These days, all of the BTC/USD contracts trading at active futures markets are inverse, as mentioned in the beginning of this guide. The only differences between the exchanges is how they trigger liquidations and the procedure for handling margin calls. They all use Bitcoin as the currency, of course, and you can use the table below for a basic feature comparison:
Each Fund intends to distribute its net investment income and capital gains to shareholders at least annually to qualify for treatment as a RIC under the Code. Under current law, provided a Fund is not treated as a “personal holding company” for U.S. federal income tax purposes, the Fund is permitted to treat on its tax return as dividends paid the portion of redemption proceeds paid to redeeming shareholders that represents the redeeming shareholders’ portion of the Fund’s accumulated earnings and profits. This practice, called tax “equalization,” reduces the amount of income and/or gains that a Fund is required to distribute as dividends to non-redeeming shareholders. Tax equalization is not available to a Fund treated as a personal holding company. The amount of any undistributed income and/or gains is reflected in the value of a Fund’s Shares. The total return on a shareholder’s investment will generally not be reduced as a result of a Fund’s use of this practice.
• Tax Risk — In order to qualify for the special tax treatment accorded a regulated investment company (“RIC”) and its shareholders, the Fund must derive at least 90% of its gross income for each taxable year from “qualifying income,” meet certain asset diversification tests at the end of each taxable quarter, and meet annual distribution requirements. The Fund’s pursuit of its investment strategies will potentially be limited by the Fund’s intention to qualify for such treatment and could adversely affect the Fund’s ability to so qualify. The Fund can make certain investments, the treatment of which for these purposes is unclear. If, in any year, the Fund were to fail to qualify for the special tax treatment accorded a RIC and its
The Fund generally does not expect to invest directly in futures contracts, option contracts and swap agreements (“Bitcoin Instruments”). The Fund expects to gain exposure to these investments by investing a portion of its assets in the ProShares Cayman Bitcoin/Blockchain Strategy Portfolio, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Fund organized under the laws of the Cayman Islands (the “Subsidiary”). The Subsidiary is advised by ProShare Advisors, the Fund’s investment advisor, and invests directly in Bitcoin Instruments. Unlike the Fund, the Subsidiary is not an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). The Fund’s investment in the Subsidiary is intended to provide the Fund with exposure to commodity markets related to bitcoin in accordance with applicable rules and regulations. The Fund will invest up to 25% of its total assets in the Subsidiary. Except as otherwise noted, references to the Fund’s investment strategies and risks include the investment strategies and risks of the Subsidiary.
In June 2015, the New York Department of Financial Services (the “NYDFS”) finalized a rule that requires most businesses involved in digital currency business activity in or involving New York, excluding merchants and consumers, to apply for a license (“BitLicense”) from the NYDFS and to comply with anti-money laundering, cyber security, consumer protection, and financial and reporting requirements, among others. As an alternative to the BitLicense in New York, firms can apply for a charter to become limited purpose trust companies qualified to engage in digital currency business activity. Other states have considered regimes similar to the BitLicense, or have required digital currency businesses to register with their states as money transmitters, such as Washington and Georgia, which results in digital currency businesses being subject to requirements similar to those of NYDFS’ BitLicense regime. Certain state regulators, such as the Texas Department of Banking, Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, have found that mere transmission of bitcoin, without activities involving transmission of fiat currency, does not constitute money transmission requiring licensure. The North Carolina Commissioner of Banks has issued guidance providing that North Carolina’s money transmission regulations only apply to the transmission of digital currency and not its use. In June 2014, the State of California adopted legislation that would formally repeal laws that could be interpreted as making illegal the use of bitcoin or other digital assets as a means of payment. In July 2017, Delaware amended its General Corporation Law to provide for the creation maintenance of certain required records by blockchain technology and permit its use for electronic transmission of stockholder communications.
CORPORATE DEBT SECURITIES. Corporate debt securities are fixed income securities issued by businesses to finance their operations, although corporate debt instruments may also include bank loans to companies. Notes, bonds, debentures and commercial paper are the most common types of corporate debt securities, with the primary difference being their maturities and secured or unsecured status. Commercial paper has the shortest term and is usually unsecured. The broad category of corporate debt securities includes debt issued by domestic or foreign companies of all kinds, including those with small-, mid- and large-capitalizations. Corporate debt may be rated investment-grade or below investment-grade and may carry variable or floating rates of interest.
Collateralized mortgage obligations (“CMOs”) are debt obligations collateralized by mortgage loans or mortgage pass-through securities (collateral collectively hereinafter referred to as “Mortgage Assets”). Multi-class pass-through securities are interests in a trust composed of Mortgage Assets and all references in this section to CMOs include multi-class pass-through securities. Principal prepayments on the Mortgage Assets may cause the CMOs to be retired substantially earlier than their stated maturities or final distribution dates, resulting in a loss of all or part of the premium if any has been paid. Interest is paid or accrues on all classes of the CMOs on a monthly, quarterly or semi-annual basis. The principal and interest payments on the Mortgage Assets may be allocated among the various classes of CMOs in several ways. Typically, payments of principal, including any prepayments, on the underlying mortgages are applied to the classes in the order of their respective stated maturities or final distribution dates, so that no payment of principal is made on CMOs of a class until all CMOs of other classes having earlier stated maturities or final distribution dates have been paid in full.
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.
It is also possible that other digital currencies, typically referred to as “alt-coins”, and trading systems could become more widely accepted and used than Bitcoin. In particular, the digital asset “ethereum” has acquired a substantial share of the cryptocurrency market in recent months, which may be in part due to perceived institutional backing and/or potentially advantageous features not incorporated into bitcoin. There are other cryptocurrencies gaining momentum as the price of the bitcoin continues to rise and investors see the cheaper cryptocurrencies as attractive alternatives. The continued rise of these alt-coins can lead to a reduction in demand for bitcoin, which could have an adverse effect on the price of bitcoin and may have an adverse impact on the performance of Bitcoin Instruments and the performance of the Funds.
Unsponsored ADR programs are organized independently and without the cooperation of the issuer of the underlying securities. As a result, available information concerning the issuers may not be as current for unsponsored ADRs, and the price of unsponsored depositary receipts may be more volatile than if such instruments were sponsored by the issuer and/or there may be no correlation between available information and the market value.
• Theft, loss or destruction. Transacting on a blockchain depends in part specifically on the use of cryptographic keys that are required to access a user’s account (or “wallet”). The theft, loss or destruction of these keys impairs the value of ownership claims users have over the relevant assets being represented by the ledger (whether “smart contracts,” securities, currency or other digital assets). The theft, loss or destruction of private or public keys needed to transact on a blockchain could also adversely affect a blockchain company’s business or operations if it were dependent on the ledger.
Mortgage-backed securities are most commonly issued or guaranteed by GNMA, FNMA or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“FHLMC”), but may also be issued or guaranteed by other private issuers. GNMA is a government-owned corporation that is an agency of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It guarantees, with the full faith and credit of the United States, full and timely payment of all monthly principal and interest on its mortgage-backed securities. FNMA is a publicly owned, government-sponsored corporation that mostly packages mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, but also sells some non-governmentally backed mortgages. Pass-through securities issued by FNMA are guaranteed as to timely payment of principal and interest only by FNMA. The FHLMC is a publicly chartered agency that buys qualifying residential mortgages from lenders, re-packages them and provides certain guarantees. The corporation’s stock is owned by savings institutions across the United States and is held in trust by the Federal Home Loan Bank System. Pass-through securities issued by the FHLMC are guaranteed as to timely payment of principal and interest only by the FHLMC.
It is expected that each Subsidiary will neither be subject to taxation on its net income in the same manner as a corporation formed in the United States nor subject to branch profits tax on the income and gain derived from its activities in the United States. A foreign corporation will generally not be subject to such taxation unless it is engaged in or is treated as engaged in a U.S. trade or business. Each Subsidiary expects to operate in a manner such that it is not so engaged or so treated.
A Precautionary Note Regarding Unusual Circumstances — ProShares Trust can postpone payment of redemption proceeds for any period during which (1) [the Exchange] is closed other than customary weekend and holiday closings, (2) trading on [the Exchange] is restricted, (3) any emergency circumstances exist, as determined by the SEC, and (4) the SEC by order permits for the protection of shareholders of the Fund, as further described in the SAI.
• A new competing digital asset may pose a challenge to bitcoin’s current market dominance, resulting in a reduction in demand for bitcoin, which could have a negative impact on the price of bitcoin. It is possible that other digital currencies and trading systems could become more widely accepted and used than Bitcoin. The rise of such currencies could lead to a reduction in demand for bitcoin, which could have a negative impact on the price of bitcoin.
If the Fund holds the foregoing kinds of securities, it may be required to pay out as an income distribution each year an amount which is greater than the total amount of cash interest the Fund actually received. Such distributions may be made from the cash assets of the Fund or, if necessary, by disposition of portfolio securities including at a time when it may not be advantageous to do so. These dispositions may cause the Fund to realize higher amounts of short-term capital gains (generally taxed to shareholders at ordinary income tax rates) and, in the event the Fund realizes net capital gains from such transactions, its shareholders may receive a larger Capital Gain Dividend than if the Fund had not held such securities.
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.