Business Briefs – December 12, 2016

With Fed Expected To Hike, Attention Turns To What It Says

WASHINGTON (AP) – It’s all but certain the Federal Reserve will raise its benchmark interest rate after its policy meeting ends Wednesday. This will be its first increase in a year.

The Fed is expected to raise its key rate by a modest quarter-point to a range of 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent — a move that will likely lead to slightly higher rates on some consumer and business loans. But the real anticipation surrounds what Fed officials may or may not say about the pace of future rate hikes against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s election.

Chipotle Founder Ells Takes Over as Sole CEO

NEW YORK (AP) – Chipotle Mexican Grill named founder Steve Ells as its sole CEO on Monday as the burrito chain keeps trying to recover from a series of food scares that has driven customers away.

Ells had been co-CEO with Monty Moran, who is stepping down from that position and from his seat on the board of directors, and will retire from the company in 2017. Moving to one chief executive is “about stripping away” things that are getting in the way of the business and, in general, complicating what is a “very simple idea,” Ells said.

Venezuelans Prepare for Largest Currency Note to Be Yanked

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Venezuelans are rushing to spend their 100-bolivar notes after President Nicolas Maduro’s announcement they will be taken out of circulation to stop the contraband smuggling “mafias” along the Colombian border that he says hoard cash outside the country.

The government has promised to issue new, higher-denomination bills this week amid the world’s highest inflation.

Maduro warned Sunday that people will not be allowed to bring back 100-bolivar bills from outside the country to trade them in for new currency.

An estimated third of Venezuelans have no bank account and keep their savings in the soon-to-be-worthless bills.

Accreditor of For-Profit Colleges Loses Appeal to Stay Alive

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal education officials are standing by their decision to cut ties with the nation’s largest accreditor of for-profit colleges — a ruling that will bar hundreds of schools from providing federal financial aid and likely force some to close.

The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, which oversees more than 250 institutions nationwide with a combined enrollment of 600,000 students, had appealed a September Education Department decision to strip it of credentialing authority.

Education Secretary John B. King Jr. denied the appeal on Monday on the grounds of “a profound lack of compliance” with federal standards for accreditors.

Titans of New Industry Spring $1 Billion Clean Energy Fund

DALLAS (AP) – Some big names with big money say they plan to put more than $1 billion into developing technologies that will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and lower the price of energy.

Bill Gates said the fund plans to make its first investments next year and run for 20 years. A year ago, the co-founder of Microsoft Corp. started the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, with a commitment to invest in new types of energy.

Supreme Court Upholds Broad Reach of Bank Fraud Law

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the broad reach of a federal law prohibiting bank fraud, a ruling that gives the government more leeway to prosecute financial crimes.

The unanimous ruling came in the case of a California man who illegally siphoned about $307,000 out of a Taiwanese businessman’s Bank of America bank account.

Lawrence Shaw argued that he wasn’t guilty of bank fraud because he only intended to cheat the bank customer, not the bank itself. But Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the court, said the bank has an interest in preserving the money in its customers’ accounts.