In the wake of Engels’s remark that colonization was ‘purely a subsidiary of the stock exchange’, it is not surprising that more scholarly inquiry has engaged links between colonialism and metropolitan stock markets than has sought to understand the role of colonialism in the global spread of stock exchanges beyond the colonial metropole. Examination of Shanghai’s securities bubble of 1921-22 suggests, however, that it may be productive to interpret the emergence of a native stock exchange in China as a semi-colonial encounter.