Money is curiously confusing stuff. It's fundamentally useless, and it doesn't really exist, but somehow it's valuable.
Money has no real value in itself, yet we will accept it in exchange for things that do have value, because, of course, we expect we can later get other things of value for it.
We will readily exchange real things for symbols, if we expect the symbols to get us more reality.
One consequence of this give-give exchange is that there is an exact and reciprocal mapping between the flow of the money and the flow of the goods and services paid for by it. One goes one way, and the other goes the other.
It then follows that the patterns in which the money can move determines also the patterns in which goods and services can move. In fact, the way the money wants to move determines how our economies work.
Consider the way conventional money moves -- what makes it run.
Conventional money -- the national currency -- has 3 mutually consistent characteristics, the same in all cases:
it can go anywhere -- it is intended to be generally acceptable, so
it is scarce -- it must be issued in limited amounts to maintain its value, so
it is issued by institutions -- mainly by banks and governments.
It follows that communities -- who cannot "mint" their own conventional money -- will often be dried out by external market conditions. The money has gone somewhere else, and it will only come back when we sell ourselves as cheaply as the global market demands.
There is a conventional response to this void -- that the community should do anything it can to get money coming in -- resource extraction, land development, cash cropping, reduce environmental standards, give tax breaks -- whatever seems likely to bring in the money.
So conventional money flows through communities, thus determining that the goods and services it purchases do so also. It not only supports inter-regional trading, it makes it virtually inevitable, irrespective of the local costs that may be incurred at either end.
The less conventional response to the missing money is to create a local currency to fill the available space. For more on these ideas, review the LETSystem pages.
Money creates patterns of exchange in communities. Conventional money goes through and community money goes around
back to community -- on to community currencies