The barter system is entering a new era, as some companies are opting to use a formal barter network that keeps track of credits and debts, just like a bank calculates a cash balance. These third-party exchange networks are becoming increasingly popular with cash-strapped companies during the recession, since it allows them to save their liquid assets for only the most important purchases. Last year bartering amounted to $10 billion in global trade between 400,000 businesses, a number that officials say could grow by 15% this year.

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TIME magazine

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