August 11th, 2010

nature, rainbow, journey, road

Understanding the Economic Crisis & Deflation - Nicole Foss - Stoneleigh

Nicole M. Foss (a.k.a. Stoneleigh)


The US economy faces a deflation crisis that will fundamentally alter our nation's economic recovery. The Federal Reserve formally acknowledged the growing danger of deflation at their August 10, 2010 Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Local Future has invited economic analyst Nicole M. Foss to tour Michigan to help business leaders, elected officials, and communities understand the crisis that deflation poses to the economy in the years ahead. Foss will tour Michigan from September 10 through September 19. The talks will be free to the public. Business leaders, community leaders, and members of units of governments will especially benefit from Foss's economic insights, but all are welcome. Host cities are currently being determined. To request a location, please contact


Nicole M. Foss is co-editor of The Automatic Earth, where she writes under the name Stoneleigh. She and her writing partner have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. The site integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and real politik in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what we can do about it. Prior to the establishment of TAE, she was editor of The Oil Drum Canada, where she wrote on peak oil and finance.

Foss runs the Agri-Energy Producers' Association of Ontario, where she has focused on farm-based biogas projects and grid connections for renewable energy. While living in the UK she was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, where she specialized in nuclear safety in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, and conducted research into electricity policy at the EU level.

Her academic qualifications include a BSc in biology from Carleton University in Canada (where she focused primarily on neuroscience and psychology), a post-graduate diploma in air and water pollution control, an LLM in international law in development from the University of Warwick in the UK. She was granted the University Medal for the top science graduate in 1988 and the law school prize for the top law school graduate in 1997.

The Talk

Resource limits (peak oil) and the collapse of global Ponzi finance are a “perfect storm” of converging phenomena that threaten to trigger wealth destruction, social discontent, and global conflict. The consequences for unprepared individuals and families could be dire.

So believes Nicole M. Foss, an energy industry consultant and financial analyst from Ontario, Canada, who will be presenting “Understanding Deflation & The Financial Crisis" on a tour of Michigan in September.

In addition to her work in the energy industry, Foss writes under the name “Stoneleigh” at the website The Automatic Earth ( She plans to discuss the many converging factors that are contributing to the predicament we face today, and how individuals can build a “lifeboat” to cope with the difficult years ahead.

At her presentation, Foss will describe how our current financial system is an unsustainable credit bubble grounded in “Ponzi dynamics,” or the logic of the pyramid scheme. She warns that most people are woefully unprepared to face the consequences of the devastating deflation that is now unfolding.

What makes this crisis different from past financial calamities?

Foss will argue that this one has developed in the context of the fossil fuel age, which will prove to be a relatively brief period of human history. We have already seen oil reach a global production peak, and other fossil fuels are not far behind, she says. While there is still plenty of fossil fuel in the ground, production will fall, meaning that there will be less and less energy available to power the economy at prices we can afford to pay.

Societies have gone through boom and bust cycles before — for example, Tulip Mania, the South Sea Bubble and the “Real” Great Depression of the 1870s — but most people in the Western world today will face this crisis without the knowledge or means to provide the basics of their own survival. Our industrial system has nearly destroyed the individual capacity for self-reliance.

Foss will argue that individuals and communities that take steps now to prepare stand a much better chance to thrive in a changing world.

"Nicole Foss, writes a finance blog with a difference; instead of saying how to make money, it tells ordinary people how to avoid losing it," says Warwick University.

More Information

For links, articles, and audio MP3 recordings, visit:

Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh) North American Speaking Tour on Deflation Risks and Severity at Local Future
nature, rainbow, journey, road

Why Economics Should Matter to Environmentalists

For the past hundred or more years, environmentalists have been attempting to fix growing problems, only to find that their every small success is overwhelmed by massive failures all around. Ground water is polluted despite our best efforts, oil spills become more frequent, contaminated sites seem to increase (and decay) by the day, top soil is lost, the atmosphere is polluted, species are pushed to the edge of extinction, and yet environmentalists keep persevere, giving it their best, trying to make a difference, but losing ground at every turn.

Why do we fail?

We fail because the economic system which everyone supports everyday only lives by consuming the planet.

For this economic system to grow, it needs energy, and that energy comes from ancient sunlight, petroleum and coal. That fuel is burned, to plow fields, build subdivisions, extract other resources in strip mines, and mountain top removal, and deep water drilling, and tar sands monstrosities.

The global economy must grow because of the particular form of economic and monetary system that we currently have, namely, a debt backed money system exacerbated by high leverage fractional-reserve banking. This sort of monetary system requires that the system continuously grow.

In the past two years, I've been attempting to share with those in the environmental movement information about why we have failed to turn around the environmental destruction that we all despise. I've shared links, articles, organized conferences, and done what I could to increase the recognition that an environmentalist must understand and challenge the very economic system they work within in order for them to have any hope of success.

To succeed, we need to have the tools at our disposal to reform the monetary system, to one that no longer requires growth, and such systems are available, and have been successful historically. We need to be in a position, when this current credit bubble finishes its long collapse, to lead the debate, with the knowledge to reveal the unsustainable and inherent flaws of this system, and to present rigorously studied solutions for a sustainable, equitable, and just monetary and economic system.

To help us succeed in our great struggle, I'm working tirelessly to bringing a speaker to the United States who can help educate us about this system that we are at odds with; about what will happen with it in the near future; about how to prepare so that we still have the money, resources, drive and focus to be able to do our work despite what looks to be a recession of epic proportions.

This fall, I call to all those who see things in this way, to gather in conference to study this destructive, unsustainable monetary system, its interactions with energy and environment, and to determine how to move beyond the paradigm of infinite growth, to one of sustainability.

I know it may seem odd for an environmentalist to be so overwhelmingly focused on economics and monetary reform, but it simply is not possible to achieve sustainability under the current monetary system, but, and this is the good news, there are other monetary systems where sustainability should, and could, be achieved.

I will invite you to listen to Nicole Foss's (Stoneleigh's) talk, and if you are not familiar with peak oil, feel free to jump ahead to the 16-minute mark, and listen to what she has to say, so that we do not find ourselves powerless to do our work.

I draw your attention to the one and only talk published from the 2009 Local Future conference. The talk is by Richard Douthwaite, a researcher attempting to stop the use of fossil fuels, and to reverse climate change. Douthwaite understands that the current monetary system itself is the cause of the environmental problems of the world, and he has a plan that could create a new system of sustainability.

To all of you champions of the environment, I offer you my deepest thanks for everything that you do for the earth and for our future.