The Federal Open Market Committee will hold its first meeting of 2011 on Tuesday and Wednesday in an early test of the balance of power between voting members who support the current level of quantitative easing championed by Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke and those who oppose it.

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City president Thomas Hoenig has rotated off the voting panel after repeatedly dissenting against what he regarded as excessive monetary accommodation last year as a voting member of the Fed’s policymaking FOMC.

However, two similarly minded presidents have rotated into voting positions — Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas president Richard Fisher and Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia president Charles Plosser. They seem prepared to challenge both quantitative easing and the policy of keeping the Fed funds target rate near zero.

The meeting is also significant because new projections for gross domestic product growth, unemployment, and inflation for the next three years will be determined. Those forecasts will form the basis of Bernanke’s upcoming semi-annual monetary report to Congress.

The advance GDP report for the fourth quarter will be released Jan. 28.

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