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How well does the Beige Book reflect economic activity? Evaluating qualitative information quantitatively

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  • Nathan S. Balke
  • D'Ann Petersen

Abstract

Eight times a year, approximately two weeks before every FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve releases a description of economic conditions in the twelve Federal Reserve districts. Called the Beige Book, this description relies primarily on surveys and anecdotal evidence gathered by the twelve district banks. In this paper, we read and numerically scored past Beige Books in order to determine the extent to which the descriptions in these books accurately reflect current economic activity as measured by quarterly real GDP growth. We find that both in-sample and out-sample, the quantitative Beige Book indices do have significant predictive content for current and next quarter real GDP growth. Furthermore, the Beige Book has information about current quarter real GDP growth not present in other indicators such as the Blue Chip Consensus Forecast or time series models that use real-time data.

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File URL: http://dallasfed.org/assets/documents/research/papers/1998/wp9802.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in its series Working Papers with number 9802.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:fip:feddwp:98-02

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Keywords: Economic policy ; Federal Open Market Committee ; Monetary policy;

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  1. Havrilesky, Thomas, 1991. "The Frequency of Monetary Policy Signaling from the Administration to the Federal Reserve: Note," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 423-28, August.
  2. Biddle, Jeff E & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1998. "Beauty, Productivity, and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 172-201, January.
  3. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Evan F. Koenig & Sheila Dolmas, 1997. "Real-time GDP Growth Forecasts," Working Papers 9710, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  5. Francis X. Diebold & Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1987. "Scoring the leading indicators," Special Studies Papers 206, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Bharat Trehan, 1992. "Predicting contemporaneous output," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 3-11.
  7. Bharat Trehan, 1989. "Forecasting growth in current quarter real GNP," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Win, pages 39-52.
  8. Havrilesky, Thomas, 1990. "The Influence of the Federal Advisory Council on Monetary Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 22(1), pages 37-50, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Evan F. Koenig, 2002. "Using the Purchasing Managers' Index to assess the economy's strength and the likely direction of monetary policy," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  2. Madeline Zavodny & Donna K. Ginther, 2003. "Does the Beige Book move financial markets?," Working Paper 2003-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  3. Kathryn Lundquist & H.O. Stekler, 2011. "The Forecasting Performance of Business Economists During the Great Recession," Working Papers 2011-004, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, Research Program on Forecasting.
  4. Scott Hendry & Alison Madeley, 2010. "Text Mining and the Information Content of Bank of Canada Communications," Working Papers 10-31, Bank of Canada.
  5. Nathan S. Balke & Mine K. Yücel, 2000. "Evaluating the Eleventh District's Beige Book," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q IV, pages 2-10.
  6. Sadique, Shibley & In, Francis & Veeraraghavan, Madhu & Wachtel, Paul, 2013. "Soft information and economic activity: Evidence from the Beige Book," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 81-92.
  7. Michelle T. Armesto & Rubén Hernández-Murillo & Michael T. Owyang & Jeremy M. Piger, 2007. "Identifying asymmetry in the language of the Beige Book: a mixed data sampling approach," Working Papers 2007-010, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  8. Robert L. Lacy, 1999. "Gauging manufacturing activity: the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's survey of manufacturers," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Win, pages 79-98.
  9. Hutson, Mark & Joutz, Fred & Stekler, Herman, 2014. "Interpreting and evaluating CESIfo's World Economic Survey directional forecasts," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 6-11.
  10. Boriss Siliverstovs, 2010. "Assessing Predictive Content of the KOF Barometer in Real Time," KOF Working papers 10-249, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.

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