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Tether Directly Used to Manipulate Bitcoin Price, Finds Study
14 June 2018, 12:56 | Kelvin Horton
Tether Manipulation Pushed Up Bitcoin's Price, Researchers Find
Researchers at the University of Texas say bitcoin's price peaks a year ago were down to artificial inflation.
"There were obviously tremendous price increases past year, and this paper indicates that manipulation played a large part in those price increases", Mr. Griffin said, as quoted by The New York Times.
"When prices are falling, the Tether creators can convert their Tether into Bitcoin in a way that pushes Bitcoin up and then sell some Bitcoin back into dollars to replenish Tether reserves as Bitcoin price rises", the researchers wrote.
Bitcoin fell to its lowest price since February 6 on Wednesday, to $6,371, as it struggles to find a stable support level.
However, the two notably discovered that it does not take a large amount of tether to prop bitcoin's price - "even less than 1 percent of extreme exchange of tether for bitcoin has substantial aggregate price effects", the study said.
According to Griffin, Tether coins are created in large quantities, such as 100m.
"(Neither) Bitfinex nor Tether is, or has ever, engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation", Bitfinex and Tether Chief Executive Officer JL van der Velde said in a statement.
Using algorithms to analyze the blockchain data, we find that purchases with Tether are timed following market downturns and result in sizable increases in Bitcoin prices. Chainalysis, a research firm which last week produced its own overview of Bitcoin money supply trends, told The New York Times that the Tether theory "seems credible". He cautioned that a full understanding of the patterns would require more analysis.
The researchers noted that the "bitcoin reversal did not exist before Tether was prevalent in the market and disappears during the period when Tether stops being printed". Griffin has previously written research identifying fraudulent patterns in other financial markets.
If what the study hypothesis turns out to be true this would not be the first time Griffin has sniffed out fraud in the financial world. A paper published a year ago by a team of Israeli and American researchers said much of bitcoin's big price increase in 2013 was caused by a campaign of price manipulation at what was then the biggest exchange, Mt Gox. He is most notably recognized for a 2016 paper that found manipulation in a financial contract known as VIX which was tied to flux in financial markets which were later confirmed by a whistleblower.
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