These are big (but not huge) name economists. Writing a paper as part of the NBER series confirms their elite status. Here’s what they did:
We … search for simple quantitative models of macroeconomic and financial indicators of the “Great Recession” of 2008-09.
They were thorough:
We use a cross-country approach and examine a number of potential causes that have been found to be successful indicators of crisis intensity by other scholars. We check a number of different indicators of crisis intensity, and a variety of different country samples.
Here’s what they found:
… We find few clear reliable indicators in the pre-crisis data of the incidence of the Great Recession.
If it was easy figuring these things out, we wouldn’t need a college major to learn about it.