|October 2005 Tip of the Month||| Tip of the Month Archive ||
ALFRED® Help and FAQ
What is ALFRED® ?
ALFRED, ArchivaL Federal Reserve Economic Data, is a collection of vintage versions of U.S. economic data. In general, economic data for past observation periods are revised as more accurate estimates become available. As a result, previous vintages of data can be superseded and may no longer be available from various data sources. ALFRED makes it possible to gather data as reported by a source on past dates in history. The Research Division hopes that ALFRED provides users with the tools they need to reproduce past research, build more accurate forecasting models, and analyze economic policy decisions of the past with data that were available at the time.
What FRED® series can I gather vintage data for?
Currently, vintage data are available for 247939 series in 8 FRED categories:
- Academic Data
- Money, Banking, & Finance
- National Accounts
- Population, Employment, & Labor Markets
- Production & Business Activity
- International Data
- U.S. Regional Data
The earliest vintage available is 1927-01-26. Over time, we plan to increase the number of series and vintages available.
How do I retrieve vintage data from ALFRED® ?
Vintage data can easily be retrieved from the ALFRED website or by using 'My Data Lists.' Please see the Download Data Help for examples of how to download vintage data directly from the ALFRED website, and How to Retrieve Vintage Data Using a Data List for a tutorial showing how to retrieve vintage data using 'My Data Lists.'
What are the advantages of downloading vintage data directly from the ALFRED® website?
The most efficient way to download vintage data is to select the 'Download Data' link on each ALFRED series page. The advantages of this method are that it allows users to specify multiple vintage dates of a single series on one form, and a user account is not needed to retrieve data.
For example, consider the 'Download Data' link on the Series: GNPC96, Real Gross National Product page. The 'Download Data' link takes you to the series' download data form on the ALFRED website.
What are the advantages of using 'My Data Lists' to download vintage data?
An alternative way to download vintage data is to select the 'Add to My Data Lists' link on each ALFRED and FRED series page. The advantages of this method are that you can create data sets containing different series, and your data list is stored on a web server for future use.
For example, consider the 'Add to My Data Lists' links on the ALFRED Series: GNPC96, Real Gross National Product page and the FRED Series: GNPC96, Real Gross National Product page. The 'Add to My Data Lists' links take you to a 'Add to My Data Lists' form on the research.stlouisfed.org website. You will be prompted to log in if you are not already logged in to your user account on the research.stlouisfed.org website. If you do not have a user account, you will need to create one first (for information on user accounts and data lists, please see the 'My Account Help' page). If vintage data are available for a series, the 'Add to My Data Lists' form will allow you to specify a single vintage at the bottom of the form.
How does the Research Division determine when to add new observations and revisions to past observations to ALFRED®?
Research Division analysts monitor sources of economic data for scheduled and unscheduled releases of data. New and revised observations are added to ALFRED as soon as possible following their release typically within one business day.
What is a Release and what are Release Dates?
A release is any mechanism that makes data available. The sources of most series in ALFRED issue scheduled press releases which coincide with the release of new data. However, some sources make data available without a press release. Release dates are the dates when new data first become available from a source.
How are Release Dates determined?
Release dates are determined by the following process:
- When available, the actual release date as provided by the source is entered into the ALFRED database.
- If a release date is not available from the source, the release date given by our data providers is used.
- If a release date cannot be determined either from the source or from our data providers, the date that the series was first available is used.
How does the Research Division verify the accuracy of vintage data?
When possible, vintage data in ALFRED are verified with the original source of the data. Please note that many sources do not maintain previously published estimates. In this case, data are verified using information from third-party data services.
Who do I contact if I have a question about ALFRED® ?
Please contact the Research Webmaster with questions and comments about ALFRED and vintage data.