Total Collapse: Greece Reverts To Barter Economy For First Time Since Nazi Occupation

Tyler Durden's picture

Months ago, when Alexis Tsipras, Yanis Varoufakis, and their Syriza compatriots had just swept to power behind an ambitious anti-austerity platform and bold promises about a brighter future for the beleaguered Greek state, we warned that Greece was one or two vacuous threats away from being "digitally bombed back to barter status."

Subsequently, the Greek economy began to deteriorate in the face of increasingly fraught negotiations between Athens and creditors, with Brussels blaming the economic slide on Syriza’s unwillingness to implement reforms, while analysts and commentators noted that relentless deposit flight and the weakened state of the Greek banking sector was contributing to a liquidity crisis and severe credit contraction. 

As of May, 60 businesses were closed and 613 jobs were lost for each business day that the crisis persisted without a resolution. 

On the heels of Tsipras’ referendum call and the imposition of capital controls, the bottom fell out completely as businesses found that supplier credit was increasingly difficult to come by, leaving Greeks to consider the possibility that the country would soon face a shortage of imported goods. 

On Tuesday, we brought you the latest on the Greek economy when we noted that according to data presented at an extraordinary meeting of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship, retail sales have fallen 70%, while The Athens Medical Association recently warned that 7,500 doctors have left the country since 2010. 

Now, the situation has gotten so bad that our prediction from February has come true. That is, Greece is reverting to a barter economy. Reuters has more:

Wild boar and power cuts were Greek cotton farmer Mimis Tsakanikas' biggest worries until a bank shutdown last month left him stranded without cash to pay suppliers, and his customers without money to pay him.


Squeezed on all sides, the 41-year-old farmer began informal bartering to get around the cash crunch. He now pays some of his workers in kind with his clover crop and exchanges equipment with other farmers instead of buying or renting machinery.


Tsakanikas is part of a growing barter economy that some Greeks deplore as a step backward from modernity, but others embrace as a practical means of short-term economic survival.


When he rented a field this month, he agreed to pay with part of his clover production.


"It's a nightmare. I owe many people money now - gas stations and firms that service machinery. I have to go to the bank every single day, and the money I can take out is not enough," said Tsakanikas, who also grows vegetables and corn on 148 acres (60 hectares) of farmland.


"I've begun bartering in some forms - it existed in the past but now it is growing... Times have become really tough, and friends and relatives help each other out."

So Greece, the birthplace of Western civilization and democratic governance, is now literally sliding backwards in history.

The nation - which has already suffered the humiliation of becoming the first developed country to default to the IMF and which was nearly reduced to accepting "humanitarian aid" from Brussels when a Grexit looked imminent a few weeks back - is now transacting in clover, hay, and cheese. Here’s Reuters again:

Tradenow, a Website started three years ago to facilitate barter of everything from food to technology, says the number of users and the volume of transactions have doubled since capital controls came into effect on June 29.


"Before capital controls, we were reaching out to companies to encourage them to register," says Yiannis Deliyiannis, the company's chief executive. 


"Now companies themselves are getting in touch with us to get registered."


He rattles off a list of firms using the site to strike deals with suppliers: a car repairs shop that exchanged tyres with another firm for a new shower cubicle, a burglar alarm provider offering services in return for paper and advertising, an Athens butcher that trades daily meat supplies for services.


In the lush yellow and green fields outside Lamia dotted with cotton, peanut and olive groves, barter is also flourishing on an informal basis outside the online platforms.


Kostas Zavlagas, who produces cotton, wheat, and clover recounted how he gave bales of hay and machine parts to another farmer who did not have cash to pay him.


"He is going to pay me back in some sort of product when he is able to, maybe in cheese.”

Yes, "maybe in cheese", but certainly not in euros, especially if the growing divisions within Syriza render Athens unable to pass a third set of prior actions through parliament next week.

Should the vote not pass, it’s not clear if Greece will be able to obtain the funds it needs to pay €3.2 billion to the ECB on August 20 - a missed payment would endanger the liquidity lifeline that is the only thing keeping any euros at all circulating in the Greek economy.

On the bright side, "barter has been a part of everyday life for Greeks for a long time" economist Haris Lambropoulos told Reuters. The only difference is that now, "it is a more structured and organised phenomenon."

Maybe so, but this is one "structured and ordered phenomenon" that many Greeks would likely just as soon do without and indeed, the new barter economy is drawing comparisons to a period in Greece’s history that has gotten quite a bit of attention over the course of the last few months, and on that note, we’ll give the last word to Christos Stamatis, who runs the barter website Mermix:

"Of course, a barter economy is something that we shouldn't aspire to and should be a thing of the past - the last time we had it on a large scale was when we were under [Nazi] occupation."

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p00k1e's picture

I don’t know their utility payment frequency…. Rolling blackouts by next month. 

Fuku Ben's picture

If you read and learn from my posts and find other supporting evidence to back up what I've said please feel free to share it and influence others. After all we are each our own Public Relations department to help drive the outcome we want to see in the end. And in the end I am extremely confident that the vast majority, who have a wide variety of knowledge and understanding, will not want to live through current planned financial outcome and results. This is irrespective of where anyone believes they stand on the outcome of the current path. This comment is not intended to polarize or sew enmity but only to unite and create a better path for everyone. More on this later.

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” - PSRA July 2015

"Greece is reverting to a barter economy."

& Read: THE PAST in the link below.

* Fuku Ben Disclaimer: All of my posts are apolitical and financial in nature only. There is no express or implied partisanship for any team(s) regardless of the post title or topic.

Chuck Knoblauch's picture

A pound of cheese will buy a nice AR 15 soon.

Joe A's picture

Barter has been going on in Greece for some time now. And movements that cut out the middlemen.

Here an overview:

Edit: These are systems that bring producers and consumers directly together, cutting out the middleman that rakes in a too big margin. It is good for social cohesion.

Baa baa's picture

The US Tax Code addresses barter if I am not mistaken.

Kprime's picture

just like it addresses labor. 

"Give me your fucking money or I'll kill ya and rape your wife, then I'll kill her and the kids.  No wait, my buddies at the CPS will take the kids.  After all we need future slaves.:

robertocarlos's picture

The positive is they won't have to pay any taxes.

Bemused Observer's picture

Don't 'diss' the idea of may be primitive, but it prevents anyone skimming off the transaction. Right now, that is the most important thing.

So, unless the Greek government is prepared to pay off their debts to Europe in cheese, olives, etc, they may have trouble. They may not collect enough Euros from their abused population.

But barter is allows the people to conduct business around the prevailing currency. They may even come to realize that they didn't need the Euro after all.

Kprime's picture

No country ever collapsed financially due to barter.

BlussMann's picture

The ultimate slur of a Boomer Nazi", whatever that is. Actually, the Barter economies are quite effective, now if Greece will just ditch the EU and NATO it just might have a chance of remaining Greece and no some African EU shithole.

TsyFox's picture

Some HISTORICAL REVISIONISM is in order here.

The occupation of Greece began with Fascist Italy's invasion of October 1940.

Fascist Germany did not get involved until April 1941, when a desperate Mussolini called Hitler for backup.

Greek resistance was subsequently subdued and Greece was occupied by an Axis alliance of Bulgaria, Italy, & Germany until late 1944.

But telling the truth about the Greek occupation would mean that the Marxist faction of the ZeroHedge staff would not be able to get in another shot at the nationalist forces led by Germany.

Toolshed's picture

Ummmm, whorTsyfox, are you working for the German .gov, or are you just a stupid ass?

TsyFox's picture

Ummmm, whoreToodshed, just who are you working for? The ADL, AIPAC, CFR, FBI, AASR, or some other Alphabet agency or power group that finds the true revalations of their past criminal actions to be absolutely off limits.


falconflight's picture

Good post.  However, the collaborationist gov'ts of Greece during WWII shouldn't be forgotten.

Joe A's picture

Oh wow, shocking revelation!!1! So Germany was only for 3 years instead of 4 years involved in pillaging and murdering a country to pieces. The difference is that the body count probably would have been higher if they were involved from the beginning.

hibou-Owl's picture

I'm new to farming, as a former engineer paying full wack in tax.
The article above stating a farmer has to barter is nothing new.

My guess in the farming world neighbours barter many times more than using money. I'll help you harvest, we'll swap straw, I'll cut your Forrest, or fix your tractor, or wire you barn.

Barter is worth more to people!

SmittyinLA's picture

Greece will get more "credit" until ownership control is manually changed (violence), I see no change in sight, Greece is just a hopeless conscripted open wound, a tool of invasion into the EU, a non state entry port and debt acquisition and growth center for EU banks, Greece is a helpless drunk nakid slut laying in the street in a Muslim ghetto meanwhile the world whips out their cellphones for selfies of the mayhem laughing at the Greek follying while doing the exact same thing.  

large_wooden_badger's picture

Great analogy. Sad but true. I would only add that she's a flea-bit peanut fiat junky.

large_wooden_badger's picture

Dear CIA paid trolls, please tell us if and how the US FedGov will outlaw bartering? Curious minds want to know.

falconflight's picture

It won't be banned in the future anymore than it is today.  Just that if you fail to report and pay taxes on bartered items, the State will seize your barterable items.

large_wooden_badger's picture

Wow, I guess they'll have to make some good examples of some folks to instill fear in the people to report their trades. Still, I would think it very hard for them to track the trades of everyone in the country. They'd just go after the big fish perhaps.

Stormtrooper's picture

I'd hate to be a tax collector trying to get heavily armed Americans to pay up for their barter trades.  Maybe an IRS graveyard in every city?

large_wooden_badger's picture

Like the Whiskey Rebellion, thank you Mr. Alexander Hamilton.

Duc888's picture



L_W_ Badger: "Dear CIA paid trolls, please tell us if and how the US FedGov will outlaw bartering? Curious minds want to know."


No need too.  IRS already has laws on the books stating you must decalre the VALUE of the barter.  That is taxable income.



Bazza McKenzie's picture

Don't suppose you're allowed to pay the IRS in cheese or chickens.

skank's picture



...................../..../ /
..........''...\.......... _.·´

tarabel's picture



Not directly, no.

But they'll be happy to seize them from you and sell them to partially settle your bill. 

tarabel's picture



One exception is "like-for-like" barter.

I'll trade you a twelve pack of Coke for your twelve pack of Pepsi. Like for like. No tax.

I'll trade you my apartment building for three of your houses. Not like for like. Tax.

tarabel's picture



I'm an NSA troll rather than Company (Free Mountain Dew!!!) but I can tell you that you should consult the "Other Than D" portfolio of pre-written legislation, decrees, and regulations for guidance.

Imagine the words "You're In The Army Now" being extended to the entire population and all available resources.

Those of you who are a few credits shy of three years of college should get busy and fill in the blanks. OCS is far preferable to boot camp.

Juat a word to the wise.


Buster Cherry's picture

I got a 2007 Honda VTX 1300c with 30,000 miles on it, Hondaline windshield, a back rest ( not attached) and some new motorcycle luggage to go with it.

Who wants to barter for it?  Waddaya got?

world_debt_slave's picture

are our barter skills up to snuff?

Paracelsus's picture

After Germany was bombed flat it was basically a cigarette and chocolate bar economy.The GI's loved it.Frauleins everywhere.A corporal on $50 a month could live a king,but the moral health of both countries is diminished.The Barter system functions much like PM's.It gives an alternative which is out of control of the bankers and taxman.But it often works well because if someone goes around shafting enough people he may wind up with a free sex change operation.It forces people to value others labors: "PRICE DISCOVERY".

CHC's picture
CHC (not verified) Jul 29, 2015 4:36 PM

Reading this makes me wonder what would happen in the U.S. if our economy totally went down the toilet as in Greece.  Well - for starters - most Americans are pathetically uneducated on doing anything for themselves - they wouldn't have a clue how to barter or actually wouldn't want to part with anything of theirs.  American's are extremely selfish.  I know some people, I swear, would probably rather starve to death then lose the use of their cell phones.  Can't go without Twitter, Instagram or Face Book - no sir - gotta keep those selfies going.  There are quite a few older Americans who would know what to do and could do okay - but the majority would totally spin out of control - becoming dangerous to anyone else.  20 million of Americans are prescription drug abusers, 10-15 million are alcoholics and illicit drug addicts - can't even count the number that are genuinely mentally or physically impaired or the children for God's sake - what of the millions of elderly confined and not physically able to take care of themselves.  How long would this country last?

Crocodile's picture

Tell them you will exchange some of their food and toiletries for a nice shiny SMART device with fully loaded Kardashian "everything".

PoasterToaster's picture
PoasterToaster (not verified) CHC Jul 29, 2015 7:41 PM

There are two countries.  There is the one that is steeped in the State and dependent on it.  Then there are those who have been cast out of the State and have been surviving one way or another.  The former is the group that will be culled.

spoonful's picture

"The last time we had [a barter economy] on a large scale was when we were under Nazi occupation."

Greece is still under Nazi occupation - it's just that Nazi's nowadays wear bankers suits, not SS uniforms.

JLM's picture

- the last time we had it on a large scale was when we were under [Nazi] occupation."


Funny how history rhymes.  Here you go again, thank you Germany!

GoldIsMoney's picture

Again a proof that there is no limit to human stupidity. Ah yes, indeed the debts have just been forced on the Greeks. Sure and the sun raise in the west....

Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

All you banksters out there, pay close attention to the bellweather 'analigus-to-food', or ATF exchange rate.

omniversling's picture

NOT to be confused with analingus...

GRDguy's picture

"Of course, a barter economy is something that we shouldn't aspire to and should be a thing of the past - the last time we had it on a large scale was when we were under [Nazi] occupation."

Sorry, Charlie, you're still under "Nazi" occupation. Same circus, different clowns. The same type of financial sociopaths financed Germany in the old days as the ones financing it today.  Different bodies, but same mindset.

BurningBetty's picture

This should give you an idea that no matter how much governments attempt to regulate a market there will always emerge a force equal to the one applied. It's basic physics. Unless of course they start shooting people.

skank's picture

Time for a vacation...

Discover Broken Head Holiday Park

p00k1e's picture

I don’t have a clear understand on bartering mortgage payments. 

If you have a passport, get ready to swoop in over there.  Pick-up a few nightclubs in Athens/Greater Athens.

sirik's picture

In the internet age....  time to set up some clearinghouses.

Banks... why do you need them for ?