What Is the Beige Book?

The Beige Book is a report produced and published by the U.S. Federal Reserve. 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 meeting.
  • Data in the report is compiled by the 12 district banks about economic conditions in their respective 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 Federal Reserve branches conducts interviews with local business leaders, economists, 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 Federal Reserve body that sets interest rates.

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 different districts. Furthermore, the report details how economic factors like commodity prices, inflation, and exchange rates impact the local economy.

This data is provided to the FOMC two weeks before it meets. It is a valuable tool as the committee uses the information from it to make important decisions about the economy. For example, if the report indicates that the economy is experiencing inflation—where it grows to the point that prices rise and spending slows or halts—the committee may decide to implement measures to help the economy contract. Conversely, if there are indications of a slowdown in the report, FOMC members may decide to implement measures to spur economic growth.

Special Considerations

The Beige Book supplements the quantitative data reviewed by the FOMC. Of the three reports that the committee's members receive prior to meetings—the Beige Book, the Green Book, and the Blue Book—only the Beige Book is available to the public. It can be accessed through the Board of Governors' website

Among the three 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 Red Book up until 1983 when the color changed. Since then, it's been referred to as the Beige Book.

Beige Book vs. Blue Book vs. Green Book

The Beige Book is one of three important reports given to the FOMC and is the only one available to the public. The other two are the Green Book and the Blue Book.

The Green Book

The Green Book is also referred to as the Current Economic and Financial Conditions. It has an overview of the U.S. and international economies. The report is divided into three sections:

  • Summary and outlook
  • Recent developments
  • Supplement

The Green Book is published a week before each FOMC meeting. As its name implies, the report has a green cover.

The Blue Book

The Blue Book has a light blue cover and is also known as the Monetary Policy Alternatives. As suggested by its formal name, it presents alternatives on monetary policy the FOMC may discuss and use at its meetings. This report is published a week before each FOMC meeting—generally the day after the Green Book.