Joseph Wu double-majored in mathematics and economics at the University of California (Berkeley), and then obtained a Ph.D. in Purdue University under Andrew Whinston and Jim Moore. It was at Purdue that Joseph first experienced the joy of teaching. He has maintained this interest, as an honorary lecturer in the School of Economics and Finance. In 1970 Joseph was recalled to Hong Kong and the family shipping business. Though he sat the examinations leading to the professional degree of Chartered Shipbroker, Joseph has maintained contact with university life, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and then at The University of Hong Kong. In the late 1970s, his business workload and travelling forced Joseph to temporarily abandon academic life. It was only in the early 1980s, after he had computerized the company's operations and improved the management structure, that he was able to return.
Joseph's area of interest is mathematical economics. His first research was in resource allocation without convexity. Using conjugate function theory, Joseph characterized the necessary and sufficient condition whereby a competitive equilibrium, without any convexity assumptions being placed on the production and consumption sets, would still be Pareto Optimal. Joseph became involved in the financial industry as a result of his shipping business. Becoming convinced by the mid-1980s that Hong Kong would soon become a major financial centre, he found that Steven Cheung shared the same view, and together they took the first steps towards transforming the then Department and School of Economics into the School of Economics and Finance. Joseph's course on"economics of finance" placed equal emphasis on economics and finance, using financial products and markets to illustrate the efficient risk re-allocation in the Arrow-Debreu Full Insurance Model, whereby a competitive equilibrium, with the certainty assumption relaxed, would be Pareto Optimal.
"Resource Allocation in a Non-Convex Economy",
(with A. Whinston and J. Moore), Review of Economics Studies, 1973.
"Some Evidence of Subsidization: The U.S. Trucking Industry 1900-1920",
(with A. Herbst), Journal of Economic History, 1975.