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Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender Paperback – November 1, 2001

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From the Publisher




What's in the news today has everything to do with MONEY, from issuance of new currencies, to threats of deflation and spiraling unemployment, to measures for insuring a community's economic security. Tom Greco's new book MONEY: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender covers all this and more.

Think of it as a trade: an exchange in idea currency much like you trade money for food and other life essentials. Because once you've read MONEY, you'll never think the same about what money is, what money does, how it is created, whom it benefits, and how the creation of parallel currencies outside of money as legal tender has the potential to transform community economic life. In effect you'll have traded ignorance for knowledge, an exchange I think you'll agree, is highly in your favor.

Vicki Robin, co-author of the best-selling YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE and writer of the book's Foreword, gives us the metaphor we need: Dorothy's little dog Toto pulling back the curtain to reveal the "wizard" for what he really is, a fraud and a deception. So it is with money. We are dazzled by the glittering Oz of money, banking, and finance, thinking it magical and beyond our comprehension. But wait a minute, like the little man at the controls trying desperately to pull the curtain closed, the financial cognoscenti are happy to keep us uninformed. Money is actually nothing more than a human idea, an agreement about how goods and services are exchanged.

And, guess what? The rules of the money game are made to favor particular groups. They're set and controlled by the banks, (not the government, not the people) where 95% of all money is created as interest-bearing debt. This inherently unstable system (the money supply is always lagging behind the growing amount of debt) creates and fuels the cancerous growth that now threatens to overwhelm the life support systems of the planet. Imagine playing a game of Monopoly in which all money must be borrowed at interest from the bank - who do you think would win?

But, there's hope. "The forgotten history of money is about how people can create their own." Greco shows us how the creation of parallel currency and credit systems can work to sustain and protect communities and their local economies, reinforcing the values of social justice, self-reliance, economic equity, and personal freedom. These alternative money systems have a long history, from depression-era scrip, to the Swiss WIR business group trading system (17% of Swiss businesses and 2.5 billion Swiss Franks in annual trading), to the newer LETS (local employment and trading) systems, Toronto Dollars, YES (youth employment scrip), e-currency models, and more. The growth of alternative currency systems world-wide has been astonishing, from less than 100 in 1990 to over 2000 today.

And in Argentina, currently perched on a mountain of debt and already in default, the RGT (Global Trading Network) is a social money movement that sustains a half a million families and offers insulation and protection from the adverse effects of economic globalization. Perhaps New York City should look to this model as it struggles to counter the severe economic effects of the Trade Center attacks.

Need more reasons to read MONEY? Just keep reading the headline news.

From the Author

Money, to most people is a mystery. This is not surprising given the shallowness with which the subject is treated by the mass media, and the seemingly intentional mystification of the subject by bankers, economists, and politicians. Even within academia there is an amazing degree of confusion of concepts and misunderstanding of terms, and little attention to critical analysis.

The rise of the community currency movement in recent years has provided opportunity to address these issues, providing experiential as well as conceptual learning for a great many people. But there still remains a massive job of education to be done if the subjects of money, banking, and finance are to be generally understood and people are to have the tools they need to bring about their own economic liberation. The intention of my work is to reduce these topics to their simple essence and make them accessible to all.

My purpose in writing this book is threefold:

First, to begin to demystify the subjects of money, banking, and finance so that the ordinary person can understand their workings and the profound effects they have on his or her everyday life and well-being;

Second, to strengthen the on-going monetary reform movement by sharing what I have learned over more than two decades about monetary theory and history;

Third, to inform and help guide the contemporary wave of development of community currencies and private exchange systems.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890132373
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890132378
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas H. Greco, Jr. is a community and monetary economist, writer, educator, networker, and consultant, who, for more than three decades, has been working at the leading edge of transformational restructuring. A former college professor, he is currently Director of the non-profit Community Information Resource Center, a networking hub that provides consulting services, information access, and administrative support for efforts in community improvement, social justice, and sustainability. His specialty is the creation of local liquidity based on local productivity.

He is regarded as one of the leading experts in monetary theory and history, credit clearing systems, complementary currencies, and community economic development. He has written for a wide range of journals including, The Whole Earth Review, World Business Academy Perspectives, At Work, Earth Island Journal, The Catholic Worker, The Permaculture Activist, Permaculture Drylands Journal, Green Revolution, Fourth World Review, and other publications.

He has authored four books:
His latest book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization (Chelsea Green, 2009), is both descriptive of the essence of money and its historical evolution, and prescriptive of actions that can be taken by communities, business, and governments to enhance local self-reliance and economic stability through liberation of the exchange process. His previous books on complementary currencies and exchange systems are, Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender (Chelsea Green, 2001) and New Money for Healthy Communities (1994), which describe voluntary alternatives to conventional money that empower communities and reward people fairly. His first book, Money and Debt: A Solution to the Global Crisis (1990) explains how conventional money malfunctions and how an ideal money would be structured, and proposes a plan for solving the global debt crisis and making the transition to an interest-free, harmonious economic and financial world order.

He has traveled widely in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, lecturing, networking, and teaching. He has been a keynote speaker at numerous conferences including the 2009 and 2006 annual conventions of the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA, the trade association for the commercial "barter" industry), the Economics of Peace Conference in California in 2009, the Gold Dinar Conference in Malaysia in 2007, and the conference on Knowledge, Business and Consciousness held at the international community of Auroville, India in 2006. During his most recent tour of Europe and the UK in October 2012 he delivered 10 lectures and conducted 4 workshops in three different countries, and consulted with organizers of various complementary currency and exchange projects, including the Volos TEM in Greece and the Brixton Pound in the UK.

He maintains an active correspondence and major web presence through his websites and Mr. Greco holds an MBA (Business Administration) from the University of Rochester and a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Villanova University. He spent a year in residence doing doctoral study in Management, and Instructional Technology at Syracuse University. His work experience includes 5 years as an aerospace engineer and 14 years in academia where he held a tenured faculty position. His expertise includes monetary theory, complementary currency and exchange system design, computer applications, statistical analysis and survey research.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By bernard lietaer on March 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Make an estimate of the amount of time you have spent on preparing yourself to earn money, on getting it, and of taking care of it when you have it. Wouldn't it be worthwile to really understand what it is you are spending all this energy on?
Tom Greco has been doing some of that work for you, with integrity, passion and enormous dedication.
The time has come to shed some light on the mysterious workings of our money. Read why it is a losing game for most people, of why it is our master instead of our servant. More important still: what you can do to change it for yourself and for your own community.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ralph on March 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
If we're producing more than ever before in world history,
with technologies creating enough to feed the world, why do we keep getting deeper in debt? It doesn't take a genius to figure there's somethng rotten in Washington,DC.
But it's not the politicians(okay, maybe indirectly), It's not political platforms, and we're not going to change it with term limits or creating new political parties. And we're not going to change it by voting.
There's one way to bring back freedom in the USA and the world, and that's by creating an economic system that eliminates the present system based on debt and greed.
I'm not talking communism. I'm not talking socialism or Marxism or any ism. I'm talking about every citizen taking control of his own economic and social values by creating alternative currencies.
I met Tom Greco several years ago when I was editor of an economics discussion group. I helped him promote his first insightful book on money and debt, and I was impressed by Tom's quiet integrity and deep grasp of the monetary system. This latest book gives the nuts and bolts of economics and lays bare the whole deception set up by our Federal Reserve System. It is written simply and clearly so that you don't need a degree in economics to understand it. I don't have any special education in economics, but after an education from
people like Tom Greco, I was able to hold my own in any economics discussion and show the whole deceitful process for what it is.
You want to know all about economics without paying for an economics degree? Get Tom's book and start changing the world.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Leonardo Wild on March 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
MONEY, by Thomas Greco, is one of those books that will cast a light on the shadows of economy as we've known it. But as it happens with every time light is cast, other shadowy areas emerge. The dark side of a system which we take for granted. If anyone suffers or has concerns about money, by reading this book it'll become clear that most people suffer and are concerned about something they didn't even know what it was. What IS money? Why do we suffer under it? What's the problem with money? Most of the world uses it today, though few realize that Legal Tender has legal implications, is part of a legal contract which we agree on even though we haven't even read the large print, much less the small print. By reading MONEY, both large and small print become clear and understandable. This is a book that is both easy to read and easy to understand, and what's perhaps most interesting, a book which will make us realize that our economic problems might not be our personal fault after all, but rather the fault of a system which was never quite right. Money is a technology with side effects. Poverty is a result of money for money functions under the rule of scarcity. If it's scarce, it's more valuable but if it's too scarce, its function as a `tool of exchange' does not work properly anymore.
MONEY is the beginning of a long road we have ahead of us. A few aspects, especially at the end, might still be too close to our present paradigm about economy, but this should change as more people around the world experience different systems of Alternatives to Legal Tender and thus see their very lives changed for the better. MONEY is only one step -but perhaps the first step most of us need- in the path towards a more humane future.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be revelatory as to the true function of money in society.
Everybody knows, or at least has a lurking suspicion, that there is an inherent unfairness in the ways that money and the financial edifices built upon its manipulation affect the well-being of local economies. The decimation of locally owned producers and regional industries is documented daily in newspapers -- it hardly seems to be news anymore. Many books have been written about the predatory and extractive nature of a global financial system dominated by huge investor syndicates, but very few books present real, doable strategies by which communities can extricate themselves from the "race to the bottom" that global competitive pressure forces on them.
Thomas Greco goes right to the root of the dilemma -- communities suffer from a chronic, artificially enforced scarcity of cash, national currency, and that scarcity suppresses the local exchange of goods and services that is the foundation of a thriving local economy. He says, in effect, that if the existing financial system hampers your community's ability to create wealth, then you and your community must build your own financial system.
Mr. Greco draws on his thirty years of study of local economics to create a blueprint (actually, bluprints) of how this local financial system can be implemented. He explains the true nature of money in terms that anybody can understand, and once understood, how that true nature can serve to build a wealth in the community that is impervious to the financial spins and spasms of remote global masters of money.
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