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The self-regulatory organization FINRA and the North American Securities Administrators Association have issued investor alerts about bitcoin.177178
An official investigation into bitcoin traders was reported in May 2018. The U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into potential price manipulation, including the techniques of spoofing and scrub transactions.180181182 Traders in the U.S., the U.K, South Korea, and possibly other countries are being investigated. Brett Redfearn, head of the U.S.
The U.S. federal investigation was prompted by concerns of possible manipulation during futures settlement dates. The final settlement price of CME bitcoin futures contract is determined by prices on four exchanges, Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Kraken. Following the first shipping date in January 2018, the CME asked extensive detailed trading information however several of the exchanges refused to supply it and afterwards provided only limited information.
State and provincial securities regulators, coordinated throughout the North American Securities Administrators Association, are investigating"bitcoin scams" and ICOs in 40 jurisdictions.185
Academic study published in the Journal of Monetary Economics concluded that cost manipulation occurred during the Mt Gox bitcoin theft and that the marketplace remains vulnerable to manipulation.186 The background of hacks, fraud and fraud involving bitcoin dates back to 2011.187
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Research by John M. Griffin and Amin Shams in 2018 suggests that trading related to increases in the amount of the Tether cryptocurrency and associated trading in the Bitfinex exchange account for roughly half of the purchase price increase in bitcoin in overdue 2017.188189
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J.L. van der Velde, CEO of both Bitfinex and Tether, denied the claims of price manipulation:"Bitfinex nor Tether is, or has ever, engaged in any kind of market or price manipulation. Tether issuances cannot be used to prop up the price of bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex. "190
The Bank for International Settlements summarized several criticisms of bitcoin in Chapter V of the 2018 annual report. The criticisms include the lack of stability in bitcoin's price, the high energy consumption, high and variable transactions costs, the bad security and fraud in cryptocurrency exchanges, vulnerability to debasement (from forking), and the influence of miners.191192193.
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The Economist wrote in 2015 that these criticisms are unfair, predominantly since the shady image may induce users to forget the capacities of their blockchain technology, but also on account of the fact that the volatility of bitcoin is changing in time.194
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been identified as economic bubbles by at least eight Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureates, including Robert Shiller,195 Joseph Stiglitz,196 and Richard Thaler.19713 Noted Keyensian economist Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column criticizing bitcoin, calling it a bubble and a fraud;198 and professor Nouriel Roubini of New York University known as bitcoin the"mother of all bubbles. "199 Central bankers, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan,200 investors like Warren Buffett,201202 and George Soros203 have said similar opinions, as have business executives such as Jamie Dimon and Jack Ma.204.
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Bitcoin has been criticized for the amount of electricity consumed by mining. As of 2015update, The Economist estimated that even if all miners utilized modern amenities, the combined electricity consumption would be 166.7 megawatts (1.46 terawatt-hours annually ).133
In the end of 2017, the global bitcoin mining activity has been estimated to consume between one and four gigawatts of electricity.205 Politico noted that the even high-end estimates of bitcoin's overall consumption levels amount to only approximately 6 percent of the total power consumed by the global banking industry, and even when bitcoin's consumption levels increased 100 fold from today's levels, bitcoin's consumption would still only amount to about 2% of global power consumption.206.
To lower the costs, bitcoin miners have set up in areas like Iceland where geothermal energy is economical and cooling Arctic atmosphere is liberated.207 Bitcoin miners are known to use hydroelectric power in Tibet, Quebec, Washington (state), and Austria to reduce electricity costs.206208209210 Miners are drawn to providers like Hydro Quebec who have energy surpluses.211 According to a University of Cambridge study, much of bitcoin mining is done in China, where power has been subsidized by the government.212213.
A variety of journalists,207214 economists,215216 and the central bank of Estonia217 have voiced concerns which bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme. In 2013, Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, said that"a real Ponzi scheme takes fraud; bitcoin, by contrast, seems more like a collective delusion. "218 A 2014 report by the World Bank concluded that bitcoin was not a deliberate Ponzi scheme.219:7 The Swiss Federal Council220:21 examined the concerns which bitcoin might be a pyramid scheme; it concluded that,"Since in the case of bitcoin the normal promises of profits are lacking, it cannot be assumed that bitcoin is a click pyramid scheme." In July 2017, billionaire Howard Marks called bitcoin as a pyramid scheme.221.