Fragmentary signs point to another economic downturn. Here are my non-economist’s fears regarding what could turn a moderate recession into one rivaling 2008.

1. New investment gimmick. Before the 2008 financial collapse, investors ignored the risk in subprime home mortgages bundled as “collateralized debt obligations” and sold like bonds. When, like Wile E. Coyote, investors realized these were unsupported, they went “splat.” The wounded U.S. economy, even with massive bailouts, was slow to recover.

Since then, the gimmick has been “collateralized loan obligations,” like CDOs but based on banks’ big, risky “leveraged loans” to underwrite corporate takeovers. The banks do not retain the loans — which top $1 trillion — but immediately sell slices to hedge funds and mutual funds. Like CDOs, CLOs conceal risk because several loans are bundled into one fund so holders can’t tell good loans from bad, making them unsellable in a downturn because no one can say what they’re worth. Post-2008 regulations are largely bypassed. Top investment banks are bigger than ever.

2. Buy high, sell low. Most of Trump’s corporate tax cuts have gone to buy back stocks rather than productive investment. Buybacks keep a company’s stock high, thus rewarding executives whose bonuses are based on stock values. This gives them a perverse incentive to buy back company shares even if they’re high.

In a downturn, bought-back shares may devalue and “marked to market” below their purchase price, shrinking corporate net worth. If corporations have to sell shares to raise capital, they’ll take a hit. I always heard you were supposed to buy low and sell high. We could see that reverse, making some corporations poorer or even bankrupt.

3. No limit on federal debt. Since the dire (mostly Republican) predictions of deficits spurring inflation and forming dangerous national debt have proved wrong, some economists now claim that deficits and debt don’t count; they are in our own currency, which foreigners love to buy. Besides, we need major federal spending in infrastructure, education and technology.

U.S. debt has not reached a tipping point into inflation and decline, but let’s not push it too far. Deficit reduction via economic growth is unrealistic; 2 percent growth seems more likely than 4. Congress, too cowardly to cut spending or raise taxes much, gives Washington permanent paralysis, so debt has nowhere to go but up. Eventually, we could find the tipping point.

Debt limits are unknowable. U.S. public debt now tops 100 percent of GDP with nothing bad happening. China’s and Japan’s debts are well over 200 percent, but RMB and yen are minor reserve currencies in world trade, some two-thirds of which is denominated in U.S. dollars. Loss of dollar credibility would accelerate use of other currencies in global trading, diminishing the privileged U.S. position as the world’s banker.

4. Too much liquidity. America’s best-off do not know what to do with their abundant cash. There’s no good, safe place to put it. Like a herd of buffalo, they thunder across the investment landscape searching for the next big thing (hey, how about Theranos?). Every time they think they’ve found one, they pump it so full of cash that they create a bubble.

The Fed monitors bubbles but can’t always deflate them. Years in advance, they worried about a housing bubble, but Congress allowed other agencies to work around Fed warnings. Trump is politicizing the Fed with partisan appointees who vow to keep interest rates low, maybe too low. Last year’s liquidity wave brought a “sugar high” but not a production boom. One economist sees asset inflation (chiefly real estate and stocks) producing a “wealth bubble.” Its bursting would sharply reduce the consumer spending that drives the U.S. economy.

5. Unsafe offshore havens. Many of America’s wealthiest, to avoid taxes, sneak their cash into banks on small Caribbean islands, often under the cover of shell corporations. Clever tax lawyers advise them it’s perfectly safe. But is it?

Do these banks skim deposits or lend recklessly? Could bad loans bankrupt them? No one will bail depositors out. The Cayman Islands does not insure accounts. Well, at least depositors could claim tax losses. Oh? Since shell-corporation accounts hide owners’ names, how can they prove the loss is theirs? And if they can show it’s really theirs, they’ve been violating the law that requires declaring such accounts every year. Might almost be worth paying taxes.

6. Increased inequality. The major gains of our top winners, recipients of the biggest tax cuts, have kicked up income inequality to Gilded Age levels. Much of the bottom half, the “precariat,” are one paycheck away from broke. Their buying would shrink in a downturn, deepening it. Especially dangerous for them: repeal of Obamacare.

Do we have the laws, institutions and will to avoid sleepwalking into another meltdown?