What Is the Beige Book?

The Beige Book is a report produced and published by the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed). The report, referred to formally as the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions, is a qualitative review of economic conditions. The Beige Book is published eight times each year before meetings held by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and is considered one of the most valuable tools at the committee’s disposal for making key decisions about the economy.

Key Takeaways

  • The Beige Book is a qualitative report produced and published by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
  • The report is published eight times a year, two weeks before each Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.
  • Data in the report is compiled by the 12 district banks about economic conditions in their respective regional economies.
  • The FOMC uses information from the Beige Book to make important decisions about the national economy.

Understanding the Beige Book

The Beige Book is a qualitative report. Each of the 12 regional Fed banks conducts interviews with local business leaders, economists, bankers in their region, and other market participants and contributes a chapter to the Beige Book. Each chapter is then divided into different sections. The report is published two weeks before each meeting of the FOMC—the Fed body that sets monetary policy and interest rate targets.

The Beige Book outlines conditions of the national economy, including things like the pace of local business activity, as well as the employment and hiring conditions in each of the 12 districts. Each Beige Book report aims to characterize changes to economic conditions since the previous report. Furthermore, the report details how economic factors like commodity prices, inflation, and exchange rates impact the local economy. The Beige Book is a useful complement to other forms of regional economic data because it includes information gathered both formally and informally across districts.

This data is provided to the FOMC two weeks before it meets. FOMC members review the information in the Beige Book to assess economic conditions across the various Fed districts. This can help them to understand how key industries in different parts of the country are performing and to decide whether conditions in the overall economy warrant changes to monetary policy nationwide. For example, if there are indications of a slowdown in several Fed districts in the report, then FOMC members may decide to implement measures intended to spur economic growth.

Special Considerations

The Beige Book supplements the quantitative data reviewed by the FOMC. Of the two reports that the committee’s members receive prior to meetings—the Beige Book and the Tealbook—only the Beige Book is available to the public. It can be accessed through the Fed’s website.

Of the two reports published for the FOMC, the Beige Book is the only one available to the public.

The report was not available to the public until 1985, when a former Dow Jones reporter asked to see it, spurring his competitors to do the same. The book was first compiled in 1970 and was called the Redbook up until 1983, when the color changed. Since then, it’s been referred to as the Beige Book.

Beige Book vs. Tealbook

The Beige Book is one of two important reports given to the FOMC and is the only one available to the public. The other is the Tealbook.

Tealbook

The Tealbook is the other report provided to the FOMC and is divided into two parts: Tealbook A and Tealbook B. Officially, the Tealbook is known as the Report to the FOMC on Economic Conditions and Monetary Policy. This report contains analysis on current economic and financial conditions and projections, as well as details on monetary policy options.

Tealbook A has the subtitle Economic and Financial Conditions: Current Situation and Outlook and contains analysis and forecasts for both the U.S. and international economies and financial markets.

Tealbook B has the subtitle Monetary Policy: Strategies and Alternatives and contains information about monetary policy options that the FOMC might consider for the upcoming meeting.