Michael R. Powers

Department of Finance    Zurich Insurance Group Chair Professor


Office:386C Weilun Building

Educational Background

Harvard University

Ph.D. in Statistics, 1987

Concentration in Strategic Decision Making and Negotiation

Thesis advisors: Peter J. Kempthorne, John W. Pratt, and Howard Raiffa

Yale University, four-year B.S./M.A. program

M.A. in Statistics, 1982

B.S. in Applied Mathematics, 1982, summa cum laude


Work Experience

2014-Present Zurich Insurance Group Chair Professor, School of Economics and Management

Professor, Schwarzman College (dual appointment)

Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

The Zurich Insurance Group Chair Professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management.  He also holds a dual appointment as professor of economics and business at Tsinghua’s Schwarzman College.  From 2012 to 2015, he served as interim chair of Tsinghua’s finance department.




Research Areas

Financial Regulation and Public Policy . Game Theory in Risk and Insurance . Mathematical Models in Enterprise Risk Management . Tax Treatment of Risk Transfers . Cultural Attitudes and Risk Finance

386C Weilun Building



Books and Monographs

Acts of God and Man: Ruminations on Risk and Insurance, 2012, New York: Columbia University Press.

Icons (science-fiction/fantasy novel), 2003, San Francisco: Dry Bones Press.

Global Risk Management: Financial, Operational, and Insurance Strategies, 2002 (with J. Jay Choi, eds.), Amsterdam: JAI Press/Elsevier.

The Economics and Politics of Choice No-Fault Insurance, 2001 (with Edward L. Lascher, Jr., eds.), Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Selected Journal Articles

“Insurance Risk, Risk Measures, and Capital Allocation: Navigating a Copernican Shift,” 2013 (with George Zanjani), Annual Review of Financial Economics, 5, 201-223.

“Fourier-Analytic Measures for Heavy-Tailed Insurance Losses,” 2013 (with Thomas Y. Powers), Scandinavian Actuarial Journal, forthcoming.

“The Relationship between Regulatory Pressure and Insurer Risk Taking,” 2013 (with Wen-chang Lin and Yi-hsun Lai), Journal of Risk and Insurance, forthcoming.

“Risk Finance for Catastrophe Losses with Pareto-Calibrated Lévy-Stable Severities,” 2012 (with Thomas Y. Powers and Siwei Gao), Risk Analysis, 32, 11, 1967-1977.

“The Valuation of Contingent Capital with Catastrophe Risks,” 2009 (with Shih-Kuei Lin and Chia-Chien Chang), Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 45, 1, 65-73.

“Life Insurance Efficiency in China: A Comparison of Foreign and Domestic Firms,” 2009 (with Bingzheng Chen and Joseph Qiu), China and World Economy, 17, 6, 43-63.

“Colonel Blotto in the War on Terror: Implications for Event Frequency,” 2009 (with Zhan Shen), Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 6, 1, 18, 1-16.

“Adverse Selection or Advantageous Selection? Risk and Underwriting in China’s Health Insurance Market,” 2009 (with Feng Gao and Jun Wang), Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 44, 3, 505-510.

“Social Stability and Catastrophe Risk: Lessons from the Stag Hunt,” 2008 (with Zhan Shen), Journal of Theoretical Politics, 20, 4, 477-497.

“Using Aumann-Shapley Values to Allocate Insurance Risk: The Case of Inhomogeneous Losses,” 2007, North American Actuarial Journal, 11, 3, 113-127.

“Market Bubbles and Wasteful Avoidance: Tax and Regulatory Constraints on Short Sales,” 2004 (with David M. Schizer and Martin Shubik), Tax Law Review, 57, 2, 233-274.

“September 11 Victims, Random Events, and the Ethics of Compensation,” 2004 (with Edward L. Lascher, Jr.), American Behavioral Scientist, 48, 3, 281-294.

“Of Happy and Hapless Regulators: The Asymptotics of Ruin,” 2003 (with Emilio C. Venezian and Iana B. Jucá), Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 32, 2, 317-330.

“Toward a Theory of Reinsurance and Retrocession,” 2001 (with Martin Shubik), Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 29, 2, 271-290.

“Risk Transformations, Deductibles, and Policy Limits,” 2001 (with Larry Y. Tzeng), Journal of Risk and Insurance, 68, 3, 465-473.

“Insurance Market Games: Scale Effects and Public Policy,” 1998 (with Martin Shubik and Shun Tian Yao), Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie (Journal of Economics), 67, 2, 109-134

“Insurance Premium Taxes: A Lump-Sum Proposal,” 1998 (with Larry Y. Tzeng), Public Finance Review, 26, 1, 53-66.

“On the Tradeoff between the Law of Large Numbers and Oligopoly in Insurance,” 1998 (with Martin Shubik), Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 23, 2, 141-156.

“Captive Insurance Tax Policy: Resolving a Global Problem,” 1995 (with M. Moshe Porat), Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance: Issues and Practice, 20, 75, 197-229.

“A Theory of Risk, Return, and Solvency,” 1995, Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 17, 2, 101-118.

“The Value of Information in Insurance Pricing: Comment,” 1994, Journal of Risk and Insurance, 61, 3, 519-524.

“Equity in Automobile Insurance: Optional No-Fault,” 1992, Journal of Risk and Insurance, 59, 2, 203-220.


Industry Experience



In 2013, Powers won the Kulp-Wright Book Award for Acts of God and Man: Ruminations on Risk and Insurance, in which he proposes a new “science of risk”.  He is co-editor of three academic books – The Political Economy of Chinese Finance; Global Risk Management: Financial, Operational, and Insurance Strategies; and The Economics and Politics of Choice No-Fault Insurance – and author of the science-fiction novel, Icons.