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

  • Nathan S. Balke
  • D'Ann M. Petersen

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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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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  1. 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.
  2. Jeff E. Biddle & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1995. "Beauty, Productivity and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," NBER Working Papers 5366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Diebold, Francis X & Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1989. "Scoring the Leading Indicators," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(3), pages 369-91, July.
  4. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-94, December.
  5. Bharat Trehan, 1992. "Predicting contemporaneous output," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 3-11.
  6. Evan F. Koenig & Sheila Dolmas, 1997. "Real-time GDP Growth Forecasts," Working Papers 9710, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  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, 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.
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