Short Squeeze

Short Squeeze Overview

In financial markets, a short squeeze refers to a scenario where an asset's price increases significantly, which forces short sellers to buy it in order to cover their short positions and minimize losses. This, in turn, propels the price of the asset even higher. The same principle applies in the world of cryptocurrencies, including prominent ones such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, etc.

Short Selling in Cryptocurrency

Before understanding a short squeeze in the context of cryptocurrencies, it's crucial to first grasp the concept of short selling (or going short). In cryptocurrency trading, short selling is a strategy where a trader borrows a certain amount of a cryptocurrency they believe will depreciate in value. They sell it at current prices with the intention of buying it back at lower prices in the future. The difference between the selling price and the repurchase price is their profit. But, if the cryptocurrency's price rises instead of falling, the trader will need to buy it back at a higher price, leading to a loss.

Initiating a Short Squeeze

When the price of a shorted cryptocurrency starts to rise, it could trigger a short squeeze. Here’s how the mechanics work:

  • A cryptocurrency's price begins to increase, either due to positive news, a shift in market sentiment, or other factors.
  • Short sellers, noticing the uptrend, start feeling pressure, as any further increase may cause significant losses for them.
  • To prevent further losses, short sellers decide to cut their losses and exit their short positions. This involves buying back the cryptocurrency they previously sold.
  • This sudden surge of buying pressure from short sellers ends up further driving the price of the cryptocurrency up. This phenomenon—where short sellers rushing to cover their positions results in a sharp price increase—is referred to as a short squeeze.

Role of Short Squeezes in Cryptocurrency Market Volatility

Short squeezes can add to the inherent volatility of the cryptocurrency markets. As prices rise, more short sellers may rush to cover their positions, injecting more buying pressure into the market and leading to rapid price swings. It's important for traders and investors to understand the possibility of a short squeeze when assessing risk and making trading decisions.

Note: Cryptocurrency trading, just like trading in traditional securities, involves risk. Short selling can lead to significant losses, especially in volatile markets. Thus, new and inexperienced traders should be cautious about engaging in complex trading strategies such as short selling.

Examples of Short Squeezes in Cryptocurrency

Examples of Short Squeezes in Cryptocurrency

A short squeeze refers to a scenario in financial markets where a heavily shorted asset sees a rapid price increase. Such a situation basically compels those who bet against the asset, or short-sellers, to buy back into the asset to cover their positions and minimize losses. This frenzied buying further drives up the price of the asset, thus the 'squeeze'. In the ever-volatile world of cryptocurrencies, short squeezes are not uncommon. Here are some notable instances:

Bitcoin Short Squeeze of July 2018

One of the most noteworthy short squeezes in crypto history occurred with Bitcoin in July 2018. At this time, Bitcoin was trading just below $6,000, with many predicting a fall to $5,500 or even lower. The market was heavily shorted as traders bet on the price dropping. However, the announcement of major institutional investment in the sector saw the price abruptly surge. Within days, Bitcoin rose to $7,500, triggering a short squeeze as short-sellers rushed to cover their positions.

Ethereum Short Squeeze of February 2021

Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, experienced its own short squeeze event in February 2021. Despite the growing popularity of decentralized finance (DeFi) projects built on its blockchain, Ethereum was heavily shorted at the start of the year. However, the price began to rise rapidly in February, largely driven by the collective action of an online trading community. This unexpected price surge triggered a short squeeze as traders scrambled to close out their short positions, propelling the price even higher.

Chainlink Short Squeeze of August 2020

Chainlink, a popular altcoin, saw a remarkable short squeeze event in August 2020. Betting against the coin due to its continued upward momentum in preceding months, traders had set up large short positions. Nonetheless, the price started climbing, chiefly steered by growing demand for Chainlink's oracle services. This unexpected rally compelled short-sellers to cover their positions, generating a short squeeze that further amplified the price rise.


Cryptocurrency markets can be exceptionally volatile, and short squeeze events add another layer to this volatility. While they can lead to significant losses for those betting on price decreases, they also provide spurts of rapid price growth, which, if navigated skillfully, can lead to substantial gains for other traders.

Process of a Short Squeeze

Process of a Short Squeeze

A short squeeze is a phenomenon that typically occurs in financial markets when a heavily shorted asset, like a cryptocurrency or a stock, suddenly increases in value. This value increase can create a vicious cycle which forces short sellers - those betting that the price of the asset will fall - to buy the asset to cover their losses, which in turn drives the price of the asset even higher.

How Does a Short Squeeze Happen?

A short squeeze begins when there's a sudden price increase in an asset, which can be caused by any number of events ranging from a positive news announcement to a large institution buying up large quantities of the asset. Short sellers, who are essentially betting that the price of the asset will decrease, are suddenly faced with potential losses.

When the price of an asset short sellers are betting against rises rapidly, their potential losses also increase. In order to prevent further losses, short sellers may decide to exit their short positions. To do this, they need to buy the asset, which creates an influx of buyers in the market. This sudden demand often drives the asset's price even higher, causing what's known as a short squeeze.

Characteristics of a Short Squeeze

A short squeeze is characterized by a rapid rise in the price of an asset and a corresponding sharp increase in the asset's volume. This happens because short sellers are hurriedly trying to buy the asset to cover their short positions. The urgent nature of these purchases can create a feedback loop, where new buyers are attracted due to the rising price, leading to even greater demand and further price increases. The result is a rapid and significant price increase that can be far above the asset's intrinsic value and is often followed by a sharp price drop once the short squeeze has been exhausted.

Short Squeeze in Cryptocurrency

While short squeezes are possible in any financial market, the world of cryptocurrency trading is particularly prone to them because it's relatively volatile and many cryptocurrencies are thinly traded. The combination of a lack of liquidity (the ability to buy or sell without moving the price) and high leverage (the use of borrowed capital for trading), can create the perfect conditions for a short squeeze.

  • Lack of liquidity: Cryptocurrency markets are often less liquid than traditional financial markets, which means a significant buying activity - like short sellers covering their positions - can rapidly increase the price.
  • High leverage: Many cryptocurrency traders use high leverage, or the use of borrowed capital to amplify potential returns. However, this also means that losses can be amplified, which can cause short sellers to exit their positions if the market moves against them, fueling the short squeeze.
Effects of a Short Squeeze

Effects of a Short Squeeze

A Short Squeeze is a unique and impactful scenario in trading. It occurs when there is a sharp increase in the prices of a cryptocurrency, which forces a large number of short sellers to close their positions. Short sellers borrow shares of a currency, betting that its value will decrease. If it does, they can repurchase the shares at a lower price, return them and pocket the difference. However, if the price increases instead, short sellers will have to buy back the cryptocurrency at a higher price, causing a surge in demand and causing prices to escalate further. This phenomenon is known as a Short Squeeze.

Impact on Traders

Short Squeezes have mixed effects on traders, depending on their position. Short-sellers, who have bet that the price of the cryptocurrency will drop, face significant losses as they scramble to buy the cryptocurrency at a more expensive rate to cover their positions. For these traders, the Short Squeeze is a negative event.

Long traders, who own the cryptocurrency betting its price will rise, benefit enormously from a short squeeze. The sudden increase in purchasing by the short-sellers sends the cryptocurrency's price soaring, which allows the long traders to sell their currencies at higher prices for a great profit.

Market Volatility

A Short Squeeze moment can significantly increase market volatility. As the prices rise sharply, the market becomes unstable. This can create a frenzy, as traders rush to cut losses or capitalize on the price spikes. The massive buying and selling increase the market's emotional intensity, leading to more unpredictable price action, at least for the short term.

Value of the Respective Cryptocurrency

While a Short Squeeze can temporarily inflate the price of a cryptocurrency, it doesn't necessarily reflect its true value. The sharp increase is generally a result of extreme market conditions, not the cryptocurrency's underlying strength or potential. As such, the price often normalizes once the Short Squeeze concludes, bringing the price closer to its genuine value.

Overall, a Short Squeeze is a significant event in cryptocurrency trading, but it’s crucial for traders to not get caught up in the hype. It's always important to base decisions on careful analysis, rather than reacting impulsively to market volatility.

How to Predict and Respond to a Short Squeeze

How to Predict and Respond to a Short Squeeze

A Short Squeeze in the cryptocurrency market is a rapid increase in the price of a digital asset that occurs when there are large numbers of short positions betting on a price decline. The sudden price surge forces short sellers to buy back the asset to cover their positions, which in turn drives the price up even further. While predicting a Short Squeeze isn't easy, understanding market dynamics and indicators could help traders spot potential scenarios.

Market Dynamics and Indicators

Main indicators to consider are short interest, cost of borrowing and market sentiment. Short interest refers to the number of short positions opened against a cryptocurrency that have yet to be closed. A high short interest often indicates that a squeeze might be imminent. Similarly, when the cost of borrowing an asset increases, it suggests that there’s a high demand to short the asset. This also may indicate a potential squeeze. A sudden turn in market sentiment, with more positive news and growth prospects, can also accelerate a short squeeze.

Strategies for Identifying Short Squeeze Scenarios

  • Track short interest: Monitor different cryptocurrency exchanges to see if the short interest on a certain cryptocurrency is bloating. Remember, a sharp increase in short interest may signal the start of a squeeze.
  • Monitor cost of borrowing: Keep an eye on the borrowing cost. An increasing borrowing cost implies it’s getting more expensive to open short positions, forcing traders to cover their positions.
  • Sense the market sentiment: Be aware of the overall market sentiment. Positive news or collaboration announcements can lead to a positive shift in sentiment, thereby squeezing out short sellers.

Adapting to a Short Squeeze

While predicting a short squeeze with precision isn't entirely possible, traders can still adapt to the situation with the following steps:

  • Stay informed: Keep abreast with latest market news, trends and analysis. This will help to anticipate potential price movements.
  • Diversify your investments: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Diversifying your investment can mitigate potential losses and increase chances of overall profits.
  • Set Stop-Loss orders: Use stop-loss orders to protect yourself from severe potential losses. Such orders automatically sell your asset when it hits a certain price, preventing further losses.
  • Don't panic: In turbulent market situations, panic can lead to costly mistakes. Always stick to your trading plan, and don't let emotions drive your decisions.
Short Squeeze VS Long Squeeze

Short Squeeze VS Long Squeeze

A short squeeze happens when a cryptocurrency's price quickly increases unexpectedly. This rapid price surge often forces short sellers, who were betting on the cryptocurrency's price to fall, to buy it to prevent further losses. In most instances, short sellers are traders who borrow a cryptocurrency with the intention of selling it, hoping to buy it back later at a lower price. This way, they can return the borrowed currency and pocket the difference as profit.

A short squeeze happens when a cryptocurrency's price quickly increases unexpectedly. This rapid price surge often forces short sellers, who were betting on the cryptocurrency's price to fall, to buy it to prevent further losses. In most instances, short sellers are traders who borrow a cryptocurrency with the intention of selling it, hoping to buy it back later at a lower price. This way, they can return the borrowed currency and pocket the difference as profit.

However, when the price starts rising significantly, they run into a loss as they buy it back at a higher price. This panic buying can accelerate the cryptocurrency's price increase, which in turn traps other short sellers in a vicious cycle, pushing the price upwards even more. This phenomenon is what is known as a short squeeze.

Long Squeeze

On the other hand, a long squeeze is a sharp and unexpected drop in a cryptocurrency's price, primarily affecting those who bet on the price rising, also known as longs. These traders buy and hold a cryptocurrency with the hope its value will increase over time.

If the price starts to decrease significantly, these long traders may decide to cut their losses by selling their currencies. This rush to sell can fuel a steep decline in the currency's price. As more 'long' traders sell their holdings, the price drops further, causing more longs to sell - creating another vicious cycle. This process is known as a long squeeze.

  • Key difference: Both short squeeze and long squeeze are market phenomena triggered by unexpected price movements which result in a cycle of accelerated buying or selling. The key difference between them lies in the direction of the price move and the type of traders affected. A short squeeze involves a rapid price increase affecting short sellers while a long squeeze involves a quick price drop affecting long traders.