Bitcoin bears well positioned for Friday’s $2.5 billion options expiry

A year-end wager for $80,000 Bitcoin (BTC) might seem entirely off the table now, but not so much back in March as BTC rallied to $48,000. Unfortunately, the two-week 25% gains that culminated with the $48,220 peak on March 28 were followed by a brutal bear market.

It is important to highlight that the U.S. stock market likely has driven those events, as the S&P 500 index peaked at 4,631 on March 29 but traded down 21% to 3,640 by mid-June.

Moreover, such a date coincides with the centralized cryptocurrency lender Celsius issues, which halted withdrawals on June 12, and the venture capital 3 Arrows Capital (3AC) insolvency on June 15.

While the fear of an economic downturn has undoubtedly triggered the cryptocurrency bear market, the reckless mismanagement of centralized billion-dollar entities is what sparked the liquidations, pushing prices even lower.

To cite a few of those events, TerraUSD/Luna collapsed in mid-May, crypto lender Voyager Digital in early July, and the second largest exchange and market marker, FTX/Alameda Research’s bankruptcy in mid-November.

In addition, the quasi-tragical sequence of events hit unsuspected victims, including publicly-listed mining companies such as Core Scientific, forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 21. Despite the bulls’ best efforts, Bitcoin has not been able to post a daily close above $18,000 since Nov. 9.

This movement explains why the $2.47 billion Bitcoin year-end options expiry will likely benefit bears despite being vastly outnumbered by bullish bets.

Most bullish bets targeted $20,000 or higher

Bitcoin broke below $20,000 in early November when the FTX collapse began, taking year-end option traders by surprise.

For instance, a mere 18% of the call (buy) options for the monthly expiry have been placed below $20,000. Thus, bears are better positioned even though they placed fewer bets.

Bitcoin options aggregate open interest for Dec. 30. Source: CoinGlass

A broader view using the 1.61 call-to-put ratio largely favors bullish bets because the call (buy) open interest stands at $1.52 billion against the…

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