凸性——几乎致命

自 BitMEX 于 2014 年 11 月 24 日推出以来,加密货币衍生品交易出现了爆炸式的增长。 我曾试图吸引各种风险投资公司,说服他们相信衍生品交易的未来愿景,但都徒劳无功。 尽管那时他们没有伸出援手,但是在 2019 年的现在回首过去,我对曾有过那段失败的经历感到很欣慰。
 
不管是 BitMEX 的比特币/美元永续掉期合约还是 OKEx 或者 Deribit 上的其他几种合约都是同出一辙。这些合约都能使您可以交易固定金额的比特币。我们称这些为反向衍生品合约。许多大师级交易者听过我详细讲述这种合约结构微妙但深刻的含义。 不过,由于现在出现许多新交易者尝试进行衍生品交易,因此有必要复习课程。
 
和大家想的不一样,当我看到 BitMEX 上出现疯狂爆仓时,我并没有那么开心。 因为我目光长远。 我希望您享受一个能够赚取利润并一直支付 BitMEX 交易费用的长期交易生涯,而不是被强平然后亏掉本金。 因此,充分教育我们的交易者什么是最佳的交易行为,对我以及 BitMEX 都是最好的。

我爱我们的交易者,但是当听到人们在被强平依然欢笑时,却让我非常难堪。 真正的交易者会实行适当的风险管理,这意味着永远不会被强平。
 
失败乃成功之母
 
凸性或 gamma 是合约价值相对于价格的二阶导数。 正确使用凸性可以增加投资组合的回报。 但是,如果您不理解凸性如何影响您交易的衍生品,您将反复被爆。
 
对于反向合约,保证金和本币使用相同货币。在这篇文章中,我会使用比特币/美元合约作演示。
 
本币: XBT(比特币)
外币: 美元
保证金货币: 比特币
美元价值: 1 美元
比特币价值: 1 美元/价格(比特币/美元汇率或 .BXBT 指数)
 
我将详细说明多头 100,000 张合约持仓的比特币风险敞口相对于价格( .BXBT 指数)如何发生变化。

首先,让我们看看多头。不管在牛市还是熊市,他们更多可能是投机者。这样说的原因是,做多比特币和做空比特币所能获得的收益是不对称的。 比特币可以上涨至无穷大,但下跌至多只能到零。 从股本回报率的角度来看,最好是在底部做多,然后在顶部做空。 那些在以太坊低于 100 美元买入的人感受最为深切。因为可以在保证金基础上运用杠杆,所以在大多数的市场环境中多头主要都是投机者。

第一个图表显示比特币的盈亏状况和曲率。直线代表线性合约所能获得的盈亏 %,而曲线代表反向合约持仓所能获得的盈亏 % 。您马上可以注意到,当市场下跌时您将损失更多资金,而当市场上升时赚得更少。 在这种不理想的情况下,你需要增加 XBT 保证金。 因此,您的保证金要求以非线性方式增加,这就是多头在市场下跌时迅速爆仓的原因。 

现在让我们来看看空头。不管在牛市还是熊市,他们更多可能是对冲者和做市商。 在这两种情况下,这些市场参与者都希望锁定比特币的美元价值。 通过反向合约,持有实物比特币加上等值的空头比特币/美元持仓形成了合成美元持仓。 如果 100% 的实物比特币在 BitMEX 以全仓进行对冲,您是不会被强平。

与多头不同,空头受益于正比特币凸性。随著价格下跌,空头获得越来越多比特币,而随着价格的上涨,空头损失也越来越少。

从这两个例子中可以看出,多头投机者在下跌过程中会更快地被强平。 这就解释了为什么现在在这些衍生品主导的市场中砸盘比拉盘更加极端,并且只要反向式衍生品仍然主导加密货币衍生品市场,这种情况将继续。

无论价格如何,芝商所合约的比特币风险敞口都是固定的,而美元风险敞口与价格呈线性关系。 虽然这对美元本位的投资者来说非常有利,但对于那些对冲其风险敞口的人来说,这会成为问题。为对冲芝商所持仓而购买的比特币不能用作芝商所的抵押品。这给持有实物比特币的对冲者,以及必须将宝贵的资本分散在不能交叉抵押衍生品和现货市场的做市商带来了一些挑战。

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BitMEX (www.bitmex.com)

Convexity: Rektum? Damn Near Killed ‘Em

Since BitMEX launched on 24 November 2014, cryptocurrency derivatives trading exploded. I tried in vain to seduce various venture capital firms with the vision of the future that was all about derivatives trading. At that time, succour was not forthcoming; however, I could not be more pleased with my failures now standing in 2019.
 
The BitMEX XBTUSD perpetual swap and various other contracts traded on OKEx and Deribit are of the same ilk. These contracts all allow you to trade a fixed USD amount of Bitcoin. We call these inverse derivatives contracts. Many OG traders have heard me speak at length about the subtle yet profound implications of this contract structure. However, as many new traders now try their hand at derivatives trading, a refresher course is necessitated.
 
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t delight when I see the BitMEX Rekt twitter feed going bananas. I’m long-term greedy. I would rather you enjoy a long trading career earning a profit and paying BitMEX trading fees along the way, than blow up your equity capital during a liquidation. Therefore, it is in mine and BitMEX’s best interest that our traders are sufficiently educated about best trading practices.
 
I love our traders, but when I hear people smile and laugh about getting liquidated it makes me cringe. A real trader practices proper risk management, and that means never being liquidated.
 
You Gotta Go Down, To Go Up
 
Convexity or gamma is the second derivative of a contract’s value with respect to price. Used correctly convexity can supercharge your portfolio’s returns. However, if you do not understand how convexity affects a derivative you trade, you will get rekt repeatedly.
 
With inverse contracts, the margin currency is the same as the home currency. I will use the XBTUSD contract throughout this post.
 
Home Currency: XBT (Bitcoin)
Foreign Currency: USD
Margin Currency: XBT
USD Value: 1 USD
XBT Value: 1 USD / Price (XBT/USD exchange rate or .BXBT index)
 
I will dwell on how the XBT exposure of a long 100,000 contract position changes with respect to the price (.BXBT Index).

First, let’s look at the long side. In bull and bear markets, these will most likely be speculators. This makes sense because being long Bitcoin offers asymmetric returns. Bitcoin can rise to infinity, but can only fall zero. It is better from a return on equity perspective to go long the bottom, then go short the top. Those who picked up ETH below $100 know this acutely. Therefore, coupled with leverage, on the margin, longs in most market environments will be predominately speculators.

The first chart shows XBT PNL profile and curvature. The straight line is the PNL %  return if the contract moved in a linear fashion, the curved line is the long inverse contract position’s PNL % return. What you immediately notice is that you will lose more money when the market falls, and make less money as the market rises. This is suboptimal as you must post margin in XBT. Thus, your margin requirements increase in a non-linear fashion, and this is why longs get rekt quickly in a falling market. 

Now let’s examine the short side.  In bull and bear markets, these will most likely be hedgers and market makers. In both cases, these market participants want to lock in the USD value of Bitcoin. With inverse contracts, a long physical Bitcoin position coupled with an equivalent short XBTUSD position creates a synthetic USD position. If 100% of the physical Bitcoin is placed at cross-margin with BitMEX, you cannot be liquidated.

Unlike the long side, shorts benefit from positive XBT convexity. Shorts make more and more XBT as the price falls, and lose less and less as the price rises.

The take away from these two examples is that long speculators will be liquidated faster on the way down. This explains why dumps in these derivatives dominated markets are now more extreme than pumps and will continue so long as inverse style derivatives dominate the cryptocurrency derivatives markets.

The CME contract has a fixed XBT exposure regardless of the price, and the USD exposure varies linearly with respect to price. While this is great for USD benchmarked investors, it becomes problematic for those hedging their exposure. Bitcoin purchased to hedge a short CME position cannot be used as collateral with the CME. This presents some challenges for hedgers who hold physical Bitcoin, and market makers who must divide precious capital between derivatives and spot markets with no cross-collateral relief.



 

볼록성: 청산을 방지하는 방법

2014년 11월 24일 비트멕스가 출시된 이래 암호화폐 파생상품 거래가 기하급수적으로 증가했습니다. 저희는 파생상품 거래에 관한 미래 비전을 가지고 다양한 벤처 캐피탈 회사들을 접촉했지만 허사였습니다. 그 당시에는 지원이 준비되어 있지 않았습니다; 그러나 저희는 2019년에 겪은 실패에 대해 더할 나위 없이 기쁩니다.
 
비트멕스의 비트코인 무기한 스왑 계약과 OKEx 및 Deribit에서 거래되는 다양한 기타 계약들은 동일한 유형입니다. 이러한 계약들을 통해 일정 미화 금액의 비트코인을 거래할 수 있습니다. 저희는 이를 역 파생상품 계약으로 부르고 있습니다. 많은 본래의 암호화폐 거래자들은 제가 본 계약 구조의 미묘하면서도 심오한 의미에 대해 이야기하는 것을 본 적이 있습니다. 그러나 많은 신규 거래자들이 이제 파생상품 거래를 시도하기 때문에 이와 관련한 재교육 과정이 필요합니다.
 
일반적인 통념과는 달리 저희는 비트멕스 Rekt 트위터 피드 (블로그의 글을 트위터로 자동 전송해주는 기능)가 큰 소란을 일으킬 때 반갑지 않습니다. 저희는 장기적인 입장으로 욕심을 부리고자 합니다. 저희는 차라리 장기간의 거래 경험을 통해 수익을 얻으면서 비트멕스의 거래 수수료를 지불하는 편이 청산 절차가 진행되는 중에 자기 자본을 잃는 것보다 낫다고 믿습니다. 따라서 당사의 거래자들이 모범 거래 관행에 관한 충분한 교육을 받을 수 있도록 하는 것이 저희의 가장 큰 관심사입니다.
 
저희는 모든 거래자들을 소중하게 여기고 있지만, 사람들이 청산이 이루어지는 것에 대해 웃음거리로 만든다고 할 때 당혹스럽기 그지 없습니다. 진정한 거래자는 적절한 위험 관리를 실천하며 이는 결코 청산되지 않는다는 것을 의미합니다.
 
위로 더 도약하기 위해서는 아래로 내려갈 줄도 알아야 합니다
 
볼록성 혹은 감마는 가격과 관련하여 계약 가치의 두 번째 파생상품입니다. 이는 올바르게 사용되면 포트폴리오의 수익을 극대화할 수 있습니다. 그러나 만일 거래하고 있는 파생상품에 볼록성이 어떻게 영향을 미치는지 이해하지 못하는 경우, 반복적으로 청산을 당할 수 있습니다.


역형 계약의 경우 마진 통화는 자국 통화와 동일합니다. 저희는 본 기사 전체에 XBTUSD 상품을 표시할 예정입니다.
 
자국 통화: XBT (비트코인)
외국 통화: USD (미화 달러)
마진 통화: XBT
미화 달러 가치: 1 미화 달러
XBT 가치: 1 USD / 가격 (비트코인/미화 환율 혹은 .BXBT 지수)
 
저희는 가격 (.BXBT 지수)과 관련하여 10만개 수량의 공매수 포지션이 어떻게 변화하는지 살펴 볼 예정입니다.

먼저 공매수 포지션 측을 살펴보도록 하겠습니다. 상승장과 하락장에서 이들은 대부분 투기자가 될 가능성이 높습니다. 이는 공매수 포지션의 비트코인이 비대칭적인 수익을 제공하기 때문에 이치에 맞습니다. 비트코인은 무한대로 상승할 수 있지만 0으로 하락할 수 밖에 없습니다. 자기 자본의 수익률 관점에서 볼 때, 시장의 밑바닥에서 공매수 포지션을 취한 후 시장의 꼭대기에서 공매도 포지션을 취하는 편이 낫습니다. 이더리움을 100달러 이하에서 매수한 거래자들은 이에 대해 절실히 인지하고 있습니다. 따라서 레버리지를 사용하여 증거금으로 공매수 포지션 취한 거래자들은 대부분의 시장 환경에서 주로 투기자로 남을 것입니다.

첫 번째 도표는 비트코인 수익 및 손실에 대한 개요와 곡률을 보여줍니다. 직선은 계약이 선형으로 이동된 경우에 따른 수익률이며 곡선은 공매수 역방향 계약 포지션의 수익률입니다. 이로 인해 여러분은 시장이 하락할 때 더 많은 돈을 잃고 시장이 상승함에 따라 더 적은 돈을 벌게 된다는 사실을 즉시 알 수 있습니다. 이는 비트코인에 마진을 게시해야 되므로 차선책에 불과합니다. 따라서 증거금 요건은 비선형적으로 증가하며 이는 하락장에서 공매수 포지션이 빠르게 청산되는 이유입니다.

이제 공매도 포지션 측을 살펴보도록 하겠습니다. 상승장과 하락장에서 이들은 위험 회피자와 시장 조성자가 될 가능성이 높습니다. 두 경우 모두 이러한 시장 참여자들은 비트코인의 미화 가치를 고정시키고자 합니다. 역방향 계약의 경우, 동등한 XBTUSD 상품의 공매도 포지션과 결합된 실물 기반의 공매수 비트코인 포지션은 통합된 미화 가치를 생성합니다. 실물 비트코인의 100%가 비트멕스의 교차 마진에 투자되는 경우 청산이 불가합니다.

공매수 포지션 측과 달리 공매도 포지션 측은 양수의 비트코인 볼록성에서 이점을 얻습니다. 공매도 포지션은 가격이 하락함에 따라 점점 더 많은 비트코인 수익을 얻고 가격이 상승함에 따라 점점 더 적은 손실을 입습니다.

이 두 가지 예에서 시사하는 바는 공매수 포지션의 투기자들이 하락장에서 더 빨리 청산될 것이라는 점입니다. 이는 왜 파생상품이 지배하는 시장에서 투매는 매집보다 더 극단적이며, 역방향 파생상품이 암호화폐 파생상품 시장을 지배하고 있는 한 지속될 이유를 설명해 줍니다.

시카고 상품거래소의 계약은 가격에 관계없이 고정된 비트코인 수량을 공개하고 있으며 미화 달러 공개는 가격에 따라 선형적으로 변화합니다. 이는 미화 달러화를 벤치마킹하는 투자자들에게 이로울 수 있는 반면, 노출을 회피하려는 사람들에게는 문제가 될 수 있습니다. CME 계약의 공매도 포지션을 헤지 (위험 분산)하기 위해 매수된 비트코인은 담보로 사용될 수 없습니다. 이는 실물 비트코인을 보유한 위험 회피자들과 상호 담보적인 구제 없이 파생상품과 현물 시장 사이에 귀중한 자본을 나눠야 하는 시장 조성자들에게 해결해야 할 몇 가지 과제를 제시합니다.

The Road to $10K

Did you take your losses like a champ, or bottom tick the market with your market close order? The first quarter of 2019 witnessed depressed volumes, volatility, and price. The local lows of late 2018 have not been retested; however the market chop makes me feel like I’m at the Saudi embassy.

The repair of crypto investors balance sheets is not done yet. Losses must be digested, and the unlucky masses must wage cuck a bit longer to get back in the game.

All is not lost; nothing goes up or down in a straight line. 2019 will be boring, but green shoots will appear towards year end. The mighty central bank printing presses paused for a while, but economic sophists could not resist the siren call of free money. They are busy inventing the academic crutches (here’s looking at your MMT), to justify the next global money printing orgy.

Do not despair. CRipple is still worth more than zero. And Justin Sun’s new age religion TRON, paired with the Pope CZ, tells us there are those still willing to eat shitcoins with a smile.

Electric Cars and Sand Schmucks

While Bitcoin is an innovative technology, the technical merits of the protocol do not exist in a vacuum. The world’s monetary situation is very important. It determines how willing investors are able to suspend disbelief and believe crypto fan boys and girls.

Throughout 2018 the omnipotent Fed began reducing the size of its balance sheet and raising short term interest rates. The world still beats to the tune of the USD. Financial institutions and governments require cheap dollars, and the Fed happily obliged since the 2008 GFC.

Tech VC funds won’t admit it, but cheap dollars are key to their business. How else can you convince LPs to continually fund negative gross margin businesses, until they “scale” and achieve profitability? Everyone wants to become the next Facebook.

When investing in government bonds yields zero or negative, desperate investors will do whatever it takes to obtain yield. Tesla is a perfect example. Lord Elon is a master at creating open-faced pits, and torching his investors’ money in them. Tesla does not belong on the Nasdaq, but rather as a speciality flavour at the New York Bagel Co.

The market disagrees with my Tesla melancholy, investors continue to line up to eat Elon’s sexy Tesla hot shit cakes. Can you blame them, after you are fully invested in the S&P500 where else will you be able to show alpha to your investors?

Another example of this free money folly is the Vision Fund.

  1. Top tick the “Value” your investments while still on the Softbank’s books.
  2. Find a group of schmucks from the sand (That’s where the former Deutsche credit boys come in, “Be Bold”)
  3. Sell your mark-to-fantasy private Unicorns into the vehicle populated by your sand schmucks
  4. Take your cash and payout to your Japanese investors as dividends.

These entities thrived while the Fed held rates at 0% and reinvested their treasury and MBS roll off. TSLA hit its all-time high in mid-2017. Since then Elon has struggled to generate enough buzz to keep his stock elevated. I’m sure he isn’t thrilled that bondholders are due close to $1 billion in cash because the stock price failed to scale $360.

The Vision Fund’s sand schmucks also got cold feet. They baulked when the fund proposed to invest an additional $20 billion into the We-Broke company. The check size got sliced down to $2 billion.

When dollars get scarce suddenly investors discover value investing all over again.

The height of crypto silliness in December 2017 occurred just before the Fed embarked on its quantitative tightening. The 2018 pain train spared no crypto asset or shitcoin.

But things are a changin’. The Fed couldn’t stomach a 20% correction in the SPX. In the recent Fed minutes, the dot plot now shows no rate increases for the rest of 2019. The Fed will start reinvesting its runoff in the third quarter. We are only a hop, skip, and a jump away from an expanding Fed balance sheet.

Beijing knows China must rebalance its economy away from credit-fueled fixed asset investment. However, Xi must not have the political cojones to push this sort of painful change through. Therefore, the PBOC said “fuck it” to any attempt to reign in credit growth. The two most important central banks are creepin’ back into a super easy credit regime.

Easy money will manifest itself in other higher profile and more liquid dogshit before crypto. 2019 will feature an IPO beauty pageant of some of the best cash destroying businesses. Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, and possibly the We company all are rumoured to IPO this year.

Lyft is apparently oversubscribed for its upcoming IPO. Oh baby, this is going to be a fun year.

If these beauties can price at the top of the range, and trade above the IPO price, we know that party time is back. Crypto will be the last asset class to feel the love. Too many people lost too much money, in too short a time period, to immediately Fomo back into the markets.

Get Excited

Green shoots will begin to appear in early Q4. Free money and collective amnesia are powerful drugs. Also after two years of wage cucking, punters should have a few sheckles to rub together.

The 2019 chop will be intense, but the markets will claw back to $10,000. That is a very significant psychological barrier. It’s a nice round sexy number. $20,000 is the ultimate recovery. However, it took 11 months from $1,000 to $10,000, but less than one month from $10,000 to $20,000 back to $10,000.

Melissa Lee peep this. $10,000 is my number, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Two sides of the coin: the bifurcated near-future of money

 

A digital society requires digital cash. You hear the word cryptocurrency a lot. But there’s a very big difference between a truly decentralised cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and what could be called centralised ‘e-money.’

As Bitcoin today officially heads into its second decade of existence, this is a ripe moment to familiarise yourself with some of the fundamental changes in modern money, including the ways people store and transmit value, that I think you can expect to see in the near future

We Gave Them an Inch, Now They’re About to Take a Mile

The first type of new money I believe we’re going to see is centralised e-money. This descends directly from the current system, taking government (fiat) currency and updating it for the digital age. It’s a natural — and I imagine inevitable — synthesis of the existing central bank system and our increasingly corporatised economy.

The keystone phenomenon that makes e-money possible is the way in which we as a society have grown accustomed to handing over our entire private lives to corporations. We’ve done so in exchange for entertainment and convenience, and we’ve certainly received ample supplies of both. It’s only a small step now, however, to our accepting (or being forced to accept) the corporate issuance of money and the further diminution of privacy that comes with that.

The clearest glimpse into where e-money is heading is probably WeChat Pay, which has now practically eradicated cash in China. The WeChat Pay system works like this: using QR codes and mobile phones, merchants deduct credits from your WeChat wallet, which is connected directly to your bank account. Instantly, while standing at a market stall, Chinese renminbi (CNY) is debited from your account, and credited to the merchant’s account. They get their money, you take your dumplings, and the friction and annoyance of using physical cash evaporates.

As someone who travels around China frequently, I actually love WeChat Pay. However, as someone who built a career in banking and now makes his living in Bitcoin, I also know the privacy limitations of centralised payment systems.

The various mobile payment systems now offered by major players in different parts of the world differ in their details. But in some cases, they know almost everything about you: what goods and services you purchase, as well as where and when you purchase them, which can presumably be linked to all the other data they have on you.

At the same time, we’ve seen our governments in the West, when the spirit moves them, lean hard on our corporate friends to cough up our personal information. Unsurprisingly, the corporations tend to comply with these requests. We have also witnessed private sector payment networks and crowdfunding platforms kick people out for having too close an association with offending ideas or speech, or for being bad actors. Not all of this is necessarily unreasonable, but who gets to draw the line? They do.

Furthermore, monetarily, you can see where this leads: whether it happens gradually or suddenly, at some point central banks and governments, in accord with their nature, may start directing the monetary functions of corporations in a more hands-on way. The way they would do it, I expect, is by deputising commercial banks and large social media companies, who shall become nodes on a payment network, with the authority to participate in the e-money system and earn transaction fees.

Significantly, the payment network’s rules can be enforced instantly and flawlessly via code. The only place left in the system for inefficient or corruptible humans to participate will be at the apex of the network, where the authorities can issue credit directly to people, tax every transaction immediately, and determine who can and can’t be part of the network. In theory, your entire financial existence can be governed this way.

Thankfully, That’s Where Bitcoin Enters the Conversation

Although such a monetary system as I’ve just described may or may not be warehoused on a blockchain look-alike, make no mistake: it is centralised, top-down, and censored (meaning you can be barred from using it if you fall afoul of the centralised powers).

Bitcoin, by contrast, is decentralised, peer-to-peer, and censorship resistant. Bitcoin runs via a network of voluntary, independent, and self-interested actors, who neither demand nor require any favours or permissions; a few basis points in transaction fees is literally all they want from anyone — and all they’re allowed to take. And while the public address of any Bitcoin wallet, and its transaction history, are visible to all, no personally identifiable information is contained in any transaction.

Which means that Bitcoin, or something like it, is perhaps society’s best hope for a private form of electronic money. And privacy, I argue, is an important part of a well-functioning society. For moral and even psychological reasons, citizens deserve the ability to keep certain details about their lives to themselves.

To sum up: for a long time, physical cash has been the best form of money with respect to privacy. But armed with a more efficient and transparent form of e-money, government after government will gradually make physical cash obsolete. Sooner than you think, cash will not be an option for privacy, or for anything else. And private citizens will come to appreciate the inherent value of Bitcoin, as their ability to discreetly hold and transfer value evaporates once cash goes the way of the dodo.

Grounds for Optimism in General

Bitcoin is still very much an experiment. However, after 10 years of operation, the Bitcoin protocol has not been hacked — despite offering what’s effectively the biggest ‘bug bounty’ in software history. Bitcoin is an amazing achievement of disparate private individuals working together towards a common goal.

As I consider how a community of people collectively created an alternate monetary system, I am greatly optimistic about what other aspects of our global society we can improve through a collective, decentralised effort.

And I say this even in the face of the various centralising forces currently being marshalled: humanity’s bifurcated monetary future will be better than our monopoly monetary past, as some money becomes more convenient while other money becomes far more private.

The Price Crash & The Impact On Miners

Abstract: Cryptocurrency prices have fallen significantly in the past few weeks. In this note, we analyse the impact this price decline may have on the mining industry. The Bitcoin hashrate has fallen around 31% since the start of November 2018, equivalent to around 1.3 million Bitmain S9 machines. We conclude that many miners are struggling; however, we point out that not all miners have the same costs and that it’s the higher cost miners who switch off their machines first, as the price declines.

 

Overview

Since the start of November 2018, the Bitcoin price is down around 45%, while in the same period the amount of mining power on the Bitcoin network has fallen by around 31%. According to our estimates, this represents around 1.3 million Bitmain S9 miners being switched off. The mining industry may therefore be under considerable stress right now, due to the falling prices of cryptocurrency.

The prices have so far caused two large downward difficulty adjustments to Bitcoin, 7.4% and 15.1%, on 16th November and 3rd December, respectively. The 7.4% adjustment was the largest since January 2013 and the 15.1% adjustment was the largest since October 2011. The charts below are based on the daily chainwork and therefore reflect changes in network difficulty.

Bitcoin Daily Work Compared to the Falling Price

(Source: BitMEX Research, Poloniex)

Daily Mining Revenue and Cost

As the chart below illustrates, Bitcoin mining industry revenue has fallen from around $13 million per day at the start of November to around $6 million per day, at the start of December. This drop in incentives was even larger than the fall in the Bitcoin price, due to a delay in the way difficulty adjusts. In the six-day period ending 3rd December, 21.8% fewer blocks than the expected 144 per day were found, as miners left the network before the difficulty adjusted, and as a result, fewer blocks were found. Therefore in the short term, there was a 21.8% fall in mining incentives on top of the impact of the declining price.

Bitcoin Daily Mining Revenue and Expected Electricity Spend – US$m

(Source: BitMEX Research, Poloniex)

(Notes: Assumes an electricity cost of US$0.05 per KWH, assumes advertised Bitmain S9 specification)

 

Bitcoin Cash ABC Daily Mining Revenue and Expected Electricity Spend – US$m

(Source: BitMEX Research, Polonies)

(Notes: Assumes an electricity cost of US$0.05 per KWH, assumes advertised Bitmain S9 specification)

 

Ethereum Daily Mining Revenue and Expected Electricity Spend – US$m

(Source: BitMEX Research, Polonies)

(Notes: Assumes an electricity cost of US$0.05 per KWH, assumes 32Mh/s at 200W)

Miner Profit Margins

The chart below shows that prior to the recent crash, the industry was making gross profit margins of around 50% (these figures assume electricity is the only cost included in gross profits), while after the price crash, this fell to around 30% for Bitcoin and 15% for Ethereum.

Miner Profit Margin

(Source: BitMEX Research, Poloniex for prices)

Ethereum Mining Profitability

In the period, the Ethereum hashrate has only fallen by 20%, much lower than Bitcoin, (representing around 1.5 million high-end graphics cards), while the price decline has been more significant than Bitcoin, at 54%. Therefore, gross profit margins have declined even more sharply for Ethereum, but it is not clear exactly why this is the case.

There are a few potential reasons. It could be that Ethereum miners are more hobbyist minded and less profit focused, or Ethereum miners could have started from a higher gross profit margin position than Bitcoin, so they are less inclined to monitor the network and switch the miners off when necessary. As the data shows, Ethereum miner gross profit margins now appear significantly lower than Bitcoin, falling to 15% in the last few days, so this could change (Note: This analysis only included electricity costs, when including other costs, mining may be a loss making operation).

Bitcoin Cash ABC Mining Profit Margins

As the above chart shows, the Bitcoin Cash ABC gross profit margin went negative during the split into two coins, Bitcoin Cash ABC and Bitcoin Cash SV. The two camps mined uneconomically in a race to have the most work chain. Ten days after the split, on 25th November, the profitability of mining Bitcoin Cash ABC rapidly climbed up to around the same levels as Bitcoin. This appeared to indicate the end of the “hashwar,” which proved to be almost completely pointless, as the war ending had no clear noticeable impact on either the coins or their value.

As the latest data in the below table shows, the two sides are getting closer again with respect to total work since the split and its possible uneconomic mining resumes.

Bitcoin Cash ABC Bitcoin Cash SV
Log2(PoW) 87.753365 87.747401
Blocks                          560,091                              560,081
Cumulative total since the split
Log2(PoW) 82.189 81.875
Blocks                                   3,325                                   3,315
Mining electricity spend $7,939,318 $6,389,264
Coin price (Poloniex) $108 $94
Estimated mining gross profit/(loss) ($3,450,568) ($2,494,139)
Gross profit margin (76.9%) (64.0%)
Assume leased hashrate
Estimated leasing costs $14,608,345 $11,756,245
Estimated mining gross profit/(loss) ($10,119,595) ($7,861,120)

(Source: BitMEX Research, Poloniex for prices)

Flaws in the Above Analysis

The above gross profit margin charts do not show a complete picture. While the revenue figures are likely to be accurate, the only cost included is electricity. Obviously miners have other costs, such as the capital investment in the machinery as well as maintenance costs and building costs. Therefore, although the charts below show that the industry is highly profitable when only considering electricity costs, given other costs, the recent price crash is likely to have sent almost all the miners into the red. This indicates that miners invested too much in equipment and have achieved large negative ROIs.

Electricity Cost is Not Uniform

Another crucial point not reflected in the above analysis is the variance in electricity rates. The charts above assume a flat cost of $0.05 cent per KwH; however, not all miners have the same electricity costs and there will be a distribution.

As we mentioned above, 31% of the hashrate was shutdown in the period, logically those with the highest electricity costs should turn off their machines first. Therefore the average electricity cost on the network should have fallen considerably in the past month.

The below chart is an illustration of the above, it assumes that electricity costs are normally distributed with a standard deviation of $0.01 per KwH and that higher-cost miners switch their machines off first. Although this assumption is likely to be highly inaccurate and energy prices will not be normally distributed across the mining industry, from a macro level it illustrates a point and it may be more accurate than the above chart.

According to this analysis, average Bitcoin mining gross margins have only declined from around 50% to 40%, implying a far more healthy situation for the remaining miners.

Bitcoin Mining Gross Profit Margin (Illustrative)

(Source: BitMEX Research, Poloniex for prices)

When evaluating the potential negative impact of price declines on Bitcoin, analysts sometimes forget that not all miners have the same costs. It is these cost variances that should ensure the network continues to function smoothly despite large sudden price declines and allows the difficulty to adjust.

What Caused the Price Crash?

There has been considerable speculation around the causes of the price crash, with some saying miners sold Bitcoin in order to finance a costly hashwar in Bitcoin Cash. The cryptocurrency intelligence monitoring platform Boltzmann flagged to us that their platform had detected unusually large miner selling of Bitcoin on 12th November, a few days before the Bitcoin Cash split.

Boltzmann detected that net Bitcoin sales from miners were “17.5 standard deviations below [the] 3-month trailing average.” On further analysis, it appears these miners may have been a member of Slushpool.

Bitcoin miner net flow & price

(Source: Boltzmann, 12 hour aggregation of miner net flow)

Conclusion and Price Commentary

While it may be true that mining pools selling Bitcoin to fund losses in the Bitcoin Cash hashwar may have been a catalyst for the reduction in the price, we think it’s easy to overestimate the impact of this. We are in a bear market and prices are falling regardless of the news or investment flows.

Furthermore, in a bear market prices seem to fall on non-news or bad news and ignore good news, while in a bull market the reverse appears true. We think it’s likely that prices would have been weak regardless of any miner selling prior to the Bitcoin Cash split. For cryptocurrency, trader sentiment is king.

This is likely to be a very tough time for the mining industry. However, for miners with lower costs, our basic analysis indicates that the situation may be better than people expect. If the miners acquired their equipment from Bitmain at below-cost prices, they could still be in the green, even when including depreciation and other administrative expenses.

BlockMEX STO

Remember BlockMEX? Well the firm has limped along for several years. They have tried various business models. None have made any money. But that doesn’t matter, VC firms continue to shower the company with cash, and its valuation continues to rise. The CEO now has a great new idea. Let’s listen in on the recent board meeting.


Billy – Billy is the CEO of the company. He just joined as the previous dude got ousted. The VC firm The Blind Fund, who supplies most of the cash, ousted the previous CEO in favour of Billy who they thought would play ball better.

Kaiser Soze – One of the general partners at The Blind Fund.

Kaiser Soze – So Billy, what are we going to do to get some traction? It’s been over four years, and BlockMEX still makes zero revenue. You guys need to do something new.

Billy – Well, I have a new idea. ICOs are toxic. The projects are trash, and the regulators hate them. What about STOs, Securities Token Offerings?

Kaiser Soze – Tell me more.

Billy – Ok, so imagine you want to buy a fraction of a piece of real estate. And then you could trade your fractional ownership, which is represented by a token.

Kaiser Soze – Call me old fashioned, but isn’t that just a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)? Most stock markets around the world already have those.

Billy – But do REIT’s ride on a Blockchain? Do they use Distributed Ledger Technology to hold the record of the title?

Kaiser Soze – No, but they trade billions of dollars a day already, and you can easily trade them with your local broker almost everywhere in the world.

Billy – You don’t get it. If the token rides on a Blockchain, like the Ethereum protocol, then they reach help anyone anywhere. Like those poor investors in North Korea who have nowhere to put their savings. Now they can own a token.

Kaiser Soze – Anyone, really?!! It’s pretty clear these are securities, right?

Billy – Yes.

Kaiser Soze – So that means they are regulated, and in most places the exchange needs some sort of license.

Billy – Yes, that’s correct.

Kaiser Soze – The same license the incumbent exchanges already possess?

Billy – Correct.

Kaiser Soze – And the technology stack that operates the matching engine must also be approved by the regulator, right?

Billy – Correct.

Kaiser Soze – So you are replicating the same technology, getting the same license, to go after the same client base?

Billy – Correct.

Kaiser Soze – Ok, sounds like a winner. We can keep pumping money in, and make it up on volume. [The Blind Fund never saw a negative gross margin business they didn’t like.]

Billy – Exactly what I was thinking. Everyone is talking about STOs and how they are the future. Another type of STO is an equity offering of a startup.

Kaiser Soze – So how would that be different than doing an IPO?

Billy – Well many companies these days are staying private, the cost of doing an IPO and all the regulatory and compliance costs, are daunting—-especially for smaller companies. There should be a way for smaller technology companies to raise funds by selling some type of equity.

Kaiser Soze – Would these companies pay dividends? I’m assuming these are unprofitable companies.

Billy – Not only would they not pay dividends, there would be no audited accounts, or any duty to really explain anything to their investors.

Kaiser Soze – Wow, that’s amazing. How would this STO thing fit in on the balance sheet?

Billy – Not sure on that one yet.

Kaiser Soze – Traditional financial theory would suggest that this token is worthless because there is no cash flow.

Billy – Come’on Kaiser. We have been through this before. Traditional finance is dead. We are in a new paradigm. Don’t be a luddite.

Kaiser Soze – I know, I know. But if you are selling equity like securities, wouldn’t that need to be registered with a national regulator?

Billy – Shhhhhh.. Don’t tell anyone. We are just going to shoe horn this one in. Because we use a Blockchain and or Distributed Ledger Technology, those rules don’t apply. The best part is, we can absolve ourselves of any legal liability by basically telling investors when they buy these things they actually have zero rights. ROFL.

Kaiser Soze – Man, this Blockchain shit is LIT! You can do anything.

Billy – I know, right? Maybe the only thing we can’t do is become revenue positive.

Kaiser Soze – Don’t worry about that. I know some people in the desert, who have more cash than brains. They won’t let us down.

 

Polly Pocket Has Liquidity Issues

Overheard at the recent Polly Pocket Investor Day.

Polly Pocket is the managing partner of Polly Pocket Capital. The fund invests solely in tokens.

Schmuck is an investor in the fund.

Polly – Welcome everyone to our Investor Day. 2018 has been a challenging year for our fund but we are fully confident in our ability, over the long run, to deliver superior returns.

Schmuck – Speaking of performance, can I get some more colour on what your fund actually holds?

Polly – Great question. As you know, we don’t disclose exactly what we own, but I can give you a taste. Our fund is divided into listed and unlisted tokens.

Schmuck – Ok, what do you mean by listed and unlisted? I thought the mandate only allowed the fund to invest in tokens that are already traded on a secondary market.

Polly – Well, that is true. But we saw some great deals, so we created a side pocket. The side pocket contains all the pre-ICO deals that we invested in.

Schmuck – Hmm…So you basically can invest in whatever you like, regardless of the fund mandate?

Polly – In a nutshell, yes.

Schmuck – Greeeeaaat. How do you mark these illiquid, unlisted tokens?

Polly – As you know, due to our amazing connections, we get in on deals well before the unwashed masses. Typically we get a 70% – 90% discount to the last round where most of the plebes purchase these tokens. We then mark the value of the token to the last round price.

Schmuck – So if you invest a price of $1,and the last round which could be a very small amount of the total float, is sold at $10, you record a 10x gain?

Polly – Yes.

Schmuck – Does that also mean that I get charged management fees on the 10x value?

Polly – Yes.

Schmuck – Your liquid token portfolio got molly whopped this year, correct?

Polly – Yes.

Schmuck – So the AUM will get bled at an accelerated rate due to the marking of the side pocket? I’m am paying 2% on a 10x marked up illiquid token with no secondary market, and there is no visibility as to when it will actually list?

Polly – I mean that sounds worse than it is, but you are essentially correct.

Schmuck – Do you apply a haircut to this valuation because there is no liquidity, and an indefinite time to listing?

Polly – No. We believe there is extreme value, and this is reflected in the last round price. Our team of token experts really knows how to value these things.

Schmuck – Maybe, but the management fees paid on these side pocket investments could consume the entire value of the investors’ capital. What happens if I would like to redeem?

Polly – We would sell our liquid tokens first. Once that pool of capital is exhausted, we would be unable to meet your redemption request.

Schmuck – Is there no way to sell your interest in these projects? Have you ever tried?

Polly – Legally we can’t. The SAFT term sheet does not allow us to transfer our interest before the token lists.

Schmuck – So basically you are telling me, I’m up shit creek without a paddle?

Polly – I wouldn’t put it that way. Sometimes we suffer liquidity issues.

REAL TALK

The BitMEX Research team has compiled a list of tokens that raised over US$50 million that have yet to list.

 

 

These deals have massive valuations, and many of the most venerated token funds took down large chunks. It is unclear when, if ever, these deals will ever list on the secondary market.

Given the large amount of token supply out there, who will buy this shit?

Can you really mark these investments to the last round price?

There are anecdotal reports of funds attempting to sell their SAFT interest, and the prices offered were way below the last round price.

2019 is going to be the year of reckoning for many funds. You can mark something to an absurd level in year 1. But the meter starts again on January 1st. If these things come to market, there will be no accounting tricks to hide the gargantuan losses that these funds will post.

The Confession

Overheard in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Judas is an Ethereum developer; he’s had some bad luck. He is now at Church giving a confession.

Father is the Bishop.

Judas – Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been one year since my last confession.

Father – Welcome my son, please tell me how you have sinned.

Judas – Well as you know, I am an Ethereum developer. But I believe I have given false witness to another god.

Father – Who would that be, the Devil, Satan himself?

Judas – No Father, my faith strayed. I believed in Decentralisation.

Father – Huh? Not sure I follow. Please explain.

Judas – I am an Ethereum developer. You know, the world’s virtual computer. I believed that using the Ethereum protocol I could decentralise anything. And I was specifically interested in the trading of financial assets, like stocks.

Father – Ok, but what would a decentralised stock market look like?

Judas – Well, anyone, anywhere could exchange stocks. You wouldn’t need to get approval from any government or a traditional exchange like the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. It would also allow anyone to sell equity in their project to anyone in the world. In short, true financial freedom for everyone, everywhere.

Father – Heresy. You planned to usurp the Angels, the NYSE, and Nasdaq. Did you not consult the good book about our Lord’s relationship with those organisations?

Judas – I did, but I thought because I used the decentralised world computer, Ethereum, that our Lord and Saviour would not mind.

Father – Son, you did not read the Gospels close enough. Specifically, the Gospel according to Howie.

Judas – Well, I thought my lawyers were well versed in the Gospels. They told me that because it was decentralised, the Gospel according to Howie did not apply.

Father – [Shakes his head in sorrow] In my last sermon, I preached that the Lord’s children must be vigilant against false prophets. Specifically those wearing Brioni suits, and white Church’s shoes. These white shoe lawyers, care not for your soul, but only for their pockets.

Judas – Oh, I missed that one. I was too hungover after a night at the Box. We were celebrating our ICO.

Father – Ah, the ICO. I also lead a vigil against that tool of the Devil. But son, how is your project decentralised, if you personally launched an ICO, and profited from it? Surely, a truly decentralised project has no identifiable leader, and no one entity profits from its operation?

Judas – I realised the errors of my ways now.

Father – How has the Lord made you repent?

Judas – The Lord decreed that I must pay a large sum of money to absolve my sins.

Father – Better that, than the Lord sending you to Sodom and Gomorrah, a.k.a. Rikers.

Judas – I know, I am forever grateful to the mercy of our Lord.

Father – I am glad you have learned son. Our Lord is merciful. But he will strike rath down upon those who threaten his kingdom.

Father – Let us pray to our Lord and Saviour. In nomine patris et filii spiritus sancti JAY CLAYTON.

Decentralise Zero

I was staring at my plush toy cactus, and I thought has anyone tried to decentralise zero? Later, I was messaging Meltem and through our conversation, the following ideas manifested themselves about the absurdity of 2018.

I dedicate this newsletter to the concept of zero. I have seen the future, and many crypto investors will become familiar with this round number, although they might not know it yet.

Is The ETHUSD Swap Fairly Priced

The Perpetual Swap derivative structure is a beautiful thing. Trading is simple, as it mimics the action of margin trading. Most retail traders are familiar with how to trade on margin. Using this wrapper, we can allow anyone to trade exotic derivatives.

“A quanto is a type of derivative in which the underlying is denominated in one currency, but the instrument itself is settled in another currency at some rate. Such products are attractive for speculators and investors who wish to have exposure to a foreign asset, but without the corresponding exchange rate risk.”Wikipedia

The ETHUSD swap has become the most liquid ETH/USD trading instrument globally. It allows speculators to trade ETH/USD risk, without ever touching Ether or USD. Like all BitMEX contracts, the margin and settlement currency for ETHUSD is Bitcoin. This keeps things simple from a trading perspective.

When the ETHUSD product listed, I walked readers through the mechanics of a quanto derivative. Please read Why Quanto and Hedging a Perpetual Swap for a refresher.

Subsequent to the launch of ETHUSD, the price of Ether took a digger. In such a bear market, many traders expected the funding rate to stay negative. Logically that makes sense.

The market is falling, so the pressure on the margin should be on the sell side. However, the cumulative funding rate from launch till the present is positive. A positive funding rate means longs pay shorts.

My hypothesis was that the positive funding rate represents the quanto risk premium. I then tasked one of the BitMEX Research analysts to conduct a test:

Step 1
Starting on the 9th of August and ending on the 22nd of October, to capture the funding income, you sold ETHUSD (100 XBT notional), and hedged by purchasing Ether with USD.

Step 2
Every hour, you recalculated your net Bitcoin PnL, hedging that exposure into USD.

Step 3
Compute the net returns in USD terms on your portfolio for the period.

Step 4 
Add net total funding you received (paid) from being short the ETHUSD swap over the period.

Results

Absent the positive funding, you would have lost $46,779.73 hedging your Bitcoin PnL. This is expected because you are short correlation. Over the past few months, the XBTUSD and ETHUSD correlation has risen.

When the net funding payments received, $46,010.85, are added, your trade essentially breaks even. Along the way you bought 31.94 ETH to delta hedge and accumulated a 43.83 XBT short position to PnL hedge. The conclusion is that even though the funding rate has stayed positive, this funding compensates for the quanto risk premium.

Correlation is rising, therefore traders will bid up the ETHUSD swap over the spot price to profit from the quanto PnL. A positive funding rate results, and brings the market into equilibrium.

This is true over a long holding period. There were times where your net PnL was positive or negative. The chart above provides a time series of the cumulative PnL from this trade. As we can see, the market does misprice this swap occasionally.

It is quite amazing that in under six months, the ETHUSD swap has been priced to perfection. However, the volatility of both Bitcoin and Ether has fallen. When we return to a normal level of volatility, I expect fearful and greedy traders to push the ETHUSD swap away from the quanto adjusted fair price.

Bear Market Blues

The trend is your friend until it ain’t. Humans are very bad forecasters. We take yesterday’s returns and extrapolate them linear and non-linearly into the future. We believe the world works in perfectly-fitted curves.

When the market reverses, as it always does, a coterie of sad pandas are left in its wake. 2017 was the year of jubilation; 2018 is the year of melancholy. The worst part is knowing your 2018 bonus, should you receive one, will barely buy you a Swatch.

We crypto traders should know better by now, but we never learn. The market may be down 70% from the $20,000 high, but from the mood of traders, Bitcoin might as well be worth bupkis.

When traders lose money, they lash out. They lash out on Twitter, Telegram, Reddit, and other social media platforms. The smallest perceived slight, triggers them worse than a Hillary supporter after the Trump coronation.

This is the Bear Market Blues.

We Have Been Here Before 

The talented individuals at BitMEX Research did some analysis of the previous Bitcoin bull and bear markets.


They made a distinction between two measurements:

1. The peak-to-trough decline:  A peak-to-trough decline is measured by taking the low of a bear market and dividing it by the high of a previous bull market.

2. The intra-market phase increase/decrease: This is calculated by taking the high (low) of the bull (bear) market and dividing it by the price at the start of that market phase.

They conclude that we have more to go in this current bear market. Due to the collapse in Bitcoin price volatility, I agree with this sentiment.

The Double Whammy

Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Bitcoin volatility and price collapsed this year.

Traders hate sideways markets. Traders can go long and short, not sideways. The chop will eat you alive in a sideways market.

Contrary to popular belief, Bitcoin requires volatility if it is ever to gain mainstream adoption. The price of Bitcoin is the best and most transparent way to communicate the health of the ecosystem. It advertises to the world that something is happening–whether that is positive or negative is irrelevant.

The Bitcoin price volatility is the gateway drug into the ecosystem. The media writes about things that move; therefore no movement, no coverage. The diehard traders and engineers will always hear about a new asset class or technology in advance of popular media outlet coverage. However, their efforts will only be amplified if many more people discover El Dorado. That requires the lazy mainstream financial press to write.

If volatility stays at these depressed levels, the price will slowly leak lower. For those of us who lived through the 2014-2015 bear market, we all await that nasty ass candle that breaks the soul of the bulls. Then, and only then, will volatility and the price ratchet higher.

Limbo Time

How low can we go?

A 75% fall from $9,152 takes us close to $2,000. $2,000 to $3,000 is my new sweet spot but don’t tell Michelle Lee just yet.

The key consideration to “calling the bottom” is the price action around the last gasp of the bears. You will know it when you see it. And the best part is, you probably will be too chicken to click that oh so scary Buy button.