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Federal Reserve database covers banking, business, fiscal, consumer price indexes, monetary and financial data.
We recently came across an interesting app that allows users to keep an eye on Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) on their phones. FRED is a database maintained by the research division at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, covering banking, business, fiscal, consumer price indexes, monetary and financial data. The data is compiled by the Federal Reserve and collected from government agencies such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. If you are new to FRED, the best way to get familiarized with it is to first visit the FRED website, which can be found at http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/.
The app itself is a model of simplicity. After downloading the app from the Play Store (we tested the Android version of the app, although there is also a version that will run on Apple devices) and installing it on your phone, the program opens with six icons on the main page that are designed to help you navigate through all the available data. You can list the data by category, source, release or popularity, and the app also allows users to search and sort by favorites.
Useful Data Points
For first-time users, we recommend selecting the “by Category,” icon, which breaks down the available data into the following categories: academic; money, banking and finance; national accounts; population, employment and labor markets; production and business activity; prices; international; and U.S. regional. Each specific category has further breakdowns of subcategories; we detail some of the more useful ones here.
In money, banking and finance, subcategories include banking, business lending, exchange rates, financial indicators, interest rates, monetary data and foreign exchange intervention. Most investors will find the financial indicators subcategory most valuable; it provides information such as stock market indexes, volatility indexes and financial activity measures. The interest rates subcategory, which provides interest rates for a wide range of financial instruments, is another subcategory individual investors may find handy.
The population, employment and labor markets category also contains informative and relevant data. The current employment statistics subcategory includes employment statistics for all of the market sectors that the government tracks, including manufacturing, nonfarm and financial. In addition, this subcategory includes the weekly initial claims figures that are usually released every Thursday morning.
The FRED app is easy to use and provides a deep repository of timely data. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis updates the app data when it is made available to the general public. The app is also free to download and use, and it is available for the Apple iOS and Android operating systems.