It was done during the great depression and it is done around the world today. The printing of local money and the minting of local coinage have a time-honored place in the history of human commerce and now this local answer to more wide-spread economic troubles may be coming to Milwaukee. According to a recent Chicago Tribune article:
The idea is that the local cash could be used at neighborhood stores and businesses, thus encouraging local spending. The result, supporters hope, would be a bustling local economy, even as the rest of the nation deals with a recession.
"You have all these people who have local currency, and they're going to spend it at local stores," said Sura Faraj, a community organizer who is helping spearhead the plan. "They can't spend it at the Wal-Mart or the Home Depot, but they can spend it at their local hardware store or their local grocery store."
Incentives could be used to entice consumers into using the new money. For example, perhaps they could trade $100 U.S. for $110 local, essentially netting them a 10 percent discount at participating stores.
The article goes on to say that there are at least 2,000 local currencies in use around the world and that the use of local currency was widespread during the Great Depression. The only legal issue is that the local currency may not look like official US currency.
The Bottom Line
I think this is a great idea. We are in an economic environment where everything is contracting, so focusing commerce on the local level is only appropriate, but I want to know this:
If this proposal was made in your neighborhood or town, would you vote for it? If it passed, would you allow your business to participate? How do you think it will affect the economy?
Inquiring minds want to know!