Mason in the News

Posted: October 19, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage George Mason recently received.

Friday, Oct. 12, USA Today

August Exports Rose to New Record

“The monthly trade deficit fell in August to its lowest level since January, thanks to record exports fueled by strong foreign economies and the falling dollar. Monthly imports exceeded exports by $57.6 billion — almost 15 percent less than August 2006, the Commerce Department said. Exports reached a record $138.3 billion, paced by shipments of agricultural products, chemicals and steel, and have now accounted for 40 percent of the economy’s growth over the past four quarters. Imports dipped fractionally to $195.9 billion. Russell Roberts, economics professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., cautions against reading too much into the monthly trade figures. With trade already emerging as an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, he says debate about trade will continue. ‘The political response to the deficit will probably dwarf any economic consequences,’ he says.”

Monday, Oct. 15, Washington Post

Office Vacancies Up as Contracting Slips

“Vacant office space in Westfields Corporate Center off Route 28 in Chantilly totals about 1 million square feet, or 19.6 percent, according to the commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle. That compares with an average vacancy rate in Northern Virginia of 11.2 percent. In the past three years, about 2.7 million square feet of new office space has been added along Route 28 south of Dulles International Airport, causing vacancies in that market to soar, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. Stephen Fuller, director of the George Mason University School of Public Policy’s Center for Regional Analysis, said that while government spending on contractors is not likely to decline in the Washington area, the growth rate has moderated in the past few years. The slowdown is likely to leave the buildings in Westfields and along Route 28 South empty for some time, he said. ‘They are very good, quality buildings, and they will be filled,’ Fuller said. ‘But they are going to have some vacancy for a while.’”

Monday, Oct. 15, New York Times

Competing for Clients, and Paying by the Click

“You can do cool things with Google, like take the pulse of the legal profession. Google is, of course, more than a search engine. It also sells advertising, including the shaded ‘sponsored links’ that run next to the real search results. It auctions off those ads to advertisers, who agree to pay a given amount each time someone clicks on their link. ‘Christmas recipes,’ for instance, was going for 54 cents per click the other day. ‘Britney Spears’ cost 36 cents, and ‘Britney Spears nude’ only 21 cents. But ‘Oakland personal injury lawyer’ cost $58.03. ‘Asbestos attorney’ cost $51.68. And ‘mesothelioma attorney Texas’— mesothelioma is a kind of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos — cost $65.21. The market for Google search terms says something, then, about the market for plaintiffs’ lawyers. For reasons that baffle economists, personal injury lawyers all charge roughly the same amount for their services, typically a third to 40 percent of any recovery. ‘What explains this puzzle?’ asked Alex Tabarrok, who teaches economics at George Mason University. ‘No one knows.’ It may be, he said, that offering to work for less might be thought to signal that you are a bad lawyer.”

Monday, Oct. 15, Wall Street Journal

The Afternoon Report: The Economics of Truth

“Americans Leonid Hurwicz, Eric S. Maskin and Roger B. Myerson were awarded the Nobel prize in economics Monday for their study of “mechanism design.” An abstract branch of economics that employs daunting formulas and heroic feats of mathematics, mechanism design is decidedly clear-eyed in its approach to understanding always-less-than-perfect circumstances of economic exchanges. One way to understand the ‘mechanisms’ these distinguished dismal scientists study is to think about an auction for, say, a Picasso painting. It’s a pretty efficient way of getting people to admit — by bidding — how much they value the painting. And according to Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University and well-known economics blogger, essentially, these economists use math to analyze and describe that process of ‘trying to get people to tell the truth or reveal information.’”

Wednesday, Oct. 17, USA Today

Four Most Populous States ‘Political ATMs’

“Donations from California, New York, Texas and Florida account for $1 out of every $3 raised by the 2008 presidential candidates, new campaign-finance data show. These four states, traditionally the richest sources of political giving, account for more than $140 million of the $420 million raised since January, according to an analysis by USA Today of Federal Election Commission records. Since there are three months to go before voters cast their ballots in the first nominating contests, donations from the four most populous states will easily surpass their 2004 primary total of nearly $177 million. In California, the top donor state, Clinton has raised more money than any candidate in either party, the analysis shows. She collected $13.3 million in the state — twice the amount raised by Republican Mitt Romney. He received $6.6 million from Californians. Clinton also raised the most cash in New York, the No. 2 donor state and her adopted home. She collected nearly twice the amount raised by Giuliani. ‘This is reflective of the overall trends: The money is betting on the Democrats,’ said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.”

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