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How Well Does the Beige Book Reflect Economic Activity? Evaluating Qualitative Information Quantitatively

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  • Balke, Nathan S
  • Petersen, D'Ann

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. For 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-of-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.

Suggested Citation

  • Balke, Nathan S & Petersen, D'Ann, 2002. "How Well Does the Beige Book Reflect Economic Activity? Evaluating Qualitative Information Quantitatively," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(1), pages 114-136, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:34:y:2002:i:1:p:114-36
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
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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. Stekler, Herman & Symington, Hilary, 2016. "Evaluating qualitative forecasts: The FOMC minutes, 2006–2010," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 559-570.
    3. 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.
    4. Messina, Jeffrey D. & Sinclair, Tara M. & Stekler, Herman, 2015. "What can we learn from revisions to the Greenbook forecasts?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 54-62.
    5. 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.
    6. Boriss Siliverstovs, 2013. "Do business tendency surveys help in forecasting employment?: A real-time evidence for Switzerland," OECD Journal: Journal of Business Cycle Measurement and Analysis, OECD Publishing, Centre for International Research on Economic Tendency Surveys, vol. 2013(2), pages 129-151.
    7. Mansoor Maitah & Daniel Toth & Elena Kuzmenko & Karel Šrédl & Helena Rezbová & Petra Šánová, 2016. "Forecast of Employment in Switzerland: The Macroeconomic View," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 6(1), pages 132-138.
    8. Herman O. Stekler & Hilary Symington, 2014. "How Did The Fomc View The Great Recession As It Was Happening?: Evaluating The Minutes From Fomc Meetings, 2006-2010," Working Papers 2014-005, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, Research Program on Forecasting.
    9. 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.
    10. Scott Hendry & Alison Madeley, 2010. "Text Mining and the Information Content of Bank of Canada Communications," Staff Working Papers 10-31, Bank of Canada.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Boriss Siliverstovs, 2010. "Assessing Predictive Content of the KOF Barometer in Real Time," KOF Working papers 10-249, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    14. Gabriel Mathy & Herman O. Stekler, 2016. "Expectations and Forecasting during the Great Depression: Real-Time Evidence from the Business Press," Working Papers 2016-011, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, Research Program on Forecasting.
    15. Sheng, Xuguang (Simon), 2015. "Evaluating the economic forecasts of FOMC members," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 165-175.
    16. Gabriel Mathy & Herman O. Stekler, 2017. "Was the Deflation of the Depression Anticipated? An Inference Using Real-time Data," Working Papers 2017-004, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, Research Program on Forecasting.
    17. repec:eee:jmacro:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:1-15 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. 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.
    19. Madeline Zavodny & Donna K. Ginther, 2005. "Does the Beige Book Move Financial Markets?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 138-151, July.

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