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Beige Book by the Federal Reserve (federalreserve.gov)
44 points by hhs 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments

It would be nice if they provided some exploratory data for these reports, such as a notebook that people could use to see the actual data that they're looking at.

I've always felt like these government agencies are continuously moving the goal posts around so that everything appears like they're doing a good job so everyone can keep collecting their paycheque and government benefits. I don't want to read a massive wall of text, I'd rather see charts that show what's really going on.

That's not really the point of the book, though (emphasis mine):

"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." [1]

If you want charts and analysis, find yourself some data/market color providers in the finance industry. Additionally, most finance professionals that need to know about this stuff keep an eye on the economic calendar [2] to see the info in real time as news breaks, because the market reacts immediately.

[1] https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/beige-book-def...

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/markets/economic-calendar

>I've always felt like these government agencies

For clarity, the Fed is NOT a government agency[0].

[0] https://www.philadelphiafed.org/-/media/education/teachers/r...

Can you really say this when it is granted monopoly power on the state currency?

All the data you need is available courtesy of the St Louis Federal Reserve, and they also have a nice python api.


To some extent you´re right, the people involved are under a lot of political pressure to only publish the favourable stuff (although the occasional cry for help can sometimes be discerned from the footnotes), but the data is there. As are the reports. The real trouble is nobody seems to be reading them.

Some visualizations available if you click through to the regional sites: https://www.dallasfed.org/research/econdata/auscoini.aspx

> I've always felt like these government agencies...

Make no mistake--the Federal Reserve is not a government agency. It is a Central Bank, organized by a consortium of bankers to control the money supply of the United States and, by effect, the world. Episode 201 of the fantastic podcast Congressional Dish[0] really gets into the nuts-and-bolts of what the Federal Reserve is, how it was created, and what it does.

0: https://congressionaldish.com/cd201-wtf-is-the-federal-reser...

> On balance, reports from Federal Reserve Districts suggested that the economy expanded at a modest pace through the end of August. Although concerns regarding tariffs and trade policy uncertainty continued, the majority of businesses remained optimistic about the near-term outlook. Reports on consumer spending were mixed, although auto sales for most Districts grew at a modest pace. Tourism activity since the previous report remained solid in most reporting Districts. On balance, transportation activity softened, which some reporting Districts attributed to slowing global demand and heightened trade tensions. Home sales remained constrained in the majority of Districts due primarily to low inventory levels, and new home construction activity remained flat. Commercial real estate construction and sales activity were steady, while the pace of leasing increased slightly over the prior period. Overall manufacturing activity was down slightly from the previous report. Among reporting Districts, agricultural conditions remained weak as a result of unfavorable weather conditions, low commodity prices, and trade-related uncertainties. Lending volumes grew modestly across several Districts. Reports on activity in the nonfinancial services sector were positive, with reporting Districts noting similar or improved activity from the last report.

"Trade" is mentioned three times in this one paragraph. I wonder to what extend this factor is being over-blamed for macro slowness.

Interesting to compare this report with the one from June 2007, at the cusp of the implosion:

> Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Banks indicated that economic activity continued to expand from mid-April through May. Seven banks described growth in their Districts as modest or moderate: Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, New York, and San Francisco. Dallas reported growth as moderately strong, and Minneapolis said the District's economy edged up. Philadelphia reported that growth was somewhat faster than in recent months, and Richmond said growth picked up a bit. Boston characterized reports from its contacts as generally positive.


Weird that San Francisco has the entire West Coast. It seems like a new Pacific Northwest bank should be created to better spread the load (Minneapolis is currently the smallest one, maybe that one could move to Seattle?):


It isn't. I would read up on how the Fed was created. The choice of cities was political (that is why Missouri has two, iirc) and related to the situation in 1913 when the Fed was created (in particular, the cyclical demand for money from agriculture).

Now, it makes almost no sense to move them. After 1935, the Banks have had fairly limited power.

What changed in 1935?

Reorganization of the Fed. Most importantly: Board of Governors created in Washington. Combined with the exigencies of WW2, this basically finished Reserve Bank power. And this structure did worsen the Great Depression (Reserve Banks acted independently and wouldn't participate in market operations).

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