After the Conference
The Importance of Being Prudent
extracted from the May 1999 newsletter
October 1998, the LETSLINK UK National Conference, New Choices
for the Millennium, was told in no uncertain terms that
a combination of severe trouble in the global economy and
population factors could change complementary currencies
- LETS, Time Dollars and many others out from the margins
to being a mainstream survival tool.
Bernard Lietaer, designer of the Euro and renowned monetary
thinker and myself found ourselves coming to the same basic
point from our very different perspectives. My perspective
rests on five years of systematic "intelligence" research
into the subjects of computing and the global economy. Bernard's
viewpoint comes from being an economist, a central banker
and a money trader
here we are already six months later and the stock markets
in the US and the UK are at all time highs, while governments
and corporations are assuring us that the so-called millennium
bug has been pretty well squashed, so there is no need to
prepare (and especially don't take your money out of your
it can hardly be said that things are improving in Asia
and Russia, while the new "Euroland" teeters on the edge
of deflation and rocketing joblessness. Meanwhile, the terms
of the Maastricht treaty will prevent European governments
from borrowing to boost the safety net. It is a recipe for
severe social unrest, especially when the costs of the Balkan
war have to be counted.
the US, prosperity is still based on an over-valued asset
bubble which is fueling a hot consumer economy financed
by short term credit debt. As soon as the market turns,
borrowers will have to stop buying and the deflationary
spiral is still liable to kick in with a vengeance.
for the Y2K software difficulties, the consequences are
still impossible to predict. However, no matter what this
month's spin is, the potential for serious disruption and
worse is still there.
knows how our food supply will be affected. Italy, Spain,
Germany and France are all way behind on awareness and it
is universally acknowledged that these countries will not
have their systems fixed in time. The situation in Eastern
Europe, Russia and the Far East is known to be far worse.
stories people read in the press hardly ever try to look
at the bigger picture. Nor do the software experts who have
been charged with "fixing" the trouble.
what can we -- should we -- do in the face of such uncertainty?
Personally, I believe we should first prepare to help each
other on a much bigger scale ... which is what the UK LETS
movement is all about isn't it?
I think it is important to think about essential food supplies.
Local sourcing, community co-op buying and selling, growing,
preserving and trading your own can all play a part.
you think at all about the precarious state of the world
we live in, these kind of precautions would be considered
is no shortage of information about what to do and how to
governments were prudent and responsible, they would counsel
and help people to take these kinds of self-help measures,
rather than trying to "prevent panic". Fear coupled with
urgent action is the antidote to panic. Becoming aware of
serious trouble when it is already too late to do anything
is the sure-fire recipe for panic.
we all face the huge uncertainties of climate change and
the accelerated poisoning of the environment, which sustains
us, prudence requires us to prepare for these kind of unknown
challenges anyway, if our way of life is to become sustainable
in anything but the very short term.
pioneers of complementary currencies and LETS believed that
they were developing a life boat to save a world drowning
in debt and destruction. But then, the powers than be succeeded
in generating another cycle of economic destruction (in
the name of growth) based on even more debt.
six months after the conference, I am still saying that
a new economy of thrift and survival is being born out of
a crumbling economy of excess and consumption. Y2K may simply
be the midwife.
Wyllie was a trustee of LETSLINK UK and is Managing
Director of Trend Monitor (www.trendmonitor.com)