Sunday, October 2, 2011

The euro is not money of account in Greece anymore


In Argentina, when the crisis got to the worst stage and reduced revenue and spending cuts were at the peak, local governments started using token currencies to pay state workers. The Buenos Aires province started paying its workers in patacónes, which became an alternative to the official currency, the peso, in 2001. In Greece we are already there. Local networks in which transactions take place using an alternative unit of account are taking place. These, if I understand correctly, are private and for the most part electronic networks, rather than public, as in the case of Argentina. No actual currency is being printed (as the 100 patacónes shown above).

At any rate, they go to the heart of the money question, i.e. they serve as alternative units of account.  Money is, after all, the unit of account that allows economic calculation to take place and facilitates the creation of credit and debit networks. Keynes said in his Treatise on Money that: “money of account comes into existence along with debts, which are contracts for deferred payment, and price lists, which are offers of contracts for sale or purchase.... [and] can only be expressed in terms of a money of account” (p. 3). This indicates that the euro is not playing that crucial role of money for the Greek people anymore.

1 comment:

  1. During the Great Depression, particularly in the South, currency was scarce and barter networks and alternative units of account popped up in lots of places. In fact, the Barter Theater in VA still accepts food on "barter nights."

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