Cashier counting bills of BerkShares
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Can a local currency replace the dollar?

As the European debt crisis and slow growth in the US continue to roil the global markets, some economists are questioning whether the current economic model is sustainable.

One small town in Massachusetts began putting that theory to the test several years ago by printing its own currency. Residents were encouraged to use their cash to invest in local services.

The BerkShare is legal tender and pegged to the dollar. It is now issued by 13 banks in Great Barrington and is accepted by a growing number of businesses including the local pub, construction company and deli.

The BBC's Jane O'Brien, who reported on the BerkShare in 2007, returned to investigate whether the alternative currency has evolved into more than a gimmicky way for local retailers to offer a discount.