Professor Chen started his career by publishing research papers in top economics and finance journals on topics related to financial markets and theories of asset pricing. Around 2001, he began to expand research beyond mature markets by investigating market development and institution-building issues in the context of China's transition process and other emerging markets. He successfully led efforts to construct historical financial and social databases from China's historical archives and has written on economic/social history topics. In 2013, he started the annual Summer School for Quantitative History at Tsinghua University and continues to organize it at Peking University, with the goal of promoting quantitative historical research in China and beyond.
Professor Chen is on the International Advisory Board of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), Global Advisory Council of China Minsheng Investment Group (CMIG), and on the board of directors at PetroChina, Bank of Communications, and Noah Holdings. He was Chief Academic Advisor to two 10-episode CCTV documentary series, "Wall Street" and "Money" and a member of the Expert Committee for the formation of the China Investment Corporation. His work has been featured in newspapers and magazines in the United States, Hong Kong, China and other countries. He was the co-founder and partner of Zebra Capital Management from 2001 and 2011. In Burson-Marsteller's 2012 'G20 Influencers' report, Professor Chen was listed as one of the top ten political influencers in China.
He is a frequent contributor to media publications in China on topics of economic policy, market development, institutional reform and historical research. His list of books published in China includes: How Is Wealth Created? (2005), Media, Law and Markets (2005), Why are the Chinese Industrious and Yet Not Rich (2008), Irrational Overconfidence (2008), The Logic of Finance (2009), 24 Wealth Lectures (2009), and Assessing China’s Economic Growth of the Past 30 Years (2010), and The Logic of Finance 2: Path to Individual Freedom (2015). He has received research awards including the Graham and Dodd Award (2013), the Pacesetter Research Award (1999), the Merton Miller Prize (1994), and the Chicago Board Options Exchange Competitive Research Award (1994). He has also received a number of book awards in China and Hong Kong, among which are 23 awards for "The Logic of Finance" in China and Hong Kong, and the best book award from hexun.com for "Why are the Chinese Industrious and Yet Not Rich".
Professor Chen received his Ph.D. in financial economics from Yale University in 1990; M.S. in systems engineering from Changsha Institute of Technology in 1986; and B.S. in computer science from Central-South University in 1983. He was Assistant Professor of Finance at University of Wisconsin – Madison (1990-95); Associate Professor of Finance at Ohio State University (1995-99); and Professor of Finance at Yale University since 1999; and Victor and William Fung Professor in Economics at University of Hong Kong since July 2016.