This article uses a biography of banker and economist Paul Bernard to describe the debates that influenced economic policy makers and business circles during the last quarter century of French rule in Indochina. Bernard, from the Great Depression through to his death in 1960, exercised considerable influence on the way French leaders thought about the economy of their Southeast Asian colony and of their overseas territories as a whole. As a financier, he also played a part in its shaping. This article outlines his business activities, especially as managing director of the French and Colonial Finance Company (SFFC), an important colonial finance house, and is to this extent a business history. Bernard, finally, participated in the state planning of the colonial economy during the heyday of French interventionism. From the point of view of his involvement, the article describes the role of the state in colonial economic development. His involvement was both constructive, in the drawing up of Indochina's industrialization plans, and critical, in repeated attacks on what he saw as misguided or irrelevant policy. He did not confine his comments to economic matters, and his criticism of the administration of Indochina may be taken as a running commentary of the final decades of France's colonial engagement in Southeast Asia.