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Press Release

Cleveland Fed research: How well does the Beige Book predict recessions?

Anecdotal economic data compiled for the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book may be useful in predicting recessions, especially when regional-level economic sentiment is taken into account, according to a new report published by the Cleveland Fed.

Using natural language processing, researchers from the Cleveland Fed and Washington University in St. Louis constructed indices quantifying the sentiment expressed in the text of all 468 editions of the Beige Book going back to its creation in 1970.

The sentiment of the Beige Book’s national economic summary as well as regional summaries compiled by the 12 Federal Reserve Banks was typically negative during recessions. This suggests that these summaries, which are more timely than data such as GDP, may be useful for determining when the nation is in a recession. For instance, the analysis suggests that the probability of a recession has bounced around considerably since the pandemic-induced recession of early 2020, but the probability remains low as of March 2024, based on data from that month’s Beige Book.

The analysis also suggests that relying on the Beige Book’s national economic summary alone does not provide as much predictive power as evaluating regional-level economic sentiment.

“We view these findings as supporting the attention that the regional Reserve Banks give to firsthand reports of economic activity in their respective Districts,” the authors write.

Read the Economic Commentary: Regional Economic Sentiment: Constructing Quantitative Estimates from the Beige Book and Testing Their Ability to Forecast Recessions

About the Beige Book: To learn more or see the latest edition, visit the Beige Book page at

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Chuck Soder,, 216.672.2798