March 2017

Odd Lots: What the Berkshires Learned by Launching its Own Currency

From Bloomberg: Every week, hosts Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway take you on a not-so-random walk through hot topics in markets, finance and economics.


"Buy local" is a mantra that has appeal across the political spectrum. Small communities have preached this gospel for a long time. The current U.S. president advocates a version on a national scale. So how do you put it into practice?

 One experiment has been taking place in the Berkshires -- a region in the U.S. state of Massachusetts -- that has its own currency called Berkshares. On this week's Odd Lots podcast, we speak with Alice Maggio, the executive director of the currency, about how a regional currency works, what it accomplishes, and what they’ve learned from it.

Spare a BerkShare?

By  Massachusetts’ Berkshires mountain region enjoys spectacular views, glorious fall foliage, a notable farm-to-table food movement, and one more thing that similar regions don’t have: its own currency.

BerkShares, the local currency, was introduced in 2006 by the Berkshires-based Schumacher Center for a New Economics as a project in sustainable economics. Consumers and businesses can go to 16 branches of four community banks in the region to purchase or redeem BerkShares, a paper currency featuring local scenery and portraits of famous area figures.