Steven A. Sharpe, Nitish R. Sinha, and Christopher A. Hollrah | We apply textual analysis tools to measure the degree of optimism versus pessimism of the text that describes Federal Reserve Board forecasts published in the Greenbook. We then examine whether this measure of sentiment, or Greenbook text “Tonality”, has incremental power for predicting the economy, specifically, unemployment, GDP growth, and inflation up to four quarters ahead; we also test whether Tonality helps predict monetary policy and stock returns. Tonality is found to have significant and substantive directional predictive power for the GDP growth and the change in unemployment over the subsequent four-quarter horizon, particularly since 1990. Higher (more optimistic) Tonality presages higher than forecast GDP growth and lower unemployment. Higher Tonality is also found to help predict tighter monetary policy up to four quarters ahead. Finally, we find that Tonality has substantial positive and significant power for predicting 3-month-ahead and 6-month ahead stock market returns.

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