Why This ‘Short Bitcoin’ ETF Is Down 1.13% Despite BTC Dropping 21%

Markets

The first “short Bitcoin” fund, ProShares’ Short Bitcoin Strategy ETF, is down by more than 1% since its launch despite BTC declining 21% from $20,700 to $17,200 during the same time period. The negative return is largely attributed to the daily costs related to BITI and its structure.

BITI in Red Despite Bitcoin Price Crash

Launched by ProShares, a premier provider of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), BITI is the first fund aimed to allow investors to bet against the price of the flagship cryptocurrency. BITI is a futures-based exchange-traded fund seeking to inversely track the performance of the S&P CME Bitcoin Futures Index.

There has been some interest in the fund because it could be pretty burdensome for some investors to acquire short exposure to Bitcoin with traditional methods. That is because most centralized crypto exchanges have strict restrictions that make it challenging to naked short Bitcoin. Moreover, the financing costs can reach between 5% and 20%.

Therefore, BITI, which charges an expense ratio of 0.95%, can be a more cost-efficient approach to betting against Bitcoin, particularly in the short term. However, it is worth noting that BITI seeks to obtain exposure through bitcoin futures contracts. Thus, it can be very complicated. The ETF seeks a return equal to -1x the return of BTC on a single day. This means the compounding effects can lead to losses if the fund is held for the long term even if the underlying asset is in decline.

Furthermore, due to its structure and the daily costs, the fund could be very expensive over the long run. This describes why BITI is down 1.13% since its launch, even though BTC has declined 21% from $20,700 to $17,200. Consequently, BITI has underperformed a naked BTC short by 22%.

BITI Outflows Increase as BTC Stabilizes

In the wake of the FTX collapse, cryptocurrency prices went into a free fall. Bitcoin, trading above the $20,000 mark, plunged to below $16,000, dropping to two-year low levels. The broader crypto market also lost around 20% amid the turbulence.

In the meantime, BITI experienced massive inflows. Specifically, the fund saw a daily inflow equivalent of 2,730 BTC on November 9, leading its short exposure to surge to new all-time highs. Inflows remained high in the next couple of days as the market embraced the FTX contagion, causing BITI’s short exposure to grow to an equivalent of 7,890 BTC at its peak on November 28.

In recent days, however, BITI has seen a surge in outflows as crypto prices continue to stabilize. On the last day of November, BITI experienced outflows equivalent to 860 BTC. Similarly, December 1 saw 760 BTC worth of outflows, which mark the third and fourth largest daily outflows from BITI since launch, according to a report by Arcane.

The report also claimed that most of the inflows since November 9 have been unprofitable as the spike in inflows coincided with BTC bottoming. It added:

“Inflows to the short ETF tend to occur amidst peak market fear, and we have previously noted a pattern of BITI’s AUM peaking near BTC bottom depths. This could suggest that countertrading extreme BITI flows could be a promising trading strategy.”

This article originally appeared on The Tokenist

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