The Rise of Barter in Argentina
Argentina has seen most ups and downs when it comes to barter economy. Today, some 500 barter clubs operate in the world’s eighth largest country. People exchange everything including clothing, school supplies, homemade food, household repair work, bricklaying, electrical work, medical and dental services, tutoring, tourism, and other goods and services.
Between 2008 and 2009, Argentina’s barter clubs have grown in membership by nearly 50%. This growth is largely considered a result of the economic instability within the country. The conflict between government and farmers has led to a tense economic situation and people have turned to trade.
Barter has a big future in today's society as we are seeing with new eyes the attraction of cooperation. Barter is not synonymous with subsistence, or with separating from the economy. And as Horacio Krell, head of the Unión de Permutas de Argentina (an entity that promotes exchange of goods and services) said, it is a complement in order to incorporate those who are excluded from the system. This has helped people to participate in the economic life more actively even if they lack money. People always have skills that they can use to earn what they need.
The rise in barter has helped give actual value to previously unvalued skills. This is especially true for home makers and youths: a house wife may use her home cooked food to earn beauty salon treatments, or an adolescent can mow lawns in exchange for a video game system. This has helped people use smaller and more common abilities to earn what they want without the use of money.
The beginning of barter in the country can be traced back to a period long before the economic crisis of today. The Global Barter Network was an initiative to provide opportunities to the poor, unemployed and marginalized sections of the population. However, after the economic collapse of 2001, there were wide expansions of this network. According to a New York Times report of May 2001, an estimated 500,000 Argentineans were bartering regularly, and up to 1 million bartering occasionally. By 2002, nearly a fifth of the population was in some way involved in barter.
Unlike other nations, the media and government in Argentina has provided considerable support to the concept of barter. The government saw it as a tool for social inclusion. They gave it support with the hope that it would lead to employment creation and spur the initiation of successful small business enterprises. It would also provide a safety net for the containment of unemployment. The state continues to lend support with technical assistance, credit and training to help businesses grow.
Today, barter plays a major part in the Argentinean economy and is not just a source of revenue during periods of economic difficulty, but also a means to earn complimentary income.
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