The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's John Schmid is a fine reporter and I generally agreed with his story explaining whythe economy will likely worsen in 2009.
That said, this sentence stopped me cold:
The downturn of 2009 has its roots in lax mortgage lending in the United States.
The downturn of 2009 has its roots in the real-estate bubble in the United States.
As noted (repeatedly) by the American Prospect's Dean Baker:
... homeowners have lost more than $5 trillion in real housing wealth since 2006, close to $70,000 per homeowner. As a result, tens of millions of homeowners have little or no equity in their home. This reduce their consumption both because they have more difficulty obtaining credit and also because they feel more need to save.
Lax mortgage lending certainly helped fuel the bubble. But "lax mortgage lending" -- by which Schmid presumably means financial institutions lending to people who weren't credit worthy or were overburdened -- was far from the only factor in the creation of said bubble (a sampling of others are mentioned here, you can add speculation and overbuilding -- and not just in residential -- on top of these, and that's just for starters). Trees -- meet forest.