Towards a Multi-Currency Eurozone

The New Scientist magazine has published my views on the creation, in Greece ,of parallel currencies to the Euro, at both local and national levels. Unfortunately the mainstream financial press continue to mislead the public about the potential for a multi-currency system.

Even the basics are poorly reported, such as how the major bailouts for Greece were for the creditors, mostly German and French banks, not for the Greek government or citizens (as even the IMF recognises). But when it comes to the possibility of governments issuing their own parallel currencies, mainstream journalists move into a mode of lampooning and scaremongering.

Typically we see reports of banking analysts scoffing at proposals for new Government-issued currencies as ‘extreme measures’ of ‘money printing’ that are ‘liable to devaluation.’ It is only possible for such views to sound credible because most of us do not understand the way the banks currently create our money. In advanced economies, well over 90 percent of money is issued by commercial banks when they make loans. As the Bank of England had to correct economists last year: new loans are effectively new money. This process is difficult to justify when a bank’s privilege to create money from nothing and lend it to government for a nice profit starts to clash with democracy, as it may now be doing, given the protests against austerity. The mainstream media continues to avoid representing the informed views of those who completely reject a system where banks create money from nothing and use it to buy government bonds and charge interest on them, even at a 44% interest rate, as happened in 2012. It is why in 2011 at a European Broadcasting Union organised TEDx event I called on over 300 people in media to offer more insight on monetary issues.

In the last few years, the fame of the digital currency Bitcoin has helped people to see that there are alternatives to official money. However, the answer for Greece and other countries facing austerity is not Bitcoin, or any currency that the average citizen has to buy with their scarce funds of official money. Instead, what is needed are new currencies that turn the future value that citizens can produce into a form of IOU today: the types I mention in the New Scientist article. There are many such innovations around the world, with particularly exciting initiatives in Kenya, as I explained at the United Nations recently.

The former finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, is aware of some of these innovations. He told the Telegraph “If necessary, we will issue parallel liquidity and California-style IOU’s, in an electronic form. We should have done it a week ago.” Better still, he should have done that on Day 1 in office. But it seems the mainstream financial press cant deal with such imaginative ideas. Immediately the Wall Street Journal reported various unnamed sources as guessing the government sacked him for that idea. That’s strange, when previous (less left-wing) Greek governments DID EXACTLY THAT IN 2010, when they issued IOUs for payments of medical supplies as I explain in the New Scientist article. Instead, it seems he stepped aside for the reasons he implied, to stop personality issues being the cause for, or excuse for, a lack of agreement.

Why are the mainstream media so allergic to currency innovation, especially if led by a government? Is it

a) they haven’t got a clue about monetary economics or the history of currency

b) they are so immersed in the delusion that money is wealth that to consider how communities and governments can create their own money threatens their whole world view of how society should function

c) they are deliberately trying to undermine government and community currency innovation in order to please some in the banking sector who do not want nations to escape the debt-enforced transfer of wealth to the few, via austerity and privatisation

d) all of the above

I hope Yannis now has some more time to work on alternative currencies. It is important way beyond the borders of Greece. As I say in the New Scientist:

Although people are focused on what to do in Greece and the Eurozone now, the implications are far wider, inviting all of us to think about the kind of monetary systems we want in a 21st century where humanity seeks to transition to a fairer, more sustainable world….

…Once the Greek government joins their citizens and entrepreneurs in creating alternative currencies that can exist alongside the euro, we will see the emergence of truly multi-currency societies. It would be apt as the birthplace of money, with the drachma over 2500 years ago, for Greece to lead the way into this future.”

In preparing the article I’m indebted to my friend and colleague Tom Greco, who has been in Greece for the past month working with communities, business networks, local governments and some members of the national administration to create a circulating exchange medium on the basis of future tax revenues. He calls them “Tax Anticipation Warrants” but I prefer to dub them The Greco, The idea is this currency:

1. Be spent into circulation by the government,

2. In a form that can be circulated,

3. As payment at par with the euro,

4. To employees, pensioners, contractors, and suppliers,

5. In amounts no greater than anticipated tax and other revenues in a six month period.

6. That they not be given legal tender status,

7. Nor be redeemable for euros,

8. But only in payment to the government for any taxes and dues, at par.

9. That they carry an expiration date to be one or two years after their first issuance.

10. But be exchangeable at par, prior to expiration, for any new warrants that the government might issue in the future.

Godspeed to Tom and other volunteer alternative currency designers in Greece and elsewhere.

Excited? Bamboozled? Take our free course starting 23rd August.

Drapanos Declaration on Community Exchange

Διακήρυξη του Δράπανου για τις αλληλέγγυες ανταλλαγές

11th October 2012, Drapanos Crete / 11 Οκτωβρίου 2012, Δράπανος, Κρήτη

Individuals, communities and environments are the true source of our wealth and well-being.

Οι άνθρωποι, οι κοινότητες και το περιβάλλον στο οποίο ζουν είναι η αληθινή πηγή πλούτου και ευημερίας.

Therefore we develop alternative means of exchange between individuals and organisations to foster more cooperative and equitable relations.

Γιαυτό αναπτύσσουμε εναλλακτικούς τρόπους και μέσα ανταλλαγών μεταξύ ανθρώπων και κοινοτήτων με σκοπό να ενισχύσουμε συνεργατικές και ισότιμες μεταξύ μας σχέσεις

Although we may focus on our own communities, we share this principle with other communities.

Ακόμη και αν η εστίαση και το ενδιαφέρον μας είναι στις δικές μας κοινότητες, εν τούτοις μοιραζόμαστε αυτές τις Αρχές με άλλες κοινότητες και δίκτυα.

Therefore we commit to work together in Greece and worldwide, to improve our practices, so that more communities connect to their own abundance.

Γιαυτό δεσμευόμαστε να εργαστούμε μαζί, στην Ελλάδα και στον κόσμο, για να βελτιώσουμε τις πρακτικές μας, έτσι ώστε περισσότερες κοινότητες και δίκτυα να έρθουν σε επαφή και να συνεργαστούν με σκοπό τις ανταλλαγές στη βάση του δικού τους πλούτου και αφθονίας.

Our efforts are part of a greater movement to make economic activity more accountable, socially beneficial and environmentally sustainable.

Οι προσπάθειες μας αποτελούν μέρος ενός ευρύτερου κινήματος για πιο υπεύθυνη, κοινωνικά ωφέλιμη και περιβαλλοντικά βιώσιμη οικονομική δραστηριότητα

Our work must develop ever expanding circles of cooperation, exchange and learning.

Η δραστηριότητα μας θα πρέπει να μας οδηγεί σε αυξανόμενους κύκλους συνεργασίας, ανταλλαγών και μάθησης

We invite others who share these aims to join us in a growing movement and emerging profession on community exchange.

Προσκαλούμε όλους όσους συμμερίζονται το ίδιο όραμα να γίνουν μέρος αυτού του αναπτυσσόμενου κινήματος για τις αλληλέγγυες ανταλλαγές.

This Declaration was agreed on 11th October 2012 by participants in a two day conference on community exchange, at the ‘European Sustainability Academy (ESA) in the village of Drapanos, Crete, Greece.

Το κείμενο υπογράφουν οι παρακάτω συμμετέχοντες στη Διάσκεψη για τη βιωσιμότητα στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ακαδημία Βιωσιμότητας στο Δράπανο της Κρήτης.

Please add your name, and if possible, organisation, in the comments below, to indicate your endorsement of the declaration.
Παρακαλούμε συμπληρώστε το όνομά σας και, εάν είναι δυνατόν, τον οργανισμό σας στα παρακάτω σχόλια για να εκδηλώσετε την προσυπογραφή της Διακήρυξης.

If you want to engage with the emerging network on community exchange, please email:
Επίσης εάν θέλετε να εμπλακείτε στο υπό δημιουργία δίκτυο για τις κοινοτικές συναλλαγές, παρακαλούμε επικοινωνήστε στο email :

The undersigned endorse the Drapanos Declaration / Οι υπογράφοντες/ουσες επικυρώνουν τη Διακήρυξη του Δραπάνου:

Μαρία Ανδριανάκη /Maria Andrianaki Drapanos, Crete
Σπύρος Ανδρουλιδάκης/ Spiros Androulidakis Rethymno, Crete
Prof. Jem Bendell Cumbria, UK
Jackie Bergman Stockholm, Sweden
Lina Daniene Lithuania
Ian Doyle Geneva, Switzerland
Αφροδίτη Φραγκομιχελάκη/ Afroditi Fragomichelaki Chania, Crete
Tomas Greco Jr. Arizona, USA
Γιάννης Γρηγορίου/ Giannis Grigoriou Volos, Greece
Sharon Jackson Drapanos, Crete
Hamish Jenkins Geneva, Switzerland
Indre Kleinaite Lithuania
Μελίτα Λαζαράτου/ Melita Lazaratou Drapanos, Crete
Sergio Lub California, USA
Dominique Maldague Chania, Crete
Μαργαρίτα Ναυπακτίτου/ Margarita Nafpaktitou Chania, Crete
Eλενα Παγάνη/ Elena Pagani Rethymno, Crete
Αλέκος Πανταζής/ Alekos Pantazis Rethymno, Crete
Γεωργία Πολάκη/ Georgia Polaki Chania, Crete
Sybille Saint Girons Paris, France
Matthew Slater Geneva, Switzerland
Κώστας Σταυρουλάκης/ Kostas Stavroulakis Chania, Crete

These signatories participate in the following organisations, while endorsing the Declaration in a personal capacity. (Οι υπογράφοντες συμμετέχουν στους παρακάτω οργανισμούς, ενώ προσυπογράφουν τη Διακήρυξη ατομικά):

Drafting the Declaration
Drafting the Declaration (photo: Sergio Lub)

Bergman Ledning och Utveckling, Sweden; Beyond Money, USA; Chania Exchange Network, Crete / Δίκτυο Ανταλλαγών Χανίων, Κρήτη; Community Forge, Geneva; European Sustainability Academy (ESA), Crete / Ευρωπαϊκή Ακαδημία Βιωσιμότητας, Κρήτη; Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, University of Cumbria, UK / Ινστιτούτο για την Ηγεσία και τη Βιωσιμότητα, University of Cumbria, UK; GYV

A  LIthuania; Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania; Lifeworth Consulting, Geneva; Rethymnon Exchange Network- Crete / Αλληλέγγυο Ανταλλακτικό Δίκτυο Ρεθύμνου Ροδιά, Κρήτη / United Nations NGLS, Geneva; Magnisia Exchange and Solidarity Network, Volos, Greece / Δίκτυο Ανταλλαγών και Αλληλεγγύης Μαγνησίας Les Valeureux, Paris.

Please add your name, and if possible, organisation, in the comments below, to indicate your endorsement of the declaration.Παρακαλούμε συμπληρώστε το όνομά σας και, εάν είναι δυνατόν, τον οργανισμό σας στα παρακάτω σχόλια για να εκδηλώσετε την προσυπογραφή της Διακήρυξης.


Giannis and Sharon
Our host, Sharon Jackson, head of ESA, and speaker Giannis, co-founder of Volos TEM community exchange system.
The Declaration
The Declaration


Jem and Tom
Myself (Prof Bendell) with Tom Greco, Matthew Slater and Sybille Saint Girons in the workshop before the Declaration

Finding the Opportunity in Crisis – the Greece currency workshop

Outside the Academy
The Academy in Crete

Here is the final line up for the 1.5 day event in Greece on alternative exchange and currencies…  There’s still time to register for the summit. Crisis is opportunity!

October 10th

An introduction to money and its effects
Thomas Greco, best selling author on community currencies 1hr

Why “Sustainability” Professionals Need to Embrace Alternative Exchange
Professor Jem Bendell, Uni of Cumbria 30 mins

Coffee, 15 mins

The Effects of Different Currencies: The Trading Game
Jem Bendell and Sybille Saint Girons, Les Valeureux, 1hr 15mins

Experiences with TEM in Volos and Chania
Giannis Grigoriou, Volos TEM & Giannis Bouleros, Chania TEM, 1hr

Lunch, 1hr

Lessons from Argentina’s Social Money Movement 2001-2002
Sergio Lub, and Thomas Greco, 45 mins

Design and Software Issues for Alternative Exchange
Matthew Slater, Community Forge 45 mins

Tea, 15 mins

Expert Roundtable
Thomas Greco, Matthew Slater, Giannis Grigoriou, Hamish Jenkins (United Nations) and Sybille Saint Girons. Chaired by Jem Bendell, 1hr

October 11th

Breakout meetings on key questions, 30 mins

Research findings on alternative exchange in Greece
Irene Sotiropoulou, University of Crete, 45 mins

Coffee, 15 mins

Key success factors and limiting factors in mutual credit
Thomas Greco, 1hr

Software Demonstration
Matthew Slater, 30 mins

Facilitated dialogue on key questions from breakout meetings
Facilitated by Jem Bendell, 1hr

Conclusions on next steps
Facilitated by Jem Bendell, 30 mins


In the afternoon, depending on interest and attendance, experts and practitioners in community currencies may convene for a hosted dialogue on “Globalising Localisation: how can we help each other?”