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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 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 wash trades.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. national investigation was motivated by concerns of possible manipulation during futures settlement dates. The final settlement price of CME bitcoin futures is determined by costs 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 the exchanges refused to supply it and later provided only limited information.

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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 happened during the Mt Gox bitcoin theft and that the market remains vulnerable to manipulation.186 The background of hacks, fraud and theft involving bitcoin dates back to 2011.187

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Research by John M. Griffin and Amin Shams in 2018 indicates that trading associated with increases in the amount of the Tether cryptocurrency and related trading in the Bitfinex exchange account for about half of the purchase price increase in bitcoin in late 2017.188189

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J.L. van der Velde, CEO of both 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 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 also 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 overlook the capabilities 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 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 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 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 electricity.205 Politico noted that the even high-end quotes of bitcoin's total consumption levels amount to only about 6% of the total power consumed by the global banking sector, and even if bitcoin's consumption levels increased 100 fold from today's levels, bitcoin's consumption would still only amount to about 2% of global electricity consumption.206.

To reduce the expenses, bitcoin miners have put up in areas like Iceland where renewable energy is cheap and cooling Arctic air is free.207 Bitcoin miners are known to use hydroelectric power in Tibet, Quebec, Washington (state), and Austria to reduce electricity costs.206208209210 Miners are attracted to suppliers like Hydro Quebec that have energy surpluses.211 According to a University of Cambridge study, much of bitcoin Source mining is done in China, where power is subsidized by the government.212213.

Various journalists,207214 economists,215216 and the central Get More Info 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 true 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 case of bitcoin the typical guarantees 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.

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