At press time, bitcoin is trading for about $7,500. This is approximately $100 less than where it stood 24 hours ago. While nothing huge, it’s a clear sign that the bears still have their hands on the reins, and it’s unclear when – or even if – the current trends can reverse themselves.
The manipulation of cryptocurrency prices is a common concern amongst both traders and financial authorities alike. These concerns initially began after the fall of Mt. Gox in 2014, which ultimately caused bitcoin to drop from the $1,000+ range to $600, and then $500 soon after. The end of 2014 ultimately saw bitcoin trading at around $400.
Since then, bitcoin has experienced solid price hikes, though every time a sell-off occurs or Mt. Gox trustees move their remaining stashes, the price of bitcoin seems to take a stumble. Executives have admitted that their behavior bears influence on how bitcoin will move, yet their actions remain unchanged. This has sparked questions regarding the intent behind moving the coins. Are the trustees trying to manipulate bitcoin’s price, or is it all a big coincidence?
Those in charge aren’t waiting around for an answer anymore, and in what could be the most significant action on the part of financial regulators today, the United States Justice Department has announced that it will be opening an investigation into illicit trading and any possible price manipulations on the part of bitcoin and its crypto-cousins.
Representatives of the Department said they will be focusing on illegal practices that can swing prices in a negative direction. These practices include spoofing (or market rigging) and flooding the market with fake orders to trick traders into buying and selling. Federal prosecutors claim they are working with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to gather more information on bitcoin and its present trading practices.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have garnered a reputation for being fraudulent or the target of criminals, according to University of Texas finance professor John Griffin. As a teacher of monetary policy, Griffin has studied price manipulation, including in digital-coin markets, and says there’s very limited oversight regarding crypto-trading, making it a natural target for financial crooks.
“There’s very little monitoring of manipulative trading, spoofing and wash trading,” he says. “It would be very easy to spoof this market.”
And despite all the hype and hoopla – right as bitcoin continues to fall deeper into the red and the Department opens its investigation into illicit trading – Fundstrat’s Tom Lee is there to remind us all where he stands, and where bitcoin could be in the future.
At $7,500, bitcoin has lost over $2,000 in about two weeks. The Department’s investigation is likely to break the price down even more, and yet Lee is adamant that bitcoin will end 2018 at $25,000, saying that the recent drops are merely a result of bitcoin’s “typical volatility.”
“Historically, ten days comprise all the performance in any single year of bitcoin’s price,” he explained. “It you took out those ten days, bitcoin’s down 25 percent a year, so as miserable as it feels holding bitcoin at $8,000, the move from $8,000 to $25,000 will happen in a handful of days.”