If there are any lessons to be learned from the American sub-prime mortgage crisis, the 2008 stock market crash (information here) and Wall Street bailout that followed - and there are lots of lessons - it is that borrowed money can be very dangerous in investments, even when it is being handled professionally. The failure of LTCM, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Northern Rock and many others shows just how precarious a business model can be with too much gearing.
The cryptocurrency market, while far from being in its infancy, is an extremely volatile market which is not subject to regulations, and thus can be subject to manipulations of all kind. There are many trends which impact operations on a daily basis: rumours can fuel the price of one cryptocurrency, some people or groups can apply « pump and dump » techniques etc. I will try to cover these, but please take good note of the following warning:
Sell walls: the action of artificially keeping the price of a cryptocurrency asset low by placing a large sell order. Large financial operators or investors (nicknamed « whales ») may want to artificially keep the price of a cryptocurrency low so that they can keep accumulating quietly, without causing a sharp rise in price. These are called « walls » because on exchanges, the graphics showing offer and demand will show a very high « wall » on the offer size. The mechanism is that the investor will put a very large sell order (usually 100 to 1000 times more cryptocurrency units than regular orders). Because of how exchanges operate, the sell will only take place if there is sufficient demand to fulfil the entire order, so smaller operators who have a real need/urge to sell would have to sell below that wall (i.e. cheaper) to make sure they can get paid. This will cause a condition where the price will stagnate, allowing those whales to put as much smaller buy orders as they need. Sell walls may be removed once the buying whales have reached their objectives.
It pays to shop around some before deciding on where you want to open an account, and to check out our broker reviews. We list minimum deposits at the top of each review. Some firms do not require minimum deposits. Others may often lower costs, like trading fees and account management fees, if you have a balance above a certain threshold. Still, others may give a certain number of commission-free trades for opening an account.
But this isn’t your typical market, and you can’t show up and pick your shares off a shelf the way you select produce at the grocery store. Individual traders are typically represented by brokers — these days, that’s often an online broker. You place your stock trades through the broker, which then deals with the exchange on your behalf. (Need a broker? See our analysis of the best stockbrokers for beginners.)
You're probably looking for deals and low prices, but stay away from penny stocks. These stocks are often illiquid, and chances of hitting a jackpot are often bleak. Many stocks trading under $5 a share become de-listed from major stock exchanges and are only tradable over-the-counter (OTC). Unless you see a real opportunity and have done your research, stay clear of these.
A stop-loss order is designed to limit losses on a position in a security. For long positions, a stop loss can be placed below a recent low, or for short positions, above a recent high. It can also be based on volatility. For example, if a stock price is moving about $0.05 a minute, then you may place a stop loss $0.15 away from your entry to give the price some space to fluctuate before it moves in your anticipated direction.
Dollar-cost average: This sounds complicated, but it’s not. Dollar-cost averaging means investing a set amount of money at regular intervals, such as once per week or month. That set amount buys more shares when the stock price goes down and fewer shares when it rises, but overall, it evens out the average price you pay. Some online brokerage firms let investors set up an automated investing schedule.