‘Toxic’ Suspected Manipulation Sees Bitcoin Futures Sink 55% in 2018

Yet further concerns surrounding the impact of Tether (USDT) and Bitcoin (BTC) futures on the leading cryptocurrency’s fortunes were raised on CNBC, Wednesday June 13th.

As CNBC notes, Bitcoin futures have sunk 55 percent this year, reaching their lowest levels since February.

Weighing in on the controversies surrounding allegations that Tether (USDT) is being used as a shorting mechanism by institutional players on the BTC futures markets, Brian Stutland, CIO of Equity Armor Investments, dismissed the idea as “far-fetched,” saying:

“I know there’s a lot of talk out there about [BTC price] manipulation by some professor who has probably never traded any significant money … if people were producing Tether to go ahead and then buy Bitcoin, then to me it seems that Tether should go to zero, not Bitcoin.”

Stutland’s mention of “some professor” refers to a paper released June 13 by John M. Griffin and Amin Shams of the University of Texas, which suggested that transaction patterns suggest Tether was “used to provide price support and manipulate cryptocurrency prices,” artificially deflating the price of Bitcoin to maximize short-term returns on futures contracts.

Stutland proposed a different explanation for Bitcoin’s declining fortunes in 2018, saying that low volatility in the stock markets the coming quarter mean that “people would rather be invested in the stock markets” than Bitcoin. “Bitcoin trading to the $6,000 level seems where it wants to go.”

Adamantly disagreeing with Stutland’s perspective, Scott Nations, CIO of NationsShares riposted:

“The [situation is] absolutely toxic...Professor Griffin has a history of rooting out fraud manipulation, this is not something you can dismiss... Tether was fired by its accountants in January. You do not get fired by your accountant because you’re too upstanding. If Tether is the only reason that Bitcoin is at $6,000, then I think we’ll see it down much more than the 3 percent it’s down right now. 3 percent would be a victory, I’d expect it to be down [by] 10.”

Just yesterday, Fundstrat’s Tom Lee, similarly attributed the recent “gut wrenching” price weakness of Bitcoin to futures contract expirations.

Lee said the “significant volatility” is one of six expirations of Bitcoin that have happened since CBOE launched its futures contracts in December 2017, claiming that:

"Bitcoin sees dramatic price changes around CBOE futures expirations... We compiled some of the data and this indeed seems to be true.”

Yet further controversial reports have surfaced this month, with suggestions that the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has been demanding extensive trading data from major U.S. crypto exchanges to conduct its own investigation into whether price manipulation might be compromising Bitcoin futures markets.