The Federal Reserve says the Bitcoin Futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) are the reason the Bitcoin bear market began. Indeed, the Dec. 17, 2017 launch date of the CME Bitcoin futures coincided with the beginning of Bitcoin’s crash from $20,000 to as low as $3,100 in December 2018.
This is perhaps due to immense short selling pressure combined with the printing of vast quantities of paper Bitcoins on CME. The Bitcoin futures on CME are operated by Globex, the same organization that suppresses global gold prices via the printing of paper gold on COMEX.
Aside from the long term damaging effects on the Bitcoin market, it seems possible that there are shorter term impacts associated with the expiration of futures contracts. The CME Bitcoin futures contracts for a particular month expire on the last Friday of the month, except if there is a holiday in the United Kingdom or United States. A full list of CME Bitcoin futures contract expiration dates can be found at this link.
This expiration date marks the benchmark used to payout profits and losses, and it is possible that futures traders manipulate the price of Bitcoin to optimize their profits. For example, when short selling, a common practice is “banging the close,” in which traders manipulate the underlying asset’s spot price to drop lower to increase profits from short selling. It is also possible for traders in long positions to manipulate the market to go higher right as the expiration happens, which could perhaps also be called “banging the close.”
In this analysis, Crypto.IQ explores the actual data to see if there is any anomalous activity around the time CME futures contracts expire.
First, the CME Bitcoin futures expiration dates are overlaid on a chart from Bitcoinwisdom.com for the entire year of 2018, and there is an additional line for the launch date on Dec. 17, 2017, which makes it extremely clear that the genesis of the CME Bitcoin futures market had a substantial impact on the Bitcoin market from the very beginning.
Without doing any deep analysis, it seems that many significant peaks and dips in the Bitcoin market coincide with the CME Bitcoin futures expiration dates. This would suggest there is plenty of banging the close occurring.
Crypto.IQ will analyze each of these CME Bitcoin future settlement dates individually to get a clearer picture.
Image courtesy Bitcoinwisdom.com.
Image courtesy Bitcoinwisdom.com.
The line at the left side of the chart shows the date that CME Bitcoin futures launched, Dec. 17, 2017. The line at the right side (not to be confused with the far right line which is the Y axis) shows the date the first Bitcoin futures contract on CME expired, Jan. 26, 2018.
This contract was an extreme win for short sellers, and despite an attempted rally around the 2018 New Year, the market had declined to $11,000 by the time the contract expired. There is no sign that there is an acute case of banging the close, but perhaps banging the close was not even needed at the expiration since the market fell so hard. It is possible that CME futures traders banged the close all month long.
The line in the above chart shows the second CME Bitcoin Futures contracts expiration on February 23. In this case, banging the close seems pretty obvious. An attempted bounce-back rally that peaked five days before the expiration was stomped out, and Bitcoin hit a local minima right around the time the contracts expired. Then the rally re-starts and continues into early March.
The February futures expiration date perhaps gives an understanding of how the CME Bitcoin futures can be very detrimental for the market long term. If traders made short sell bets on Bitcoin, but then Bitcoin begins to have a serious rally, they may coordinate to end the rally. In this case, Bitcoin rallied from $6,000 to nearly $12,000, only to crash below $10,000 when the expiration occurred.
Bitcoin then returned exactly to the peak of this rally near $12,000 once the futures contracts expiration was over. The question is, how high would Bitcoin have rallied if there were not people manipulating the spot market to better their short positions on the futures markets?
The March 29 Bitcoin futures expiration is an excellent example of banging the close. The volume speaks a thousand words, since selling rapidly accelerated and peaked right when the futures contracts for March expired. This futures contracts expiration dropped Bitcoin below $7,000, and it took at least 10 days for the Bitcoin market to recover from this bottom that was likely induced by CME futures-related manipulation. This March expiration is a good example of how a major Bitcoin price crash can be related to the monthly CME Bitcoin futures contracts expiration.
After the catastrophic Bitcoin futures contracts expiration in March, perhaps many traders thought Bitcoin had bottomed out, and a rally soon started after a 10-day recovery period. The rally continued until…