Sean Foley

Photo of Sean Foley

B. Ec (Hons) Sydney; PhD Sydney
Senior Lecturer

Rm 544
H69 - Codrington Building
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia

Telephone +61 2 9036 9339


Sean is a Senior Lecturer in Finance and has been teaching at the University of Sydney since 2014. Sean holds a bachelor of Economics, as well as a First Class Honours degree and PhD in Finance, all of which were awarded by the University of Sydney.

Sean researches market regulation and efficiency, focussing on both global equities and the emerging cryptocurrency markets. Manipulative conduct is of particular interest to Sean, with published articles examining insider trading, high-frequency trading, dark pool latency arbitrage, underwriter manipulation and directors trading.

Sean has recently become interested in the cryptocurrency space, publishing a paper “Sex, Drugs and Bitcoin” examining the extent to which Bitcoin is used to purchase products on the darknet. Current projects include understanding the determinants of fees on transaction inclusion time, identifying fraudulent ICO’s and understanding the structure of these developing markets.

Sean has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Financial Economics, Journal of Empirical Finance and the Journal of Futures Markets, as well as co-authoring an FCA Occasional Paper. This research has also been extensively presented at international academic and industry conferences. Sean has led and participated in grants projects attracting over $500,000 in public and industry funding, and his research is cited by major public reviews, news articles and blogs.

Sean has strong industry connections, supervising PhD students at the UK and Canadian stock market regulators, as well as students at Macquarie Bank, Chi-X and ASIC.

Research Interests

Sean's research focusses on the movement of information in markets. This has led him to explore insider trading, market manipulation, high-frequency trading, dark pools, speed bumps and fragmentation. Most recently, he has been drawn to the intersection of cryptocurrency and finance. This area is traditionally thought of as “market microstructure”, focusing on the integrity and regulation of global equity markets. Issues of insider trading and market manipulation dominate Sean’s research in the area of integrity.

Sean is also investigating the extent of illicit transactions in the Bitcoin network, as well exploring the microstructure of these emerging markets, and estimating the quality of new ICOs.  Sean's research has been published in leading academic journals including the Journal of Financial Economics and the Journal of Empirical Finance. His papers have received prizes for their quality at numerous international conferences, and have been presented at prestigious meetings such as the NBER microstructure conference, the Western Finance Association and the European Central Bank Microstructure series. Sean’s research exemplary research was recognized with the 2017 Early Career Researcher Award.

Sean has strong industry links, supervising PhD students at both the Financial Conduct Authority (UK) and the Ontario Securities Commission (Canada), and presenting at the US SEC and ASIC. These collaborations have resulted in many publications, including an FCA occasional paper on dark pool latency. His expertise in issues of market structure has resulted in many consulting assignments and presentations for regulators, stock exchanges and industry bodies. Sean has taught a diversity of subjects including Financial Valuations, International Financial Management, Trading in Securities Markets and Corporate Finance. His passion for teaching has resulted in many awards and he is currently involved in a university-wide collaboration to develop improved feedback systems as part of an Educational Innovation grant.

Selected publications


Journal Articles

Foley S, Karlsen J, and Putnins T (2019) Sex, Drugs, and Bitcoin: How Much Illegal Activity Is Financed Through Cryptocurrencies? The Review of Financial Studies, 32 (5), 1798-1853. [More Information]

Patel V, Putnins T, Michayluk D, and Foley S (2019) Price discovery in stock and options markets Journal of Financial Markets, In Press.


Journal Articles

Aitken M, Aspris A, Foley S, and deB. Harris F (2018) Market Fairness: The Poor Country Cousin of Market Efficiency Journal of Business Ethics, 147 (1), 5-23. [More Information]

Dyhrberg A, Foley S, and Svec J (2018) How investible is Bitcoin? Analyzing the liquidity and transaction costs of Bitcoin markets Economics Letters, 171, 140-143. [More Information]

Foley S, Kwan A, Low S, and Svec J (2018) The rise before the close: Underwriter trading around SEOs Journal of Empirical Finance, 48, 221-235. [More Information]


Journal Article

Aitken M, Chen H, and Foley S (2017) The impact of fragmentation, exchange fees and liquidity provision on market quality Journal of Empirical Finance, 41, 140-160. [More Information]

Conference Proceeding

Aspris A, Foley S, Rigney D, and Westerholm P (2017) Intended and Unintended Consequences of Dark and Block Trading Regulation 7th Auckland Finance Meeting; Auckland Centre for Financial Research, Auckland, New Zealand.


Journal Articles

Foley S, and Putnins T (2016) Should we be afraid of the dark? Dark trading and market quality Journal of Financial Economics, 122 (3), 456-481. [More Information]

Foley S, Kwan A, McInish T, and Philip R (2016) Director discretion and insider trading profitability Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, 39, 28-43. [More Information]

Pricha N, Foley S, Partington G, and Svec J (2016) Underwritten Dividend Reinvestment Plans and Conflicts of Interest Journal of Business Finance and Accounting, 43 (9 & 10), 1361-1384. [More Information]


Alcock J, Andrlikova P, Aspris A, Foley S, Satchell S, Segara R, Wright D, and Yao J (2016) Asset price bubbles in the Australian Market; The Centre for International Finance and Regulation, Sydney, 4-154.

Aquilina M, Foley S, O'Neill P, and Ruf T (2016) Asymmetries in Dark Pool Reference Prices; Financial Conduct Authority, London, 4-61.


Journal Article

Aspris A, Foley S, Harris D, and O'Neill P (2015) Time Pro-Rata Matching: Evidence of a Change in LIFFE STIR Futures The Journal of Futures Markets, 35 (6), 522-541. [More Information]


Journal Article

Aspris A, Foley S, and Frino A (2014) Does Insider Trading Explain Price Run-Up Ahead of Takeover Announcements? Accounting and Finance, 54 (1), 25-45. [More Information]


Foley S (2014) Minimum Price Improvement Regulation in Australia and Canada.


Journal Article

Aspris A, Finch N, Foley S, and Meyer Z (2013) Fundamental-based Market Strategies Australian Accounting Review, 23 (4), 380-392. [More Information]


Conference Proceeding

Foley S (2012) What's in a Price? Measuring the Value of Exchange Data Fees 3rd Conference on Financial Markets and Corporate Governance; Social Science Research Network, United States.


Aitken M, deB. Harris F, McInish T, Aspris A, and Foley S (2012) High Frequency Trading - Assessing the impact on market efficiency and integrity; Government Office for Science, London, 3-49.

Selected grants

Recent Units Taught

  • FINC3014 Trading and Dealing in Security Markets

  • FINC5001 Capital Markets and Corporate Finance

  • FINC6001 Intermediate Corporate Finance

  • FINC6015 Global Trading

  • FINC6015 Trading in Securities Markets

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