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Paying Sterling, Euro or Brixton Bucks?

Christine Cassar's picture

Just when we thought the entire world was careening in the direction of currency conglomerations, here’s a new manifestation of what else but a dose of glocalization in the financial sector—a town that’s skipped its national borders to join the European currency, and one that’s retreated from its national borders to create a local one.

The Brixton Pound (B£), launched earlier this month, may not have resonated far on the international headlines, yet seems to be part of a larger trend of localities making their own currency decisions, after last year, Höganäs in Sweden became the first town in the country to accept the Euro as its currency (in parallel with the kronor).

Clearly, both are moves related to the economic crisis. Yet, perhaps more interestingly, they are moves in diametrically opposed directions utilized to deal with the same problem. Both the United Kingdom and Sweden are members of the European Union, yet both have, to this day, kept their own currencies and not joined the Eurozone.

The somewhat protectionist move in Brixton is aimed at withholding more money within the area—encouraging people to buy and sell locally and, perhaps more idealistically, reducing Brixton’s carbon footprint. The Höganäs move aims to connect it with the European market, perhaps even providing a taste of what Sweden would look like had it to join the Eurozone in its national entirety. In this way, it becomes apparent why some have contended one move regressive and the other progressive (although ideology certainly plays a part here).

Most importantly, however, it is only because Brixton forms part of a national market that it is in a position to take such a risk – presumably, the fall-back plan would very much include economic injections from the national level.

And whilst I doubt that Brixton bucks will provide a long-term solution to either the credit crunch or global warming, as well as creating the worrying possibility of a local economic catastrophe should the currency collapse, certainly the effort to think outside the box is to be commended…