March 24, 2017 BitMEX Morning Report

Currency 24 Hour Return Day High Day Low
Ripple (XRP)    + 39.574% 0.00001114 0.00000702
Factom (FCT)    + 12.257% 0.0037871 0.0032446
Bitcoin (XBC)     – 1.894% 7074.66 6878.34

Ripple (XRP) News:

Ripple Prices Surge to 4-Month High [CoinDesk]

To trade Ripple on BitMEX, please trade XRP7D

 

Factom (FCT) News:

Exodus Wallet Support in 8 Days [Reddit]

To trade Factom on BitMEX, please trade FCT7D

 

Bitcoin (XBC) News:

A Major Bitcoin Scaling Meeting Could Take Place This May [CoinDesk]

To trade Bitcoin / Yuan on BitMEX, please trade XBCH17 or XBCM17

New ETH, XMR and DASH Monthly Futures

On 24 March 2017 at 12:00 UTC, BitMEX will delist the following Altcoin weekly futures contracts: ETH7D, XMR7D and DASH7D. As their replacement, BitMEX will trial the following monthly futures contracts:

  • ETHJ17
  • XMRJ17
  • DASHJ17

These above contracts will settle on 28 April 2017 at 12:00 UTC on their respective 30 minute TWAP. All other specifications on the contracts remain the same.

Onwards and Upwards

“If you mess with the bull, You get the horns!”

A managing director on the sales trading desk at Deutsche Bank used to scream that out when the market ripped higher. Equities almost makes up for the lack of pay vs. fixed income by employing some of the most colourful characters.

What do you call Bitcoin sans China or an ETF approval? All Time High. Two of the most central bullish tenants have been removed, yet Bitcoin still trades above $1,200.

The next issue that could crater the price is the ongoing scaling debate. The Segwit vs. Bitcoin Unlimited civil war is spoken of not only where internet trolls hide, but also in mainstream financial news outlets such as Bloomberg. No matter, the price continues to slowly grind higher.

With the Mt. Gox all time high surpassed, we are in the beginning stages of a secular rally. This rally will completely re-rate the entire cryptocurrency complex. The Ether market cap is now over $2 billion. DASH continues to rip higher. Three cryptocurrencies with >$1 billion market caps would be something to behold. All hail Shitcoins.

What is encouraging about the 2017 Bitcoin rally is that realised volatility is muted. The above chart displays the 30 day realised volatility and the XBT/USD price. Volatility rose during the initial PBOC crackdown, but then continued to fall as the price surpassed $1,200.

For Bitcoin, this rally was calm. Traders are still in disbelief. While the price continues to crawl higher, haters keep hatin’ because of China, scaling, and or lack of legitimisation by regulators. While they wait, others get rich. As a result, the crack up boom (aka Fomo) phase has yet to begin.

Another encouraging sign is the relatively low basis level exhibited by futures contracts. During the first quarter, the BitMEX Bitcoin / USD 31 March 2017 Futures Contract, XBTH17, traded with a maximum outright basis of 10% – 13%.

During the 2013 bubble, the ICBIT March 2014 quarterly future, featuring only 3x leverage, traded at a 100% outright basis at the end of December 2013. Shortly thereafter, the price crashed below $1,000 then $800 then $600, and finally we entered a nuclear winter for two years.

The market has matured since then. However, the market fomo will manifest itself in a sky high basis for the soon to be listed 30 June 2017 futures contract, XBTM17. Basis even with constant selling pressure from cash and carry arbitrageurs, can and will go substantially high due to 100x leverage engjoyed by longs.

A sustained 30 day realised volatility over 100%, and elevated outright basis levels of over 30% on XBTM17, will provide clues during the second quarter as to whether Bitcoin’s run is nearing completion. As the intensity of price action accelerates, the next upside physiological barrier is $2,000.

No Means No

A retail Bitcoin ETF is proving as elusive as entrance into the Elysian fields. The SEC issued a scathing rebuke as to why they disapproved a Bats exchange rule change that would have allowed the COIN ETF to list. The reasons for denial given by the SEC display a fundamental problem with the market structure of Bitcoin.

After reading the document, it is clear that the SolidX and Greyscale ETF applications are destined for the dustbin as well. Changing the thought process of a regulatory body takes years. A US-listed Bitcoin ETF will not be forthcoming any time soon.

Bitcoin Exchanges and Trading Volume

The COIN ETF daily Net Asset Value is calculated using the daily Gemini Bitcoin auction price. To create and redeem units, Authorised Participants (AP) must trade in the auction.

The SEC’s major issue with the application was that the auction volume was insufficient to support trading.

From the SEC:

Moreover, self-reported statistics from the Gemini Exchange show that volume in the Gemini Exchange Auction is small relative to daily trading in bitcoin and to the number of bitcoin in a creation or redemption basket for the Trust. As of February 28, 2017, the average daily volume in the Gemini Exchange Auction, since its inception on September 21, 2016, has been 1195.72 bitcoins, compared to average daily worldwide volume of approximately 3.4 million bitcoins in the six months preceding February 28, 2017. Also, as of February 28, 2017, the median number of bitcoins traded in the Gemini Exchange Auction on a business day (when a creation or redemption request might be submitted to the Trust) has been just 1,061.99 bitcoins,129 barely larger than the 1,000 bitcoins in a creation or redemption basket.

Gemini’s volumes are so low they barely can transact one creation or redemption basket. Unable to obtain liquidity on Gemini, AP’s would be forced to transact on other exchanges. The location of these “other” exchanges gave the SEC pause.

US-based and regulated exchanges account for a relatively small percentage of global Bitcoin / USD spot trading volumes. The most liquid exchanges are based in Asia or Europe. Bitfinex, the largest Bitcoin / USD spot exchange by volume, is insolvent. These facts are troubling to the SEC.

The agency worries that the majority of trading volume occurs on “unregulated” (read: Non-US domiciled) exchanges and this could endanger ETF investors. The agency cited inadequate surveillance of the major trading centers.

Even though Gemini has a trust license and is overseen by the NYDFS, the SEC found that even Gemini’s exchange was not on par with national exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq in terms of trading rules and procedures.

From the SEC:

The Exchange represents that it has entered into a comprehensive surveillance-sharing agreement with the Gemini Exchange with respect to trading of the bitcoin asset underlying the Trust and that the Gemini Exchange is supervised by the NYSDFS. Additionally, the Exchange states in its comment letter that it “agrees that less liquid markets, such as the market for bitcoin, may be more manipulable, but believes that … such concerns are mitigated as it relates to the Shares of the Trust and trading activity on the Gemini Exchange.” As explained below, however, the Commission does not believe this surveillance-sharing agreement to be sufficient, because the Gemini Exchange conducts only a small fraction of the worldwide trading in bitcoin, and because the Gemini Exchange is not a “regulated market” comparable to a national securities exchange or to the futures exchanges that are associated with the underlying assets of the commodity-trust ETPs approved to date.

Next Steps

In order to be in the running again, an ETF sponsor must demonstrate how the proposed venue for the trading of physical Bitcoin is regulated on-par with large established exchanges such as the NYSE, and has a significant market share globally. That will be almost impossible.

If Bitcoin traders desired heavily regulated exchanges, they wouldn’t prefer trading on an insolvent exchange over one registered with various alphabet letter agencies. Many large Bitcoin traders trade Bitcoin expressly because the trading venues are less regulated. They believe the operators are allowed to focus more on the customer experience and provide exactly what traders desire instead of fluffing regulators.

The absence of margin or other leveraged trading products on heavily regulated US-based exchanges means they will forever play second fiddle to Asian and European exchanges. Given the “America is the best” mentality of its national regulators, convincing them to allow an asset whose price is set by the “shifty Chinese” (insert the international boogiemen of the year) is a tall order.

However, this is not a death sentence. The SEC and other organisations are puppets of the large vested financial players. At the point when Bitcoin is too large to ignore, and daily trading volumes are robust and healthy, the iShares, Vangaurd, and Spdr’s of the ETF fund management industry will sponsor a Bitcoin ETF.

These heavyweights only care about generating fees. The underlying asset is an afterthought. When Bitcoin is large enough to support a healthy AUM that generates large management fees, they will get behind Bitcoin.

Unfortunately the biggest problem with the Winklevoss’ application was their outsider status. The objections put forward by the SEC could easily apply to any number of currently listed ETFs. If the fund manager was one of the good ‘ole boys, the ETF would stand a chance of approval.

The Investors’ Exchange LLC (IEX) applied and was approved to be designated a National Exchange by the SEC. This was not an easy process. IEX, written about in the Michael Lewis’ book Flash Boys, aims to level the playing field by enacting policies that equalise trading between low and high latency traders. The HFT lobby went into overdrive to dissuade the SEC from approving the IEX application.

IEX gives retail investors a level playing field against HFT firms. Who doesn’t favor leveling the playing field for the grannies and grandpa’s. However, this was a very heated and drawn out approval process. The SEC did the right thing in the end, but the big boys brought out all the guns.

Imagine if the big boys wanted a Bitcoin ETF. They would get it.

SEC Ruling

Indefinite Detention

Hedge Fund Brother No. 1 Xu Xiang, pictured above, was once a high flying hedge fund manager who never lost. Then one day he was disappeared. He resurfaced months later, after being convicted of securities fraud and now sits in jail. Some feared Bitcoin exchange heads could face a similar fate; however, the PBOC showed mercy.

Another week, another “meeting” between the PBOC and the heads of large Bitcoin exchanges in China. Shortly after the meeting held on March 7th, the PBOC released a statement reiterating that they have the authority to shut down errant exchanges. A list of actionable offences surfaced a few days later via Caixin. [News.bitcoin.com]

The following activities are prohibited:

  1. Offering leverage and margin trades.
  2. Producing fake volume and manipulating the market using zero fees.
  3. Violating AML laws.
  4. Violating regulations on foreign currency management and cross-border capital transfer with bitcoin.
  5. Replacing fiat by using bitcoin to purchase goods.
  6. Tax Evasion.
  7. Engaging in false advertising or participating in Ponzi schemes.
  8. Providing financial services without a permit, including credit, securities, and futures trading.

After the “friendly” meeting, exchange after exchange announced an indefinite suspension of Bitcoin withdrawals. No further guidance was given as to when Bitcoin withdrawals would resume. The price sagged a bit, then shrugged off the news. By the end of last week, Bitcoin would hit fresh all time highs in USD terms.

Chinese regulators recognise that they cannot shut down the exchanges. Regarding said exchanges, one regulator noted:

If oversimplified measures such as closing them down were taken, [investors] will be led into the underground black market or OTC markets, which are more difficult to control. Therefore, it is necessary to explore the establishment of long-term regulatory mechanisms. [News.bitcoin.com]

The new strategy is to starve the weak, and regulate the strong. This strategy is classic China. The government lets an industry compete unimpeded for a time, then they pick the strongest companies and destroy the rest through denial of critical licenses or enforcement of opaque regulations.

By removing the elixir of leveraged and zero fee trading, only exchanges with diversified business lines will survive. Earnings from spot Bitcoin trading will only be significant for the largest of exchanges (BTCC, Huobi, and OKCoin). Exchanges not on that list, will most likely not exist in 2018.

All three of those exchanges either have mining operations, payment solutions, and or offshore derivatives trading markets. Once the weaklings fold, the PBOC will bless the large incumbents and subject them to rigorous monitoring.

Viewed on a longer time frame, the developments over the past three months are positive. One of the Damocles swords hovering over Bitcoin slowly is being removed. Bitcoin will not be “banned” by the regulators. They recognise the power of the underlying technology and are attempting to rationalise Bitcoin within existing goals for China’s monetary system.

PBOC Governor Zhou in a recent interview stated that China Bitcoin trading platforms are not exchanges but rather only “websites”.

If it (trading platform/website) is called an exchange, it is not allowed unless a relevant department of our country permits it. Many people regard bitcoin online trading platforms as exchanges. These are actually two different concepts. [News.bitcoin.com]

That is encouraging that the PBOC permits mere “websites” to accept deposits like banks, and offer the trading of currency like an exchange. There is a bright future for Bitcoin in China for those who can survive. The PBOC tacitly approves Chinese people trading Bitcoin.

The current purgatory will end once the PBOC right sizes the Yuan. Calm must be maintained up until the October National Congress. After October, Beijing will greenlight the PBOC to relieve the pressure and devalue. After a large devaluation, the PBOC can loosen capital controls because once the damage is done the desire to flee is lessened. At that time Bitcoin withdrawals will be re-enabled.

On Potential Post-Fork Contract Settlement

Traders,

Recently, we published A Statement on the Possible Bitcoin Unlimited Hard Fork, a statement of our views on the potential fork to Bitcoin Unlimited, its consequences, and further requirements we consider necessary for adoption.

Many have asked us about the settlement of our existing Bitcoin futures: the Bitcoin/USD series (XBT), the Bitcoin/CNY series (XBC), and the Bitcoin/JPY series (XBJ).

In the event of a fork in which both chains remain viable into the future and maintain double-digit percentages of the original Bitcoin hash rate (a “Contentious Fork“), we will take the following actions:

Contracts

  • As we predict the value of Bitcoin to then be split between BTC and BTU, currently-listed futures at the time of the fork will settle on the sum of BTC and BTU.
    • It may not be possible to predict or plan to get reliable pricing data from our current Index exchanges, or they may not list the minor coin at all. In the event of a Contentious Fork BitMEX reserves the right to move all Bitcoin derivatives to Last Price Protected Marking, until a stable index can be composed.
    • We will compose two indices representing the majority and minority chain, and the sum will be taken to compose the Mark and Settlement Prices. The indices will be separated in case not all component exchanges list the minority chain.
  • Contracts listed after the fork will settle on the BTC or the BTU price, but not both. Only contracts listed pre-fork will settle on the sum.
  • Perpetual swap contracts will be timed to switch underlying indices in tandem with a futures contract. Ample notice will be given. Like futures, the new index will reference only one chain.

Wallets

  • During the time immediately after the fork, BitMEX reserves the right to suspend withdrawals to avoid replay attacks and double-spending and account for the development effort required to accommodate a hard fork.
  • Users will be able to withdraw the minor currency, but not deposit it. We have no plans to support multiple margin currencies. Balances of the minor currency will be calculated via a snapshot at the time of the fork and maintained separately to major currency’s margin balance, as further mixing of the currencies thereafter could lead to improper attribution.

A Statement on the Possible Bitcoin Unlimited Hard Fork

As proposed in the multi-exchange hard-fork contingency plan, there is significant doubt that a Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) hard fork could be done safely without additional development work.

In the case of a fork, we support the plan as proposed by Bitfinex, Bitstamp, BTCC et al.

It will not be possible for any exchange, including BitMEX, to support both chains separately. For these reasons, BU will not be listed or used as a deposit/withdrawal currency until replay protection is implemented and BU is not at risk of a blockchain reorganization if the Core chain becomes longer.

If the BU fork does succeed, we intend to take every possible step to ensure the safety and integrity of customer deposits on both chains. As BitMEX does not offer margin lending, there is no concern about Bitcoin in active positions at the time of the fork.

Notice Regarding Bitcoin/USD Products (Index, Tick Size)

Bitcoin / USD 30 June 2017 Futures Contract

The BitMEX Bitcoin / USD 30 June 2017 Futures Contract (XBTM17) listed today, 17 March 2017 at 12:00 UTC. This contract is similar to XBTH17, but uses a new index, described below.

.BXBT: The New BitMEX Bitcoin / USD Index

.BXBT is an equally weighted index using the Bitcoin / USD spot price from the following exchanges:

  • Bitfinex
  • Bitstamp
  • GDAX
  • OKCoin International

XBTM17 uses the .BXBT index. Any exchange that is down or displays stale pricing data for 15 minutes or more will be removed temporarily from the index. Once the price feed is operational at least 5 minutes, we will reinstate the exchange.

A page detailing each constituents’ individual price and history will be live soon.

The BitMEX Bitcoin / USD 31 March 2017 Futures Contract, XBTH17, will continue to use the existing Bitcoin / USD Index (Symbol: .XBT; Weights: 50% Bitstamp, 50% OKCoin International) until it expires.

The BitMEX Bitcoin / USD Swap, XBTUSD, will continue to use the existing Bitcoin / USD Index (.XBT) until 31 March 2017 12:00 UTC. It will then switch to the new index. This is the same moment that XBTH17 expires.

Increase to Bitcoin / USD Products’ Tick Size

Also effective 31 March 2017 12:00 UTC, the tick size for Bitcoin/USD products (XBTUSD, XBTM17) will change from 0.01 USD to 0.1 USD.

Bitcoin Algo Trading and Market Making Seminar

BitMEX CEO, Arthur Hayes, will lead an interactive seminar on the basics of algo trading and market making in the Bitcoin markets.

Arthur will touch on API connectivity through the use of an example python trading bot. He will also talk about the basic principles of market making Bitcoin spot and derivatives.

Participants should bring a laptop, and visit this GitHub repository for the example trading bot.

Date: Wednesday 22 March 2017

Time: 7pm to 9pm

Location: The Hive, 23 Luard Rd, 21/F The Phoenix, Wanchai, Hong Kong

Cost: Free

Please RSVP on Eventbrite.

COIN ETF, Event Horizon

After the PBOC curtailed Bitcoin trading inside China, America reasserted itself as the most important price setting location. The SEC’s decision on a rule change that could allow the listing of the world’s first Bitcoin ETF is the most anticipated binary outcome of 2017. Traders will make and lose tremendous sums over the next few weeks.

ETF Approval

If the SEC approves the Bats rule change, all manner of American muppet retail investors can yolo into Bitcoin via a regulated ETF. The pool of eligible money that can easily obtain exposure to Bitcoin will dramatically rise. There are various predictions about the amount of money that could flow into Bitcoin. In short, it will be Yuge.

I expect the price to appreciate by at least 100% by the end of March. This is pure speculation as no actual cash will flow into Bitcoin until the ETF begins trading later this year. The price may go up well over 100% only to sharply correct as animal spirits are tamed.

Those wishing to play the initial pump should buy the BitMEX Bitcoin / USD 31 March 2017 futures contract, XBTH17. The nitty gritty of when and how the ETF will be launched may dampen enthusiasm in the medium term. A future that expires during the height of the fomo leaves the best chance for longs to be forced into closing at a profit.

Those bullish over the medium-term, should purchase the BitMEX Bitcoin / USD 30 June 2017 futures contract, XBTM17. XBTM17 will list Friday 17 March 2017. The basis or implied interest longs pay for three month exposure will open high and rise aggressively.

During the height of the December 2013 bubble, the ICBIT March 2014 futures contract traded at an outright 100% basis. By selling futures and buying spot, you would double your money in USD terms. ICBIT only featured 3x leverage at the time, imagine how high basis could go with 100x. XBTM17 basis could trade into 100’s of percentage points throughout the contract’s life.

The Deny

The number of reasons why the SEC should not list the ETF is as numerous as those in favor of an approval. A significant amount of traders have not drank the Jim Jones koolaid. The BitMEX COIN Prediction Futures Contract, COIN_BH17, places the probability at 50%.

China took a backseat in this first quarter rally due to the actions by the PBOC. Since Bitcoin withdrawals were shut in February, hope of an ETF approval became the bullish narrative.

After Bitcoin withdrawals ceased in China, the price fell below $1,000 and quickly recovered to the kilo mark (who isn’t in love with the CoCo). That is the baseline support level sans an ETF approval.

If the rule change is denied, the price will quickly test $1,000. Due to the underlying bullishness of the market, traders will BTFD. If not now, the general consensus is that one of the many ETF applications will be approved. The market will focus on the next application approval deadline for the SolidX or Greyscale ETF.

One Week Expected Value (EV)

Assuming a 50% probability of approval, traders must compute the EV of the looming decision.

(50% * 100% Price Appreciation) + (50% * -30% Price Depreciation) = +35% EV

The EV is positive, meaning it behooves traders to be net long Bitcoin into the decision.

BitMEX offers a complete Bitcoin / Fiat trading suite. The most liquid option is to buy the Bicoin / USD Swap, XBTUSD. Be early. The enthusiasm and hype surrounding the decision will only grow throughout the week. Every major financial paper is covering this event. I have never seen so much interest in a mundane exchange rule change before.

Hallelujah, Glory Be To Growth

Glory be to growth. Reality be damned, China will continue attempting to grow at unsustainable levels. That is the message from the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang given this Sunday during his Two Sessions speech. He decreed that annual GDP growth target is +6.5%, which is slightly lower than the recently reported growth of +6.7%, [ZH]

China is not alone in its adherence to the gospel of growth. Real growth can only be achieved by productivity and population gains. These two factors are very difficult to predict or command and control with success over a long period of time. Many have tried, all of have failed.

When in doubt, governments world-wide regardless of their economic “ism” resort to rampant money printing to goose up “growth” numbers. GDP measures of the flow of goods, it is a poor yardstick for the real health of an economy. With more money, more goods flow. Voila, growth!

China did miraculously transform itself over the last 30 years. However, recent growth is merely the result of aggressive money printing. The Party talks the talk about reining in credit growth; however, in practice they are impotent to stop it.

Xi Jinping is one of the most powerful Chinese leaders since Mao. However, even he cannot politically stop the expansion of bank credit. If he were confident in his ability to, he would proclaim a more realistic growth target.

Michael Pettis, professor at Peking University and former Bear Stearns bond trader, argues that real growth over the next 10 years cannot rise above 3% to 5% without a financial crisis. The financial crises is predicated on too much credit chasing too few positive yielding investments.

Beijing knows this. The PBOC continues to slay paper tigers by removing liquidity on hand, and increasing it in other ways. For Bitcoin traders, it means that one of the main drivers of global monetary policy will continue to act as they have done in the past.

Yuan liquidity and loans will continue to be provided to zombie state owned enterprises (SOE). The iron rice bowl must hold, or peasants will reassert their displeasure with immense wealth big city elites amassed by depressing wage growth and financially repressing savers.

Excessive Yuan liquidity will push up inflation. The escape valve will be a devaluation of the Renminbi. Premier Li implicitly confirmed that arguments I have been presenting for almost two years will continue to be relevant.

The Ides of March

The next “most important ever” Federal Reserve rate decision will ironically occur on the Ides of March. That is March 15th. Various Fed governors voiced support of a hike at the next meeting. Grandma Yellen in her recent speeches has done nothing to temper the rate hike talk.

Fed Funds futures price in an 80% chance of a March 0.25% rate hike. A rate hike would be devastating to China. [CME]

Beijing refuses to use political capital to put forward economic policies to rebalance growth. They refuse to drastically curtail banks’ issuance of credit. From Queen Victoria to Chairwoman Yellen, China is once again at the mercy of an old white lady.

The Fed rarely disappoints the market when traders price in a >75% probability of a rate hike. The S&P 500 is strong, and investors seem willing to ignore reality; case and point, the Snap IPO. The company’s expertise is losing money with style. Masochistic investors propelled the latest tech darling up over 50% from the IPO price.

The Fed has perfect rate hike cover. The amount of balance sheet pain the PBOC endures to save face internationally is unimaginable. Calm must remain before the October National Congress. The lack of a pressure releasing devaluation in the face of a market assured rate hike, means when it comes it will be enormous.

The Bitcoin angle is well known. USD up, CNY down, Bitcoin moon!