Not just you: Bitcoin ETFs are only just treading water

Bitcoin has us all glued to the charts. Few likely more so than this year’s freshman class of bitcoin ETF buyers.

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cybermagician/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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The price of bitcoin was today more than 20% below its record set in March, which, going by the traditional finance narrative, would mean it’s now entered a bear market.

Those old rules don’t really apply to crypto. Bitcoin, ether and practically all other cryptocurrencies regularly see swings of that scale, also during bull markets, even if they’re becoming less common.

All of this puts buyers of the new spot bitcoin ETFs in an awkward spot. The funds debuted in early January — when bitcoin traded around $44,000 — three months before its current all-time high of nearly $73,400. 

Bitcoin was changing hands for about $57,800 early Monday morning, but by 10:30 am ET had slipped back above $56,000.

The share price of each ETF closely tracks the price of bitcoin, which means buyers are about as well off as anyone who’d bought bitcoin at the same time. 

But are the funds themselves still up on the bitcoin they’ve bought for their shareholders to date?

Luckily, comparing daily flow data with bitcoin prices gives a decent estimate of how much bitcoin each fund bought per day. 

(As of June 5, the US bitcoin ETFs had altogether added $14.76 billion bitcoin to their treasuries since their launch. But for the sake of this analysis, we’ll remove GBTC from the calculation, which leaves the nine new ETFs with $33.37 billion net flows to date.)

A big round of inflows in early June coincided with bitcoin’s second attempt at staying above $71,000 in early June, but it’s down 20% since then

The purple line on the chart above shows bitcoin’s price performance, while the blue line represents the value of spot ETFs’ bitcoin treasuries over their cumulative net flows. Above zero means the bitcoin held by the ETFs is now worth more than what they roughly paid for it. 

Daily flows are the columns in the background. Notice they far outstripped GBTC outflows around bitcoin’s all-time high but dropped off significantly as bitcoin’s price retraced, which means few bought the dip to $58,200 in early May.

As a collective, the nine ETFs were on Monday morning down by 0.35% on their estimated bitcoin under management. By percentage value increase, Invesco-Galaxy’s BTCO’s bitcoin is still the furthest ahead by far, up 30% on its net flows to date. Bitcoin has gained only 25% across the same period, which started on Jan. 11. 

At $56,000 per bitcoin, five out of nine ETFs were holding less bitcoin value than their inflows

Most of BTCO’s inflows came in when bitcoin was low in January, while some shareholders  cashed out on the way up to record highs (buying low and selling high as a cohort).

On the first chart, click the swatches to toggle inflows per fund — remove everything except BTCO to see how its treasury has developed.

BlackRock’s IBIT was otherwise down 3% as of 11 am ET, not including whatever flows may have occurred on Monday morning. That’s the equivalent of $554 million lost on net flows of $17.74 billion. 

Fidelity’s FBTC is the best by dollar value, up 2.2% on $9.36 billion. Paper profits of around $198 million.

The blue column should be higher than the purple column

All these are general estimates based on imprecise data, but the trend is clear even if the figures aren’t exact. For anyone holding bitcoin, ETFs or any other form of crypto exposure, the big question right now is whether bitcoin has “double-topped,” a bearish pattern involving two price peaks of around the same level. 

Double tops happen when significant selling resistance is met, with buyers unable to break through the wall on two largely separate attempts. 

Bitcoin does look like it’s forming two peaks. However, there are rather strict rules about what constitutes a double top, particularly around the size of the corrections.

Popular trader Peter Brandt seemed to suggest on X overnight that bitcoin’s price hadn’t yet ticked those boxes. Which would be good news for ETF buyers — and everyone else.


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