The forex market is a colossal financial ecosystem where over $7.5 trillion of currencies is traded daily. Its vastness and liquidity often make people believe it’s immune to manipulation. However, historical instances and recent revelations have proven otherwise.

What is Market Manipulation?

Market manipulation refers to actions taken by influential players in the market, such as large banks or financial institutions, to distort the market’s natural flow artificially. These actions often aim to deceive other market participants, creating an unfair trading environment.

Market manipulation targets securities’ prices by controlling or artificially affecting market dynamics. This could either be to inflate or deflate prices falsely. Is market manipulation illegal? Most Definitely. Such manipulation aims to capitalize on artificially induced market movements for personal gain.

In forex trading, entities with substantial trading clout often orchestrate market manipulation. These big players can significantly impact the price action, making market movements highly susceptible to their trading strategies.

Types of Market Manipulation

Market manipulators employ several tactics to distort price action and mislead market participants. The following sections highlight six prevalent methods of market manipulation in forex trading.

Market Rumors and Fake News

One of the most common manipulation tactics involves creating and spreading market rumors or fake news. Insiders often disseminate false information to drive price up or down, causing market participants to make misguided trading decisions.

Pump and Dump

This involves inflating the price of a currency artificially to entice other traders to buy and then abruptly selling off the inflated currency, causing its value to plummet and the manipulator to profit from the price difference.


Spoofing is when a manipulator places large orders without executing them, creating an illusion of high trading volume. This illusion can mislead other traders into making unfavorable trading decisions.

Bear Raiding

Bear raiding involves a manipulator placing large sell orders to drive the price of a currency down artificially. This is done to trigger a market panic and profit from the subsequent price drop.

Wash Trading

In wash trading, a manipulator conducts simultaneous buying and selling of a currency to create a false impression of high trading activity.

Cornering the Market

Cornering the market happens when a manipulator gains significant control over a particular currency, enabling it to dictate its price.

The Concept of Stop Hunting

Stop hunting is a manipulative strategy that targets stop loss orders near a specific level to fulfill the manipulator’s liquidity needs. It’s often used with the previously discussed manipulation methods, particularly impacting short-term traders.

Mechanism of Stop Hunting

Stop hunting occurs when large market manipulators target stop loss orders near a level to fill their liquidity needs. This manipulation tactic usually combines with other methods like market rumors or pump-and-dump schemes and primarily affects short-term traders.

The Impact of Currency Manipulation

Currency manipulation is often a contentious issue in international trade disputes. Countries may be accused of manipulating their currency’s exchange rate to gain an unfair trade advantage.

Governments and central banks can be accused of currency manipulation if they fix the exchange rate or seek to affect it less openly with market transactions.

However, currency manipulation is political rather than legal, as sovereign countries manage currencies.

US-China Currency Manipulation Dispute

An example of such a dispute was the US-China currency manipulation claim in 2019. The People’s Bank of China set the daily reference rate of the Chinese yuan above 7 yuan per dollar for the first time in over a decade, depreciating the Chinese currency against the dollar and making Chinese exports cheaper in dollar terms. The Trump administration labeled China a currency manipulator, a designation later lifted.

Case Studies of Forex Market Manipulation

Major banks and financial institutions contribute significantly to the daily forex trading volume. For instance, in 2017, Citi and JP Morgan traded around $500 billion worth of currencies daily. This enormous trading volume allows these institutions to manipulate the market if they collude and place orders in the same direction.

Historically, there have been instances where major banks were fined billions of dollars for price rigging. One notable case is the Forex market manipulation scheme between 2007 and 2013, where several banks manipulated the fixed-rate, creating a false impression of currency demand and supply.

What Techniques Do Market Manipulators Use?

Forex market manipulators often employ sophisticated strategies to affect the market. They may manipulate the market by manipulating large orders, private chat rooms, code words, or timed benchmark rates. These strategies create false impressions about demand and supply, enabling the manipulators to capitalize on the market’s artificial movements.

The Impact of Market Manipulation

Market manipulation by various entities can have far-reaching effects on global economies, financial institutions, individual investors, and market integrity. Let’s explore the impact of Forex market manipulation in several key areas:

Economic Policies

  • Exchange Rates Misalignment: Manipulation can lead to artificial exchange rates that do not reflect the true value of currencies based on economic fundamentals. This misalignment can affect policymakers’ decisions and lead to inappropriate fiscal and monetary policies.
  • Inflation: If a currency is undervalued or overvalued due to manipulation, it can impact the price of imports and exports, thus affecting inflation rates in a country.

Market Participants

  • Institutional Investors: Large institutional investors, including banks, can suffer from manipulated market conditions that affect the value of their currency holdings and investment portfolios.
  • Retail Traders: Individuals /retail traders are particularly vulnerable to manipulation as they might lack the resources and information to identify or counteract manipulative practices, leading to significant financial losses.

Market Integrity and Confidence

  • Loss of Confidence: Persistent manipulation undermines the integrity of the Forex market, potentially leading to a loss of confidence among investors. This could reduce participation in the market, thereby decreasing liquidity and increasing volatility.
  • Regulatory Challenges: The global nature of the Forex market makes it challenging for a single regulatory body to oversee and prevent manipulation. Coordination among international regulators is required, but differences in regulations and enforcement capabilities can create loopholes for manipulative practices.

International Trade and Investment

  • Trade Imbalances: Manipulated currency values can distort trade balances by making exports cheaper and imports more expensive, or vice versa. This can lead to unfair competitive advantages and tensions between countries.
  • Foreign Investment: Fluctuations in currency values affected by manipulation can impact foreign direct investment decisions, as investors seek to protect their investments from currency devaluation or seek advantages from undervalued currencies.

Historical Cases and Reforms

Several high-profile cases of Forex market manipulation have led to significant fines for banks and financial institutions, highlighting the need for stricter regulations and oversight. These incidents have prompted reforms, including more transparent rate-setting processes and enhanced monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.

How to Avoid Market Manipulation and Stop Runs

While avoiding market manipulation completely is challenging, traders can minimize their exposure by adopting certain strategies.

Awareness and strategic planning can help traders safeguard their investments from market manipulation. Here are some strategies to consider:

Confirm News Sources

When dealing with potential market rumors, confirming the information source is crucial. Conduct independent research to verify the legitimacy of the information before making any trading decisions.

Set Stop Loss Strategically

Strategically setting a stop loss can protect your investments from stop-hunting. It’s advisable not to set your stop loss just above a major resistance or below a significant support level, as these are common targets for stop hunts. Instead, place your stop loss at a reasonable distance from these levels.

Trading on Higher Time Frames

Higher time Frames are less susceptible to market manipulation. The waiting game may seem longer, but better safe than sorry.

Independent Research

Conducting independent research is an essential practice for all traders. A thorough analysis of financial instruments can help identify potential manipulation tactics and shield your investments from their impacts.


Forex market manipulation is a reality; undoubtedly, many benefit while retail traders are the victims. What can you do as a retail trader? Arm yourself with knowledge and employ strategic measures to minimize their exposure. By understanding how market manipulation works and adopting effective trading strategies, you can navigate the forex market more confidently and profitably.

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