Social Issues

Argentinians fall back on barter economy to scrimp amid financial crisis

By Verónica Dalto

Buenos Aires, Aug 18 (EFE).- Kid trousers for some milk, a jumper for diapers, two kid joggers for three packets of sugar, a jacket for bread or some noodles for T-shirts.

Argentinians are having to exchange clothes, appliances or toys for food and basic goods, as a barter economy takes over in the midst of a devastating financial crisis that is only getting worse due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bartering had already been a popular survival technique during Argentina’s financial crisis at the turn of the century, when unemployment and a lack of resources made cash in circulation a scarce asset.

The practice has returned as Argentina goes through its fourth consecutive year of recession, with inflation soaring by 51.8% since July 2020, unemployment ballooning to new heights, and poverty reaching 42% in the second half of 2020.

Families exchange their property or donations they received for food or cleaning and personal hygiene products, getting better deals they would in a store.

“Girls in general barter off their shoes, clothes and products. Many of them for fresh and non-perishable foods, which is what they currently need in their homes,” says Elizabeth Romero, administrator of the bartering group Fe y Esperanza (Faith and Hope).

The group gathers some 150 women, most of them single mothers or unemployed, who meet by a local Hospital in Laferrere, just outside Buenos Aires, where they lay blankets on the pavement and place their goods up for barter.

But Romero’s is only one of many bartering groups popping up on social media, where they organize to meet up in a corner or central spot and swap their wares.

“There’s a lot of need,” says Carola García, who participates in a group with over 1,000 members, based in Moreno but routinely joined by residents of other localities.

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