VOANews.com

 
Live Streams:  Latest Newscast |  Africa Live |  Global Live
News in 45 Languages
Cashless Economies on the Rise


12 June 2009

An ancient form of exchange is making a comeback in the United States during this economic downturn. People and small businesses are bartering services and stuff: piano lessons, plumbing, accounting, furniture, even fresh vegetables!

Valerie Gates receives fresh foods and prepared meals from farmer Jake Ferreira in exchange for her marketing advice
Valerie Gates receives fresh foods and prepared meals from farmer Jake Ferreira in exchange for her marketing advice
Valerie Gates, for example, will work for food. Standing in her kitchen, the marketing expert - who doesn't do much cooking - reaps the harvest of a barter system she devised five months ago. Boston-area farmer Jake Ferreira has brought her a cooler packed with fresh, prepared meals, along with baby arugula, pesto, asparagus with spring garlic, and homemade cheese.

Gates fashioned a logo for Ferreira's fledgling company, Beetlebung Farm LLC. He and his business partner help people and schools plan and manage vegetable gardens. They also run a food catering company using local ingredients.

Gates usually charges a significant hourly rate for her marketing know-how, much more than some small businesses can afford. As an alternative, she started the Will Work for Food Project

"I wanted to find a way to offer my services to farms, and I realized that farms usually don't have money set aside for a marketing budget, but they do have produce!" she explains.

She now gives marketing advice to 15 New England farms in exchange for homegrown goods for her family.

Swapping services

The logo Gates designed for Beetlebung Farm features a stylized rooster silhouette
The logo Gates designed for Beetlebung Farm features a stylized rooster silhouette
It was a good move for Ferreira and his business partner, too.

"We were looking for tools that could better establish our brand, and, in turn, she wanted to learn more about food and locally grown produce and the ability to cook."

While bartering is new to Gates, Jake Ferreira is familiar with this age-old concept.

"In a down economy," he observes, "it makes sense to return to certain traditions that can work out well, where people can trade for like items. For us in the agriculture field, it's very easy for us to barter. It's not quite an apple for an apple, but maybe it's chives for onions," he says with a laugh.

No insurance? No problem

Scott Cahaly's studio is packed with art, and he has traded one painting for a visit to the dentist
Scott Cahaly's studio is packed with art, and he has traded one painting for a visit to the dentist
For others, like Scott Cahaly, a trade could be a painting for, say, dental work.

The 24-year-old artist doesn't have dental insurance. Sales have been slow, and his studio is packed with canvases and stone sculptures. So Cahaly joined Barter Connections, a company that acts as a bartering middleman.

"I need to get a crown for a back tooth, so I dropped off a painting, and I have to set up an appointment with the dentist. I should probably do it before my tooth falls out!"

Why buy when you can barter?

For some people, bartering is a very comfortable way of life. Twenty-seven-year old photographer Kelly MacDonald says everything in her apartment is bartered for, even her plants. Her currency is wedding and family portrait packages.

Almost everything in photographer Kelly MacDonald's apartment is bartered for - from her chandeliers to her rugs, and the furniture in between
Almost everything in photographer Kelly MacDonald's apartment is bartered for - from her chandeliers to her rugs, and the furniture in between
MacDonald began bartering three years ago. She has plenty of paid jobs, but says swapping - not shopping - makes sense.

"It's a lot more responsible for me, especially now in this economy, because I'm saving my money. Everything that comes in just gets put in the bank."

MacDonald arranges her trades online, using the advertising site Craigslist, and she's not alone. Over the past 12 months, traffic in the site's bartering category jumped 100 percent nationwide, 50 percent in Boston.

Trade thrives in tough times

Jim Hoopes, professor of business ethics at Babson College, says bartering flourishes when cash is hard to get. He points to the Great Depression as an example. In 1933, President Roosevelt shut down the country's banks for a full week. Money was scarce. As a result, a barter economy sprang up. Rural department stores accepted sheep for dresses, for example. But it was a temporary fix.

Hoopes explains that bartering is inefficient in an economy that's built on speed.

"It's a quaint, charming practice and it's fun to see and it reflects individual initiative, [but] as social policy, it's not something we want to encourage."

Because, he says, it's not a sign of a healthy economy. Cold, hard cash is, because it's a common medium of exchange. You can spend it anywhere, on anything.

But you can only take in so many sheep. Or big bags of salad greens.



Comments:

1. Sometimes, we need it.

bartering is necessary for our economy, sometimes . It's another way to exchange .
Submitted by: kim yongwhan (south korea)
06-16-2009 - 08:23:49

2. oldest way

I think the bartering services was used among an ancient peoples,so it may be suitable more than nowaday ,where there are many governing factors ,that are affected on communities such as fiscal rapid activity ,international trade on wide field, confidence and also progress in techonology.
Submitted by: ebrahiem (egypt)
06-15-2009 - 13:38:11

3. Study Accounting

No find the way for study at the University.
Submitted by: chamroeun (Cambodia)
06-14-2009 - 23:22:25

4. bartering

i just love bartering on www.favorpals.com. it's the best bartering site ever.
Submitted by: nanni (usa)
06-14-2009 - 21:37:11

5. good idea

The bartering is good idea.I think that Japanese people should get takeing the bartering way in our life. Because the bartering style is like ECO life . So if the bartering way were imfluenced among the world ,it'll be decrease the junks day by day over the world. And we can saveing the mony more than now. Anyway I have to get the bartering way by myself immediately. I decided so that right now.
Submitted by: sunflower (japan)
06-14-2009 - 17:35:12

6. Please forward to Andea Shea

Dear Ms Shea, Having just read your piece, "Cashless Economies on the Rise," I'd like to tell you about a first-of-its-kind barter project I'm currently developing with a prolific toy inventor and two brilliant young web designers here in the Boston area. We'll be introducing it around mid to late July, but if you'd like a prelaunch sneak peek, please send me your email address. Mark Cohen Brookline, Massachusetts mark-cohen@comcast.net
Submitted by: Mark Cohen (USA)
06-13-2009 - 12:39:29

7. best service bartering website

For Service and Goods, I recommend www.barterquest.com It's free and outstanding!
Submitted by: barterqueen (usa)
06-13-2009 - 07:34:46

Download Shea report
Download  (MP3)
Listen to This Report Shea report
Listen (MP3)
E-mail This Article E-mail This Article
Print This Article Print Version
  Top Story
Astronaut Armstrong Remembers Historic Apollo 11 Mission

  More Stories
US, India Clash Over Climate Change Remedies  Audio Clip Available
Israel Rejects US Demand to Halt East Jerusalem Project  Audio Clip Available
Civilian Helicopter Crashes in Afghanistan, 16 Killed  Audio Clip Available
Monsoon Rains in Pakistan Kill 26
Astronauts Prepare for Monday's Spacewalk
White House Steps Up Campaign for Health Care
Iranian Official Says Tehran Not Preventing IAEA Inspections  Audio Clip Available
China: Police Shot Dead 12 Uighur Protesters
Aziz Wins Mauritanian Election, Opposition Leaders Denounce 'Electoral Charade'  Audio Clip Available
US May Create Special Interrogation Unit
Clinton Urges Global Fight on Terrorism, Meets Mumbai Victims
Honduran Crisis Talks End For the Day With No Resolution
Indonesian Police Say Jakarta Bombings Are Work of Jemaah Islamiyah  Audio Clip Available
Pakistani Warplanes, Troops Target Militant Hideouts in Northwest
New Iranian Nuclear Head Urges Mutual Trust With West  Audio Clip Available
Kenya Demands Total Ban on Ivory Trade
US Remembers 40-Year Anniversary of Moon Landing  Audio Clip Available  Video clip available
  Related Links
Barter Connections Inc.