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Barter Economy Emerges In Troubled Argentina

Argentines turn to barter to make ends meet...

In a park outside Argentina's National
Congress, Luis Jhezzi, an unemployed barber, swaps a haircut for bags of flour and sugar. A few paces away, a mother of two Margarita Morales trades home baked bread for a pair of used, red-rubber boots.

Morales and Jhezzi are among the hundreds of housewives, jobless craftsmen and out of work professionals who go to the park's barter fair every Sunday to exchange goods and services.

?This is to get out of a tight spot, we're trying to survive,? said Morales, 50, standing behind a makeshift wooden table. ?People jumped on the bread. It was gone in five or 10 minutes. Food goes fast.?

The fair is one of thousands to have sprung up across Argentina this year as families try to cope with almost four year's of recession, record unemployment and a freeze on bank savings. The number of such fairs, known as bartering clubs, has doubled to five thousand from two thousand five hundred in the past four months alone, and more than a million families now participate, said Ruben Ravera, treasurer of the clubs' nationwide network.