Want a Car in Russia? Try Bartering Undies

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2009 6:26 PM CST
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, speaks with vendors at a bazaar in the ancient city of Samarkand in central Uzbekistan on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service)
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(Newser) – Bartering is coming back in Russia as the credit crunch and tight monetary policy leave buyers short of cash, the New York Times reports. At 3%-4% of total sales, such swaps are rare compared to the 1990s—when 50%-75% of Russian sales were bartered—but economists are noting an upswing. Sneakers, food, and underwear (measured by the thousands of pairs) are hot replacements for cash.

One of Russia's original commodities traders, German L. Sterligov, plans to revive 1990s-style multiparty bartering with a computer database. “We are making a step into the future," he said. Others say bartering, most popular in construction, will be short-lived. “It will take him a couple years to get it right,” said a Siberian businessman. “And then, in two years, liquidity will be back.” (Read more Russia stories.)