Fifty-one days have passed since Bitcoin (BTC) last closed above $24,000, causing even the most bullish trader to question whether a sustainable recovery is feasible. However, despite the lackluster price action, bulls have the upper hand on Friday's $510 million BTC options expiry.
Investors have been reducing their risk exposure as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and unwinds its record $8.9 trillion balance sheet. As a result, the Bloomberg Commodity Index (BCOM), which measures price changes in crude oil, natural gas, gold, corn and lean hogs, has traded down 9% in the same period.
Traders continue to seek protection via U.S. Treasuries and cash positions as San Francisco Fed president Mary Daly said on Aug. 2 that the central bank's fight against inflation is "far from done." With that being said, the tighter monetary impact on inflation, employment levels and the global economy are yet to be seen.
Bearish bets are mostly below $22,000
Bitcoin's recovery above $22,000 on July 27 took bears by surprise because only 28% of the put (sell) options for Aug. 5 have been placed above such a price level. Meanwhile, Bitcoin bulls may have been fooled by the $24,500 pump on July 30, as 59% of their bets lay above $25,000.
A broader view using the 1.60 call-to-put ratio shows more bullish bets because the call (buy) open interest stands at $315 million against the $195 million put (sell) options. Nevertheless, as Bitcoin currently sits above $23,000, most bearish bets will likely become worthless.
For instance, if Bitcoin's price remains above $23,000 at 8:00 am UTC on Aug. 5, only $19 million worth of these put (sell) options will be available. This difference happens because there is no use in a right to sell Bitcoin at $22,000 or $20,000 if it trades above that level on expiry.
Bulls might pocket a $200 million profit
Below are the four most likely scenarios based on the current price action. The number of options contracts available on Aug. 5 for call (bull) and put (bear) instruments varies, depending on the expiry price. The imbalance favoring each side constitutes the theoretical profit:
- Between $20,000 and $22,000: 100 calls vs. 3,700 puts. The net result favors bears by $75 million.
- Between $22,000 and $24,000: 1,400 calls vs. 1,600 puts. The net result is balanced between call (buy) and put (sell) instruments.
- Between $24,000 and $25,000: 3,800 calls vs. 100 puts. The net result favors bulls to $90 million.
- Between $25,000 and $26,000: 0 calls vs. 7,900 puts. Bulls extend their gains to $200 million.
This crude estimate considers the call options used in bullish bets and the put options exclusively in neutral-to-bearish trades. Even so, this oversimplification disregards more complex investment strategies.
Bears have less margin required to suppress Bitcoin price
Bitcoin bulls need to push the price above $24,000 on Aug. 5 to secure a $90 million profit. On the other hand, the bears' best-case scenario requires pressure below $22,000 to set their gains at $75 million.
However, Bitcoin bears had $140 million leverage short positions liquidated on July 26-27, according to data from Coinglass. Consequently, they have less margin required to push the price lower in the short term.
The most probable scenario is a draw, causing the Bitcoin price to range between $22,000 and $24,000 ahead of the Aug. 5 options expiry.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.