With rates near zero, markets await Fed's macro view

Once upon a time, Federal Reserve Board meetings inspired intense speculation about the future direction of benchmark interest rates. There's no such suspense surrounding this week's meeting, however. The Fed Funds rate -- what banks charge each other for overnight loans -- has been as close to zero as it can get since December. With no sign of an end to the recession in sight, it's extremely unlikely the Fed will vote to raise it.

Instead, Fed watchers will be listening for a couple of subtler sounds.