Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Beige Book?

The Beige Book is a Federal Reserve System publication about current economic conditions across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts. It characterizes regional economic conditions and prospects based on a variety of mostly qualitative information, gathered directly from District sources.

The qualitative nature of the Beige Book creates an opportunity to characterize dynamics and identify emerging trends in the economy that may not be readily apparent in the available economic data. Because this information is collected from a wide range of business and community contacts through a variety of formal and informal methods, the Beige Book can complement other forms of regional information gathering. The Beige Book is not a commentary on the views of Federal Reserve officials.

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How is the information collected?

Each Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its District through reports from Bank and Branch directors, plus phone and in-person interviews with and online questionnaires completed by businesses, community organizations, economists, market experts, and other sources.

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How is the information used?

The anecdotal information collected in the Beige Book supplements the data and analysis used by Federal Reserve economists and staff to assess economic conditions in the Federal Reserve Districts. This information enables comparison of economic conditions in different parts of the country, which can be helpful for assessing the outlook for the national economy. The Beige Book also serves as a regular summary of the Federal Reserve System's efforts to listen to businesses and community organizations.

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Why is the Federal Reserve System changing it?

Since its inception in 1983, the look and broad content of the Beige Book have been largely unchanged. However, the national summary has lengthened over time, and the specifics of industry and sector coverage in the District reports and the national summary have evolved to reflect changes in the structure of the U.S. economy. In addition, the Districts have periodically updated their approach to information collection and processing.

The changes starting in 2017 to the content and structure of the Beige Book are intended to convey its main messages more effectively. The redesign also provides a degree of standardization of the content in the reports from each Federal Reserve District, while preserving the ability of each District to highlight their regional economy's unique features.

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What is changing about the Beige Book?

The basic goals and content remain unchanged, but the new Beige Book reflects changes in form and structure intended to better convey its information. Readers will notice a new look, with improved visuals and greater uniformity across the Districts. The opening national summary has been shortened considerably, making it more readily accessible to readers. In addition, the District reports will have greater overlap in the specific information provided about overall economic activity, employment and wages, and prices; this will allow for easier comparisons across regions.

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How will the changes affect the information contained in the Beige Book?

The changes to the information contained in the Beige Book are minimal. It continues to provide an up-to-date depiction of regional economic conditions based on anecdotal information gathered from a diverse range of business and community contacts. The changes in form and structure are intended to make that information easier to consume.

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Why change it now?

The current set of changes represent the Federal Reserve's efforts to update the Beige Book to meet the evolving needs and interests of users.

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When do the changes take effect?

The new design will be used beginning with the Beige Book release on January 18, 2017.

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Last Update: December 23, 2016