NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - There's probably only one big question going in to today's Federal Reserve policy meeting: Will Alan Greenspan & Co. signal an end to their willingness to be "patient" before raising interest rates?
With the economy growing, at least in terms of output, and many economists saying jobs are just around the corner (that's in the latest Manpower survey too), some are betting the Fed will drop that word and indicate a slightly different stance.
That would be something more along the lines of watchful waiting, an acknowledgement that the Fed is closer to the point where rates will be hiked. But don't bet the ranch on that.
With the stock market on fragile ground, and with the global community still shaken by last week's bombings in Madrid, some say there's a chance the Fed instead will signal a willingness to wait and make sure there are no cracks developing that could stall the U.S. economy's recovery, and put the brakes on the rest of the world too.
How long can the Fed keep its key short-term rate at 1 percent?
Consider this. Coming out of the 1990-91 recession, the Fed left the fed funds rate at 3 percent from July 1992 to May of 1994, nearly two years. The past may not be prologue but it's a guide worth considering today.
Kathleen Hays anchors CNN Money Morning and The FlipSide, airing Monday to Friday on CNNfn. As part of CNN's Business News team, she also contributes to Lou Dobbs Tonight.