Agricultural Finance Databooks--Quarterly Series, 1978 to 1983

   Publications and papers by Emanuel Melichar   (www. emelichar. com)

Evolution of the Quarterly Series Databook, July 1978 to December 1983

The Agricultural Finance Databook--Quarterly Series was conceived to bring together in one publication the results of the ongoing quarterly surveys of agricultural credit conditions being conducted by five Federal Reserve Banks. In addition to presenting current results in a timely fashion, each issue also displayed all historical results for each question asked of the bankers surveyed, thus greatly enhancing analytical perspectives.

The results of each District survey were grouped together, as shown by the "table of contents" pages of one issue:
Contents of early Quarterly Databooks
This format facilitated use by analysts interested mainly in a particular region, but it was consequently unwieldy in studying or comparing responses to similar questions among two or more Districts. (In Databooks produced in 1984-1987, responses were grouped by both question and District on the same page or on facing pages, at the expense of showing much less historical data.)

The Databook was best used in conjunction with the reports issued quarterly by the Reserve Banks--free reports that the Databook helped to publicize and to which readers were encouraged to subscribe. A description of each of the District surveys was included in the April 1979 and subsequent issues.

Through the July 1979 issue, the Databook was printed in "landscape" format. Historical data from the Chicago and Minneapolis surveys which covered more than a decade were printed on two facing pages to easily reveal trends and cycles. Starting with the October 1979 issue, the "portrait" format was used, allowing each table to occupy only a single page and the number of pages to be reduced from 44 to 26.

The January 1980 was the last issue that was able to present data back to 1958-Q2 for the Chicago District questions relating to the "market value of good farmland." This issue also serves as an example of the nine Quarterly Series Databooks issued before October 1980. The entire issue may be viewed by clicking:

Agricultural Finance Databook--Quarterly Series
January 1980,   26 pp.

A major expansion of the Databook was implemented with the October 1980 issue. Data from the major farm lenders being published in the Monthly Series Databook were inserted on a quarterly basis with the same table headings. Quarterly data on farm loans outstanding at the major farm lender groups were also added, along with quarterly USDA estimates of farm income and a page of farm loan interest rates from the Federal Reserve's quarterly survey of terms of bank lending. Data from the Reserve Bank surveys continued to be presented as in the earlier issues in which it was the sole content.

Distribution of the Quarterly Series Databook was expanded to include libraries and more analysts, while that of the Monthly Series Databook was curtailed. Then, in April 1981, the Databook became an official publication of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, designated as Statistical Release E.15. Maintenance of the mailing list shifted to the Board's Publications Services, and it became the responsibility of individual interested readers to get on the list, and to stay on by returning annual renewal inquires.

More data from the quarterly survey of terms of bank lending were added with the January 1981 issue, and still more with the April volume. In March 1983, a page of annual farm debt data was added. On the other hand, October 1981 was the last issue that presented the quarterly USDA estimates of farm receipts, expenses, and net income. However, the next issue, March 1982, included a brief paper, "Commentary: Farm income and returns to assets and equity," that presented such annual data for 1940-1981.

More detailed information about these innovations and events was presented on the cover and/or page 2 of the five issues involved. These pages can be viewed in the file:
1980s Quarterly Databook Cover Notes

The December 1983 issue was the last volume designated as a Quarterly Series Databook:

Agricultural Finance Databook--Quarterly Series
December 1983,   58 pp.

The quarterly distribution schedule was also abandoned during 1984-1987. The next Databook, issued in July 1984, presented a fairly even mix of annual and quarterly data featuring annual data on farm sector profitability. Among changes in format, data from the Federal Reserve Bank surveys were grouped by both question and District on the same page or on facing pages. After several more issues in 1984, Databooks in the new format were issued at annual intervals in mid-year 1985 to 1987. See:
Evolution of the Agricultural Finance Databook, 1984 to 1987