Indeed, the odds in many ways seem against it.
Former White House economic adviser Larry Summers put up a blog post Wednesday arguing that the case for a rate hike is even weaker now than it was two weeks ago. Deutsche Bank economist Joseph LaVorgna and his team also put out a note late Wednesday morning outlining "seven reasons why the Fed won't hike rates this month."
"I understand the argument that zero rates are a sign of pathology and the economy is no longer diseased so policymakers have to increase rates," Summers wrote. "The problem is that the case for hitting the brakes in an economy with sub-target inflation, employment and output is not there; regardless of whether the brakes are to going to be pressed hard or softly, singly or multiple times."
For months, Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her counterparts have insisted that a decision about rate hiking will be "data dependent." However, it's not just economic data that gets the Fed's focus.
Equity markets have rallied and bond yields have stayed low since the Fed began the dual actions of quantitative easing and near-zero interest rates back in 2008, during the Great Recession and the financial crisis. Each time the Fed has even threatened to take its foot off the policy accelerator, markets have recoiled with stock selloffs and "taper tantrums" like the one that happened after former Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated in 2013 that QE could end soon.
Stocks have stumbled since the third version of QE ended in October, trading slightly lower since then. How the market would handle losing the second leg of the Fed's ultra-easy policy is tough to say.
"The cumulative improvement in the economy over the past few years means that it is almost impossible to justify interest rates still being at near-zero," Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note. "Nevertheless, a number of Fed officials clearly want to use the recent volatility in financial markets as a reason to delay the first rate hike yet again."
Volatility has been the hallmark of the late-summer market, with wild swings in both directions.
Early Wednesday trading indicated another leg higher, after Asian markets teed up a rally during the U.S. overnight hours. However, the move higher quickly ran out of steam, with markets pulling back later in the morning though with no particular catalyst for the cool off.
The Fed, though, has plenty to digest ahead of its most pivotal meeting in years. For years the basic data have pointed to an economy well out of the crisis that spurred the extreme Fed policy moves, which ultimately exploded its balance sheet to $4.5 trillion.
Most recently, Friday's payrolls report, while a bit below Wall Street expectations, continued to show growth in a labor market that has added 247,000 jobs a month over the past year. Wednesday's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Report, or JOLTS, survey showed a big gain in job openings, another positive sign.