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Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity into Prosperity Hardcover – February 4, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Lietaer and Dunne have done a superb job in chronicling the quiet, underreported revolution for empowerment and equality that is happening worldwide.”
—Marjorie Kelly, author of Owning Our Future and The Divine Right of Capital

“You have no idea what money is. Read this book and find out how simply changing our money system will lead to a more sustainable and peaceful society.”
—Jurriaan Kamp, Editor-in-Chief, The Intelligent Optimist

“Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne’s clear and potent voice tells the story of our distorted and dysfunctional money system and how we can finally free ourselves from it and find our way to the future we yearn for. This stunning book should be required reading for every person who wants a world that works and a sustainable future for all of life.”
—Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money

“Rethinking Money does a brilliant job of eradicating the concepts and stories that our economists and other professionals in the field hold dear. The authors write that ‘money is our last taboo,’ but they don’t recommend abolishing the fiat zeitgeist. Rather, they wisely call on the various new currencies and other monetary innovations to complement the existing system.”
—Nigel Seale, former worldwide Chairman, Earth Day International, and founder of Earth Day Canada

“Rethinking Money is required reading for anyone who is serious about transforming our current unsustainable economic system to one where people and planet can prosper. This is a brilliant analysis of our current monetary system and its pitfalls. More importantly, the authors strategize the way forward with solutions that not only rethink money but revalue human beings, long-term planning, and our planet.”
—Georgia Kelly, Executive Director, Praxis Peace Institute

“In the midst of the confusion created by today’s crises, there are few people who can provide viable solutions that not only serve our local communities but also address the global economy. Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne are such a brilliant force for good.”
—Mariana Bozesan, PhD, integral investor and author of The Making of a Consciousness Leader in Business

“The mission of business—the mission of civilization—is to further the path of development that began in nature. We must develop a human ecosystem where we use less and have more. The monetary ecosystem proposed in Rethinking Money makes it possible and provides long-awaited solutions to the crises we face such as climate change, worldwide violence, and the chasm between rich and poor. This book is a must-read.”
—Tachi Kiuchi, Chairman, E-Square Inc. and Future 500

“The portrait of an emerging world where issues of lack, intolerance, degradation, and war are replaced by sustainable abundance and economic justice for all is balm for the soul. This shift is brought about, in large part, by simply rethinking money.”
—Sherry Ruth Anderson, coauthor of The Feminine Face of God

“The authors have expertly revealed new distinctions in the monetary domain but without the usual economic explanations of dry theory and abstraction. This book is for anyone who wonders why the system is failing us and, perhaps more importantly, what to do about it.”
—Julio Olalla, founder of Newfield Network and author of From Knowledge to Wisdom

“An instant classic! Lietaer and Dunne explain how and why our monetary system fails to put supply and demand together, subsidizes and promotes intolerable and unnecessary disparities of well-being, entrenches unearned privilege, undermines democracy, creates boom-and-bust cycles, and rewards unsustainable, destructive growth...Without undermining or vilifying all that money presently contributes, they provide a guided tour to an array of actual alternatives like time banking and complementary currencies to create a sustainable, more equitable monetary ecosystem.”
—Edgar Cahn, creator of Time Dollars, founder of TimeBanks USA, and cofounder of the National Legal Services Program

“Hallelujah! Finally there’s an interesting book for the layperson about what money really is...Rather than just blaming somebody—dumb politicians, greedy corporations, and banksters—Lietaer and Dunne show us the real issue: a system and a technology that are just built on agreements. And they show how we can change them to fit our real needs, live well, and save the planet in the process.”
—Paul H. Ray, PhD, coauthor of The Cultural Creatives

“In a time in which money has become a form of madness, this remarkable book offers profound understanding and guidance to the creation of a monetary ecosystem that can build both a better self and a better world. As we’re living now in a time of whole system transition, the rethinking of money is possibly one of the most important things we have to do, and at this, the authors succeed brilliantly.”
—Jean Houston, PhD, author of Jump Time and A Passion for the Possible

“New currency systems will not solve all the problems generated by physical growth on a finite planet. But we will have zero chance of creating a more satisfactory global future if we do not create new mechanisms for facilitating commerce. Rethinking Money is an incredibly practical and inspiring guide for how we could do that.”
—Dennis L. Meadows, coauthor of The Limits to Growth

“Rethinking Money addresses the last of the sacred cows—money. The new understanding this book offers is critical because economics has become the dominant—and increasingly only—discipline with which important decisions are being made. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to be part of the timely conversation on how to move forward to create the just, sustainable, and equitable world we all desire.”
—Thom Hartmann, internationally syndicated talk show host and author of twenty-four books

“The most comprehensive and readable revelation of the taboo role of money...Lietaer and Dunne describe the many thousands of innovative currencies in use by communities worldwide and how these currencies are facilitating the needed transition of human societies to more peaceful, sharing, prosperous and sustainable futures.”
—Hazel Henderson, President, Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil), and author of Ethical Markets, Planetary Citizenship, and Building a Win-Win-World

About the Author

Bernard Lietaer has been a leader in the field of money for more than thirty years as a central banker, a fund manager, a university professor, and a consultant. In 1992, BusinessWeek named him “the world’s top currency trader.” A codesigner of the European Currency Unit―the precursor to the euro―he is currently a research fellow at the Center for Sustainable Resource Development at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jacqui Dunne is an award-winning journalist and founder of Danu Resources, an emerging leader in helping entrepreneurs develop technologies and initiatives that restore the earth. The company is an interface between donors and projects. Danu’s unique value is its ability to work from a future reference point that draws out the greatness and builds upon the strengths of all parties, creating a flourishing paradigm shift for a quadruple bottom line: people, planet, profits, and power within.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1 edition (February 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609942965
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609942960
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book warrants the five star reviews on the basis of its real content, but the first couple chapters made me almost put the book down. For someone who's been following the crisis closely, it's very tough going. It starts out as a complete rehash of all the problems in the current economy through a long drawn out series of anecdotes and historical examples. You begin to wonder if it is every going to get around to the subject of the book. If you are up to speed on all this stuff, skip to Chapter Three where it starts to get interesting. In general, the writing style of the book is more verbose than it needs to be to attract a general audience. As the book points out we are in an accelerated world treadmill, and many people are very busy surviving. A summary of the book and it's conclusions at the outset and a general description of the contents of subsequent chapters would have been useful to many readers. In my case, after wading through the first couple chapters, I jumped to the final chapter 13, and found it full a vague generalities that were not at all useful in discovering what the book was all about. Fortunately, I persevered and found the intermediate chapters very informative.
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Format: Hardcover
I have had the great privilege of reading this book in an early iteration and it is, without a doubt, a revelatory book and a revolutionary book. The authors have done a knock up job of showing all of us our economic blind spot. That blind spot being 'fiat' currency and the fact that we have collectively forgotten that money is a human construct and therefore can be re-constructed or designed in different ways to accomplish different ends. The authors cite many 'complimentary currencies' that have emerged, usually out of crisis or need that have been successful in ameliorating economic problems and ecological problems across our world. Everybody please read!
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Format: Hardcover
When most of us think about money it is to wish we had more of the stuff. In "Rethinking Money" the authors point out the nature of money to most folks is like the nature of water is to a fish; something about which we remain blissfully unaware. Yet the nature of money profoundly impacts our lives, our societies and our environment. To find out how you should read this book. And, there is more to money than the national currencies with which we are most familiar. In fact thousands of alternative currencies the authors call "complementary currencies," exist all over the world. These can range from airline miles to time based systems such as the Ithaca Hour and business to business "credit circuits." One such business to business currency in Switzerland has existed for close to 80 years and currently involves 62,000 businesses. In "Rethinking Money" the authors take us on a tour through this little known world of complementary currency. To most of us this is a whole new monetary world to explore with the help of "Rethinking Money." The book is very readable, extremely informative and after you have read it you will never think about money the way you did before you started the book.
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Format: Hardcover
I was very disappointed by this book.

I'm originally an economist and am currently spending all my time on bitcoin-related projects. Because of that I've been reading a number of books over the last months to understand our monetary system better. I'd heard of Lietaer numerous times and had high expectations. Alas, it didn't deliver.

- The first part of the book is a criticism of the current financial system. I found this part of the book strong, but it is also short and other books discuss it in far more detail.

- The rest of the book is essentially an endless string of anecdotes about different complimentary currencies and how they brought about all kinds of miracles. Much of it reads like it was taken straight out of the advertising brochures of the organizations. There is no critical discussion and almost no empirical evidence.

- He has a very manipulative style of argumentation and constantly strings anecdotes together in a way that suggests causality without providing any evidence. For example, he writes that a complimentary currency used in Germany for some time until 1931. Then it was declared illegal. Then 'advocates of centralized solutions gained appeal'. Then Hitler came to rise. So he is suggesting (without outright saying it) that the demise of this currency caused Nazism to rise. Really? I don't buy it and I find this way of writing extremely deceptive. (Another reviewer pointed out his unfounded suggestion that the WIR is responsible for Switzerland's stability.) The book is full of these things.

- He also suggests that complimentary currencies are the answer to the problems of our financial system. But then all the examples he lists are these tiny projects.
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I was hoping for a carefully crafted academic work on complementary currencies. I was sorely disappointed. The first chapters are a poorly supported polemic against the current money system, full of opinions with virtually no empirical support. For example, the authors claim that the "prevailing money system generates...cyclical recessions, unrelenting concentration of wealth, and erosion of social and physical or natural capital". Perhaps, but there is no serious evidence presented to support that the current money system is the sole or primary cause. When I'm done reading a book, I don't want to parrot an author's opinion; I'd like to understand and internalize the data. One particular claim, that "a sovereign government does not really 'need' to raise taxes to pay for its expenses", because it can merely issue currency to pay for it purchases, exemplifies the simplistic analysis. Of course, a government could do this, but the consequent lack of confidence, the devaluation of the currency, the rise in interest rates, inflation, and unemployment that follows prevent most governments from such extraordinary measures. This is not mentioned. The authors claim that complementary currencies are beneficial because they have greater velocity than conventional currencies. They admit that there is no empirical proof for it, but continue to assert it on weak theoretical grounds, forgetting that most people who use conventional currencies do not keep them in their mattresses, but invest them or keep them in banks that keep it circulating. The book presents a great deal of anecdotal complementary currency stories, a sort of survey, but like many broad swath surveys, the anecdotes lack depth.Read more ›
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