Business Briefs – January 14, 2016

Lower Pay for Poor is Widening U.S. Income Gap, Study Finds

WASHINGTON (AP) – The income gap in major U.S. cities goes beyond the trend of rising paychecks for those at the top: Pay has plummeted for those at the bottom.

Many of the poorest households still earn just a fraction of what they made before the Great Recession began in late 2007. Even as the recovery gained momentum in 2014 with otherwise robust job growth, incomes for the bottom 20 percent slid in New York City, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Washington and St. Louis, according to an analysis of Census data released Thursday by the Brookings Institution.

U.S. Government Developing Policies for Self-Driving Cars

DETROIT (AP) – The federal government wants to get autonomous vehicles on the road more quickly, and says it will fast-track policies and possibly even waive regulations to do it.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Thursday that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will spend the next six months developing guidance for automakers on potential expectations and safety testing of self-driving prototype cars.

The agency also will develop a policy for states to follow if they decide to allow autonomous cars on public roads. That could lead to consistent national regulations for autonomous cars.

Goldman Sachs to Pay $5 Billion in Mortgage Settlement

NEW YORK (AP) – Goldman Sachs has reached a $5 billion settlement as part of a federal and state probe into its role in the sale of mortgages in the years leading up into the housing bubble and subsequent financial crisis.

Goldman will pay $2.39 billion in civil monetary penalties, $875 million in cash payments and provide $1.8 billion in consumer relief in the form of mortgage forgiveness and refinancing. The settlement, announced late Thursday, was reached between Goldman and the U.S. Department of Justice, the attorneys general of Illinois and New York and other regulators.

It is by far the largest settlement the investment bank has reached related to its role in the crisis, but the payment dwarfs the payments made by some of its Wall Street counterparts.

Goldman has been one of the last banks to settle with regulators for its role in the financial crisis.

Gov’t Watchdog: Many Gaps in FDA’s Oversight of Drug Safety

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Food and Drug Administration is speeding up its review of new drugs, yet often fails to keep track of safety issues with those medicines once they reach patients, according to government investigators.

A new Government Accountability Office report released Thursday outlines a host of shortcomings in FDA’s system for tracking drug safety issues, including incomplete, outdated and inaccurate information. At the same time, the agency is making significant use of mechanisms to streamline its reviews, especially for drugs to treat deadly diseases like cancer.

The new findings come as FDA leaders emphasize the speed and efficiency with which agency scientists can approve experimental drugs.