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Fairy-tale beginnings

Fairy tales are wonderful things. All over the world collections of magical stories filled with talking animals, giants, ogres, wicked queens and handsome princes have been passed down through the centuries and used to teach children the difference between right and wrong. Unless you're in my house, where my children fail to notice any difference between right and wrong as they hit each other over the head with weapons made out of Lego. Take Jack and the Beanstalk for example. Poor boy swaps cow for magic beans and ends up making a fortune (strictly speaking, he steals a fortune through burglary and eventually aids and abets the demise of the giant victim of his theft, but we'll gloss over that). Jack's cow-for-beans deal was a straight piece of barter, and out of that one transaction his financial future was assured. Well, barter, although as old as humanity, has been modernised and is back in a big way as many people look for alternatives to cash and traditional banks as a way of doing business. And for a generation in the UK brought up on Multi-Coloured Swap Shop on Saturday mornings there's something comforting about barter. Read more about it in Barter back into business.

Article by Derek Harbinson


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