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MIT Technology Review

One Person May Have Driven Bitcoin’s 2013 Jump to $1,000

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New research suggests that bots were used to manipulate the price of Bitcoin.

The analysis: A Journal of Monetary Economics paper examines how two bots, Markus and Willy, performed suspicious trades on the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange in 2013. The bots appeared to be making regular trades, but didn’t actually own any of the bitcoins they were using to make them.

The findings: The authors write that “trading volume on all exchanges increased greatly on days with suspicious activity.” Not only that, the suspicious trades were “highly correlated with the rise in the price of Bitcoin ... from around $150 to more than $1,000 in two months.”

Why it matters: The researchers warn that newer cryptocurrencies may be open to similar kinds of price manipulation. That’s worrying, given the current hype that’s causing banks and nation-states to take notice of cryptocurrencies.