Faculty Profile: Henry T C Hu
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Professor Henry T. C. Hu holds the Allan Shivers Chair in the Law of Banking and Finance at the University of Texas Law School. Hu is best known for his writings and public service relating to the law and economics of capital markets, corporate governance, derivatives and other financial innovations, financial institutions, and securities regulation. The writings have appeared in law reviews (e.g., Columbia Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and Yale Law Journal), finance and specialist journals (e.g., Annual Review of Financial Economics, European Financial Management, and Risk), and newspapers (e.g., Financial Times, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal). A 1989 article showed how financial innovation would undermine the 1988 Basel Accord on bank capital adequacy, the pioneering international effort to address systemic risk. A 1993 article was the first work to show how cognitive biases, compensation structures, the nature of financial modeling and science, and other factors could cause major financial institutions to take excessive risks and make mistakes as to derivatives. In recognition of a 1995 article on risk management and a new conceptual framework for the corporate objective, an exchange-traded index derivative introduced in 1996 was assigned the ticker symbol of "HUI”. Today, the “HUI” (NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index) lives on as an index for gold mining stocks. A series of sole- and lead-authored articles in 2006-2009 offered the first systematic analysis of “decoupling,” a derivatives-related phenomenon undermining the foundational mechanisms of corporate and debt governance. These articles developed an analytical framework and coined terms (e.g., “empty voter” and “empty creditor”) used worldwide by academics, bankers, corporate executives, hedge funds, judges, and regulators. The decoupling research was featured in a lead front-page story in the Wall Street Journal and stories in the Economist, the Financial Times, and the New York Times. Articles in 2012 and 2014 offer a rethinking of the classic approach to public disclosure relied on by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and show the approach’s inadequacies in conveying complex risks associated with certain financial innovations and certain “too big to fail” banks. The articles offer a new conceptual framework for “information.” The 2014 article is also the first to systematically analyze the new morphology of mandatory public information -- a morphology that, in the case of banks, spans two parallel regulatory universes with divergent ends and means. A 2018 co-authored article is the first academic work to show the need for, or to offer, a regulatory framework for exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Hu received the Massey Prize for Research in Law, Innovation, and Capital Markets for his scholarly body of work, as recognized at an international symposium in 2014.
As for public service, Hu served as the founding Director of the SEC's Division of Economic and Risk Analysis (2009-2011) (initially called the Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation). The first new Division in 37 years, the SEC’s “think tank” was created to provide sophisticated, interdisciplinary analysis across the entire spectrum of SEC activities. The Division worked extensively on matters relating to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. See, e.g., (1) Kara Scannell, At SEC, Scholar Who Saw It Coming, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 25, 2010, at page C1; and (2) CNBC's "Squawk Box" - Feb. 23, 2011 (as "guest host"): Fmr. SEC 'Risk Czar' Speaks Out. He has been chair of the Business Associations Section of the Association of American Law Schools and a member of the Legal Advisory Board of the NASD (now FINRA), the NASD and NASDAQ Market Regulation Committees, and the Board of Trustees of the Center for American and International Law. He is on the Editorial Board of Oxford University Press’s Capital Markets Law Journal. In 2010, the National Association of Corporate Directors named him as one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance (“Directorship 100”). Hu has given many talks worldwide at major universities and at a wide range of non-academic venues. He has testified before Congress as an academic and on behalf of the SEC. He has consulted for U.S. and non-U.S. law firms and governmental authorities on seminal matters.
Hu teaches corporate law, modern finance and governance, and securities regulation. He has also taught them at Harvard Law School, where he was the Bruce W. Nichols Visiting Professor of Law for the 1997-98 academic year. He holds a B.S. (Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry), M.A. (Economics), and J.D., all from Yale. Sample Writings: Henry T. C. Hu, Misunderstood Derivatives: The Causes of Informational Failure and the Promise of Regulatory Incrementalism, 102 Yale Law Journal 1457-1513 (1993); Henry T. C. Hu and Jay Lawrence Westbrook, Abolition of the Corporate Duty to Creditors, 107 Columbia Law Review 1321-1403 (2007); Henry T. C. Hu and Bernard Black, Equity and Debt Decoupling and Empty Voting II: Importance and Extensions, 156 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 625-739 (2008); Darrell Duffie and Henry T. C. Hu, Competing for a Share of Global Derivatives Markets: Trends and Policy Choices for the United States, draft at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1140869 (2008); Henry T. C. Hu and Bernard Black, Debt, Equity, and Hybrid Decoupling: Governance and Systemic Risk Implications, 14 European Financial Management 663-709 (2008); Henry T. C. Hu, 'Empty Creditors' and the Crisis--How Goldman's $7 billion was 'not material', Wall Street Journal, Apr. 10, 2009, at A13; Henry T. C. Hu and Terrance Odean, Paying for Old Age, New York Times, Feb. 26, 2011, at A19; Henry T. C. Hu, Too Complex to Depict? Innovation, "Pure Information," and the SEC Disclosure Paradigm, 90 Texas Law Review 1601-1715 (2012); Henry T. C. Hu, Efficient Markets and the Law: A Predictable Past and an Uncertain Future, 4 Annual Review of Financial Economics 179-214 (2012); Henry T. C. Hu, Disclosure Universes and Modes of Information: Banks, Innovation, and Divergent Regulatory Quests, 31 Yale Journal on Regulation 565-666 (2014); Henry T. C. Hu and John D. Morley, A Regulatory Framework for Exchange-Traded Funds, 91 Southern California Law Review 839-941 (2018), http://ssrn.com/abstract=3137918; Henry T. C. Hu, A $5tn market that balances precariously on outdated rules, Financial Times, April 24, 2018, at 9.