The case against alternative currencies

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 21 (1):75-93 (2022)
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Abstract

Local Currencies, Local Exchange Trading Systems, and Time Banks are all part of a new social movement that aims to restrict money's purchasing power within a certain geographic area, or within a certain community. According to their proponents, these restrictions may contribute to building sustainable local economies, supporting local businesses and creating “warmer” social relations. This article inquires whether the overall enthusiasm that surrounds alternative currencies is justified. It argues that the potential benefits of these currencies are not sufficient to justify the restrictions they impose on money's purchasing power. Turning these currencies into effective channels of change, by increasing their scope and their strength, could severely hinder the pursuit of social justice, in a way that is probably not even necessary for achieving their objectives. The paper concludes that large-scale limitations of money's purchasing power are, therefore, undesirable.

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Louis Larue
Aalborg University

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