One other reason no surprise is expected from the Fed this week is that it's undergoing a leadership transition. When Yellen takes over next week, she'll become the first woman to lead the Fed in its 100-year history.
Even before she takes over, the central bank will have four new voters from among 11 Fed regional bank presidents whose votes rotate each year.
Kansas City Fed President Esther George dissented seven times last year over her concern that the Fed's bond buying could destabilize financial markets and unleash high inflation. George doesn't have a vote this year. But two others who do — Charles Plosser, head of the Philadelphia Fed bank, and Richard Fisher, head of the Dallas Fed bank — are, like George, considered inflation "hawks." Plosser and Fisher might dissent if they feel the Fed isn't moving fast enough to pare its bond purchases.
The two other new voters are Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota, who has favored keeping rates low, and Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto, a moderate who backed Bernanke's policies.
Pianalto plans to step down this year. And President Barack Obama has nominated two new members to the Fed's board. If confirmed by the Senate, Stanley Fischer, former head of the Bank of Israel and a one of Bernanke's former college professors, would become vice chair. And Lael Brainard, a top Treasury official in Obama's first term, would become a Fed governor. Both are viewed as supporters of the Bernanke-Yellen approach to rates.