Mason in the News

Posted: August 31, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage Mason recently received.

Sunday, Aug. 26, New York Times

Just How Contagious Is That Hedge Fund?

“The fundamental problem is that even when hedge funds say they are pursuing entirely separate investment strategies, they often actually use common approaches, according to several experts. When one of these bets goes bad for one hedge fund, losses can result for many of them, disrupting the broader financial markets. The convergence of hedge fund strategies is quantifiable. It was detected in a study called ‘Is There Hedge Fund Contagion?’ completed earlier this year by Nicole Boyson, an assistant professor of finance and insurance at Northeastern University; Christof Stahel, an assistant professor of finance at George Mason University; and René Stulz, a professor of finance at Ohio State University. The professors focused on months when there was a particularly big loss in one of the many categories of hedge funds. In an interview, Professor Stulz said he and his co-authors found that during those months, all hedge funds, regardless of their category, had an unexpectedly high probability of losses, too.”

Sunday, Aug. 26, Los Angeles Times

Air Travel Will Be Hard Work Well Past Labor Day

“Air travelers haven’t seen the end of packed planes, flight delays and mishandled luggage just yet: Labor Day weekend looms. Starting Wednesday, nearly 16 million passengers, up 2.6 percent from last year, are expected to jam airports amid the long holiday weekend, capping the worst season for air travel in recent memory. ‘Any way you look at it, it’s bad,’ said Lance Sherry, executive director of the Center for Air Transportation Systems Research at George Mason University in Virginia. ‘If people don’t get fed up with air travel and take other forms of transportation, then there is no light at the end of the tunnel.’ During the first six months of the year, nearly a quarter of all flights were delayed, the amount of mishandled baggage jumped 25 percent and complaints climbed nearly 50 percent. The figures were the worst since the federal government began gathering such data in 1995.”

Monday, Aug. 27, ABC News

Are We Teaching Kids to Fear Men?

“A controversial Virginia public service announcement aimed at preventing sexual abuse — including billboards featuring a male adult holding a child’s hand and provocative radio ads — has some local men worried that the campaign is teaching children to fear men. But the PSA may be in keeping with general child safety measures across the country. For example, airlines place unaccompanied minors with female rather than male passengers, and child safety groups advise lost boys and girls to seek out low-risk adults, like women with children, as first reported in last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal. ‘You are talking about singling out a large group — almost half the population — for stuff that in fact involves a small number of people,’ said George Mason University history professor Peter Stearns. Stearns said actual incidents of male sexual predators seeking out children are less common than many think. ‘Very few kids are at risk of sexual predation. We have definitely hyped it.’”

Monday, Aug. 27, Washington Post

Cutbacks Mount in Real Estate Industry

“Washington’s real estate industry, already pinched by a slowdown in residential construction, is bracing for further retrenchment after last week’s meltdown in the mortgage market. Stephen Fuller, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and head of its Center for Regional Analysis, said in addition to the job losses, local governments already are seeing housing-related tax revenue slow. Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) largely blamed a housing slump in Northern Virginia for a $234 million budget shortfall. But Fuller doubts the slowdown will affect the local economy as sharply as the telecommunications industry bust did in 2001. Construction jobs pay less than high-tech and government contracting jobs do, he said, and other industries should be able to absorb many of the low-wage service and retail jobs related to construction and housing. ‘Doesn’t mean it won’t hurt, but much of the pain is being masked by strength elsewhere,’ Fuller said. ‘Slower federal procurement spending has a bigger impact than the slowdown in real estate.’”

Tuesday, Aug. 28, Good Housekeeping

Happiness I Learned from a Child

“A recent Pew Research Center national survey found that only one-third of American adults are able to describe themselves as very happy. Luckily, several new studies suggest a good way to shift that statistic: Take a few happiness lessons from the kids in your life — and the kid you once were. The familiar sound loop of a 3-year-old — ‘But why? But why? But why?’ — may sometimes drive us bonkers, but in essence, it’s worth emulating. Curious people are more likely to be positive, explains research psychologist Todd Kashdan of George Mason University. ‘Children expose themselves to challenges that lead to the accumulation of knowledge or experience. This leads to improved skills, which leads to an increase in confidence and well-being.’ But as we age, our natural sense of curiosity can wane. ‘We become more self-conscious and have a hard time deviating from planned activities,’ Kashdan says.”

Wednesday, Aug. 29, Washington Post

Local Economic Outlook Is Cloudy

“Stephen Fuller, head of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, is in demand these days. Uncertainty surrounding the mortgage industry credit crisis has many business leaders turning to the professor of public policy for clarity on the future of the local economy. The problem is, Fuller says he can’t confidently say when the housing slowdown that began in the first half of 2006 will end because it’s unclear how deep credit problems will affect the region. ‘We’re not in a recession and it’s not like [the savings and loan crisis], but there is no quick fix,’ Fuller said in an interview yesterday. He said home sales will undoubtedly slow. Last year, 80,000 homes sold and this year Fuller expects 70,000 to 75,000 homes sales in the region. There is already evidence that local governments are being affected by the housing downturn, as counties like Fairfax feel a shortfall of tax revenues that were pouring in during the housing boom.”

Wednesday, Aug. 29, USA Today

Married Women Unite! Husbands Do Less Housework

“Women who complain their spouses don’t do enough around the house now have some real proof. Married men worldwide report doing less housework than unmarried cohabiting men, according to an international study of 17,636 men and women in 28 countries. Findings are published in the September issue of the Journal of Family Issues. In the study by researchers at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and North Carolina State University in Raleigh, cohabiting men report doing more housework than married men, and cohabiting women report doing less housework than married women, although cohabiting men still do less than cohabiting women. Shannon Davis, an assistant professor of sociology at George Mason and the study’s lead author, says the institution of marriage seems to have an effect on couples that traditionalizes their behavior, even if they view men and women as equals. ‘What we see is that beliefs about gender matter,’ she says. ‘Beliefs about this egalitarian notion of women and men sharing equal responsibility for paid work and household tasks matter differently for cohabiting men than it does for married men.’”

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