Stalled fiscal cliff negotiations have fueled concerns the U.S. could face a recession in 2013 if the country fails to avert the cliff.
But recession 2013 may be on the way regardless of what happens with the fiscal cliff talks.
The latest sign of an economic downturn came Tuesday in a U.S. Commerce Department report showing imports to the United States have fallen two consecutive months after dropping 8.4% in the third quarter and 2% the previous quarter.
Robert Brusca, chief economist at FAO Economics, told MarketWatch when the economy weakens, imports decline quickly.
Brusca called the latest figures a "red flag" and said a 2013 recession is a "real risk."
The last time imports declined for two quarters was in 2009, at the end of a four-quarter decrease in imports during the Great Recession.