You may wonder: where do these contracts come from? We know on the spot market that bitcoins are being bought and sold for fiat, but how the heck are bitcoins being used to trade bitcoin futures contracts? Let's walk through a really simple example showing how an exchange functions when there's just a simple two traders who want to go long and short.
The Advisor, its principals, officers and employees (and members of their families) and affiliates may participate directly or indirectly as investors in the Advisor’s clients, such as the Funds. Thus the Advisor may recommend to clients the purchase or sale of securities in which it, or its officers, employees or related persons have a financial interest. The Advisor may give advice and take actions in the performance of its duties to its clients that differ from the advice given or the timing and nature of actions taken, with respect to other clients’ accounts and/or employees’ accounts that may invest in some of the same securities recommended to clients.
In February 2014 the world's largest bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, declared bankruptcy. The company stated that it had lost nearly $473 million of their customers' bitcoins likely due to theft. This was equivalent to approximately 750,000 bitcoins, or about 7% of all the bitcoins in existence. The price of a bitcoin fell from a high of about $1,160 in December to under $400 in February.
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Taking their prices from bitcoin futures, the swaps will not handle bitcoin directly. Seeing as Morgan Stanley is a regulated and established financial institution, tying the product to futures contracts is a safer bet than basing them on bitcoin’s spot price, as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Exchange offer fully-regulated bitcoin futures from which Morgan Stanley can pool pricing data.
An Authorized Participant may place an order to redeem Creation Units (i) through the Clearing Process, or (ii) outside the Clearing Process. In either case, a redemption order for a Fund must be received by the following cut-off times (which may be earlier if the relevant Exchange or any relevant bond market closes early). In all cases purchase/redeem procedures are at this discretion of the Advisor and may be changed without notice.
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.
For example, you can enter a Bitcoin futures contract with Mortimer Duke saying that you will sell him 1 BTC on March 30, 2018, for the price of 5,000 USD per BTC. (In the actual CME futures contracts, the limit for one contract is 5 BTC, but we will stick with 1 BTC now for the purposes of easy explanation.) You enter into this contract on an exchange like CME.
• 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.
A Parent Fund’s investment in its Subsidiary will potentially have the effect of accelerating the Fund’s recognition of income and causing its income to be treated as ordinary income, regardless of the character of such subsidiary’s income. If a net loss is realized by a Subsidiary, such loss is generally not available to offset the income earned by a Parent Fund. In addition, the net losses incurred during a taxable year by a Subsidiary cannot be carried forward by such Subsidiary to offset gains realized by it in subsequent taxable years. The Parent Funds will not receive any credit in respect of any non-U.S. tax borne by a Subsidiary.
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Below is a description of various types of money market instruments and other debt instruments that a Fund may utilize for investment purposes, as “cover” for other investment techniques such Fund employs, or for liquidity purposes. Other types of money market instruments and debt instruments may become available that are similar to those described below and in which the Funds also may invest consistent with their investment goals and policies. Each Fund may also invest in pooled investment vehicles that invest in, and themselves qualify as, money market instruments.
Each Fund may enter into reverse repurchase agreements as part of its investment strategy, which may be viewed as a form of borrowing. Reverse repurchase agreements involve sales by a Fund of portfolio assets for cash concurrently with an agreement by the Fund to repurchase those same assets at a later date at a fixed price. Generally, the effect of such a transaction is that a Fund can recover all or most of the cash invested in the portfolio securities involved during the term of the reverse repurchase agreement, while a Fund will be able to keep the interest income associated with those portfolio securities. Such transactions are advantageous only if the interest cost to a Fund of the reverse repurchase transaction is less than the cost of obtaining the cash otherwise. Opportunities to achieve this advantage may not always be available, and a Fund intends to use the reverse repurchase technique only when it will be to the Fund’s advantage to do so. A Fund will segregate with its custodian bank cash or liquid instruments equal in value to the Fund’s obligations with respect to reverse repurchase agreements.
Making money arbitraging bitcoin futures can be extremely simple. Futures contracts typically trade at a premium, and all you have to do, starting with USD, is buy bitcoin at Spot price and sell futures of the same amount at premium price. Then just wait until expiration to make your arb profit in bitcoin (which you can then put in USD). Whether it's a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or any futures contract, as long as it's in a premium, you lock in the sale price and earn the arbitrage profit.