In considering the characteristics of a new economy, the question of money arises: What is the appropriate role of money? What entity or entities should govern its issue? How much should be placed in circulation and on what basis? What determines its value once in circulation? How might its very structure favor financing for regionally-based businesses producing goods in a sustainable manner for local markets? As a global financial crisis continues, economists are examining how national monetary policies may have played a role in the crisis. They are also concerned with the dominance of a single currency as a global medium of exchange.
Responding to these questions and concerns, policy makers are revisiting Friedrich Hayek's idea of competing currencies. Hayek, an Austrian economist, argued that if the public could choose between multiple privately issued scrips, the currency exhibiting the strongest purchasing capacity would prove the favorite, thereby disciplining the rest. Monetary historians recall that regionally issued bank currencies contributed to the economic growth and diversity of the United States in its early years, creating jobs and building skills.
In such a climate of inquiry about monetary matters, BerkShares, the local currency for the Berkshire region of Massachusetts has garnered much new attention, largely due to the fact that it is one of the few privately issued scrips in the US. Hits to the BerkShares website (www.berkshares.org) in December averaged 10,000 daily.... [emphasis added and paragraphing edited for readability]
Interesting that the New Economics Institute, dedicated to perpetuating E. F. Schumacher's work, would be allying itself with Hayek and the Austrian school.