image missingTrue Value Metrics (TVM)
Meaningful Metrics for a Smart Society
image missing Navigation ... HOME
HOME SN-BRIEFS PROBLEMS
POSSIBILITIES
SYSTEM
OVERVIEW
PROGRESS
PERFORMANCE
STATE
CAPITALS
FLOW
ACTIVITIES
FLOW
ACTORS
EFFECTIVE
MANAGEMENT
PETER
BURGESS
SiteNav SitNav (0) SitNav (1) SitNav (2) SitNav (3) SitNav (4) SitNav (5) SitNav (6) SitNav (7) SitNav (8)
Date: 2020-09-22 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00003915

Alternative Currency
Greece

Euros discarded as impoverished Greeks resort to bartering ... Communities set up local currencies and exchange networks in attempt to beat the economic crisis

Burgess COMMENTARY

Peter Burgess

Euros discarded as impoverished Greeks resort to bartering ... Communities set up local currencies and exchange networks in attempt to beat the economic crisis

Stall-holders at a bartering market in the central Greek city of Volos, where shoppers use Tem coupons to exchange services or products. Photograph: Despoina Vafeidou /AFP/Getty Images It's been a busy day at the market in downtown Volos. Angeliki Ioanitou has sold a decent quantity of olive oil and soap, while her friend Maria has done good business with her fresh pies.

But not a single euro has changed hands – none of the customers on this drizzly Saturday morning has bothered carrying money at all. For many, browsing through the racks of second-hand clothes, electrical appliances and homemade jams, the need to survive means money has been usurped.

'It's all about exchange and solidarity, helping one another out in these very hard times,' enthused Ioanitou, her hair tucked under a floppy felt cap. 'You could say a lot of us have dreams of a utopia without the euro.'

In this bustling port city at the foot of Mount Pelion, in the heart of Greece's most fertile plain, locals have come up with a novel way of dealing with austerity – adopting their own alternative currency, known as the Tem. As the country struggles with its worst crisis in modern times, with Greeks losing up to 40% of their disposable income as a result of policies imposed in exchange for international aid, the system has been a huge success. Organisers say some 1,300 people have signed up to the informal bartering network.

For users such as Ioanitou, the currency – a form of community banking monitored exclusively online – is not only an effective antidote to wage cuts and soaring taxes but the 'best kind of shopping therapy'. 'One Tem is the equivalent of one euro. My oil and soap came to 70 Tem and with that I bought oranges, pies, napkins, cleaning products and Christmas decorations,' said the mother-of-five. 'I've got 30 Tem left over. For women, who are worst affected by unemployment, and don't have kafeneia [coffeehouses] to go to like men, it's like belonging to a hugely supportive association.'

Greece's deepening economic crisis has brought new users. With ever more families plunging into poverty and despair, shops, cafes, factories and businesses have also resorted to the system under which goods and services – everything from yoga sessions to healthcare, babysitting to computer support – are traded in lieu of credits.

'For many it plays a double role of supplementing lost income and creating a protective web at this particularly difficult moment in their lives,' says Yiannis Grigoriou, a UK-educated sociologist among the network's founders. 'The older generation in this country can still remember when bartering was commonplace. In villages you'd exchange milk and goat's cheese for meat and flour.'

Other grassroots initiatives have appeared across Greece. Increasingly bereft of social support, or a welfare state able to meet the needs of a growing number of destitute and hungry, locals have set up similar trading networks in the suburbs of Athens, the island of Corfu, the town of Patras and northern Katerini.

But Volos, the first to be established, is by far the biggest. Until recently the city, 200 miles north of Athens, was a thriving industrial hub with a port whose ferries not only connected the mainland to nearby islands but before Syria's descent into civil war was a trading route between Greece and the Middle East. Once famous for its tobacco, Volos was home to flour mills and cement factories, steel and metal works.

But, today, it is joblessness that it has come to be known for in a country whose unemployment rate recently hit a European record of 26%, surpassing even that of Spain.

'Frankly the Tem has been a life-saver,' said Christina Koutsieri, clutching DVDs and a bag of food as she emerged from the marketplace. 'In March I had to close the grocery store I had kept going for 27 years because I just couldn't afford all the new taxes and bills. Everyone I know has lost their jobs. It's tragic.'

Last year, the Greek government stepped in with a law that supported finding creative ways to cope with the crisis. For the first time, alternative forms of entrepreneurship and local development were actively encouraged.

Although locals insist the Tem, which is also available in voucher form, will never replace banknotes – and has not been dreamed up to dodge taxes – they say it is a viable alternative.

For local officials such as Panos Skotiniotis, the mayor of Volos, the alternative currency has proved to be an excellent way of supplementing the euro. 'We are all for supporting alternatives that help alleviate the crisis's economic and social consequences,' he said. 'It won't ever replace the euro but it is really helping weaker members of our society. In all the social and cultural activities of the municipality, we are encouraging the Tem to be used.'


Helena Smith in Volos guardian.co.uk,
Wednesday 2 January 2013 09.43 EST
The text being discussed is available at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/02/euro-greece-barter-poverty-crisis

SITE COUNT<
Amazing and shiny stats
Blog Counters Reset to zero January 20, 2015
TrueValueMetrics (TVM) is an Open Source / Open Knowledge initiative. It has been funded by family and friends plus donations from well wishers who understand the importance of accountability and getting the management metrics right. TVM is a 'big idea' that has the potential to be a game changer leveling the playing field so the wealth and power is shared on a more reasonable basis between people who work for a living and those that own the economy and the levers of power. In order to be effective, it cannot be funded in the conventional way with a for profit business plan, but absolutely must remain an open access initiative.
WE WANT TO MAINTAIN AN OPEN KNOWLEDGE MODEL
A MODEST DONATION WILL HELP MAKE THAT HAPPEN


The information on this website may only be used for socio-enviro-economic performance analysis, personal information, education and limited low profit purposes
Copyright © 2005-2020 Peter Burgess. All rights reserved.