Bitcoin Futures to Blame for Crypto Market’s “Gut-Wrenching” Drop, Says Fundstrat Analyst Tom Lee

Omar Faridi
  • Fundstrat analyst Tom Lee wrote that bitcoin futures reaching their expiration dates are to blame for the cryptocurrency market’s recent drop.
  • The data science expert believes that institutional investors have not made substantial investments in the cryptocurrency market due to a lack of proper tools.

Fundstrat Global Advisors co-founder Thomas Lee recently stated that the sharp drop in bitcoin’s price may be linked to the expiration of bitcoin futures contracts. According to Lee, the “significant volatility” of the flagship cryptocurrency could be due to CME and Cboe futures having reached their expiration dates.

Moreover, the data science expert believes that while technical issues and market sentiment have been “awful”, the expiration of bitcoin futures might have played a bigger role in the decline of bitcoin’s market capitalization. The Fundstrat head of research said:

“Bitcoin sees dramatic price changes around CBOE futures expirations. We compiled some of the data and this indeed seems to be true.”

Tom Lee

Lee pointed out that since Cboe’s bitcoin futures contractswere introduced in December 2017, they have expired six times, with the most recent one expiring on June 13. Citing Raptor Capital Management crypto investor Justin Saslaw’s analysis, Lee thinks that the drop in bitcoin’s price can be attributed to the expiration of bitcoin futures contracts.

In his report, the Fundstrat analyst notes that bitcoin's price fell approximately 18 percent 10 days prior to the financial products’ expiration, followed by a recovery felt 6 days after expiration.

“Handsome Profits” Shorting BTC Futures

Lee noted that should people short bitcoin futures as they approach their expiration date and go long on the cryptocurrency, investors could sell a big portion of their holdings at volume-weighted average price (VWAP) with a minimal tracking error.

He also added that the bitcoinsleft could be sold as the expiration date approaches, which would result in declining prices. This way, those who short futures could end up “with a handsome profit”, Lee says.

Commenting on the current cryptocurrency market, the Fundstrat analyst stated that tools to attract institutional investors have not yet been properly developed, which has kept them from investing. He also wrote that numerous initial coin offerings (ICOs) and large amounts of cryptocurrency earned by miners, along with taxed capital gains, have resulted in a significantly greater net supply this year. Notably, Lee has in the past stated he sees bitcoin hit $25,000 by the end of the year, and $91,000 by March 2020.

Interestingly, Lee’s report has come at a time when the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) launched an investigation into four large cryptocurrency exchanges: Coinbase, Kraken, itBit, and Bitstamp.

All four exchanges have been sharing their financial data with the CME Group, which introduced BTC futures in December 2017. The CFTC probe is reportedly due to allegations regarding potential market manipulation.

Crypto Market Update: Focus on BTC, ETH, BCH, BNB, XMR, and DASH

Siamak Masnavi

This article provides a quick overview of how the crypto markets have been doing—with the focus on Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Binance Coin (BNB), Monero (XMR), and Dash (DASH)—over the past 24-hour period.

Overall, September 17th is proving to be a bit of a mixed day, with 12 of the top 20 cryptocurrencies (by market cap) in the red at press time (around 06:25 UTC).

BTC-USD

BTC-USD 24 Hour Chart - 17 Sep 2019.png

The bad news is that are still waiting for the launch of Bakkt's physically-delivered daily and monthly Bitcoin futures contracts. So, Bitcoin is still trading mostly sideways, hovering around the $10,300 mark. The good news is that the launch is expected to take place in less than one week (i.e. on September 23), as was confirmed by this tweet that Bakkt sent out on September 16:

ETH-USD

ETH-USD 24 Hour Chart - 17 Sep 2019.png

The Ether (ETH) price continues its upward movement toward the $200 mark, up another 2.24% in the past 24-hour period (making it up 4.32% in the past 7-day period). What may have helped the Bitcoin price yesterday (September 16) is the announcement by crypto payment processor BitPay that in the near future it will be possible for its customers to accept Ether payments for purchases of goods and services. Also, the BitPay wallet will support Ether.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin had this to say about the news:

"It is exciting to see BitPay leading the way in integrating Ethereum into global payment systems. This truly opens up a new world of possibilities for the Ethereum ecosystem, and together we can continue to be a leading innovator for real world use cases for cryptocurrencies.

BCH-USD

BCH-USD 24 Hour Chart - 17 Sep 2019.png

On Monday (September 16), Bitcoin.com announced that it had entered into a strategic partnership with Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC, as a result of which the Bitcoin.com wallet will come preinstalled on HTC's current and upcoming blockchain phones (Exodus 1 and Exodus 1s):

BNB-USD

BNB-USD 24 Hour Chart - 17 Sep 2019.png

Although BNB is currently in the red, this may change during the next several hours once all of the six mini announcements that Binance plans to make today have come out:

The first of the six announcements that Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (aka "CZ") referred to is the addition of support for Cosmos (ATOM) to Binance's Margin Trading platform:

XMD-USD

XMR-USD 24 Hour Chart - 17 Sep 2019.png

OKEx Korea announced on Monday (September 16) that it intends to delist all five privacy coins it is currently supporting, i.e. XMR, DASH, ZEC, ZEN, and SBTC, due to concerns that these cryptocurrencies do not allow it to implement FATF's so-called "travel rule". 10 October 2019 is the date on which transaction (i.e. trading) support ends.

DASH-USD

DASH-USD 24 Hour Chart - 17 Sep 2019.png

Since OKEx Korea's delisting announcement mentioned DASH, you would expect it to be down today, just like XMR. However, it is not, and that is very likely due to the fact that today (September 17) is the day that trading in DASH is expected to start on Coinbase Pro on/after 09:00 PST (16:00 UTC) provided that there is sufficient liquidity.

Featured Image Court: Photo via Pixabay.com