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The self-regulatory organization FINRA and the North American Securities Administrators Association have issued investor alarms about bitcoin.177178

An official investigation into bitcoin traders has been reported in May 2018. The U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into possible price manipulation, including the techniques of spoofing and scrub transactions.180181182 Dealers 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 motivated by concerns of potential manipulation during futures settlement dates. The final settlement price of CME bitcoin futures is determined by prices on four exchanges, Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Kraken. Following the initial delivery date in January 2018, the CME requested extensive detailed trading information but several of those exchanges refused to provide it and later provided only limited information.

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State and provincial securities authorities, coordinated through the North American Securities Administrators Association, are investigating"bitcoin scams" and ICOs in 40 jurisdictions.185

Academic research published in the Journal of Monetary Economics concluded that price manipulation occurred during the Mt Gox bitcoin theft and that the market remains vulnerable to manipulation.186 The history of hacks, fraud and theft involving bitcoin dates back to at least 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 related trading in the Bitfinex exchange account for roughly half of the price increase in bitcoin in late 2017.188189

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J.L. van der Velde, CEO of Bitfinex and Tether, denied the claims of price manipulation:"Bitfinex nor Tether is, or has , engaged in any kind of market or price manipulation. Tether issuances cannot be used to prop up the amount of bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex. "190

The Bank for International Settlements outlined several criticisms of bitcoin in Chapter V of their 2018 annual report. The criticisms include the absence of stability in bitcoin's cost, the high energy consumption, high and variable transactions costs, the poor 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 these criticisms are unfair, predominantly since the unethical image may compel users to forget the capacities of the 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 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 called 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 stated similar opinions, as have business executives like 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 though all miners used modern facilities, the combined power consumption would be 166.7 megawatts (1.46 terawatt-hours per year).133

In the end of 2017, the global bitcoin mining activity has been estimated to consume between one and four gigawatts of power.205 Politico noted that the even high-end quotes of bitcoin's total consumption levels amount to only about 6 percent of the entire power consumed by the international banking sector, and even when bitcoin's consumption levels increased 100 fold from the current levels, bitcoin's consumption would still only amount to approximately 2% of global electricity consumption.206.

To reduce the costs, bitcoin miners have set up in places like Iceland where renewable energy is cheap and cooling Arctic atmosphere is free.207 Bitcoin miners are known to utilize hydroelectric power in Tibet, Quebec, Washington (state), and Austria to decrease electricity prices.206208209210 Miners are drawn to providers like Hydro Quebec that have energy surpluses.211 According to a University of Cambridge study, much of bitcoin mining is done in China, where power has great site been subsidized by the government.212213.

A variety of journalists,207214 economists,215216 and the central bank of Estonia217 have voiced concerns that bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme. In 2013, Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, stated 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 willful Ponzi scheme.219:7 The Swiss Federal Council220:21 examined the concerns which bitcoin may be a pyramid scheme; it concluded that,"Since in the example of bitcoin the normal promises of profits are lacking, it cannot be assumed that bitcoin is a pyramid scheme." In July 2017, billionaire Howard Marks referred to bitcoin as a pyramid scheme.221.

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