I noticed that there is a difference in the appearance of the order books among different exchanges.

On GDAX, the USD spread is kept very low most of the time ($0.01). At these times, the buy and sell orders closest to the mid market price amount to a higher BTC value than what is actually traded.

This inherently leads to a trade history that is much more stable on a short time scale, which makes me think that it has something to with "manipulation" of the current BTC price, for example by use of bots.

Other exchanges usually have a much higher USD spread (in the order of dollars), and thus a trade history which is less stable over short periods of time.

GDAX screenshot

(USD spread $0.01)

enter image description here

Bitstamp screenshot

(USD spread $12.11)

enter image description here

What is the reason for this discrepancy? What is the gain of forcing a more stable short-term BTC price?

Edit: Another screen shot from a moment ago. This is kind of ridiculous. Bots gone awry?

enter image description here

  • This is almost the definition of an efficient market.
    – Tahlor
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 3:47

2 Answers 2


GDAX offers 0% fee to maker (traders who's trades are being matched by a seller or buyer). That incentives traders to try to match bid and ask as close as possible thus reducing spreads.

  • Is that really all there is to it? It is often the case that there is sell and buy orders for tens of bitcoins with only $0.01 difference, but the volume of the trades are much lower. Also, the orders fluctuate very much (several BTC up and down each second). For example now, there is about 30 btc for sale at $7250 and buy orders for about 30 btc at $7249.99, and the trade volumes the last few minutes have been around 10 btc/minute.
    – Daniel R
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 21:43
  • I would think that someone who would be interested in buying several BTC at $7249.99 might as well pay $7250 for them, which is why I suspect that there might be some kind of market manipulation strategy behind this.
    – Daniel R
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 21:45
  • 99% of the time there is an enormous bid and or ask wall when there is a spread and when there are very small orders holding the price with a 1 cent spread there are the same walls above/below them or a few smaller ones stacked up.... those are very, very likely to be HFT market making bots. Pretty profitable but these days if you aren't a whale, it's a little hard.
    – mike
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 14:20

That's how market making works. GDAX has 0% for them, so is very attractive for liquidity providers. I'm trying to be one of them, and I don't really care where the market is, as long as I can get rid of a certain position. That will make me offer prices on top of the book. If you grab a bunch of people like me, competing for that top of the book, what you get is a small spread.

Hope that clarifies things.

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