Banks and the emergence of Hong Kong as an international financial centerHong Kong is generally recognized as one of the premier international financial centers (IFCs) in the world. Its position has owed much to the opening of opportunity in the People's Republic of China since 1978, as well as the territory's long-standing reputation for transparency and efficiency in the provision of financial services. Less commonly recognized are the origins of Hong Kong's expertise in international banking and the prominent position that it commanded in the first few decades after the Second World War. This article seeks to clarify the development of Hong Kong as an international banking center in the first years after the War. The unique combination of laissez-faire government policy and a vibrant traditional local banking system catapulted Hong Kong to regional and global importance in the 1950s and 1960s and formed the basis for its later prominence as an IFC.