Peter Swan AO

Professor of Finance

School of Banking & Finance - PhD, Monash University | BEc (Hons), Australian National University

  • Bio
  • Publications & Research
  • Teaching & Supervision
  • Engagement
  • Prizes & awards

About Peter

Officer of the Order of Australia for Professor Peter Swan​

The UNSW Business School’s Professor Peter Swan, has become an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) as part of Queen’s Birthday Honours List June 2016.
It was awarded for distinguished service to finance and commerce as a leading academic, journalist and commentator on domestic investment, and on a range of political and economic issues. ​​

Professor Peter Swan AO AM FASSA is currently in the School of Banking and Finance, UNSW Business School.

He completed his Honours Economics Degree at ANU, his PhD at Monash and after visiting positions at Chicago and Rochester, joined the Economics faculty at ANU, then to a chair at AGSM @ UNSW Business School and established the Finance department at the University of Sydney prior to returning to UNSW.

Peter has published in the Journal of Finance, American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy (three articles), Econometrica (two), Journal of Business (two), Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Critical Finance Review, Pacific Basin Finance Journal (two) as well as 40 or so other international journal publications. Internationally, he is best known for his work in industrial organisation on the economics of durable goods and product quality.

His current research interests include funds management, market microstructure, corporate governance, executive compensation and asset pricing. Peter has also published many popular articles in Australian newspapers, has appeared on ABC radio and TV and there are over 100 articles in the popular press about his research.

Impact

He currently has 2,616 cites in Google Scholar and 496 cites (37 articles) in Web of Science, making him highly cited.

He is ranked in the top 2% globally for journal pages in economics and finance weighted by impact factors. RePEc IDEAS

According to Mark Blaug's Who's Who in Economics: A Biographical Dictionary of Major Economists, 2nd ed., 3rd ed., 1999, he is in the top ten most highly cited economics and finance academics in Australia.

His thesis on the Australian automotive industry documenting the harmful effects of protectionism has finally seen fruition in the departure of the automobile manufacturing industry from Australia.

The Campbell Committee of Inquiry into the Financial System commissioned him to undertake a large number of studies and his proposal for a system of franking credits to eliminate double taxation of dividends was adopted in the 1987 Budget.

His advocacy of the harmful effects of transaction taxes on stock exchange liquidity to the Queensland Government led to the complete abolition of the tax on all stock exchange transactions.

Peter's research (with Gerald Garvey) convinced the ASX to allow Rupert Murdoch to launch News Corp's “non-voting preferred equity” stock. This ensured the ongoing success of News Corp without bankruptcy threat and its rise as perhaps Australia's most successful global enterprise.

His public campaign in 2011 conducted via the pages of The Australian helped the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Treasurer to reject the bid from the Singapore Stock Exchange for the Australian Securities Exchange. Had control passed effectively to the Singapore Government, this could have been a disaster for Australia's financial services sector.

Peter's most recent study on losses to Australia of many tens of billions of dollars from “independent” boards has been presented to ASIC, September 25, 2013; Commonwealth Treasury, 20th December, 2013; ASX Corporate Governance Council 22nd November, 2013, and 2014 ASIC Annual Forum, March 24 and has already resulted in the ASX Corporate Governance Council reversing its opposition to the alignment of the interests of directors with shareholders and has gained the support of ASIC for his reforms.

His theoretical model on how markets monitor corporate boards reverses the findings of Bengt Holmstrom and Nobel Laureate Jean Tirole (1993), “Market liquidity and performance monitoring”, Journal of Political Economy 101, 678-709, to make the implications for inside ownership consistent with the empirical facts.

Perhaps Peter’s single most significant achievement occurred when he was writing his 800 page history of General Motors and the Australian car industry as a PhD student at Monash. He took time off to write five single-author and one two-author theory articles published in five top journals that continue to be heavily cited today. Basically, he showed, contrary to the conventional wisdom, that a monopolist might try to extract rent from you by charging too much but will nonetheless provide you with the right durability/quality of good or service. There would appear to be no such thing as “planned obsolescence” if the monopolist is profit maximising.

“Durability of Consumption Goods”, American Economic Review, Vol. 60, No. 5 (December 1970): 884–894.

“The Durability of Goods and Regulation of Monopoly”, Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Spring 1971): 347–357.

“Market Structure and Technological Progress: The Influence of Monopoly on Product Innovation”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 84, No. 4 (November 1971): 627–638.

“The Influence of Monopoly on Product Innovation: Rejoinder”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 86, No. 2 (May 1972): 346–349.

“Optimum Durability, Second–Hand Markets and Planned Obsolescence”, Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 80, No. 3, Part 1 (May 1972): 575–585.

“Monopoly and Competition in the Market for Durable Goods”, Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 40, No. 3 (July 1973): 333–351. (with E. Sieper).

Peter was commissioned to write a number of studies for the Campbell Committee on the Australian Financial System Inquiry that led to the introduction of full tax imputation in 1987 based on franking credits and remains to this day:

“Is There a Case for Complete Integration of Corporate and Personal Income Taxes?”, Australian Financial System Inquiry, Commissioned Studies and Selected Papers, Part 3, AGPS, 1982, pp.1–32.

“An Optimum Business Tax Structure for Australia”, Australian Financial System Inquiry, Commissioned Studies and Selected Papers, Part 3, 1982, AGPS, pp.33–89.

“A Comment on Professor John G. Head, Company Taxation—Some Further Reflections”, AFSI, Commissioned Studies, Part 3, pp.226–229.

“Further Notes on the Integration of Company and Personal Taxation”, Australian Financial System Inquiry, Commissioned Studies and Selected Papers, Part 3, AGPS, 1982, pp.90–100.

Peter’s recent working paper: “Are Franking Credits Priced?” shows that, contrary to many studies, franking credits are fully priced in the Australian market.

Another of Peter’s studies provided the setting for the Campbell Committee's recommendation to deregulate the Australian Financial System so as to replace a cartel regulated by the Reserve Bank with a far more competitive banking and financial system:

“The Welfare Gains from Bank Deregulation”, Australian Financial System Inquiry, Commissioned Studies and Selected Papers, Part 1, AGPS, 1982, pp.475–512 (with I. Harper).

The decision by all States to half stamp duty on share transactions in 1995 based partly on analysis of share market transactions cost responsiveness by Swan and Aitken and work Peter did for the Queensland Treasury.

“How much did we gain from the halving of stamp duty”, ASX Perspective 2nd Quarter 1997, 4-10 (with Michael Aitken).

Following the publication of Swan’s article the Keating Labor Government implemented precisely Peter’s proposed system of capital gains taxation at the same rate as cash income in September 1985 but with full inflation indexation of capital gains on assets:

“The Real Cost of Accounting for Inflation”, Australian Business, December 4, 1980: 75–79. This was modified in September 1989 by the Howard Liberal Government to halve the capital gains tax rate in return for abolishing inflation indexation of capital gains. These changes have promoted negative gearing, and contributed to the present controversy.

In response to the 1987 request by the ASX for review of News Corporation's proposed non-voting equity preference shares, Peter made a submission that led to the acceptance of the proposal. This enabled the one of Australia’s most successful global companies to thrive. The submission was published as “Response to the Australian Stock Exchange’s Discussion Paper on Appropriate Voting Rights for Equity Securities”, Company and Securities Law Journal, 9 (3) June 1991, 158–184 (with Gerald Garvey).

In 2011 Peter led a national campaign in a series of Op Eds in major newspapers to defeat the Singapore takeover of the Australian Securities Exchange when it was rejected by the Government. His research showed that the Singapore Exchange was one of the most illiquid and high cost in the world with excessive control by the Singapore Government.

Peter is also an inventor and entrepreneur. With data scientist, Stuart Dennon, he developed and patented the revealed-preference based Choice Engine which is expected to help put Australia at the forefront of global e-commerce recommendation technology. The first applications are to new cars, movies, and stocks but his "smart-Google" technology is applicable to anything for which there exists suitable data.