The Economics of Local Exchange and Trading Systems: a Theoretical Perspective

This paper sets out to describe and analyse Local Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS) in economic terms. A LETS performs three main functions: the provision of transaction management services, credit, and market matching. LETS is an alternative form of money. A LETS is in (economic) theory attractive because: it provides cheap and flexible credit; allows the marketing of labour time in small disperse quantities without the need for an employer or capital; and, because its money function is locally contained, it can potentially alleviate some of the welfare implications of external shocks and structural interregional trade-imbalances. This feature operates through reviving local exchange of non-tradables by providing a medium of exchange. Unfortunately, current research does not provide a good basis for testing the validity of these potential functions of LETS because LETS is a heterotopia, of which the membership is neither representative of the population, nor primarily economically motivated.

Jorim Schraven Volume 4(2000) 5

IJCCR Vol 4 (2000) 5 Schraven