National Debt and Local Exchange

Here are two things I read today about money. First the bad news via Bill Bonner’s Daily Reckoning newsletter…

The U.S. Treasury Department also comes up with a number for how much Americans actually owe, thanks to federal deficits. Are you sitting down? It’s a chunky number: $750,000 per household. That’s what you get when you take the total commitments of the feds – $49 trillion -and divide them by the number of families.

The Financial Times goes on to note that it took 204 years for the U.S. government to accumulate its first $1 trillion in debt. Now, it adds that much every 18 months. George W. Bush has added more debt than any president who ever lived. In fact, he’s added more debt than all the presidents who ever lived…combined.

…and then the good news, via Penny at BALLE-BC, an excellent (even nine years later!) YES! magazine interview with Bernard Lietaer, usually credited as the architect of the Euro…

…in France, there are now 300 local exchange networks, called Grain de Sel, literally “Grain of Salt.” These systems – which arose exactly when and where the unemployment levels reached about 12 percent – facilitate exchanges of everything from rent to organic produce, but they do something else as well. Every fortnight in the Ariege, in southwestern France, there is a big party. People come to trade not only cheeses, fruits, and cakes as in the normal market days, but also hours of plumbing, haircuts, sailing or English lessons. Only local currencies accepted!

I wonder if we have any such currency communities springing up around Chicago… and what gifts, skills and goods I might offer in such exchanges. What good will fancy clothes and advanced degrees be in these local marketplaces?

UPDATE: Lietaer in Ode Magazine, as well.

UPDATE: more on money beyond peak oil