I'm sick and tired of reading, writing and hearing about how bad things are these days: The economy stinks, stocks are tanking, people are losing their jobs in droves.
The economy has got to turn around soon. But how the heck will we know when the turn has come?
Here are five key signs that we at MSN Money will be watching for, plus some extras from experts and a couple from just plain folks eager to see some evidence of a recovery.
1) Indexes start rising
There was a flicker of good news in February, when the Economic Cycle Research Institute's Weekly Leading Index rose for the first time in six weeks.
The index, a composite of daily and weekly data on economic drivers of the business cycle, including corporate profits and housing activity, is still looking pretty weak, said Lakshman Achuthan, the managing director at ECRI, but it has stopped falling, and there has been some stabilization since mid-December.
"When these leading indexes begin to start rising, that will be a very clear and, as importantly, a very objective sign of a recovery," Achuthan said.
Detailed information about the institute's research is available only to subscribers, but the leading index is frequently mentioned in news reports and is worth following as a reliable indicator of key changes in the business cycle.
Talk back: How will you know the recession is over?
Another statistic worth following is consumer spending. That is already showing some signs of life. Consumer spending constitutes about 70% of the U.S. economy. When consumers spend, the economy grows. Consumer spending rose 0.6% in January, after a 1% decrease in December and a 0.8% drop in November.
2) Cardboard boxes are in demand
Cargo and cardboard are two heavy-duty industrial signals to watch.
The Baltic Dry Index is an assessment of the price of moving raw materials on cargo ships around the world. When the world economy is fading, shipping gets cheaper. When growth returns, shipping costs more. The index has shown some improvement this year, after sinking to a 22-year low in early December.
"In terms of a glimmer of hope, a tap has been turned," said Michael Gaylard, a derivatives broker at Freight Investor Services.
"The fundamentals -- the raw materials needed that are paramount to infrastructure rebuilding and investment around the globe -- they're starting to move," Gaylard said. "Once the flows that we've seen in the past few weeks start to have some continuity to them, then the market will rebuild. The turnaround has started, but it's going to be a long and slow process."