Abstract: In a series of recent studies, several economic historians (most prominently Richard Sylla) argue that successful economies experience “financial revolutions” before undergoing rapid growth. In the U.S., they suggest Hamilton masterminded the financial revolution by putting the public finance in order and facilitating private banks. Might Matsukata, they continue, have done the same in Japan? Japan did indeed experience a financial revolution in the late 19th century. Matsukata, however, did not mastermind the revolution in advance of private-sector demand. Instead, private investors created much of the financial infrastructure in response to demand from industrial firms. What is more, most firms (at least in the pivotal silk industry) raised the funds they needed through trade credit rather than securities markets or banks.