I’m not a fan of Big Government but there are a number of good websites that some government agencies produce. These are especially good sources of data and statistics and are useful when you are researching something related to what each of these agencies does. Here are four “dot gov” websites that I find particularly useful:
- FederalReserve.gov: The website for the Federal Reserve Bank. You can learn a lot by reading through the many articles and statistics linked to on this website. Did you miss a recent speech that a Fed Governor gave? Go to this website and read what the governor said. Are you doing research about the economic performance of a particular part of the country? Perhaps it would help if you go to the Beige Book section linked to through the federalreserve.gov website. Learn all about the regulatory and supervisory role the Fed plays within the US banking system. This website is great for students and anyone else doing research, as well as for anyone interested in learning more about the current state of Fed policy. Why rely on secondary sources such as the media when you can go directly to The Source to find out what the Fed is up to?
- Home.Treasury.Gov: The website for the US Treasury goes hand in hand with the Federal Reserve website. Though there are more political opinions expressed on the Treasury website, there are straight facts. My favorite part is the link to Daily US Treasury rates. Here, you can go back in time to see what rates were by maturity (1 month through 30 years) for any particular day. This is very interesting for finance nerds.
- BLS.Gov: The website for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Do you want to know anything about the unemployment rate, payroll statistics, or inflation? The BLS is The Source for all of this information. Perhaps you need to be particularly nerdy to enjoy reading this website, but since a lot of US economic and political policy is based on the statistics found on this website, it is very important.
- IRS.Gov: The website for our friends at the Internal Revenue Service. Need I say more? For individual investors, a lot of decisions we make must involve the tax ramifications of what we invest in. Of the four websites that I recommend in this posting, the IRS website contains the densest information. Nevertheless, there is a lot that is readable for the common folk.
Whether you want to find out something specific or you want to gain more general knowledge about the role that any of these government agencies plays, I recommend you go to the source on any of these websites rather than to rely on media interpretations of data that is out there. In the case of the IRS website, perhaps you will learn enough to be dangerous and you will need to confirm what you learn with a CPA or other tax professional before acting on your own behalf.
Or, if you want a very high-level overview of the US Government, go to usa.gov: