Web Resource of the Week: The Beige Book
This week's edition of our semi-regular feature Web Resource of Week features a government document that may not be known by many people. We are featuring the "Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District." This is known by its more common name: The Beige Book, and it is published by the Federal Reserve. In brief, the Federal Reserve is the nation's central bank; it was created by an act of Congress. The System consists of a seven member Board of Governors with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and twelve Reserve Banks located in major cities throughout the United States. The nearest Reserve Bank for Texas is the one is located in Dallas. So, what is the Beige Book? According to the website,
"this report is published eight times per year. Each Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its District through reports from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book summarizes this information by District and sector."Basically, they do some research via interviews and the research of the Federal Reserve Bank directors and summarize it. These summaries give a picture of the economic conditions of the nation, and brought together, they give an evolving picture of the year. Do note that this is anecdotal information. It is basically how the Federal Reserve sees the economic conditions of the nation at a given time. What is useful is the summary of the conditions at the time of the report. The summaries are pretty accessible for any reader and for the most part they contain little jargon. This resource is basically another way to look at the economy of the American nation. On the website, you can check each individual report. The latest summary (as of this post) was done on July 28, 2010. You can also look at previous reports going all the way back to the 1970s. Most of the documents can be read as an HTML file or you can download them as a PDF. Also, if you visit the Fed's website, linked above, you can find that they put out various other publications. Some of their publications cover topics such as economic data and consumer information brochures. The site to the local branch in Dallas also has a series of publications freely available to the public. For instance, did you know they have a comic book series? These are basically comics created to help young people learn and understand what the Fed is and the work it does as well as topics on the economy. If you visit the site, you can find instructions for downloading these and other publications.