Bitcoin bears could face $440M loss in Friday’s options expiry
The rejection that followed Bitcoin’s (BTC) rally to $26,500 may appear to be a victory for bears, but $24,750 on March 14 was the highest daily close in nine months. Furthermore, Bitcoin has gained 26.5% since March 10, when the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation shut down Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).
The recent price increase could be attributed to various factors, including the extraordinary $25 billion funding by the Federal Reserve and the United States Treasury on March 12, which reduced banks’ systemic risks. Nonetheless, Bitcoin bulls are well positioned to profit up to $440 million when weekly options expire on March 17.
How Silicon Valley Bank triggered a stablecoin bank run
Before its downfall, SVB’s total assets surpassed $200 billion, placing it among the top 20 financial institutions in the United States. Nonetheless, the most direct impact on the cryptocurrency market was the $3.3 billion deposit from Circle’s USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin reserves. USDC’s net redemptions totaled $3 billion between March 13-15, as the stablecoin traded below parity.
Signature Bank (SI), closed down on March 12 by the New York Department of Financial Services, added to the negative pressure on crypto markets. Silvergate was more important to the crypto industry because it provided services to many crypto-related businesses, including Coinbase, Celsius and Paxos.
This movement may explain why the $1.2 billion Bitcoin weekly options expiry on March 18 will almost certainly benefit bulls. However, a drop in commodity prices, particularly for oil, could have an impact on cryptocurrencies.
Crude oil at its lowest price since December 2021
Oil prices fell 10% between March 9-15, reaching their lowest levels in over a year, amid concerns that a banking-sector confidence crisis could cause a recession and reduce oil demand.
According to government data released on March 16, U.S. crude stockpiles increased by 1.6 million barrels last week, adding to market bearishness. The increase was higher than the consensus forecast of a 1.2 million barrel build-up.
If the fear of contagion spreads to other markets, Bitcoin may struggle to maintain the price levels required to profit $360 million or more on the March 17 options expiry.
Bears placed more bets, but the vast majority will be worthless
Open interest for the March 17 options expiry is $1.2 billion, but the actual figure will be lower because bears have concentrated their bets on Bitcoin trading below $23,500.
The difference in open interest between the $590 million call (buy) options and the $640 million put (sell) options is reflected in the 0.93 call-to-put ratio. The expected outcome, however, is likely to be much lower, as bears were caught off guard when Bitcoin’s price surged above $23,000 on March 13.
For example, if the price of Bitcoin remains near $24,500 at 8:00 a.m. UTC on March 17, there will only be $32 million in put (sell) options available. This distinction arises because the right to sell Bitcoin at $23,000 or $24,000 becomes null if BTC trades above that level on expiry.
Related: Blockchain Association seeks info from Fed, FDIC and OCC on ‘de-banking’ crypto firms
The most likely outcomes favor bulls by a wide margin
Below are the four most likely scenarios based on current price action. The number of options contracts available on March 17 for call (buy) and put (sell) instruments varies depending on the expiry price. The imbalance favoring each side constitutes the theoretical profit:
- Between $23,000 and $24,000: 9,900 calls vs. 5,800 puts. The net result favors the call (buy) instruments by $100 million.
- Between $24,000 and $24,500: 11,400 calls vs. 3,700 puts. The net result favors the call instruments by $185 million.
- Between $24,500 and $25,500: 15,100 calls vs. 700 puts. Bulls increase their advantage to $360 million.
- Between $25,500 and $26,000: 17,500 calls vs. 300 puts. Bulls’ advantage increases to $440 million.
This rough estimate considers only call options in bullish bets and put options in neutral-to-bearish trades. Nonetheless, this oversimplification excludes more complex investment strategies.
A trader, for example, could have sold a call option, effectively gaining negative exposure to Bitcoin above a specific price, but there is no easy way to estimate this effect.
To significantly reduce their losses, Bitcoin bears must push the price below $24,000 on March 17. However, bears have less margin to apply negative pressure given the $240 million liquidation in leveraged short contracts using futures between March 12-15.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.