University of Chicago economist Zhiguo He, the Fuji Bank and Heller Professor of Finance at the Booth School of Business, has been appointed as Director of the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics in China (BFI-China). Professor He is a well-known expert on Chinese financial markets, with published research on the Chinese stock market, local government debt, shadow banking, and interbank markets. He has also published extensively on US financial markets, and in the area of cryptocurrency and blockchains.

Working in close partnership with Chinese researchers and research institutions, BFI-China aims to develop new insights on the critical economic issues facing Chinese policymakers today. It supports University of Chicago economists with research interests in China and creates new opportunities for expanding the world-class community of scholars producing research focused on the Chinese economy.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Zhiguo’s leadership for BFI-China,” said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and Director of the Becker Friedman Institute. “China’s economic accomplishments over the last several decades are a signal economic event of the last few centuries and understanding them will advance economics and undoubtedly produce insights useful for China and the world. Through Zhiguo’s direction, intellect, and institutional knowledge, BFI-China aims to become the leading institution outside of China in producing cutting-edge research on China’s economy and its interactions with the world.”

Already, under Professor He’s leadership, BFI-China has launched a highly successful seminar series, COVID-19 and Economics: China, Asia and Beyond. The weekly seminar brings together scholars from the United States, mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore to discuss new research on the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy.

In addition to its broader mission, BFI-China focuses on three distinct research initiatives: The Energy Policy Institute at UChicago in China (EPIC-China), the Macro Finance Research Program in China (MFR- China), and the Chinese Economic Growth Initiative. Professor He will coordinate with the faculty directors of these initiatives to create a coordinated strategy for the UChicago economic community’s work in China.

“Zhiguo is a uniquely qualified scholar to lead our rapidly expanding portfolio of research on the Chinese economy,” added Madhav Rajan, Dean of the Booth School of Business. “He is not only a leading scholar in the field but a remarkable and innovative leader who will open the door to new opportunities for University of Chicago economists.”

Together with the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, BFI-China is a co- founder of the Tsinghua University – University of Chicago Joint Research Center for Economics and Finance. The Joint Center is a first-of-its-kind collaboration that will support frontier economics research, faculty and doctoral student exchanges, and regular workshops and forums to share results and discuss areas of mutual interest. Professor He serves as the co-director of the Joint Center, coordinating research grants and partnerships between University of Chicago and Tsinghua University scholars. Already, the Joint Research Center has awarded 10 grants for joint research projects totaling $600,000 to support new research.
“There are tremendous opportunities for U.S. and Chinese economists to collaborate on new areas of research,” said Professor He. “BFI-China will be a leader paving the way for this type of innovative partnership, bringing rigorous academic analyses that are relevant to policy makers from both countries.”

Professor He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University before receiving his PhD from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2008. He has been named a 2014 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and has won numerous awards for his outstanding scholastic record. In January 2020, he testified at the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) Hearing. Before joining the Chicago Booth faculty in 2008, he was a post- doctoral fellow in the Bendheim Center for Finance at Princeton University, and also worked as a stock analyst at the China International Capital Corporation in Beijing.