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Much has been written on the legal causes of the financial crisis and its aftermath, often referred to as the Great Recession. Presumably the debate will continue for many years to come, much as scholars continue to debate the causes of the Great Depression. Lost, however, in the descriptions of arcane laws and complex derivative financial products, is a relatively brief and straightforward account of the crisis and its most likely causes for interested lawyers, law students, or graduate students who are not specialists and do not want to become specialists. This Essay, based on a presentation at the Indiana Law Review's 2013 Symposium, Law and the Financial Crisis, aims to provide such an overview.