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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 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 but a few of those exchanges refused to provide it and later provided only limited information.
Academic research published in the Journal of Monetary Economics concluded that price manipulation happened during the Mt Gox bitcoin theft and the marketplace remains vulnerable to manipulation.186 The background of hacks, fraud and fraud involving bitcoin dates back to 2011.187
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 at the Bitfinex exchange account for about half of the purchase price increase in bitcoin in late 2017.188189
J.L. van der Velde, CEO of Bitfinex and Tether, denied that the claims of price manipulation:"Bitfinex nor Tether is, or has ever, engaged in any kind of market or cost 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 outlined several criticisms of bitcoin in Chapter V of their 2018 annual report. The criticisms include the lack of equilibrium in bitcoin's cost, the high energy consumption, high and variable transactions costs, the poor security and fraud at cryptocurrency exchanges, vulnerability to debasement (from forking), and the influence of miners.191192193.
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 known as bitcoin the"mother of all bubbles. "199 Central bankers, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan,200 investors such as Warren Buffett,201202 and George Soros203 have said 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 utilized modern amenities, the combined power consumption would be 166.7 megawatts (1.46 terawatt-hours per year).133
At 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 approximately 6 percent of the total power consumed by the international banking sector, and even when bitcoin's consumption levels increased 100 fold from today's levels, bitcoin's consumption would still only amount to approximately 2% of global electricity consumption.206.
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To reduce the costs, bitcoin miners have set up in places like Iceland where renewable energy is economical and cooling Arctic atmosphere is free.207 Bitcoin miners are known to use hydroelectric power in Tibet, Quebec, Washington (state), and Austria to reduce electricity prices.206208209210 Miners are drawn to suppliers such as Hydro Quebec who have energy surpluses.211 According to a University of Cambridge study, a lot of bitcoin mining is done in China, where electricity is 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, stated that"a true Ponzi scheme takes fraud; bitcoin, by contrast, seems more like a collective delusion. "218 A 2014 report from the World Click Here Bank concluded that bitcoin was not a deliberate Ponzi scheme.219:7 The Swiss Federal Council220:21 examined the concerns which review bitcoin might be a pyramid scheme; it concluded that,"Since in the example of bitcoin the normal promises of gains are lacking, it cannot be assumed that bitcoin is a pyramid scheme." In July 2017, billionaire Howard Marks called bitcoin as a pyramid scheme.221.