Economics/Class Relations

It Has Come to This: Greek Towns Reverting to Barter Economies

From The Blaze

has forced many Greeks to rely on barter-style economies.

“I want to use euro but it’s very expensive and I believe trade is better,” said Volos resident Artemis Zafiriou of in a recent NBC Newsreport.

The town of Volos is not special. It’s one of the many Greek communities that have been hit hard by the financial crisis and high unemployment, forcing a growing number of individuals to trade goods and service in return for essentials. For instance, Zafiriou and her “partner” “sell ”chicken eggs, homemade marmalade, and soap at an open-air market in town,” according to NBC’s Yuka Tachibana.

“Looking like a mix between a flea market and a farmers’ market, it is packed with colorful stalls displaying fresh produce, home-baked bread, second-hand clothes and jewelry,” Tachibana writes.

“Members can also go online and buy or sell services like yoga classes and piano lessons. An alternative currency, known as TEMs in Greek, is used. When members sell their goods or services, either online or at the market, these accrue in their online account and can be used to buy from other members,” the report adds.

It Has Come to This: Greek Towns Reverting to Barter Economies“TEM”: an alternative currency

When the Volos barter network started in 2010, it had 15 members. But as the eurozone financial crisis became more serious, the network has seen its numbers grow to over 600 active members with approximately 400 more registered in the system.

“People need some way out, some other way to do things. I guess also people need to get to know each other,” said network founder Christos Papaioannu. “There is no middleman, everyone exchanges directly — it makes people happy.”

Schoolteacher Irene Blomy says the barter network provides people in the community some relief from the financial crisis.

“It’s very nice, I think I don’t have stress,” she said. “When you have to buy something in euros you’re always in stress. But now I’m OK.”

Although the network offers assistance to members of the community, Papaioannou says it’s not intended to replace the euro completely; it’s only meant for momentary relief.

“It’s a parallel way, but a way where people decide together how to arrange and deal with things. Everything is transparent, and open. Everything is small scale,” the network’s founder said.

Front page photo source: NBC News

1 reply »

  1. Barter via formal barter exchange networks is a growing phenomenon. The UK and French Governments both recently published research reports, announcing that barter was an effective method for businesses trying to alleviate cashflow issues, access interest free credit and offset their existing cash expenses.

    To date much of the trade involving barter is done as large countertrades (government to government and/or government to corporation), with the second biggest type of trades being media barter. There are new and emerging technologies as well in this sector but both individuals and business owners need to be careful that in the more formal, mutual credit, reciprocal trade and barter networks that the exchange operators are not running a deficit (spending barter credits and never repaying them); otherwise it can be just as bad – or worse – than a bank (and potentially a higher risk of collapse). There are some good networks out there though such as the Ormita Commerce Network – http://www.ormita.com http://www.ormitacommerce.com and there are good resource centres providing neutral barter information online (such as the Complimentary Currency Resource Centre – run solely on donations – or the Mutual Credit Library – run as a resource centre for businesses interested in barter – http://www.mutualcreditlibrary.com

    Both are worth checking out for neutral information on the barter segment. Just make sure that the barter exchange network you are dealing with has no “owner” deficits in it (where the owner spends and never repays). Be careful out there! Use a trusted network and ask for their policy on deficit spending. Do your home work.

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