Queen asks 'What caused recession?' and gets answers

When Queen Elizabeth II of England asks a question, she gets answers.

During a visit to the London School of Economics in November, the queen asked "How come nobody could forsee it? -- meaning Britain's recession.

Her Majesty got her answer, although it seems a tad late, in a three-page letter from three economists who blame the recession on the "failure of the collective imagination of many bright people," according to The Guardian, which is getting some creative answers from readers after asking them to answer the queen's question in three sentences.

But before we get into what responses readers have, here's more of what the economists told her:

"Everyone seemed to be doing their own job properly on its own merit. And according to standard measures of success, they were often doing it well. The failure was to see how collectively this added up to a series of interconnected imbalances over which no single authority had jurisdiction."

The economics editor at The Guardian pinpointed the start of Britain's recession to Aug. 9, 2007, when the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve injected $90 billion, or 45 billion British pounds, into jittery financial markets.

Explaining the credit crisis and recession to the queen might seem like a difficult job, but plenty of The Guardian's online readers gave it a go. Among the responses in three sentences or less (misspellings not fixed):

  • "Some yank couple called Fanny and Freddie lent a shed load of money to millions of redneck trailor trash to buy their own homes without checking to see if they could actually pay it back."
  • "Well, ma'am, you know how nobody is allowed to ask you a direct question because you're too important? Same with the bankers."
  • "You know when you don't have any money but fancy a chocolate bar anyway and someone gives it to you knowing full well that you don't have any money to repay them. Well that's the credit crunchie."
  • "A barman forecast it to me at the Soreda Hotel in Malta in 2005. He based his opinions on the amount of adverts of Sky offering loans etc.
The New York Times and National Public Radios' Planet Money are asking their readers to explain in three sentences to answer the queen's question. Give us your in the comment section below.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at www.AaronCrowe.net
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