Al Lewis writes for the Messenger about disturbing economic signals.

Economists have practically sounded the all-clear on a looming recession, but plenty of signs are still flashing red.

Clearly, economists were wrong earlier this year when they forecast an economic contraction that has yet to manifest. Could they be wrong now?

To be sure, economic growth, the labor market and consumer spending have proven unexpectedly resilient in the face of rising interest rates and elevated inflation. But there are still plenty of signs a recession might still be on its way.

1. An “uncertain outlook” from leading indicators

Many mainstay economic indicators measure the past. So-called leading indicators reflect what likely lies ahead. The Conference Board’s U.S. Leading Economic Index for July marked its 16th consecutive drop and its longest losing streak since the run-up to the Great Recession in 2007 and 2008. …

2. Consumer confidence is just a hair above recessionary levels

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index came in at 80.2 in August, hovering just above 80, the level that often signals the U.S. economy is headed for a recession in the coming year.

It is also a leading indicator used to predict consumer spending, which drives more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

3. Consumers are foregoing big-ticket purchases

Retailers report that their customers have shifted their purchasing habits, spending less on furniture and other big ticket items in favor of necessities.  They have also been trading down on grocery items, ditching pricier cuts of beef and buying chicken.

“We saw some switch even to some canned products, like canned chicken and canned tuna and things like that,” Costco’s Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti told analysts on a May conference call. …

4. Credit cards are getting maxed out

U.S. consumers ran up their credit card debt past the $1 trillion mark for the first time last month, according to a report on household debt from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.