Crypto Trader Digest – August 10

Bye Bye, New York State


I am sad to announce that due to Bitlicense, BitMEX will cease to service New York State residents. Residents of New York State will be barred from accessing BitMEX as of August 16 12:00 GMT. Affected users must close all positions and withdraw any Bitcoins held with BitMEX. Users who are unable to access their accounts after August 16th, can email to request their positions be closed at prevailing market prices, and their remaining Bitcoin balance withdrawn to a Bitcoin address of their choice.

BitMEX Launches World’s First Ethereum Derivative

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Last Friday, Ether (the token powering Ethereum smart contracts) began trading on selected exchanges. Traders smart enough to buy at the IPO price were immediately up 20x on their investment. As expected, many attempted to rush for the exit and crystalise a profit. The problem was that exchanges were not crediting Ether balances and allowing traders to sell.

The launch of the BitMEX Ether / Bitcoin Weekly Futures Contract (ETH7D) coincided with spot trading launch. Because Bitcoin is used as margin, traders can short Ether and lock in their profit without depositing Ether with BitMEX. ETH7D immediately began trading at a substantial discount to spot. ETH7D represented the only mechanism for true price discovery of Ether’s value. The chart above illustrates this point. As each successive wave of Ether deposits were allowed to be sold, spot gapped down attempting to reach the level of ETH7D.

Holders of Ether from the IPO who have not liquidated yet are still in the money. Given the technical problems associated with the launch of new cryptocurrencies, it is likely that transfers and the sale of Ether for Bitcoin or USD could be halted again. ETH7D represents the only way for holders of Ether to lock in a Bitcoin profit.

Here is how to execute the hedge:

  1. Each ETH7D contract represents 1 Ether (ETH). The contract references the Kraken ETHXBT exchange rate and profit and loss are denominated in Bitcoin.
  2. If you bought 10,000 ETH at a price of 0.0005 ETHXBT at the IPO, you must sell 10,000 ETH7D contracts to lock in your profit.
  3. If ETH7D trades at 0.0025, you have locked in a profit of (0.0025 – 0.0005) * 10,000 = 20 XBT.
  4. BitMEX allows 5x leverage for ETH7D. You must deposit 20% * 10,000 * 0.0025 = 5 XBT as margin to place the sell order.

BitMEX ETH7D futures are not purely a speculative product, but have uses for ETH holders who wish to hedge their holdings. If you have any questions about how to hedge your ETH IPO allocation, please contact us.

Global Macro Musings



Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, listed in order of importance, are four of China’s largest export competitors. The commonality amongst these countries is the race to the bottom in terms of currency debasement. While the Greek drama has torpedoed the Euro, the German export juggernaut is humming along as EURUSD has fallen from 1.5 to under 1.1. Kuroda-san and his BOJ have trashed the Yen from 80 to 120 in the last two years.

Xi Jinping and the politburo recognising the challenges facing the Chinese economy, are attempting to engineer a transfer of wealth from heavy investment industries into the hands of households. The chief conduit of change is removing the implicit subsidy of an undervalued Yuan. The Yuan is on a tear vs. the global major trading currencies, the USD, EUR, and JPY.

Unfortunately, the world economy isn’t cooperating with China’s rebalancing strategy. World trade is faltering and the commodity complex is imploding along with it. People don’t want more stuff, and China’s growth rate by some estimates has fallen to sub 5% (the official GDP is 7%, but no one believes those numbers). NPLs are rising and deteriorating local government finances have forced the PBOC to warehouse more and more toxic paper. At some point China will have to respond tit for tat vs. its major trade partners to recover some competitiveness and provide succor to its economy by devaluing the Yuan.

Chinese households that experienced a rise in global purchasing power will not sit quietly during a devaluation. They will invest / speculate on goods they believe will protect their wealth. Bitcoin is one piece of the puzzle. While it is not an income bearing bond or asset, Bitcoin cannot be devalued by diktat. When RMB begins to flood the Middle Kingdom, it will find its ways into various non-standard assets and cryptocurrencies will benefit. The Litecoin ponzi scam will be the tip of the iceberg. A desperate population is prone to believe many tall tales, and promoters will capitalise on this desperation and greed.

Quantifying Quanto: XLT7D


BitMEX launched the world’s only Litecoin futures contract that uses Bitcoin as the margin, profit, and loss currency last Wednesday. Because traders are accustomed to trading the LTCUSD exchange rate, we decided to apply a Bitcoin multiplier to the LTCUSD exchange rate. As a result, XLT7D is classified as a quanto futures contract. Many users are still confused as to the implications of quanto vs. non-quanto futures contracts from a pricing perspective. I intend to walk readers through a simple example meant to illustrate how to properly price the quanto risk premium.

Assume that a trader has gone short XLT7D futures contracts. He is now short Litecoin, long USD, and his profit will be in Bitcoin. He decides to hedge his short LTC exposure by buying LTC on the spot market. His LTC and USD exposures as it relates to price movements are now hedged. However, his XLT7D pnl is denominated in Bitcoin while his LTCUSD pnl is denominated in USD. If LTCUSD rises he will be short XBTUSD from a pnl perspective, and if LTCUSD falls he will be long XBTUSD.

The question now becomes, what is the covariance between LTCUSD and XBTUSD. Covariance measures the degree to which two assets move together. I took daily log returns of XBTUSD and LTCUSD from Bitfinex and calculated the covariance over a 30 day period. The result was a positive covariance of 0.068% or 6.8 basis points. Therefore, XLT7D should be priced 6.8bps cheaper than LTCUSD. The adjustment is so small that it can be safely ignored. Traders can treat the quanto XLT7D future as they would a LTCUSD future. The upside is that XLT7D’s settlement currency is Bitcoin, which doesn’t necessitate the holding of Litecoin or USD.

XBT Futures Term Structure

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When I used to be an ETF market maker, there was nothing more exhilarating than taking a large outright position in particular stock. I used to run overnight mean reversion strategies in certain ETFs between the NY and Asian time zones. I would wake up with substantial deltas and have to close out at market open. That only occupied me for a few hours each day. More fun and risk was to be had, playing basis curves between various equity index futures. Now that there is more volume going through BitMEX’s XBT series contracts, curve trades can be executed.

I will begin posting the WoW changes in the XBT futures term structure. The term structure illustrates the % basis per annum each maturity futures contract is trading at. I take a 24 hour average of the % annualised basis each Sunday. Traders who do not wish to predict the outright movement of Bitcoin, may instead trade the relative movement in the term structure.

The curve experienced a parallel shift downwards WoW. To sell basis or go short interest rates, traders would need to sell XBT futures contracts and buy spot. As the spread narrows, unwind the trade for at a profit.

XBT Spot

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The downdraft I had called for finally occurred. A swift fall took the price to $260. The all-important support level held, and now the $260-$270 chop has begun. The Grexit premium has all but evaporated. The $300 bag holders can now hold a “cheap coins” symposium on an r/bitcoin thread.

$260 will be tested again. Failure to hold that level will most likely result in a retest of $220. If Bitcoin can hold firm during the final days of August, the return of traders from summer holiday should buoy the market.

Trade Recommendation:

Sell XBTQ15 while spot is above $265 with a near-term target price of $260. If that breaks, the next target is $240.




Chinese Promoter Pumping Litecoin Via Ponzi Scheme

(FILES) A picture taken on January 14, 2009 in New York, shows Bernard Madoff leaving US Federal Court after a hearing regarding his bail. The French prosecutor's office opened on May 29, 2009 an investigation into allegations of fraud following complaints from investors who say they were harmed in a pyramid scheme orchestrated by US financier Bernard Madoff, legal sources said.     AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
(FILES) A picture taken on January 14, 2009 in New York, shows Bernard Madoff leaving US Federal Court after a hearing regarding his bail. The French prosecutor’s office opened on May 29, 2009 an investigation into allegations of fraud following complaints from investors who say they were harmed in a pyramid scheme orchestrated by US financier Bernard Madoff, legal sources said. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Litecoin is on fire. It is up over 8x in one month. The whole crypto trader community is abuzz with the astonishing price movement in Litecoin. Other altcoins are benefiting as well. But why does Litecoin defy gravity and continue its ascent? As always with crypto trading: when in doubt, look to China.

Some inquisitive traders on posted a video link to a promoter telling investors to buy Litecoin, send to their address, and receive “mining returns”. Here is the link to a forum on describing the scheme. The promoter promises an income stream, if investors will send 500 Litecoin to this address.

Over $76 million worth of Litecoin has been sent to the above mentioned address. $68 million worth of Litecoin has been spent from the address. I assume that a portion of the spent output goes to investors, and a portion the promoter is cashing out.

The 9 million Litecoin that the addresses has received represents 22% of the total Litecoin in existence. It is obvious now how the price can go from $1 to $8 in a month. As investors feel “richer” because their 500 Litecoin is skyrocketing in value, they will invest more sums into the scheme.

What is the promoter’s end goal here? The most plausible explanation is that they are cashing out via Bitcoin. They transfer a portion of the Litecoin received to a number of exchanges that have a liquid LTC/BTC market. They then sell the Bitcoin for RMB on the large Chinese exchanges. The selling pressure from the promoter explains why Bitcoin hasn’t followed Litecoin up towards $300.

How long can this go on? And when do you short it? The Litecoin movement is gathering speed. The positive feedback loop, is attracting not just victims but traders who see a rising altcoin and want to join in on the party. Many still remember when Litecoin traded north of $40. Greed will take over and goad regular traders to take the plunge back into Litecoin. Shorting at this point is very hazardous. Don’t fight China. With the stock market down substantially, Chinese traders will latch onto any market that is rising. The promoters appear to be well organized and have a well oiled machine to reach a vast number of traders.

Crypto Trader Digest – June 22, 2015

BitMEX Happenings

This Friday is June expiry. XBTM15 and XBUM15 will expire at 12:00 GMT. July 2015 futures are now listed and XBTN15 and XBUN15 are available for trading.


Forget Greece, How Will Bitcoin React To A Fed Rate Hike?


With all the noise about a possible implementation of capital controls this weekend in Greece, the latest FOMC (Federal Reserve Open Market Committee) meeting was overlooked. The 21 million Bitcoin question is when will the Fed finally raise rates, and how will the global financial markets handle non-zero USD short-term rates?

The Fed Funds rate has been at 0% for over 6 years. Due to the strong US economy (if you believe the US government isn’t juking the stats), the Fed now must attempt to re-introduce the time value of money. Many economists expect the first 0.25% to 0.50% rate hike in the fall of this year. The USD rally that started late last year, will take on a whole new dimension with positive interest rates. For currencies and commodities priced in USD, a positive short term interest rate could spell carnage. Bitcoin will not escape the strong dollar armageddon.

After the initial shock and awe of a positive Fed Funds rate, will the ensuing market carnage will force the Fed to reverse its policies and reinstitute open ended quantitative easing (i.e. money printing). This is the opinion of some market observers and hedge fund managers. If he one-two punch of a rate hike then QE 4eva occurs, the initial dip in the Bitcoin price represents a golden opportunity to increase long exposure. The FOMC Fall 2015 schedule is September 16-17 and October 27-28. Emperor Bernanke (POTUS Obama is merely a King) began the habit of pre-announcing major Fed policy decisions at the annual Jackson Hole summit held in late August of each year. Expect very definitive guidance as to the timing of the rate hike from Empress Yellen at this years Jackson Hole Summit to be held August 27-29th.

A trading strategy involving December 2015 and March 2016 BitMEX futures contracts allows traders to profitably trade this view. Consider selling XBUZ15 (25 December 2015) aiming to cover the position shortly after the announcement of a rate hike. During the dislocation, spot Bitcoin could trade with a $1 handle again. Given the already depressed nominal price levels, expect the price fall not to last long. Cover the XBUZ15 short position, and then go long XBTH16 (25 March 2016).


Bitcoin + BitMEX: Creating Synthetic USD


The war on cash in the US and EU is in full force. Forbes recently wrote a story about the Drug Enforcement Agency in the US stealing the life savings of a college student without any criminal charge. France now restricts cash transactions to 1,000 EUR. First world countries are conditioning their populace through theft and cash transaction limits to hold their wealth digitally in national banks. Citizens who are unbanked in first world countries are doubly screwed as they have no means of protecting their cash from rapacious police officers. What many want is a synthetic USD or other fiat currency that is under the complete control of its rightful owner.

Bitcoin is outside of governmental or banking control. Trust is instead placed in cryptography and a decentralised network of computing power (miners). The only downside from a wealth preservation perspective is the price fluctuation vs. your domestic currency. Using Bitcoin and BitMEX futures contracts it is possible to create synthetic USD. This USD can be stored outside the traditional banking system, and your funds can be accessed anywhere globally with an internet connection.

Here is a step by step guide to creating synthetic USD:

  1. Exchange USD (or your domestic currency) for Bitcoin.
  2. Deposit 30% of your Bitcoin on BitMEX as initial margin, secure the other 70% using a Bitcoin wallet or storage method of your choice.
  3. Sell futures contracts to lock in the USD value of your Bitcoin, each contract is worth $100 of Bitcoin (e.g. if you have 4 Bitcoin each valued at $250, sell 10 December 2015 XBUZ15 contracts to create $1,000 synthetically).
  4. Every time you use some of your synthetic USD (i.e. sell Bitcoin), buy back some of the futures contracts to maintain a perfect hedge.

If you intend to frequently spend your synthetic USD, sell a shorter dated futures contract. The shorter the maturity the more liquid the futures contract. Your counterparty risk is limited to the amount of margin placed on BitMEX (the minimum for our hedging contracts is 20%). The entire process takes under 30 minutes to complete. Regardless of where you take your synthetic USD, there are people or exchanges that will allow you to exchange Bitcoin for a domestic fiat currency. E.g. if you travel to France, you exchange USD (by selling Bitcoin) for EUR. Creating synthetic USD with Bitcoin and BitMEX products provides all the benefits of physical cash without the headache of carrying it around on your person.

Wallet providers can simplify this process. Once Bitcoin is deposited, a “lock value” option is presented. A BitMEX account is created for a specific address by signing a message on the Blockchain. Bitcoin is deposited instantly with BitMEX and the appropriate futures hedge will be automatically executed. We are interested in working with any wallet providers who would like to offer this feature. Please contact us, and we can speak further about a partnership.

How The DEA Seized A College Student’s Entire Life Savings, Without Charging Him With A Drug Crime

France Restricts the Movement of Gold, Cash, & Crypto-Currencies


Weekly Review: Bitcoin Investment Products

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Week Ending GBTC Avg Volume WoW % Chg % Premium XBT Avg Volume WoW % Chg % Premium
6/12/2015 131 XBT 26.70% 766 XBT 0.57%
6/19/2015 609 XBT 363.84% 15.66% 1,896 XBT 147.46% 0.41%

The ramp to $260 ignited a fire under GBTC and XBT. Both products experienced all time high trading volumes this past week. GBTC traded over 2,000 XBT on Wednesday, and XBT traded over 3,000 XBT on Thursday. XBT is fast becoming one of the most traded ETN’s on the Nasdaq Nordic OMX exchange. Interactive Brokers will now allows clients worldwide to trade XBT; the ticker is COINXBT.


Is Litecoin The Bitcoin Oracle?

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Do Litecoin moves predict future Bitcoin ones? Many traders believe so and keep a close eye on Litecoin price action. I have conducted analysis on whether the one, three, and six hour LTCXBT return can predict the XBTUSD return for a similar time period. I used the hourly VWAP (Volume Weighted Average Price) data from Bitfinex for both currency pairs from January to June 2015.

My initial hypothesis was there would be a degree of predictive power using a linear regression. The above graph is a scatter plot of LTCXBT return by XBTUSD return on a one hour time scale. E.g. I calculated the LTCXBT return from T0 to T1 and plotted it against the XBTUSD return from T1 to T2. As you can see there is no substantial correlation.

LTCXBT Return Positive Return Probability Negative Return Probability
1H 47.96% 51.29%
3H 52.29% 53.22%
6H 47.01% 58.49%

The next hypothesis was given LTCXBT had an above average positive return (in this case one standard deviation above and below the sample mean) could I predict if XBTUSD in the next period, would have a positive return as well. Using the sample mean and standard deviation at the different time intervals, I observed the sample probability for a positive and negative return. The above table displays the results. The best predictor was if the previous six hour LTCXBT return was negative, 58% of the time XBTUSD’s next six hour return would be negative as well. LTCXBT returns on a short time scale are somewhat helpful in determining the future path of Bitcoin. However, they are not the silver bullet that some traders believe them to be.


XBT Spot

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“Finally it has happened to me right in front of my face
and I just can not hide it”

— CeCe Peniston

Bitcoin finally exhibited a pulse, and leapt furiously towards the all important $260. Many armchair quarterbacks ascribed the move to the latest machinations out of Greece. However, the more likely cause was it was just time for Bitcoin to move a little. Technical resistance levels at $240 and $250 were laid to waste, but Bitcoin could not climb the final mountain to $260. Traders FOMO bought Bitcoin right up to $259, and then were promptly Rekt. The price fell as quickly as it rose through $250 almost breaching $240 within two trading days.

Range set in at the $240 to $245 level. As this newsletter is going to press the price broke out of the range and looks to retake $250. A solid break through $250, and the $260 resistance level will be reattempted. A second failure to breach $260 could spell trouble for the bulls. $220 where we were only weeks ago, could become a reality again quite quickly.

Trade Recommendation:

Buy XBTN15 if spot breaks through $250 with a $260 target price. If higher highs are made on declining volume, take profit between $257-$260. Otherwise, hold on for $300.


Litecoin: The Bitcoin Oracle

The recent breakout of the Bitcoin price, was preceded by a even more aggressive breakout in the price of Litecoin. The chart above is the price of Litecoin and Bitcoin on Bitfinex. The two currencies are correlated and Litecoin recently has moved in advance of Bitcoin. The Litecoin price doubled in the last few days, while Bitcoin rallied over 10%.

For Bitcoin, the next important technical level is $260. $260 served as support during the last rally to $300. A break above $260 and traders will set their sights on $300 again. A failure and a swift fall back to $220 is likely. After the impressive 100% rally in Litecoin, the retrace was muted. Currently Litecoin is only a few cents shy of the local high of $3.27. Bitcoin pushed to $259 and then swiftly fell to $243. The price has stabilised around $250, and with an eye on Litecoin another push to $260 is a likely scenario.