As Greece’s economy and the euro continue to struggle, regular Greeks are increasingly taking matters into their own hands, creating informal underground barter markets and even alternative currencies. And the government is actually encouraging it.
Over a dozen non-euro trading networks are already believed to be operating in communities throughout the embattled nation, with more on the way. But one effort in particular — called Local Alternative Units, or “TEMs” in Greek — has attracted a great deal of international attention.
In the port town of Volos — where unemployment is above 20 percent, the economy is struggling, and tax rates are rising — a group of locals decided it was time to take action. The population still had the same skills and resources as before the crisis, just not the euros needed for commerce.
So, a handful of people got together and formed the alternative currency known as the TEM. It quickly took off. And major newspapers and media outlets around the world — from the United States to the United Kingdom — have taken notice as it continues to expand.
“Ever since the crisis there’s been a boom in such networks all over Greece,” University of Crete vice chancellor and political economy professor George Stathakis told the New York Times, adding that despite an enormous government sector, Greek “social services” were being overwhelmed. “There are so many huge gaps that have to be filled by new kinds of networks.”
Click here to read the entire article.