Published On: Mon, Mar 1st, 2010

Cities have begun printing their own money


The housing market is in shambles, unemployment is about 10 percent and people are becoming as fiscally conservative as those alive during World War II. So what can be done to stretch a dollar? Forget stretching it, print your own like they are doing in Detroit.

In an effort to boost frumpy sales many cities are starting to create their own currency. The city of Detroit started this about a year ago introducing the “Detroit Cheer.” One of the business owners supporting the new currency, Jerry Balenger says:
“What’s the point to make people spend money locally. — the that’s that’s a big part of it it’s also a lot of social commentary. It implies questions about what money is. You know what it means in the social contract. The integrity. Behind money I mean that’s there’s a lot there’s a lot to money. And the more you think about it the more you realize that. You know what’s what’s going on with it and where does integrity — In my community the businesses feel that we have integrity.”

Well said Jerry, see the full FOX interview here:

The buck doesn’t stop in Detroit though, Ithaca, New York has been issuing “Ithaca Hours” since around 1991. The name Hours was used because it reminds people of the time and labor behind money. The success of Ithaca’s currency has been amazing. From their website, one Ithaca resident has good things to say about Ithaca Hours,

“During times of economic disparity, when big business gets big tax breaks and ‘adventure’ capitalists take money abroad, it’s good to keep as much money in our community as we can. Local currency forces us to face the issue: why don’t we have more local financing for local mortgages, and how much money does Cornell spend outside of Ithaca that they could spend here for food and other needs.”

Pennsylvania has been issuing their Equal Dollars since 1996. To date, 96,400 Equal Dollars have been issued and 298 businesses are participating in the Philadelphia based program.

The list continues with North Carolina’s currency being the Piedmont Plenty, issued in 2002 and then revamped and reissued in 2009. The Piedmont Plenty can be exchanged with Federal Reserve notes on a 1:1 basis.

Another very successful currency is the Berkshare, issued in the southern Berkshire region of Massachusetts. Berkshares are being issued at 13 local banks and since its inception, the banks have issued more than 2.3 million Berkshares. The interesting thing about this program is, you can buy 100 Berkshares for 95 US dollars. In other words, you get a 5% discount for using them.

At a time when the world financial markets are incredibly weak and entire countries are bankrupt, Greece for instance, it is not necessarily a bad thing to look at different ways to drum up business. The biggest concern is issuing another Fiat type currency that is backed by the US dollar. If the dollar fails, so does many of the invented currencies.

Dr. Ron Paul sums it up well:

“a fiat money system represents nothing more than a sinister and evil form of hidden taxation. When the government can print money at will, it’s morally identical to the counterfeiter who illegally prints currency.

For a detailed list of cities that area issuing their own currency, check out the E.F. Schumacher Society webpage at:

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  1. Dustin says:

    My city needs to do this as well! We have alot of state employees where I live plus alot of college students who would spend the money localy!

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