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.
As discussed in more detail below, FATCA (as defined below) generally imposes a reporting and 30% withholding tax regime with respect to certain U.S.-source income (“withholdable payments”) paid to “foreign financial institutions” and certain other non-U.S. entities when those entities fail to satisfy the applicable account documentation, information reporting, withholding, registration, certification and/or other requirements applicable to their status under FATCA. A Subsidiary will be subject to the 30% withholding tax in respect of any withholdable payment it receives if it fails to satisfy these requirements, as may be applicable to the Subsidiary. Each Subsidiary expects to satisfy these requirements, as may be applicable to it, so as to avoid this additional 30% withholding. See “Certain Additional Reporting and Withholding Requirements” below for more discussion of these rules.
The Trust has entered into an agreement with Foreside Management Services, LLC (“Foreside”), pursuant to which Foreside provides the Trust with the services of an individual to serve as the Trust’s Principal Financial Officer and Treasurer. Neither Foreside nor the Treasurer have a role in determining the investment policies of the Trust or Funds, or which securities are to be purchased or sold by the Trust or a Fund. The Trust pays Foreside an annual flat fee of $100,000 per year and an additional annual flat fee of $3,500 per Fund, and will reimburse Foreside for certain out-of-pocket expenses incurred by Foreside in providing services to the Trust. For the fiscal years ended May 31, 2015, May 31, 2016 and May 31, 2017, the Trust paid $533,544, $533,860, and $481,869, respectively, to Foreside for services pursuant to its agreement. Foreside is located at Three Canal Plaza, Suite 100, Portland, ME 04101.
There are also tax risks associated with investments in MLPs. While there are benefits to MLPs that are treated as partnerships for federal income tax purposes, a change to current tax law or in the underlying business of a given MLP could result in the MLP being treated as a corporation for federal income tax purposes. If the MLP were treated as a corporation, the MLP would be required to pay federal income tax on its taxable income, which would reduce the amount of cash available for distribution by the MLP. In addition, because MLPs generally conduct business in multiple states, the Fund may be subject to income or franchise tax in each of the states in which the partnership does business. The additional cost of preparing and filing the tax returns and paying related taxes may adversely impact the Fund’s return.
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.
DTC may determine to discontinue providing its service with respect to Shares at any time by giving reasonable notice to the Trust and discharging its responsibilities with respect thereto under applicable law. Under such circumstances, the Trust shall take action either to find a replacement for DTC to perform its functions at a comparable cost or, if such a replacement is unavailable, to issue and deliver printed certificates representing ownership of Shares, unless the Trust makes other arrangements with respect thereto satisfactory to the Exchange. In addition, certain brokers may make a dividend reinvestment service available to their clients. Brokers offering such services may require investors to adhere to specific procedures and timetables in order to participate. Investors interested in such a service should contact their broker for availability and other necessary details.
Look, you and I are sophisticated, and we get that "bitcoin's price increase is deflationary and makes it a bad currency" is not a good argument against bitcoin, because "bitcoin is a bad currency" is not a good argument against bitcoin. (People keep making it though.) Bitcoin's value proposition -- much like that of gold -- is that it is an uncorrelated store of value, not that it is useful for buying a sandwich. But at the same time you have to watch out for business models that are based on the casual assumption that bitcoin works just like a currency. "Cryptocurrency-financed warehouse lending" has the word "cryptocurrency" in it, so it's worth billions of dollars, but I'm not sure it works as a business model.
Portfolio managers are generally responsible for multiple investment company accounts. As described below, certain inherent conflicts of interest arise from the fact that a portfolio manager has responsibility for multiple accounts, including conflicts relating to the allocation of investment opportunities. Listed below for each portfolio manager are the number and type of accounts managed or overseen by such portfolio manager as of May 31, 2017.
• Lack of regulation. Digital commodities and their associated platforms are largely unregulated, and the regulatory environment is rapidly evolving. As a result, blockchain companies may be exposed to adverse regulatory action, fraudulent activity or even failure. Blockchain companies may face political or legal challenges from competitors, industry groups or local and national governments. New regulations may have a negative impact on blockchain technology and blockchain technology companies.
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):
But… it's also possible that the institutional investors that are negative on bitcoin's prospects (and there's no shortage of those) may use the futures markets to put money behind their conviction. It's much easier to sell a futures contract with a lower-than-market price than it is to actually short bitcoin. These investors may well send signals to the actual bitcoin market that sends prices tumbling.
There's a lot of ins and outs which can get confusing in arbitrage trading. We won't go into the technicals of why futures contracts trade at a premium to spot price. You can read a full explanation here. If it's not of interest to you, all you need to know is that there's a tendency, the further out in time the futures contract expires, for the premium to spot to be higher and higher in nominal percentage terms.