The financial shock of September 2008 occurred five years ago. The effects are still with us. In this essay we draw on our experiences 2 in the Bush White House and our work and teaching since then to offer views on recent economic history. We attempt to correct certain popular misinterpretations of the events and policy decisions of the last year of the Bush Administration and the first few months of the Obama Administration. We also highlight certain points we think are underappreciated by many. Rather than offering still another narrative of the financial crisis, we suggest a set of observations that we believe are key to understanding this crisis. Our analysis is based on economic reasoning as well as an examination of the evidence that the passage of time permits.