FRB Data Quirks and what to do about them.

Federal Reserve Bank Data Quirks and what to do about them.

Quirks and “Undocumented Features”

The Federal Reserve Bank has established a pattern of introducing quirks to the data or the XML schema.  These quirks break down their entire technical approach to their data download service.  Fortunately, the sound architecture of FRB_SR greatly aids in compensating.  However, traces of the Federal Reserve Bank’s missives still appear in the data.  For example, the Federal Reserve Bank added about two dozen series code numbers to the “Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States (Z.1)” statistical release without the code names.  Those series code numbers were manually added but the code names were added like “UNKNOWN . . . temp fix for 123456”.  When the Federal Reserve Bank gets around to updating the XML schema or publishing the series names, this issue will be corrected.

Simple and Compact without the Quirks

We designed FRB_SR in a very compact form to facilitate distribution.  Like the Federal Reserve Bank, other data providers offer very segmented and limited access to the data.  FRB_SR contains every statistical release the Federal Reserve Bank publishes.  To make distribution possible, the schema is very simple with only three tables.  Seven data views provide a basic breakout and access to the statistical releases and their sub-levels.  While the FRB_SR design has performance features, the schema is a more compact data warehouse rather than a high performance database.  The initial execution of a view  will likely yield slower performance which improves significantly thereafter.  We have found this adequate for our  development and testing purposes.  If you find  performance is an issue in your data environment, we recommend extracting the data out to fully optimized data tables.  We are currently working on “expansion” scripts to do this.

When can I get clean data without the Quirks?

We publish FRB_SR version updates monthly around the fifteenth for the prior month’s data.  Federal Reserve Bank dictates the schedule.


Author: Mike McIver, MCSE

SQL Server Architecture, Design, Development and Administration

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