Call me superstitious or contrarian—or maybe just a procrastinator—but I only started worrying about a recession last week. That was when one prominent commentator stated flatly that “there will be no recession in the next six months,” while the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago declared that the U.S. was on a “golden path” to immaculate disinflation.

I can’t be the only person who thinks this feels like tempting fate, or at least another round of “Why Didn’t Economists See This Recession Coming?” headlines. More than that, however, these predictions seem both premature and hard to square with some of the data.

First, inflation is still high. It has come down from its 8.9% peak, to 3%. But the U.S. Federal Reserve has said it will not stop its contractionary policy until inflation is at 2%, so rates will almost certainly continue to increase.

There were always reasons to think the last remaining bit of inflation would be the hardest to vanquish. Some of that initial high inflation was transitory, caused by supply-chain disruptions, too much government spending and post-pandemic spending. These factors have all moderated—and inflation has faded while employment has remained strong. What’s left is more entrenched in the economy: higher wages and prices for services. Reducing this inflation may take higher rates for longer, or even unemployment.

Consider that high rates have not yet worked their way through the economy, especially in such sectors as commercial real estate. Corporations and commercial real estate developers are still coasting on the low rates they got on their loans a few years ago. In the next year or two, however, both these sectors will have to refinance at much higher rates.

On the corporate side, some of these firms are probably just getting by on the low rates of the last decade—they won’t be able to survive higher rates and will close. Others may be in better shape but will need to contract (translation: layoffs) in a lower-demand, higher-rate environment. The picture looks worse for commercial real estate: Downtowns are still not full, and office and retail properties are not worth what they used to be. Once rates increase, some property owners may just walk away. This may not be a huge part of the economy. But it does have big implications for private equity funds, REITs and, ultimately, pension funds.

But who knows? We could get lucky. Predicting a recession is a fool’s errand. Still, there is a way to judge how vulnerable an economy is to a recession: Watch the reaction when something unexpected happens.

Shocks—political, economic, financial, viral—are fairly common. Some should be anticipated, such as a commercial real-estate crash, while others come out of nowhere, such as higher oil prices from a war in Ukraine. Sometimes an economy can withstand a shock without a recession, like the U.S. did with Silicon Valley Bank. Whether a shock reverberates throughout the system, doing enough damage to cause a recession, is a function of how resilient the economy is.

And even if the U.S. manages to avoid a recession this year, there are reasons to worry that the economy is much more vulnerable now than it was a year ago, or even in 2019. Household balance sheets are much weaker after years of high inflation and falling real wages. Credit card balances are high. And while inflation is lower, inflation uncertainty is still elevated, which means higher bond yields from a bigger risk premium. So even if the Fed cuts rates eventually, firms and investors will face higher financing costs.

And it’s not just the private sector—the federal government has debt levels not seen since World War II, which may undermine the Fed’s inflation fight and require it to push rates even higher. Potentially even more worrying are states and municipalities, which went into the pandemic in iffy shape, then got used to higher spending levels financed by pandemic aid from the federal government. They may face a reckoning in a higher-rate environment that could lead to layoffs or cuts in services.

So why am I worried about a recession? It’s not that I know something the president of the Chicago Fed doesn’t. (In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t.) It’s that the economy is clearly more exposed now to whatever shocks await us. Even if we are on a golden path, a more vulnerable economy is no great victory.

Allison Schrager is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering economics. A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, she is author of An Economist Walks Into a Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.