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

An official investigation into bitcoin dealers was reported in May 2018. The U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into possible price manipulation, including the techniques of spoofing and wash trades.180181182 Traders in the U.S., the U.K, South Korea, and maybe other countries are being investigated. Brett Redfearn, head of the U.S.

The U.S. national investigation was motivated by concerns of possible 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 shipping date in January 2018, the CME requested extensive detailed trading information however several of those exchanges refused to supply it and later provided only limited data.

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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 price manipulation occurred during the Mt Gox bitcoin theft and the marketplace remains vulnerable to manipulation.186 The background 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 indicates 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 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 bad security and fraud at cryptocurrency exchanges, vulnerability to debasement (from forking), and also 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 overlook the capabilities of the blockchain technology, but also due to the fact that the volatility of bitcoin is changing in time.194

Bitcoin and other next 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 that 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 views, 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 if all miners utilized modern facilities, the combined electricity consumption would be 166.7 megawatts (1.46 terawatt-hours annually ).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 estimates of bitcoin's overall consumption levels amount to only approximately 6% of the total energy consumed by the international banking industry, and even if bitcoin's consumption levels increased 100 fold from the current levels, bitcoin's consumption would still only amount to about 2% of international power consumption.206.

To reduce the costs, bitcoin miners have set up in places like Iceland where geothermal energy is cheap and cooling Arctic air is liberated.207 Bitcoin miners are known to use hydroelectric power in Tibet, Quebec, Washington (state), and Austria to decrease electricity prices.206208209210 Miners are drawn to suppliers like 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 Bank concluded that bitcoin was not a willful Ponzi scheme.219:7 The Swiss Federal Council220:21 examined the concerns that bitcoin may be a pyramid scheme; it concluded that,"Since in the case of bitcoin the normal guarantees 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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