By Tim Johnson
Experts on alternative local currencies say they emerge with vigor during hardship, matching unused resources with people short on cash.
“These systems are countercyclical. When a global or national economy is in decline, then people naturally find these survival systems to help keep their businesses going,” said Stephen DeMeulenaere, an expert in new currencies and executive director of the Complementary Currency Resource Center, a digital resource center for alternative currencies.
During the widespread bank closures of the Great Depression, scrip emerged in some parts of the United States to substitute for government-issued currency and keep local trade going. Since then, dozens of communities in Europe and elsewhere have turned to local currencies as utopian or green experiments, or to allow local communities to boost business and build social ties.