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[Shibe Market Analysis] Manipulation & the Resilience of Markets

First off, I'm terribly sorry to have essentially disappeared and stopped publishing the Shibe Market Analysis. I've been "undercover", if you will, studying how the market is manipulated by the actor called "Wukong", and other so-called "whales". Here are my findings -
Signs of Whale Activity
The first signal of whale activity is a sharp increase in the traded volume, typically volumes will spike as much as 10x the normally traded amounts as the whale rapidly floods the market with orders to push the price in a certain direction. Typically this begins by removing a "wall", a large amount of BTC placed as orders at a certain price, which seemingly resists price movement in a direction. The whale often owns the majority of these orders, and by cancelling them causes regular traders to observe that there is suddenly much less resistance to price movement in a certain direction, and this in conjuction with the whale rapidly filling those orders which were not his causes the price to rapidly jump or fall, which in turn triggers "panic buying/selling" on the part of traders watching the price movement and the removal of this wall, which compounds the rapid price movement and causes the market to enter a state of hysteria.
A Historic Case
The best example of this is on the night of January 20th and early morning January 21st. You can actually see these bars on Dogemonitor. Throughout the day session on january 20th, volumes were noticeably higher, slowly pushing prices upwards. Following this, the first massive price spike occured at 19:00, and BTC was continually pumped into the market to a price of 242 satoshis - this is the effect of the market hysteria caused by those initial large purchases knocking down "sell walls", while simultaneously publicizing the fact that a mysterious chinese investor has come to "pump" doge. Then, an orchestrated effort on their part quickly causes a massive panic selloff, whereupon a few large sell orders "juke" traders into panic selling as they fear the rapid rise will be followed by a rapid fall, and the whale grabs the panic sells as traders panic in a process known as a "shakeout" or "washing", or zhencang. This allows the whale to recapitalize their investment at a lower price, essentially juking traders into selling their assets out of fear, while the whale knows full well when the dust is settled the price will be higher. With regard to the psychological game Wukong plays, he tells those in the IRC to "hold no matter what", serving two purposes - one, it makes sure he remains in control of the bounce back, namely that no one in the IRC "jumps the gun" and pushes prices up before he has a chance to start buying at the rock bottom, and two - those who do fall for his shakeout, despite his warning, are more inclined to trust him and not themselves, as they were just juked out of gains (without realizing it was Wukong who juked them in the first place).
Daily Whale Tactics
Nevertheless, such a large investment ("pump") on their part is quite expensive, and to recoup and profit from their antics whales have a more insidious and profitable method of profit-generating manipulation than simply "pumping". Studying the chart over the history from January 20th to today, you will notice that within the overall down trend from the high, there are also periodic cycles downwards, where the price holds for some time, followed by upwards, where the price holds for some time. This is how the whale makes money.
The process consists of placing a "wall", a large amount of BTC discouraging traders from betting on price movement in that direction, and encouraging greedy traders to bet in the same direction as the wall - e.g. a sell wall at 165 encourages traders to sell at 164, to try and "undercut" the wall. The whale knows this, and happily will buy up all the sell orders coming in at 164, causing the market to "stall", essentially pausing any movement while the whale quietly accumulates doge. Occasionally a whale will allow prices to fall even further, should the selling ramp up, and then move the sell wall down, allowing the whale to continue racking up doge at cheaper and cheaper prices. Once the whale has accumulated a hefty position in doge, he removes the sell wall and simultaneous places large buy orders at prices higher than market, pushing the market up and inciting traders to quickly buy in, in anticipation of a pump. This causes a rapid escalation in prices, and further large buys placed by the whale allow him to influence the other traders to push the market to whatever price target the whale has in mind. At this point, the whale locks in the price by placing the remaining BTC he has as a "buy order" at a price slightly lower than market, encouraging the traders to place buy orders slightly above his wall. The whale slowly sells the doge he bought earlier when prices were lower to this trickle of buyers, and can then continue to repeat this process by using walls to influence the market before rapidly changing the price, all the while extracting smaller traders' capital.
This process is akin to how wolves or predatory whales intentionally herd and then trap their prey, and is very much rooted in influencing the psychology of other traders, particularly by spreading disinformation and by taking advantage of the fact that crypto-traders have less experience with valuations based on fundamentals, and are more akin to rely on technical analysis, the information immediately presented before them on cryptsy, and rumors and hearsay in making their trading decisions. It also makes great use of herd mentality and the tendency of inexperienced traders to panic.
Whale Signals
You may wonder what happens when two whales are present, and how whales are able to coordinate their efforts - I've found that this is done through the chart, and that before a major price movement, a whale will announce their intent to other whales that may be in the market through a high volume bar, much higher volume than those surrounding it, that will rapidly push the price in the intended direction and then bring it back down immediately, which appears on the chart as an "arrow", marked by high volume and a large extruding wick in the intended direction. Should another whale disagree, they will use the same process to signal in the opposite direction, or if they agree will re-signal the same arrow. I am murky on the details, but through this process they reach an agreement and will move the price in the intended direction once all the whales have finished their transactions at the current price. Whales realize it is to their benefit to work together, and so will swallow their pride and allow the market to move against them in the short-term in order to continue the highly profitable "milking" of smaller traders in the long-term.
Extreme Price Manipulation
In addition to the usage of walls, I have observed a second, more extreme technique used to move the market when the strength of small traders is not enough, which Wukong refers to as "one hand to the other". The process, when intended to push the market up, has the whale place a sell order at a certain price, and simultaneously place a larger buy order at that price, rapidly causing the price to escalate to that price and consuming all sell orders in between, including the sell order placed by the whale. This causes an even more extreme movement of small traders than simply walling, as traders watching the price rapidly flock to the movement caused by the whale, causing an even more extreme price change. Repeated usage of this technique can cause the price to soar or tumble very rapidly, and is possible because it constantly recycles the holdings of BTC and doge in the whale's portfolio. However, there is a limit set by those orders which have to be eaten in order to move the price, and this places a constraint on how far the whale can move the price with their singular portfolio - it is possible that a group of whales combining their portfolio values to move the market can cause stupendous movements, like the one on January 20th - 21st.
Notes about walls
It is important to remember that the "walls" that are placed can be seen by everyone, and since a whale does not want you to catch onto their activities, the walls are meant to trick you. I have observed that whales actually place very small, typically 1000-10000 doge orders, repeatedly very quickly through the use of automated "bots", programmed using the cryptsy and other exchanges API. The walls are a distraction to allow their true trades to go undetected, and smart shibes will make it a point to discount the information gleaned from analyzing the dealbook. It is much more informative to instead study the actual market order history, as these are the orders than have been placed and can't simply be removed by pressing a button - often times you will find that even though a large sell is in place, the market order history shows that BTC is flowing in to doge - meaning prices will rise shortly.
What it means to you
These tactics are not reserved to dogecoin, and while doge may be past the point that a single group can manipulate the price, these same tactics will be used in other crypto-markets until exchanges take it upon themselves or governments mandate that the same rules governing forex and futures markets be applied in crypto-markets. Traders should be wary in the mean time.
A small trader can still compete in this environment, especially armed with the above knowledge. In the IRC, I noted one specific small trader using the moniker "WhaleWhisperer", who was able to accurately read the whale signals and profit from their manipulation. Nevertheless, constantly watching the market and playing the psychological warfare game of the whales is taxing, and being wrong without solid risk management can rapidly erase value from a trader's portfolio. Traditional advice and strategies of finance are the most solid protective measure a small trader can take against manipulation, namely portfolio diversification (try to hold a good chunk of your portfolio in BTC, perhaps some LTC or other scrypts, and never more than 50% of your crypto net worth in doge, no matter how strongly you believe in it), re-allocating your portfolio after large price movements, and proper risk management on trading (never trade more than 10% of your portfolio value, and you should aim to only actively trade 2% or less). AFK trading, by which I mean deciding on good entry and exit prices beforehand, placing your orders, and then leaving your computer, is also an excellent strategy to avoid the mind games played by whales on tired and impulsive traders glued to their screens. Finally, having a fundamental valuation method allowing you to create your own "fair value" of DOGE is probably the strongest weapon against market manipulation. If your model is sound and correct in the long-run, prices will converge to your forecast, and your mind will be all the more stronger against manipulative tactics because of your deep-seated faith in your model. Put shortly, a fundamentals-based valuation is the defining line between "trading" and "investing". In subsequent articles I will outline how you can construct and use such a fundamentals based model.
Happy trading shibes, and I'm glad to be back to this wonderful community. It's truly the community at /dogecoin and the related subs that instills long-lasting value in doge, and I hope that long after we get past market manipulation and have reached the moon that the same supportive community still exists.
Disclaimer: I am not psychic and do not actually know where the market is going; I'm pretty sure the market doesn't know where its going either (except TO THE MOON!). Please do not base your trading decisions solely on the above analysis, and never trade more than you're comfortable losing. Finally, please do not hate/sue me if trades don't go your way, but if they do go your way, it was totally because you read this article :)
If you're looking to learn how to trade or just want a quick refresher, check out my ongoing series, or if you just want to subscribe to these market analyses check out DogeTrader.
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