Comments on: How I make money: by Tom Badley, Artist Community-led economic change. Wed, 12 Mar 2014 12:29:34 +0000 hourly 1 By: Admin (Shane Hughes) Tue, 29 Oct 2013 22:35:30 +0000 Thanks, understood and i’m with ya!

By: John Rogers Tue, 22 Oct 2013 09:13:35 +0000 Hi Shane, I’m just saying that there can be a ‘trendy’ element to launching paper currency surrounded by a lot of hype. In itself, it is meaningless. It needs to be backed by a thorough design process in the community, by which I do not mean design of the notes but design of the currency mechanism, which the notes represent. This needs to be carefully thought through and based on real economic and social needs, not just a passing fashion of how cool it is to have some Bristol Pounds to show your friends.

In fact the evidence from the interviews I did for the People Money book with people from BerkShares, Lewes and Brixton Pounds shows that the artwork IS very important. Well designed notes can capture local feelings of pride about their history, geography and character and help to build local loyalty towards the currency. Bristol reports the same thing: a proud history of independence is reflected by the notes. That goes way beyond trendy towards reinforcing local community development. And it doesn’t have to be heavy and isolationist either, it can be done with great humour like the David Bowie notes in Brixton.

In terms of overall currency design my favourite system is in Austria. The Talente Tauschkreis Vorarlberg started in 1996 as a mutual credit exchange ring which continues to this day with several thousand participants. After 10 years of operation they decided to bolt on a Euro-backed currency with printed circulating notes onto the existing system. So you can buy local village currency with Euros and then trade them in to the central system for point in the mutual credit system and so have access to both systems. This hybrid system is probably the maturest local currency system in Europe (apart from WIR Bank in Switzerland, which is in a whole different league).

By: Admin (Shane Hughes) Mon, 21 Oct 2013 21:44:12 +0000 Hi John, i’m not sure whether you’re saying that the artwork alone “achieves nothing” – to that i’d have to agree – or if you’re also saying that local currencies that don’t create new money achieve nothing? thanks, Shane

By: Tom Fri, 18 Oct 2013 21:19:55 +0000 Hi John, thanks for your comments.

I’m aware of paper money history (including the history of provincial notes), and the different models of community currencies – the ones tried and tested, the experimental models, the failed attempts, and a couple of currency options that have yet to be explored. And of course, I’m aware that new currencies involve more than visuals (art is just my part to play). I think I was also clear that I feel local paper currencies are far from being a panacea.

I know all about the process of debt-money creation, and I’m well aware that exchangeable local currencies do not ‘create money’. I would go as far to say we actually have no real ‘money’ in circulation today; we have contracts of debt that we accept as payment. ‘Money creation’ is semantically erroneous: if something ‘new’ is ‘created’, it shouldn’t be owed back to the thing that created it, with interest attached… but that’s for another article perhaps.

By: John Rogers Fri, 18 Oct 2013 11:57:30 +0000 Tom, first the positives. It’s wonderful to hear your personal story that led you from playground experiments to your inspiration to serve communities struggling to survive in the Age of Austerity and draconian centralised financial politics. All power to your efforts!

Now the criticism. Launching paper money into a community, however clever, fancy and inspiring its design, *in itself* achieves nothing. So you’ve got a local currency – SO WHAT?

The multitude of historical local currencies that you celebrate in the article hide a mixed story. Yes, people in local regions had access to a medium of exchange when government-issued notes were scarce, particularly in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution. It enabled businesses to get started and local economies to experience growth. And there were many abuses. Many of these local bank notes were over-issued and there were many bank crashes in which people lost their savings. Many industrialists issued currency that their workers could only spend in the notorious company ‘truck store’, where goods were only available at inflated prices. All of these abuses led to the 1844 Banking Act, which sought to stamp them out by making the national currency the only acceptable ‘legal tender’ currency.

As to modern experiments, the Transition currencies in Totnes, Lewes, Brixton and Bristol have been impressive in gaining worldwide media attention and they have proved much more attractive to local businesses than many previous attempts with local exchange systems. Mainly because you can exchange them back into sterling. But they do not create any new money, they just pin down the old stuff for a bit longer and get it to circulate a bit more before it disappears out of the local economy again.

‘Currency design’ is MUCH MUCH MORE than designing currency notes. It is a ideally a whole community process in which individuals, businesses, voluntary groups and local government come together to identify their underused assets and unmet needs (ie matching supply and demand, the core of any real economy not based on financial speculation ) and then design a currency mechanism around these. This could potentially take many forms, including or excluding printed notes.

For more on all of this, check out my two books:
“Local Money – What Difference Does It Make?”, Triarchy Press 2013:

and “People Money – the Promise of Regional Currencies”, coauthored with Margrit Kennedy and Bernard Lietaer, Triarchy Press 2012:

Once again, all the best with your efforts.