Two weeks before a U.S. election focused on the economy, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday that its help is still needed to increase growth and lower unemployment.
The Fed took no action after a two-day policy meeting. It wants time to assess whether the aggressive steps it launched in September will help the economy.
Last month, the Fed began buying mortgage bonds to try to push long-term interest rates lower and make homebuying more affordable. It also said it planned to keep its benchmark short-term rate near zero through mid-2015.
In a statement Wednesday, the Fed said the U.S. economy is improving moderately, but it said job growth has been slow and the unemployment rate remains elevated. It noted that consumer spending has strengthened slightly and that housing has shown further signs of improvement, but growth in business investment has slowed.
Countrywide accused of brazen fraud in suit
The latest federal lawsuit over alleged mortgage fraud paints an unflattering picture of a doomed lender: Executives at Countrywide Financial urged workers to churn out loans, accepted fudged applications and tried to hide ballooning defaults.
The suit, filed Wednesday by the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, also underscored how Bank of Americas purchase of Countrywide in July 2008, just before the financial crisis, backfired severely.
Prosecutor Preet Bharara said he is seeking more than $1 billion, but the suit could ultimately recover much more in damages.
He described Countrywides practices as spectacularly brazen in scope.
Bank of America spokesman Lawrence Grayson said the bank has stepped up and acted responsibly to resolve legacy mortgage matters. He called the allegation that the bank has failed to buy back loans simply false.
Ex-Goldman exec gets 2 years for illicit trades
Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. director Rajat Gupta was sentenced to two years in prison for insider trading, marking the downfall of a man who rose to the top of corporate America after being orphaned as an 18-year-old in Kolkata.
Gupta, who ran McKinsey & Co. from 1994 to 2003, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan for leaking stock tips to Galleon Group co-founder Raj Rajaratnam. Gupta, 63, was convicted in June of securities fraud and conspiracy. He is set to report to prison Jan. 8. He was also fined $5 million.
The evidence that Gupta passed illegal information about Goldman Sachs to Rajaratnam was not only overwhelming, it was disgusting in its implications, Rakoff said in court.
Eco-friendly winery opening in Steuben
A winery with an eco-friendly focus will open next week in Steuben County.
Briali Vineyards and Winery opens Nov. 1 at 102 W. Indiana 120 in Fremont. Owners Brian and Alicia Moeller said prices will range from $10 to $22 a bottle. The couple say they will cultivate fruit that is more labor intensive, but better for the environment, than other varieties. Through organic farming techniques, such as the absence of chemical pesticides or fertilizers, the business boasts selling a more pure wine.
Wine varieties include tempranillo, petit verdot and cabernet franc.