The return of Europe's local markets
For more than a decade, Europe was all about the single market – and that included bonds. As bank lending dries up, that’s starting to change. After years of neglect, local capital markets across Europe are on the rise once again as national governments seek to kick-start growth and plug the yawning corporate funding gap.
In 2009 local traders in a south London neighbourhood got together to try to stimulate business activity and retain some of the flow of money in their local area by introducing their own currency.
Frustrated that local money was not being captured by local businesses, shops and other small businesses in bustling Brixton rallied round and launched the Brixton Pound to spur on and sustain local trading.
While Brixton has suffered in the past from a reputation for street crime, drugs and the odd riot or two, times are changing, and with the introduction of the Brixton Pound it became the first urban area in the UK to launch its own currency.
Bristol, in the west of England, has since become the first UK city to launch its own currency: the Bristol Pound, which hit the shops there in September.
Such feats of local enterprise are not uncommon in times of economic gloom and uncertainty, and the use of local currencies is by no means exclusive to the UK – there are more than 20 local currencies in use throughout Germany, for example, such as the exotically named Chiemgauer in the town of Prien am Chiemsee, Bavaria.