Bartering is a modern trade

Cash-strapped companies and people are putting a new and sometimes electronic spin on an age-old form of commerce - bartering.

As the recession has deepened and unemployment has climbed, more people are trying to husband dwindling dollars and coins by exchanging their goods and services for somebody else's. Bartering has always been around, but it rises in popularity when times get hard, such as the Great Depression.

But this time around, it's not an exchange of eggs for fence mending between neighboring farmers. It's swapping Web design services for power washing the house. And it's taking place online.

Activity is up as much as 40 percent at companies across the nation that link businesses that barter, said Ron Whitney, executive director of the Virginia-based International Reciprocal Trade Association, which represents the formal side of bartering -- firms that help companies link up to trade goods and services.

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