WASHINGTON – 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 home buying 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.
Ex-Goldman Sachs director sentenced to two years in jail
NEW YORK – Rajat Gupta, a former director of Goldman Sachs, will spend two years in jail and an additional year on supervised release for his role in a sprawling insider-trading scheme on Wall Street.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ordered Gupta to report to prison Dec. 11 and pay $5 million in fines. A jury convicted Gupta of securities fraud and conspiracy in June.
Federal prosecutors had sought a prison sentence of as long as 10 years.
Gupta is the highest-profile figure in the federal government’s campaign against insider-trading.
Barnes & Noble’s devices tampered with by criminals
NEW YORK – Barnes & Noble Inc. said Wednesday that the tampering of devices used by customers to swipe credit and debit cards in 63 of its stores was a “sophisticated criminal effort” to steal information, and reiterated it’s working with federal law enforcement authorities.
The nation’s largest bookseller late Tuesday disclosed the data breach in stores in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, and warned customers to check for unauthorized transactions and to change their personal identification numbers.
B&N said only one device, or PIN pad, was tampered with in each store, affecting less than 1 percent of these devices in its stores. It released a complete list of locations that were affected. All the PIN pads in its nearly 700 stores nationwide were disconnected on Sept. 14, after the company learned of the tampering.
In a news release issued Wednesday, B&N said the criminals planted bugs in the tampered devices, allowing for the capture of credit card and PIN numbers.
Anything bought on Barnes & Noble’s website or with the chain’s Nook devices and app were not affected, the company said. It also said its customer database is secure.