Bitcoin (BTC) price crashed to $15,500 on Nov. 21, driving the price to its lowest level in two years. The 2-day-long correction totaled an 8% downtrend and wiped out $230 million worth of leverage long (buy) futures contracts.
The price move gave the false impression to bears that a sub-$15,500 expiry on the Dec. 9 options expiry was feasible, but those bets are unlikely to pay off as the deadline approaches.
Year-to-date, Bitcoin price is 65% down for 2022, but the leading cryptocurrency remains a top 30 global tradable asset class ahead of tech giants like Meta Platforms (META), Samsung (005930.KS), and Coca-Cola (KO).
Investors’ main concern is still the possibility of a recession if the U.S. Federal Reserve raises rates for longer than expected. Proof of this comes from Dec. 2 data which showed that 263,000 jobs were created in November, signaling the Fed’s effort to slow the economy and bring down inflation remains a work in progress.
On Dec. 7, Wells Fargo director Azhar Iqbal wrote in a note to clients that “all told, financial indicators point to a recession on the horizon.” Iqbal added, “taken together with the inverted yield curve, markets are clearly braced for a recession in 2023.”
Bears were overly pessimistic and will suffer the consequences
The open interest for the Dec. 9 options expiry is $320 million, but the actual figure will be lower since bears were expecting sub-$15,500 price levels. These traders became overconfident after Bitcoin traded below $16,000 on Nov. 22.
The 1.19 call-to-put ratio reflects the imbalance between the $175 million call (buy) open interest and the $145 million put (sell) options. Currently, Bitcoin stands at $16,900, meaning most bearish bets will likely become worthless.
If Bitcoin’s price remains near $17,000 at 8:00 am UTC on Dec. 9, only $16 million worth of these put (sell) options will be available. This difference happens because the right to sell Bitcoin at $16,500 or $15,500 is useless if BTC trades above that level on expiry.
Bulls aim for $18k to secure a $130 million profit
Below are the four most likely scenarios based on the current price action. The number of options contracts available on Dec. 9 for call (bull) and put (bear) instruments varies, depending on the expiry price. The imbalance favoring each side constitutes the theoretical profit:
- Between $15,500 and $16,500: 200 calls vs. 2,100 puts. The net result favors the put (bear) instruments by $30 million.
- Between $16,500 and $17,000: 1,700 calls vs. 1,500 puts. The net result is balanced between bears and bulls.
- Between $17,000 and $18,000: 5,500 calls vs. 100 puts. The net result favors the call (bull) instruments by $100 million.
- Between $18,000 and $18,500: 7,300 calls vs. 0 puts. Bulls completely dominate the expiry by profiting $130 million.
This crude estimate considers the put options used in bearish bets and the call options exclusively in neutral-to-bullish trades. Even so, this oversimplification disregards more complex investment strategies.
For example, a trader could have sold a put option, effectively gaining positive exposure to Bitcoin above a specific price, but unfortunately, there’s no easy way to estimate this effect.
Related: Institutional investors still eye crypto despite the FTX collapse
Bulls probably have less margin to support the price
Bitcoin bulls need to push the price above $18,000 on Friday to secure a potential $130 million profit. On the other hand, the bears’ best-case scenario requires a slight push below $16,500 to maximize their gains.
Bitcoin bulls just had $230 million leverage long positions liquidated in two days, so they might have less margin required to support the price.
Considering the negative pressure from traditional markets due to recession concerns and raising interest rates, bears will likely avoid a loss by keeping Bitcoin below $17,000 on Dec 9.
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This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.