Biz bits

City to purchase chamber building

The Greater Augusta Chamber Foundation and the city of Augusta are finalizing a real estate transaction to transfer ownership of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce's building at 600 Broad St . to the city of Augusta, according to a release from the chamber.

The building, an I.M. Pei design, was constructed in 1976 by the chamber's foundation and has a 50-year ground-lease with the city.

In the past two years, a facility committee recommended exploring options for new space that would better suit the needs of the chamber's current operations. The city of Augusta has offered to purchase the building.

Plans for a new location for the Augusta Metro Chamber are under way, said Phil Wahl, chairman of the board. The chamber offices will continue to be located downtown, he said. An announcement on a new location is expected in 30 to 60 days.

Obama plan may delay mortgage defaults

WASHINGTON โ€” The Obama administration's effort to help homeowners avoid foreclosure might not achieve its goal of helping 3 million to 4 million borrowers and might simply delay mortgage defaults for many, a government watchdog group says.

The Congressional Oversight Panel, charged with making regular assessments of the $700 billion financial rescue fund enacted last year, said the Treasury Department should consider whether to improve the current $50 billion program or adopt new programs to meet an expected rise in foreclosures fed by increased unemployment.

The panel's report is scheduled to be made public to day.

Bernanke won't boost interest rates soon

WASHINGTON โ€” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sent a fresh signal Thursday that he's in no rush to reverse course and start boosting interest rates.

The Fed's key bank lending rate is now at a record low near zero and will probably stay there for an "extended period," Mr. Bernanke said in a speech to a Fed conference .

That echoed the pledge he and his colleagues made at their meeting in late September. The goal: super-low rates will entice people and businesses to spend more, nurturing the recovery.

"At some point, however, as economic recovery takes hold, we will need to tighten monetary policy to prevent the emergence of an inflation problem down the road," Mr. Bernanke said.

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