It has been widely accepted that the US will be the first major Western economy to raise interest rates. Is the Federal Reserve about to raise them? Is the US about to spark an interest rates rise?

The truth is we simply don't know. That kind of statement doesn't usually make for a good news story, but that is essentially the story.

Economists, investors and journalists around the world are waiting with bated breath. The Fed has had interest rates floating between 0% and 0.25% since the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the global financial meltdown in 2008.

Low interest rates are used to stimulate the economy. The idea is that banks, businesses and consumers, concerned for their financial situation, are able to borrow in a cheaper way. If they borrow, they'll have more money to spend - money money to spend means a stronger economy.

But now that the US economy is showing every increasing signs of a recovery, the Fed is now having to decide whether or not it is strong enoughto cope with higher interest rates, which means higher borrowing costs.

Is the economy strong enough?

If the Federal Reserve is struggling to make that decision, what hope do we journalists have? Let's look at some of the facts.

Since 2009, the US economy has grown by 2.2% each year on average. That's not particularly strong growth - but the economy is now 9% bigger than it was before the financial crisis.

Unemployment is another one for the 'raise' list. At 5.1%, the US unemployment rate is lower than the UK's (5.5%) and roughly half that of the combined eurozone. However, there are more than two million people who have been out of work for more than six months.

The Federal Reserve meets later today (Thursday) to makes its decision on interest rates for this month. Will they raise interest rates? Maybe.