Lake Superior, and the other Great Lakes as well, are shrinking at a fairly rapid as far as large Fresh Water lakes go. I personally suspect the Effect comes from two Sources: high atmospheric Temperatures, and delays of Melt runoff from reaching the Great Lakes. The Former allows for more rapid Evaporation, and the later allowed for greater Warming of Melt water before it reaches the Great Lakes. Uniform Testing of Lake water at 200' depth would highlight potential seismic action at the Lake bottoms, though lack of previous Temperature recordings would inhibit this evidence. One has to remember that the Great Lakes have previously been much smaller, the last previous Period was from 1000-1200 AD. Natural Forces have a much higher probability of Effect, than does human activity. One should remember that Lewis and Clark called the Great Plains the Great American Desert.
Edward Hugh would think to excuse the rating agencies from responsibility for the subprime crisis, and so would I. He takes on the Subject with an eye on the Sovereign debt outstanding, while I would look to boundary causation for the Crisis. I will try to apply this as gently as possible.
Current Worldwide practice has been to minimize taxation of Profits. At the same time, Corporate demands insisted on high levels of Contract issuance by Government, to generate high Profits in the first place–Politicians not likely to object. Financial Markets altered their Lending practice at the behest of Business desires, while Advertising began to practically force Consumers to purchase. I have had at least 50 Credit Card companies attempt to enroll me, one or two where you had to tear up forwarded Checks, else Anyone could sign you up with established Credit. This is not a tirade against such Practice, though, as I attempt to get beyond such trash.
The facts state that the generated Consumption created huge levels of Debt, and extremely high levels of Business Profits relatively untaxed. Here lies the major problem, as most of the Profits were Paper Profits: Product Debt left unpaid, and with Investors transferring the Profits to financial instrument investments. The previous Condition combined with the Later created financial instruments to maintain the running Production practice. We end up with Paper Debt financed with Paper Profits, and Government Spending paid for with nothing but further Paper Debt. Here is the exact Problem!
Financial institutions want a normal Return on the Consumer Debt. Investment Depositors want a normal Return on their Deposits. Consumers want escape from their Mortgages and Consumer Debt. Governments decide to continue Spending unfunded by real taxation. Business shows high Profitability, but lacks real Operating Capital. We are being choked by a overbearing load of financial paper which demands a Normal Rate of Return, when it actually consists only of flotsam which should never have been created in the first place. lgl