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Derivative Wars



Financial markets are renowned for their volatility, and Bitcoin, the pioneering digital currency, is no exception. A significant aspect of Bitcoin’s price fluctuations can be attributed to the derivative markets. These financial instruments allow traders to bet on the price of Bitcoin without actually owning the underlying asset. As such, derivatives hold immense power to sway Bitcoin’s market price, often leading to dramatic price movements due to events like short squeezes and mass liquidations.


Derivative markets include futures, options, and various other financial products. In these markets, investors can take positions that are leveraged, amplifying their exposure to Bitcoin’s price changes. It’s a double-edged sword; while it means profits can be significantly magnified, the potential for large losses is also enhanced.


A short squeeze occurs when the price of an asset, like Bitcoin, rises rapidly, compelling those who bet against it (short sellers) to buy back at higher prices to minimize losses. This buying pressure can drive the price up even further. For instance, in April 2021, Bitcoin saw a 10% price surge within an hour, believed to be partly due to a short squeeze triggered when the market unexpectedly moved against heavily leveraged short positions.


Liquidations in the derivative market happen when the price of Bitcoin moves sharply, and traders’ positions are closed by the exchange because they can no longer cover the margin requirements. As these positions are liquidated, it can lead to cascading sell-offs in the spot markets. An example of this occurred in May 2021 when Bitcoin experienced a drastic drop from around $58,000 to $30,000, leading to the liquidation of over $8 billion worth of cryptocurrency in a single day.

These events underline the derivative market’s impact on Bitcoin’s price. While derivatives offer opportunities for traders to hedge positions and for the market to find a consensus on price predictions, they also introduce layers of complexity and potential instability. As the cryptocurrency market matures, the influence of derivatives will likely continue to be a pivotal factor in the price dynamics of Bitcoin, underscoring the need for investors to tread cautiously within these highly leveraged environments.


Fast forward to November 9th, 2023, you’re seeing a rapid rise in Bitcoin price. Nonetheless, price increase is the result of massive, short orders closing their positions. Price zoned between $33k-$37k is a hotbed of short orders. This key zone could become a new demand zone once price breaks and closes above. Supply-side traders are using historical reference to short at these levels, however this could contribute to their liquidation.


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Written by Eric White

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