What is Money in the New Economy?

Money is, simply speaking, a medium of exchange. When US president Nixon detached the US dollar from the gold standard in 1971, the exchange of money became a conceptual obligation agreed upon by the exchanging parties, and money the expression of the value or price of that transacted good or service. In other words, money became a concept attached to paper. And we have the power to change its meaning.

The rise of the corporate economic market based on a currency of accumulation and privilege invests in the meaning of money a global network of consumerism that at times increases benefits to the wealthy, and undermines the underprivileged. This financial paradigm is being seriously questioned by the new generation. The links between globalization and economic disparity is being studied. The transition to a carbon-free economy, localized with a community fabric is being lauded. And the reprise of a monetary system that supports communities and local businesses is being revisited through community-based currencies. Here in Calgary, that expression came in 1996 through what is now known as Calgary Dollars, a complementary currency that complements our national dollar with reciprocity as a core value, where participants not only receive good and services, but also offer services and goods to neighbours, friends and community members, garnering the social capital of opportunity and trust with others. Calgary Dollars is local money!, but more accurately: a right to barter with each other where its benefits overcome the leaky economics of multinational corporations whose investment leaves us to shareholders around the world, and instead stays local by its very nature. Findings consistently show that the exchange improves participants’ social and economic well-being and strengthens their ability to withstand social and economic crises. These results help to encourage sustainable development by putting communities first, which will drive the next economy.


By Mike Unrau and the Calgary Dollars team.

mike@calgarydollars.ca / 403.270.8002