The Custodian is responsible for safeguarding the Funds’ cash and securities, receiving and delivering securities, collecting the Funds’ interest and dividends, and performing certain administrative duties, all as directed by authorized persons. The Custodian is also responsible for the appointment and oversight of any sub-custodian banks and for providing reports regarding such sub-custodian banks and clearing agencies.
If a shareholder is eligible for the benefits of a tax treaty, any effectively connected income or gain will generally be subject to U.S. federal income tax on a net basis only if it is also attributable to a permanent establishment maintained by the shareholder in the United States. More generally, foreign shareholders who are residents in a country with an income tax treaty with the United States may obtain different tax results than those described herein, and are urged to consult their tax advisors.
Bitcoin futures contracts are a new type of futures contract that began trading in December 2017. Unlike the established futures markets for traditional physical commodities, the market for bitcoin futures contracts is in the developmental stage and has very limited volume, trading and operational history. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a new and developing asset class subject to both developmental and regulatory uncertainty. Ownership of bitcoin is thought to be very concentrated and the supply and liquidity of bitcoin is limited. The price of bitcoin could drop precipitously for a variety of reasons including but not limited to regulatory changes, a crisis of confidence in the bitcoin network or a change in user preference to competing cryptocurrencies. As such, bitcoin futures contracts and the market for bitcoin futures contracts may be riskier, less liquid, more volatile and more vulnerable to economic, market, industry, regulatory and other changes than more established futures contracts and futures markets. There is no assurance that a liquid market will emerge or be sustained for bitcoin futures contracts. The liquidity of the market for bitcoin futures contracts will depend on, among other things, the supply and demand for bitcoin futures contracts, the adoption of bitcoin and the commercial and speculative interest in the market for bitcoin futures contracts. The price of bitcoin has been subject to periods of sudden and high volatility and, as a result, the price of bitcoin futures contracts also may experience periods of sudden and high volatility. Margin requirements for bitcoin futures contracts currently are, and may continue to be, materially higher than the typical margin requirements for more established types of futures contracts. Each of these factors could have a negative impact on the performance of the Fund and the market for Fund shares.
Always pay attention to Bitcoin. Most altcoins (every cryptocurrency except Bitcoin) are pegged more closely to Bitcoin than Asian currencies were to the USD during the Asian Financial Crisis. If Bitcoin price pump drastically, altcoins price can go down as people try to exit altcoins to ride the BTC profits; inversely, if Bitcoin prices dump drastically, altcoin prices can go down, too, as people exit altcoins to exchange back into fiat. The best times for altcoin growth appear when Bitcoin shows organic growth or decline, or remains stagnant in price.
Louis M. Mayberg, President of ProShare Advisors from inception to April 2012 and ProFund Advisors LLC from April 1997 to April 2012. Mr. Mayberg co-founded National Capital Companies, L.L.C., an investment bank specializing in financial services companies mergers and acquisitions and equity underwritings in 1986, and managed its financial services hedge fund. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in Finance from The George Washington University.
In May 2018 Bitcoin Gold (and two other cryptocurrencies) were hit by a successful 51% hashing attack by an unknown actor, in which exchanges lost estimated $18m. In June 2018, Korean exchange Coinrail was hacked, losing US$37 million worth of altcoin. Fear surrounding the hack was blamed for a $42 billion cryptocurrency market selloff. On 9 July 2018 the exchange Bancor had $23.5 million in cryptocurrency stolen.
The regulation of bitcoin, digital assets and related products and services continues to evolve. The inconsistent and sometimes conflicting regulatory landscape may make it more difficult for bitcoin businesses to provide services, which may impede the growth of the bitcoin economy and have an adverse effect on consumer adoption of bitcoin. There is a possibility of future regulatory change altering, perhaps to a material extent, the nature of an investment in the Funds or the ability of the Funds to continue to operate. Additionally, to the extent that bitcoin itself is determined to be a security, commodity future or other regulated asset, or to the extent that a United States or foreign government or quasi-governmental agency exerts regulatory authority over the Bitcoin Network, bitcoin trading or ownership in bitcoin, the price of bitcoin and the value of the Bitcoin Instruments may be adversely affected, which may have an adverse effect on the value of your investment in the Funds. In sum, bitcoin regulation takes many different forms and will, therefore, impact bitcoin and its usage in a variety of manners. The European Union has recently agreed to rules designed to reduce anonymity of bitcoin transactions, which may impact the supply and demand for bitcoin and bitcoin futures contracts.
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.
• 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.
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.
Example: spot BTC/USD is $500. A weekly futures contract expires in 7 days. What should it be trading at? Using a 5% APY USD rate and a 1% BTC rate, you borrow $500, invest in 1 BTC. 7 days later, you will have paid $0.48 in USD interest, and earned 0.0002 BTC ($0.10 at current spot price). A reasonable price for the futures contract would be somewhere more than $0.38 (the difference between the $0.48 interest paid $0.10 expected interest received) above spot price. This is because you would be able to lock in the sale of the 1 BTC that is being invested at a higher price. You know you have to pay back $500 plus interest, and you earn a little interest on the bitcoin, so any futures contract trading significantly above that $0.38 deficit in the spot play would give you a great arbitrage opportunity:
Hey Jhon, I haven’t found a crypto yet that is really related to my hobbies – Crossfit and backpacking – but I would actually advise steering clear of investing in things linked too closely to what you’re passionate about; whilst insider knowledge of an industry is really valuable, it’s important to trade without emotion and if your trading a coin that is linked to a great love of yours, that becomes harder.
The Fund may invest in stocks of large-cap companies. Although returns on investments in large-cap companies are often perceived as being less volatile than the returns of companies with smaller market capitalizations, the return on large-cap securities could trail the returns on investments in smaller and mid-sized companies for a number of reasons. For example, large-cap companies may be unable to respond quickly to new competitive challenges, such as changes in technology, and also may not be able to attain the high growth rate of successful smaller companies.
As of February 2018, the Chinese Government halted trading of virtual currency, banned initial coin offerings and shut down mining. Some Chinese miners have since relocated to Canada. One company is operating data centers for mining operations at Canadian oil and gas field sites, due to low gas prices. In June 2018, Hydro Quebec proposed to the provincial government to allocate 500 MW to crypto companies for mining. According to a February 2018 report from Fortune, Iceland has become a haven for cryptocurrency miners in part because of its cheap electricity. Prices are contained because nearly all of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources, prompting more mining companies to consider opening operations in Iceland. The region’s energy company says bitcoin mining is becoming so popular that the country will likely use more electricity to mine coins than power homes in 2018. In October 2018 Russia will become home to one of the largest legal mining operations in the world, located in Siberia. More than 1.5 million Russians are engaged in home mining. Russia’s energy resources and climate provide some of the best conditions for crypto mining.
Upon a sale, exchange or other disposition of shares of a Fund, a shareholder will generally realize a taxable gain or loss depending upon his or her basis in the shares. A gain or loss will be treated as capital gain or loss if the shares are capital assets in the shareholder’s hands, and generally will be long-term or short-term capital gain or loss depending upon the shareholder’s holding period for the shares. Any loss realized on a sale, exchange or other disposition will be disallowed to the extent the shares disposed of are replaced (including through reinvestment of dividends) within a period of 61 days beginning 30 days before and ending 30 days after the shares are disposed of. In such a case, the basis of the shares acquired will be adjusted to reflect the disallowed loss. Any loss realized by a shareholder on the disposition of a Fund’s Shares held by the shareholder for six months or less will be treated for tax purposes as a long-term capital loss to the extent of any distributions of Capital Gain Dividends received or treated as having been received by the shareholder with respect to such shares.
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):
Never put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify. While the potential to earn more is increased with the amount of money you invest into a coin, the potential to lose more is also magnified. Another way to think about it is to look at the cryptocurrency market as a whole; if you believe that this is just the beginning, then more than likely the entire market cap of cryptocurrencies will increase. What are the chances that this market cap increase will be entirely driven by one coin vs. being driven by many coins? The best way to safely capture the overall growth of cryptocurrency is to diversify and reap the benefits of growth from multiple coins. Also, fun fact — Between January 2016 and January 2018, Corgicoin has increased by 60,000x, and Verge has increased by 13,000x. During the same period, Bitcoin has increased by 34x. While you would have gotten impressive gains from Bitcoin, expanding into other coins could have landed you potentially larger ones.
• Active Management Risk — The performance of actively managed funds reflects, in part, the ability of ProShare Advisors to select investments and make investment decisions that are suited to achieving the Fund’s investment objective. ProShare Advisors’ judgments about the Fund’s investments may prove to be incorrect. If the investments selected and strategies employed by ProShares Advisors fail to produce the intended results, the Fund may not achieve its investment objective and could underperform other funds with a similar investment objective and/or strategies.
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.