The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, 1870–1913

Shizuya Nishimura

in The Origins of International Banking in Asia

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199646326
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191745256 | DOI:
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, 1870–1913

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This chapter investigates the formative years of the Hong Kong and Shanghai bank, which became the most successful international bank operating in Asia. The history of that bank has appeared in a four volume book by Frank King. However, that focuses on the history of the bank as a business and not the role it played in the flows of credit within Asia and between Asia and the rest of the world. It is this which is attempted here through a careful analysis of the bank’s balance sheets and those of its main competitors, especially the Chartered Bank. What this chapter explains is how HSBC was able to overcome the instability caused by the declining value of silver even within Asia, as some countries switched to gold, either directly or indirectly, while others did not. HSBC’s successful management of this difficulty was the key to explaining its success compared to other banks operating in the region, including British ones.

Keywords: HSBC; silver; gold; Chartered Bank; Asia

Chapter.  5359 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Business History

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