commissions; vi) the possibility that a foreign government may withhold portions of interest and dividends at the source; vii) taxation of income earned in foreign countries or other foreign taxes imposed; viii) foreign exchange controls, which may include suspension of the ability to transfer currency from a foreign country; ix) less publicly available information about foreign issuers; x) changes in the denomination currency of a foreign investment; and xi) less certain legal systems in which the Fund might encounter difficulties or be unable to pursue legal remedies. Foreign investments also may be more susceptible to political, social, economic and regional factors than might be the case with U.S. securities. In addition, markets for foreign investments are usually less liquid, more volatile and significantly smaller than markets for U.S. securities, which may affect, among other things, the Fund’s ability to purchase or sell foreign investments at appropriate times. Because of differences in settlement times and/or foreign market holidays, transactions in a foreign market may take place one or more days after the necessary exposure to these investments is determined. Until the transactions are effected, the Fund is exposed to increased foreign currency risk and market risk.
A Bitcoin (spot or futures) exchange (like any online trading firm) charges its clients a fee to carry out trading activities. As exchanges face the risk of hacking and theft, it is wise not to trust an exchange with all your coins. You should split and keep part of them in other devices or cold storage. Now with bitcoin futures being offered by some of the most prominent marketplaces, investors, traders and speculators are all bound to benefit. These centralized marketplaces will facilitate trade based on a trader’s outlook for bitcoin prices, gain exposure to bitcoin prices or hedge their existing bitcoin positions. Overall, the launching of bitcoin futures by Cboe and CME will facilitate price discovery and price transparency, enable risk-management via a regulated bitcoin product and give a further push to bitcoin as an accepted asset class. (For more, see: The Risks Of Buying Bitcoins.)
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Futures markets create an immense amount of flexibility. They enable investors to readily bet on an asset or bet against it (go long or go short), and they are usually characterised by an immense amount of leverage. In the case of bitcoin, this means one can trade a high volume of coins while only paying for a fraction of them, essentially operating with borrowed money. Leverage is used to amplify profits on a small volume of assets, but it is a double-edged sword in that it also amplifies losses.
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When the Fund has an open futures contract position, it is subject to daily variation margin calls that could be substantial in the event of adverse price movements. If the Fund has insufficient cash to meet daily variation margin requirements, it might need to sell securities at a time when such sales are disadvantageous. Futures markets are highly volatile and the use of or exposure to futures contracts may increase volatility of the Fund’s NAV. Futures contracts are also subject to liquidity risk.
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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):
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through direct investments/short positions in the securities and/or through investments with similar economic characteristics. For the purposes of each such investment policy, “assets” includes a Fund’s net assets, as well as amounts borrowed for investment purposes, if any. In addition, for purposes of such an investment policy, “assets” includes not only the amount of a Fund’s net assets attributable to investments providing direct investment exposure to the type of investments suggested by its name (e.g., the value of stocks, or the value of derivative instruments such as futures, options or options on futures), but also cash and cash equivalents that are segregated on the Fund’s books and records or being used as collateral, as required by applicable regulatory guidance, or otherwise available to cover such investment exposure. The Board has adopted a policy to provide investors with at least 60 days’ notice prior to changes in a Fund’s name policy.
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So be aware of the premium or discount that is on longer dated contracts, this can allow you some arbitrage opportunities if you are patient and have the coins to apply to it. In general, we recommend that you trade any contract that has good liquidity and high volume. This is the most important characteristic of ANY product for a trader. If you can't get in and out reliably, and have a price that reasonably follows the spot market behavior, then it's not worth trading.
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• A decline in the adoption of bitcoin could have a negative effect on the price of bitcoin and bitcoin-related investments. Bitcoin’s adoption has been on a generally continuous climb since bitcoin first gained mass media attention in 2013. However, there can be no guarantees this growth will continue. Further, adoption of bitcoin as a means of payment has been limited when compared with the increase in the price of bitcoin, indicating that the majority of bitcoin’s use is for investment and speculative purposes. A lack of acceptance of bitcoin as a means of payment could negatively impact the price of the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Fund invests.
The Fund pays transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (including through the Subsidiary, as defined below) or “turns over” its portfolio. A higher portfolio turnover rate for the Fund or the Subsidiary may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when the Fund’s shares are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the example above, affect the Fund’s performance. The Fund has not yet commenced operations as of the date of this Prospectus. Thus, no portfolio turnover information is provided for this Fund.
Several factors may affect a Fund’s ability to achieve a high degree of correlation with its benchmark. Among these factors are: (i) a Fund’s fees and expenses, including brokerage (which may be increased by high portfolio turnover) and the costs associated with the use of derivatives; (ii) less than all of the securities underlying a Fund’s benchmark being held by the Fund and/or securities not included in its benchmark being held by a Fund; (iii) an imperfect correlation between the performance of instruments held by a Fund, such as futures contracts, and the performance of the underlying securities in a benchmark; (iv) bid-ask spreads (the effect of which may be increased by portfolio turnover); (v) holding instruments traded in a market that has become illiquid or disrupted; (vi) a Fund’s share prices being rounded to the nearest cent; (vii) changes to the benchmark that are not disseminated in advance; (viii) the need to conform a Fund’s portfolio holdings to comply with investment restrictions or policies or regulatory or tax law requirements;
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When cash markets are not functioning well, cash and carry arbitrage (and its reverse) futures markets may make the underlying asset accessible to more people. It is possible that A is bullish on bitcoin, but does not wish to go through the hassles of creating a wallet and storing it safely. At the same time, B might be comfortable with bitcoin wallets, but might be unwilling to take bitcoin price risk. Then B can buy bitcoin spot and sell cash settled bitcoin futures to A; the result is that A obtains exposure to bitcoin without creating a bitcoin wallet, while B obtains a risk free investment (a synthetic T-bill). Similarly, suppose C wishes to bet against bitcoin, but does not have the ability to short it; while D has no views on bitcoin, but has sufficient access to the cash market to be able to short bitcoin. Then D can take a risk free position by shorting bitcoin in the cash market and buying bitcoin futures from C who obtains a previously unavailable short position.
of the calendar year, and (3) all such ordinary income and capital gains that were not distributed in previous years. For purposes of the required excise tax distribution, ordinary gains and losses from the sale, exchange, or other taxable disposition of property that would be properly taken into account after October 31 are generally treated as arising on January 1 of the following calendar year. Also, for these purposes, the Fund will be treated as having distributed any amount on which it is subject to corporate income tax for the taxable year ending within the calendar year. The Funds intend generally to make distributions sufficient to avoid imposition of the excise tax, although the Funds reserve the right to pay an excise tax rather than make an additional distribution when circumstances warrant (for example, the payment of the excise tax amount is deemed to be de minimis).
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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.