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Expand chart
Data: CoinDesk; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Bitcoin prices tumbled sharply Tuesday, falling to the lowest levels since early December — briefly dipping below $10,000 by one measure — after a report that China and South Korea are escalating their crackdown on the cryptocurrency, per Coindesk. Losses spread to several other digital currencies in early morning trading.

Why it matters: Cryptocurrencies have experienced a volatile start to 2018 after rising to new heights last year. The tightening of regulations reveals the cautious approach countries are taking to the growing cryptocurrency craze.

By the numbers: Bitcoin broke through the $13,000 and $12,000 marks Tuesday morning, tumbling as low as just under $10,000 before recovering slightly, per Coindesk. It's currently priced at $10,680.58.

  • Notable: Bitcoin was valued at around $1,000 at the beginning of 2017. In December, it broke $20,000.

Details of government crackdown:

  • The People's Bank of China Vice Governor Pan Gongsheng said in an internal memo, obtained by Reuters, that Chinese authorities "should ban centralized trading of virtual currencies as well as individuals and businesses that provide related services."
  • Bloomberg also reported Monday that China is targeting online platforms and mobile apps that offer exchange-like services.
  • South Korea is also expected to make a decision on a proposed ban on cryptocurrency exchanges, reports CNBC.

Go deeper

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters rallied outside fortified statehouses over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.