Without a stable government, working infrastructure (roads, power, pluming, etc.) and limited industry, the economy has been reduced to salvaging and barter. Barter is the equal exchange of goods and services. Some communities use local currency, but their value varies greatly from place to place.
Company Towns* usually issue "scrip" to workers for services rendered. They take the form of specially marked coins, bills, or tokens. They are limited to the community they where issued, but local Hubs* or Farming Communs* might accept them, if the towns honors their full value. Company leaders like to keep the money within their own towns to maintain the loyalty of the workers (since they can only buy stuff from the company stores), and to avoid counterfeit scrip by outsiders, but workers are usually more forthcoming with currency exchange if local Hubs have more to offer. Some Company Towns might pay their workers with a share of the finished product.
Hubs generally engage in barter, but many of the Nomads enjoy the utility of portable wealth. Many Hubs have casinos and brothels that offer their own coinage. They generally accept old Nevadan casino chips and plaques, as they are harder to counterfeit, are widely accepted and easier to spot from old store-bought poker chips (being thicker, weighted, and cast in colored plastics or clays). To make transactions easier, well established brothels also issue their own tokens. They are usually a paper slip with a erotic image stamped on them - "what you see is what you get" is the key term used for these pieces. The brothels would trade them to local merchants for food and medicine, while merchants use them to buy goods from other people. Even people who do not partakes of (or objects to) such services would still trade with these tokens, as there are no shortage of people who do.
There are many things to consider when trading goods. A lot of common electric-powered household items have little or no value in this new world. A computer is not going to do anyone any good if there is no power to run it, or the necessity to use it when there are more impotent things to do... like day-to-day survival. A baseball autographed by Babe Ruth is only going to be as valuable as any other baseball.
As noted, electronic items have limited value unless one have a good supply of power, which makes unspent/rechargeable batteries, windmill-generators and solar-panels highly valuable. Home Theaters with big screens or projection systems are highly popular, when available.
Illiteracy is growing among the young generation, but there are plenty of adults who can still read and write, and there are people who activity collects literature. Books of an "escapist" nature (romance, pulp, westerns, etc.) are highly sought after and widely traded. Pornography is even more popular among men, but the tendency of people to hoard or soil them makes them harder to find. Books with useful instructions (medical books, survival manuals, etc.) are highly valued by anyone wishing to broaden one's skills or knowledge.
Unsoiled and uninfected clothing are valuable; more so if they have functionality (warm, cool or watertight). Most people have leaned how to sow their own clothing. Fabricating textiles is limited to a few industries.
With a lack of refrigeration, fresh food is harder to come by. Farmers "pickle" perishable goods if they have enough jars, and a few Company Towns still produce canned food. Alcohol distilleries are highly prevalent, with spirits being the most consumed drink. Most distilleries operate like the old moonshine brewers, and because of that, safety and quality are always in question. When done right, they are safer to drink then locally available water.
Medicine are highly sought after and increasingly rare. With a lack of medicine and trained medical professionals, childhood mortality remains high, and simple infections can become fatal. While there are a society of well-respected and easily identifiable physicians, their are no shortage of charlatans and snake-oil salesmen who would pass off medicine and treatment for the real thing. But thankfully the treat of lynching or torture deters most from applying their illicit trade. Even though recreational drug use is ban in a number of communities, drug abuse have never been more prevalent and popular. With depression and starvation being common, people take psychotropics (opioids, barbiturates, LSD) and/or appetite suppressants (methamphetamine, anorectic supplements) to cope. With a lot of dangerous and highly addictive substances being used, a substance like cannabis (marijuana) is universally seen as benign.
Gasoline (petrol) is hard to come by with the few remaining refineries. The Energy Independence movement in the early 2010s resulted in the development of efficient "alternative" energy sources (wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal) by the advent of the Cartel Narco and Armageddon Wars. There was also some development in the production of a rugged diesel engine that can burn alcohol and vegetable oil better then normal diesel engines (normally the engine would require an overhaul after shutting down with impure oils, and proper oils require a specialized equipment to distil properly). This new engine can run on fuel that is easier to distill. Most civilian cars lack this engine, but it was common on military vehicles from the final wars (in fact, this efficiency in energy consumption by the military would have prolong the war, if not for the European Final Solution).
- *See STOP-SCUM Conflict for more details on community types.