Since 2008 the United States has been in economic trouble. The current debate over the “fiscal cliff” has placed this economic distress and its origins back on the public radar. In retrospect, the origins of the housing bubble and Wall Street meltdown seem inevitable. There have been numerous financial meltdowns in the past that have their origins in even more bizarre and obviously flawed schemes. From ancient times to the present we seem to fall for economic schemes and the disasters that often result. This list takes a look, in chronological order, at some of the most intriguing economic collapses of history. We can feel a little better about our current situation as we consider the mistakes of our ancestors.