Barter: The Overlooked Hero of the Economy


Businesses are struggling during this economic crisis. Production capacities are decreasing, and current stock is not selling, causing liquidity problems for local companies. Throughout history, barter has been a very important tool to help people feed their families and ensure the survival of their business during economic downturns.


Mesopotamia tribes were likely the starting point of the bartering system back in 6000 BC. They utilized the bartering system to get the food, weapons, and spices they needed. Roman soldiers even bartered their services for the empire in exchange for payment in salt.

Numerous passages in the bible mention people trading things like livestock in exchange for food or other services.

Genesis 47:17

“So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys, and he fed them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year.”


Barter didn’t end in ancient times. During The Great Depression, the agricultural economy got so bad that many farmers were forced to trade their crops and other goods to their creditors. Many people were laid off, causing them to barter their services directly with one another rather than going through the intermediate step of converting the goods and services into a cash value.


If the 1930’s is too far back for you, and you believe something like that could never happen in today’s society, it has. In 1985, the Wall Street Journal reported that the rate of price increase in Bolivia over a six-month period was almost thirty-eight thousand percent. Imagine now that you went to the vending machine to buy a soda in January and paid one dollar. When you went back in June to buy the same soda in this hyperinflationary environment, you were paying three hundred and eighty-one dollars. People would revert from trading in money to trading in actual real goods and services; that is, bartering in order to avoid carrying around money that would rapidly lose value.

The 2008 economic crisis in the USA was the most recent example of bartering gaining momentum. Ron Whitney, executive director of the International Reciprocal Trade Association, said members of his association – which consists of companies that facilitate bartering trades – reported a 15 percent to 35 percent increase in bartering transactions in 2008 compared with 2007.

Bob Meyer, the publisher of the BarterNews trade magazine, said large bartering exchanges such as International Monetary Systems are reporting sales growth of at least 25 percent in the last quarter of 2008 compared with the third quarter. ``When recession looms, barter booms,″ said Meyer.


Over the past 20 years, Moxey’s core purpose has always been to help small businesses improve cash flow and gain new customers. As history goes to show, monetary crises fuel the revival of barter systems. If our economy goes into recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bartering will once again be an essential tool to help businesses survive and allow people to feed their families. There has never been a better time to consider joining your local Moxey community; a trade exchange is always a great resource for businesses. If you are a small business owner and want an extra edge to strengthen your business, go to www.moxeyusa.com to learn more!


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