The 100 Year Federal Reserve Data Set

An Incredible Record of Monetary History

 

The 100 Year Federal Reserve Data Set is a comprehensive record of Federal Reserve balance sheet data spanning the past 100 years. It's a rare and untapped research asset that can help you create groundbreaking research.

Individual use $399  
Collaborative use $749  

Available in Excel and CSV formats.

The Power of Monetary Analysis:

We believe that monetary analysis is really important. Money is all pervasive in an economy. It touches each and every transaction and exerts an influence on all prices. And yet it's also a subject that few understand well. Humphrey B. Neill put it well in his book, The Art of Contrary thinking:

 

...because monetary problems are not comprehended by the public or by the average businessman, “money management” will continually cross up public opinions concerning economic trends.

 

Monetary manipulation is a crafty and tricky tool within a system of bootstrap economics. If you make it a point to become posted on some of the more common practices of monetary management you will occasionally be able to discern trends that are opposite to those commonly discussed in public pronouncements and business stories.

 

This data set is the crown jewels of monetary data sets. It spans a century full of interesting market events where the US Dollar rose to become the world's reserve currency. The data set is weekly* and starts in April 1915 (just two years after the founding of the Federal Reserve).

 

How we got the data:

Compiling this data set took enormous man hours, patience and diligence.

 

Although the data is freely available at the St Louis Fed, it's in a very unwieldy form. Here's why:

 

  • Each month of data is in a separate pdf report (the Federal Reserve bulletin report for that month). So for a century of data that means there's 1,200 reports to open!
  • The reports are old documents and they're often imperfectly scanned (the copy and paste functionality on your computer will rarely work correctly because of this).
  • The reports span a long period of time and the layout and structure is inconsistent.

The above reasons make collection via automated computer processes virtually impossible, leaving manual collection as the only practical solution. We ended up poring through thousands of Federal Reserve bulletin reports, diligently checking and copying figures, to put this data set together.

 

Estimated costs of compiling this data set:

Using a junior analyst or intern

Let's say that you have a junior analyst or intern at your firm and you would like them to put this data set together. Here's what your costs might look like:

Junior Analyst cost per hour: $17

Let's assume your analyst earns $35,000 per annum. Then that's $17 per hour (assuming a 260 work year and an 8 hour work day).

 

Number of reports to extract data from: 840

There are 100 years of data in the data set. The last 30 years of data can be found in a manageable format online so that leaves 70 years of data to extract.

 

This implies there are 70 years * 12 months = 840 Federal Reserve bulletin reports that need to be opened, understood and harvested for data.

 

Time per report: 10 minutes

We measured ourselves when getting this data and, once we had got up to speed, it took us 10 minutes per report to extract the relevant data (data checking and thinking about layout not included).

 

That means it would cost 840 * 10 minutes = 8,400 minutes, or 140 hours of work to collect the data.

 

Analyst Opportunity Cost: $3,570

Assuming the junior analyst usually creates 1.5x his or her salary in value for your organization then the opportunity cost is 140 hours * $17 / hour * 1.5 = $3,570.

 

Management Opportunity Cost: $204

Invariably your junior analyst will require some oversight when compiling this dataset. Assuming the senior person overseeing this work earns $34 per hour ($70k p.a.), that it requires 3 hours of oversight and that ordinarily he or she creates twice their salary in value then that's 3 hours * $34 / hour * 2 = $204 in value he or she could have created.

 

Total Cost: $3,774

$3,570 (analyst opportunity cost) + $204 (management opportunity cost) = $3,774 total cost to your organization to get this data internally.

 

Our Price: $749 or $399 (for collaborative use and individual use licenses respectively)

 

Hiring a temporary analyst

Alternatively suppose you hire an analyst specifically to put this historical data set together. Here's what your costs might look like:

Temporary Analyst cost per hour: $20

Let's assume your temporary analyst costs $20 per hour.

 

Number of reports to extract data from: 840

There are 100 years of data in the data set. The last 30 years of data can be found in a manageable format online so that leaves 70 years of data to extract.

 

This implies there are 70 years * 12 months = 840 Federal Reserve bulletin reports that need to be opened, understood and harvested for data.

 

Time per report: 10 minutes

We measured ourselves when getting this data and, once we had got up to speed, it took us 10 minutes per report to extract the relevant data (data checking and thinking about layout not included).

 

That means it would cost 840 * 10 minutes = 8,400 minutes, or 140 hours of work to collect the data.

 

Labor Cost: $2,800

140 hours * $20 / hour = $2,800 in pure labor cost.

 

Management Opportunity Cost: $700

It requires time to source and maintain a temporary worker. Assuming the senior person doing this earns $34 per hour ($70k p.a.), that it requires 5 hours of attention and that ordinarily they create twice their salary in value then that's 5 hours * $34 / hour * 2 = $700 in management opportunity cost.

 

Total Cost: $3,500

$2,800 (labor cost) + $700 (management opportunity cost) = $3,500 in total cost to your firm to get this data by hiring someone externally.

 

Our Price: $749 or $399 (for collaborative use and individual use licenses respectively)

How to get the data:

Data classification:

 

ASSETS 1915 - 1930 1930 - 1936 1936 - 1960 1961 - 2011
Gold Reserves
Special Drawing Rights
Coin
Liquidity & Credit Facilities
Triparty Obligations,
Federal Agency Obligations Bought
Federal Agency Obligations held under repurchase agreements
Reserves other than gold
Bills discounted and loans
Bills discounted and bought
Industrial Advances
Short-term US Government Securities
Long-term US Government Securities
US Government Securities held under repurchase agreements
Due from Fed Banks (in transit)
Uncollected items
Cash items in the process of collection
Foreign Currency Assets
All other assets
Total Assets

 

LIABILITIES 1915 - 1930 1930 - 1936 1936 - 1960 1961 - 2011
Reserve deposits
Federal reserve notes
Reverse Repos
Capital paid in
Government deposits
Deferred availability items
All other liabilities
Total Liabilities

 

Source: Federal Reserve Bulletins, Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research, St Louis Fed.

 

Some of our customers:

 

Sample data:

* The data is monthly between Jan 1930 and September 1936 due to the format of the source publications between those dates.

** Data after 2011 is freely available at the Federal Reserve website.