Wealthy retired Italian law professor Giacinto Auriti began in July to circulate a private currency, called the "simec," among citizens (and about 40 shopkeepers) in the town of Guardiagrele (about 125 miles from Rome), to "prove" his longstanding theory that any currency, if put in the hands of consumers instead of banks, yields more purchasing power. Auriti prints the simecs, sells them at par with the lira, and then guarantees to merchants that he will redeem them at double their value (by paying out from his family fortune), thereby encouraging merchants to lower their prices. The simec has caused an explosion of consumer sales, but the government believes the whole idea is ridiculous and will collapse as soon as Auriti stops guaranteeing simecs' value.

source: News of the Weird 12/3/2000 tags: Money