William E. Seale, Ph.D., Chief Economist of ProShare Advisors since inception and ProFund Advisors LLC since 2005. Dr. Seale has more than 30 years of experience in the financial markets. His background includes a five-year presidential appointment as a commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and an appointment as Chairman of the Department of Finance at The George Washington University. He earned his degrees at the University of Kentucky.
Here is the story of Longfin Corp., a fin-tech-ish company that was listed on Nasdaq on Wednesday and then announced on Friday that it was acquiring Ziddu.com, "a blockchain-empowered global micro-lending solutions provider," causing its stock to go up by more than 1,200 percent and giving it a market capitalization of some $6.2 billion as of yesterday's close. LongFin's offering circular is a fun read -- it describes its founder and chief executive officer, who also happens to be the controlling shareholder of Ziddu.com, as "a financial wizard" and "a true believer in disruptive technologies" who "believes that every piece of information is worth millions" -- but even better is the press release describing the Ziddu acquisition:
A Fund may in its discretion exercise its option to redeem such Shares in cash, and the redeeming shareholder will be required to receive its redemption proceeds in cash. In addition, an investor may request a redemption in cash which a Fund may, in its sole discretion, permit. In either case, the investor will receive a cash payment equal to the NAV of its Shares based on the NAV of Shares of the relevant Fund next determined after the redemption request is received in proper form (minus a redemption Transaction Fee and additional charge for requested cash redemptions, to offset the Fund’s brokerage and other transaction costs associated with the disposition of Fund Securities).
Each Fund, except for the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF, the S&P MidCap 400 Dividend Aristocrats ETF, the Russell 2000 Dividend Growers ETF, the MSCI EAFE Dividend Growers ETF, the MSCI Europe Dividend Growers ETF, the MSCI Emerging Markets Dividend Growers ETF, the DJ Brookfield Global Infrastructure ETF, the Equities for Rising Rates ETF, the S&P 500 Ex-Energy ETF, the S&P 500 Ex-Financials ETF, the S&P 500 Ex-Health Care ETF, the S&P 500 Ex-Technology ETF, the High Yield—Interest Rate Hedged, the Investment Grade—Interest Rate Hedged and the Short Term USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF, is a “non-diversified” series of the Trust. A Fund’s classification as a “non-diversified” investment company means that the proportion of the Fund’s assets that may be invested in the securities of a single issuer is not limited by the 1940 Act. Notwithstanding each Fund’s status as a “non-diversified” investment company under the 1940 Act, each Fund intends to qualify as a RIC accorded special tax treatment under the Code, which imposes its own diversification requirements on these Funds that are less restrictive than the requirements applicable to the “diversified” investment companies under the 1940 Act. A Fund’s ability to pursue its investment strategy may be limited by that Fund’s intention to qualify as a RIC and its strategy may bear adversely on its ability to so qualify. For more details, see “Taxation” below. With respect to a “non-diversified” Fund, a relatively high percentage of such a Fund’s assets may be invested in the securities of a limited number of issuers, primarily within the same economic sector. That Fund’s portfolio securities, therefore, may be more susceptible to any single economic, political, or regulatory occurrence than the portfolio securities of a more diversified investment company.

Certain of a Fund’s investments in derivative instruments and foreign currency-denominated instruments, and any of a Fund’s transactions in foreign currencies and hedging activities, are likely to produce a difference between its book income and its taxable income. If such a difference arises, and a Fund’s book income is less than its taxable income, the Fund could be required to make distributions exceeding book income to qualify as a RIC that is accorded special tax treatment. In the alternative, if a Fund’s book income exceeds its taxable income (including realized capital gains), the distribution (if any) of such excess generally will be treated as (i) a dividend to the extent of the Fund’s remaining earnings and profits (including earnings and profits arising from tax-exempt income), (ii) thereafter, as a return of capital to the extent of the recipient’s basis in its shares, and (iii) thereafter as gain from the sale or exchange of a capital asset.

the Merrill Lynch Factor Model – Exchange Series benchmark). The Short ProShares Funds (i.e., the Geared ProShares Funds that have the prefix “Short”, “UltraShort” or “UltraPro Short” in their names, except for the Short Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF) are designed to correspond to the inverse of the daily performance or an inverse multiple of the daily performance of an index. The Ultra ProShares Funds (i.e., the Geared ProShares Funds that have the prefix “Ultra” or UltraPro” in their names) are designed to correspond to a multiple of the daily performance of an index. The Funds, except the Matching ProShares Funds, Managed Futures Strategy ETF, Crude Oil Strategy ETF, CDS Short North American HY Credit ETF, Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF, Blockchain/Bitcoin Strategy ETF, Bitcoin Futures/Equity Strategy ETF, and Short Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF, do not seek to achieve their stated investment objective over a period of time greater than a single day. A “single day” is measured from the time the Fund calculates its net asset value (“NAV”) to the time of the Fund’s next NAV calculation. Each Matching ProShares Fund, Managed Futures Strategy ETF, Crude Oil Strategy ETF, CDS Short North American HY Credit ETF, Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF, Blockchain/Bitcoin Strategy ETF, Bitcoin Futures/Equity Strategy ETF, and Short Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF seeks to achieve its stated investment objective both on a single day and over time. The Managed Futures Strategy ETF is actively managed and seeks to provide positive returns that are not directly correlated to broad equity or fixed income markets. The Crude Oil Strategy ETF is actively managed and seeks to provide exposure to the West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures markets. The CDS Short North American HY Credit ETF is actively managed and seeks to provide short exposure to the credit of debt issuers. The Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF is actively managed and seeks total return through investment in U.S. government securities and bitcoin futures contracts. The Short Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF is actively managed and seeks total return through investment in U.S. government securities and short exposure to bitcoin futures contracts. The Bitcoin Futures/Equity Strategy ETF is actively managed and seeks total return through investment in U.S. equity securities and bitcoin futures contracts. The Blockchain/Bitcoin Strategy ETF is actively managed and seeks total return through investment in the equity securities of blockchain technology companies and exposure to bitcoin investments.


So far, these derivatives market have only been a niche occupied by crypto enthusiasts. That is until one of the newcomers, Crypto Facilities, and an incumbent in the derivatives market have joined forces: Crypto Facilities and the CME Group. The CME Group (controlling, for example, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange that has been around for more than a century) is a large-scale business that is officially regulated and audited by the US financial authorities. It settles its contracts in fiat money rather than cryptocurrency, thus enabling non-crypto experts to speculate on Bitcoin.
The information herein represents the opinion of the author(s), but not necessarily those of VanEck, and these opinions may change at any time and from time to time. Non-VanEck proprietary information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Not intended to be a forecast of future events, a guarantee of future results or investment advice. Historical performance is not indicative of future results. Current data may differ from data quoted. Any graphs shown herein are for illustrative purposes only. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of VanEck.
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 a combination of (i) the equity securities of blockchain technology companies, (ii) bitcoin futures, options and swap contracts that provide exposure to the price movements of bitcoin (“Bitcoin Derivatives”) and (iii) bitcoin related securities, such as bitcoin linked exchange traded notes (“ETNs”), funds and trusts (“Bitcoin Securities”) (collectively, with Bitcoin Securities, “Bitcoin Investments”). The Fund targets a minimum of 30% exposure to Bitcoin Investments. The Fund’s other assets will be invested in the equity securities of blockchain technology companies — companies that the Fund’s investment advisor determines are well-positioned to benefit from blockchain technology. The securities of blockchain technology companies may be listed on U.S. or non-U.S. exchanges and must meet certain minimum capitalization and liquidity requirements. The Fund intends to concentrate its investment in blockchain technology companies and/or technology companies.
All Shares of the Trust are freely transferable. The Shares do not have preemptive rights or cumulative voting rights, and none of the Shares have any preference to conversion, exchange, dividends, retirements, liquidation, redemption or any other feature. Shares have equal voting rights, except that, in a matter affecting a particular series or class of Shares, only Shares of that series or class may be entitled to vote on the matter. Trust shareholders are entitled to require the Trust to redeem Creation Units of their Shares. The Declaration of Trust confers upon the Board of Trustees the power, by resolution, to alter the number of Shares constituting a Creation Unit or to specify that Shares may be individually redeemable. The Trust reserves the right to adjust the stock prices of Shares to maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any such adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits which would have no effect on the net assets of the applicable Fund.
•   If a Fund qualifies for treatment as a regulated investment company, it is not subject to federal income tax on net investment income and net realized capital gains that the Fund timely distributes to its shareholders. If a Fund were to fail to so qualify, and were ineligible to or otherwise did not cure such failure, its taxable income and gains would be subject to tax at the Fund level, and distributions from earnings and profits would be taxable to shareholders as ordinary income.
Homero Josh Garza, who founded the cryptocurrency startups GAW Miners and ZenMiner in 2014, acknowledged in a plea agreement that the companies were part of a pyramid scheme, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2015. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission separately brought a civil enforcement action against Garza, who was eventually ordered to pay a judgment of $9.1 million plus $700,000 in interest. The SEC's complaint stated that Garza, through his companies, had fraudulently sold "investment contracts representing shares in the profits they claimed would be generated" from mining.[88]

In general, for purposes of the 90% gross income requirement described in subparagraph (a) above, income derived from a partnership will be treated as Qualifying Income only to the extent such income is attributable to items of income of the partnership which would be Qualifying Income if realized directly by the RIC. However, 100% of the net income of a RIC derived from an interest in a “qualified publicly traded partnership” (a partnership (x) the interests in which are traded on an established securities market or readily tradable on a secondary market or the substantial equivalent thereof, and (y) that derives less than 90% of its income from the

A Fund may invest in one or more exchange-traded funds that invest in commodities or options, futures, or forwards with respect to commodities, and are treated as QPTPs for federal income tax purposes. As noted above, a Fund is limited to investing no more than 25% of the value of its total assets in the securities of one or more QPTPs. Although income from QPTPs is generally qualifying income, if an ETF intending to qualify as a QPTP fails to so qualify and is treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, a portion of its income may not be qualifying income. It is also possible that an ETF intending to qualify as a QPTP will be treated as a corporation for federal income tax purposes. In such a case, it will be potentially liable for an entity-level corporate income tax, which will adversely affect the return thereon. There can be no guarantee that any ETF will be successful in qualifying as a QPTP. In addition, there is little regulatory guidance concerning the application of the rules governing qualification as a QPTP, and it is possible that future guidance may adversely affect the qualification of ETFs as QPTPs. A Fund’s ability to pursue an investment strategy that involves investments in QPTPs may be limited by that Fund’s intention to qualify as a RIC, and may bear adversely on that Fund’s ability to so qualify.
All Shares of the Trust are freely transferable. The Shares do not have preemptive rights or cumulative voting rights, and none of the Shares have any preference to conversion, exchange, dividends, retirements, liquidation, redemption or any other feature. Shares have equal voting rights, except that, in a matter affecting a particular series or class of Shares, only Shares of that series or class may be entitled to vote on the matter. Trust shareholders are entitled to require the Trust to redeem Creation Units of their Shares. The Declaration of Trust confers upon the Board of Trustees the power, by resolution, to alter the number of Shares constituting a Creation Unit or to specify that Shares may be individually redeemable. The Trust reserves the right to adjust the stock prices of Shares to maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any such adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits which would have no effect on the net assets of the applicable Fund.
Commonly, investments subject to interest rate risk will decrease in value when interest rates rise and increase in value when interest rates decline. The value of securities with longer maturities may fluctuate more in response to interest rate changes than securities with shorter maturities. A wide variety of factors can cause interest rates to rise (e.g., central bank monetary policies, inflation rates, general economic conditions, etc.). This risk may be elevated under current economic conditions because interest rates are at historically low levels. Returns on investment in debt instruments may trail the returns on other investment options, including investments in equity securities.
A mortgage-backed security is a type of pass-through security, which is a security representing pooled debt obligations repackaged as interests that pass income through an intermediary to investors. Each Fund may invest in mortgage-backed securities, as “cover” for the investment techniques these Funds employ. In the case of mortgage-backed securities, the ownership interest is in a pool of mortgage loans.
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.
In determining its net capital gain, including in connection with determining the amount available to support a Capital Gain Dividend (as defined below), its taxable income and its earnings and profits, a RIC generally may elect to treat part or all of late-year ordinary loss (generally, its net ordinary loss attributable to the portion of the taxable year after December 31) as if incurred in the succeeding taxable year.
 	•	 	The bitcoin exchanges on which bitcoin trades are relatively new and, in most cases, largely unregulated and, therefore, may be more exposed to volatility, fraud and security breaches than established, regulated exchanges for other products. Over the past several years, a number of Bitcoin Exchanges have been closed due to fraud, failure, security breaches or governmental regulations. The nature of the assets held at Bitcoin Exchanges make them appealing targets for hackers and a number of Bitcoin Exchanges have been victims of cybercrimes. No Bitcoin Exchange is immune from these risks. Fraudulent activity can increase volatility and have an adverse effect on the price of bitcoin, the general acceptance of bitcoin as an investment or means of currency and could have a negative impact on the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Fund invests and the value of the Fund.

In general, a beneficial owner of Fund Shares who or which is a foreign shareholder is not subject to U.S. federal income tax on gains (and is not allowed a deduction for losses) realized on a sale of shares of the Fund unless (i) such gain effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business carried on by such holder within the United States, (ii) in the case of an individual holder, the holder is present in the United States for a period or periods aggregating 183 days or more during the year of the sale or and certain other conditions are met, or (iii) the special rules relating to gain attributable to the sale or exchange of “U.S. real property interests” (“USRPIs”) apply to the foreign shareholder’s sale of shares of the Fund (as described below).
Under normal market conditions, each Fund intends to invest substantially all of its assets in Benchmark Futures Contracts. The contractual obligations of a buyer or seller holding a futures contract to expiration may be satisfied by settling in cash as designated in the contract specifications. Alternatively, futures contracts may be closed out prior to expiration by making an offsetting sale or purchase of an identical futures contract on the same or linked exchange before the designated date of settlement. Once this date is reached, the futures contract “expires.” The Funds do not intend to hold bitcoin futures contracts through expiration, but instead to “roll” their respective positions. “Rolling” refers to a process whereby futures contracts nearing expiration are closed out and replaced with an identical futures contract with a later expiration date. Accordingly, the Funds are subjects to risks related to rolling.

In the course of providing advisory services, the Advisor may simultaneously recommend the sale of a particular security for one account while recommending the purchase of the same security for another account if such recommendations are consistent with each client’s investment strategies. The Advisor also may recommend the purchase or sale of securities that may also be recommended by ProFund Advisors LLC, an affiliate of the Advisor.


Currently the front month future is the January contract which at last check could be sold for $17,600.  This contract settles in a cash transfer based on the 4:00 pm eastern bitcoin auction price on Wednesday January 17, 2018 established by Gemini who is partnering with Cboe Global Markets.  The bitcoin price at Gemini is close to $16,600 so I will use that for the underlying bitcoin price in this example. 

In traditional financial markets, derivatives are used as speculation objects as well as insurance against losses. The latter is known as hedging. One popular variety of derivatives used for hedging are called futures. A future is a contract between two parties in which one party agrees to pay the other a predetermined amount of money for an underlying asset at a specific point in time.
×