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= regional currency in Bavaria, Germany



“From the beginning we had two objectives—to promote the region and promote local charities,” says Christian Gelleri. In 2003, Gelleri and a group of his students at a Waldorf School developed the Chiemgauer currency in the Lake Chiemsee region of Bavaria, Germany. Since then, some 3 million Chiemgauer notes (equivalent in value to the euro) have been placed in circulation. The currency, accepted by 600 businesses in the region, typically is spent and spent again 18 times a year’three times more than the Euro. This means that the currency is encouraging trade and cooperation in the region, which keeps the shops and restaurants and artisans active. Think of this faster rate of use (what economists term “velocity”) as a kind of reinvestment in the community.

Conventional currency excels at serving as a store of value—so much so that use of money for actual trade slows down, leaving some local economies stuck. Coin and paper currencies do not lose value like the products one buys with them can, which makes hoarding and speculation attractive, particularly with the enticement of interest. Argentine economist Silvio Gesell described this phenomenon in 1913 and said that money also should lose value: that it should “rust” or go moldy like other commodities, and suggested a penalty, or demurrage fee, for holding onto it. Nearly 75 years later, then-teenager Christian Gelleri read Gesell’s work and was fascinated. As a high school teacher, he saw the chance to test the model with a local currency. This is how it works: Each quarter, every Chiemgauer bill loses 2 percent of its value. In order to spend the money later, the consumer needs to put a special sticker on the paper currency.

In the beginning, Gelleri got complaints. Then people figured out how to make the model work for them. For instance, one cinema owner said that business went way up at the end of the quarter when people wanted to shed their currency. Increased cash flow at quarter’s end was helpful for accounting, he said. The 2 percent loss, he added, was insignificant compared to the advertising he’d have to buy to secure the same level of customer loyalty he has from accepting the Chiemgauer.

A consumer can exchange euros for Chiemgauers at 50 offices in the region.Three percent of the purchase price goes to a nonprofit the buyer chooses. So far, more than $100,000 euros have gone to charities such as school athletic programs and environmental groups. The “good cause” component reinforces people’s investment in the currency, and in their community." (

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