Mason in the News

Posted: March 20, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage Mason recently received.

Friday, March 13, Washington Post

Inter-American Relations Roiled

“For a swath of the population in Bolivia in particular and the region more generally, the U.S. government is, at a visceral level, an enemy. It is often seen as the ‘empire’ that for generations has pillaged natural resources or used its diplomats or intelligence services to undermine governments it opposes. George Mason University anthropologist Mark Goodale said the current political moves must be seen in a larger historical context of Bolivia’s relationship with the United States. Although ‘the United States is an ever-present scapegoat for the problems that continue to plague Bolivia,’ he said, ‘meddling is what the United States does. . . . This goes back to the Monroe Doctrine. It is embedded in the structural relationship between the United States and Latin America,’ said Goodale, who is writing a book about Bolivia. ‘One of the things that Morales is trying to do is change that structural relationship.’”

Saturday, March 14, New York Times

Thoughts on Walking Away from Your Home Loan

“Perhaps you no longer have enough income to pay your loans. Or you can afford the payments but don’t qualify for refinancing under the new plan because the value of your home is too far below the balance of the loan. If you’re far enough underwater, you’re probably questioning the wisdom of writing a monthly check on a place that may take 10 or 15 years to get back to the value it had two or three years ago. In fact, Todd J. Zywicki, a law professor at George Mason University, predicted that FICO may have to adjust its credit scores to lessen the impact of a foreclosure or similar incident. ‘It just seems obvious that a foreclosure in 2008 or 2009 doesn’t have as much information value as a foreclosure five years ago,’ he said. ‘To the extent that foreclosure doesn’t predict future behavior as much as it did in the past, you’d expect that the FICO algorithm would change to adjust for that.’”

Monday, March 16, Fox News

Free Market Meltdown? Economists Fret Over Return to Price Controls

“Proponents say the government has an obligation to provide relief for consumers during these trying economic times. But many economists say controlling prices and rents has failed in the past, and it often has bad consequences. But economists have long memories, and they point to price controls in the past that have had very negative consequences, such as gas lines in the 1970s that were caused by price caps on gasoline that made selling unprofitable. ‘You had gas lines in the ‘70s…. The tougher thing is to think of cases where there was not a shortage due to price controls,’ said George Mason University economics professor Tyler Cowen, author of ‘Discover Your Inner Economist.’”

Monday, March 16, Washington Post

Very Clever. But Is It a Stimulus?

“Is there one kind of art that’s especially good at goosing the economy overall? Start with the lessons of the New Deal. Arts programs during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration employed nearly 40,000 muralists, musicians, writers and actors at a cost of about $160 million. That’s more than $2 billion in current dollars, according to George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen. Today’s NEA is planning to filter its $50 million through nonprofit groups and state and regional arts agencies. But Cowen said that would waste time and leak valuable cash. The lesson of the New Deal, he said, was: Spend money fast and worry about the art later. ‘Hire a lot of people. Do it quickly. Don’t obsess over quality,’ Cowen said. Some people the program funded produced awful murals. Others just stole the money. Doesn’t matter, Cowen said, if the point is getting cash into the economy.”

Tuesday, March 17, Washington Post

Small-Business Lending Gets a Boost

“The Obama administration yesterday unveiled a series of measures to help the nation’s small businesses, saying it would spend up to $15 billion to help them get the loans they need to weather the economic crisis. Through the Small Business Administration, lenders would see larger profits and take fewer risks than they would through ordinary loan programs. As a result, lenders could steer borrowers into the SBA program even when they qualify for ordinary loans, said Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. ‘This is a system that rewards banks,’ she said.”

Thursday, March 19, Washington Post

Figures Show Migration to Outer D.C. Suburbs Nearly Halting

“Although the District and other inner counties such as Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George’s continued to lose more U.S. residents than they attracted, the loss was substantially less than in previous years. George Mason University economist John McClain said the estimates closely track the housing market’s meltdown in Washington’s outer suburbs. In Prince William, for instance, median home prices began falling as far back as early 2007, as the number of new units began to outstrip demand. But the bottom truly fell out in the summer of 2007, when the subprime mortgage crisis caused lenders to drastically curtail credit. McClain said those figures suggest newcomers could remain wary of counties such as Prince William for some time. ‘If you’re a first-time home buyer and hoping to get a 95 percent mortgage, you’re not going to buy [in Prince William] for a while because you’re worried that in six months your house will be worth less than what you’re paying for it,’ he said.”

Thursday, March 19, Forbes

Spend That Cash

“The real fight over the money supply may be political. Many economists worry that failing to address liquidity today will lead to destabilizing job losses tomorrow — and harebrained schemes to fix the problem. By pushing for Fed expansionism now, they’re hoping to avoid new entitlement programs that impose a permanent drag on the economy. ‘In answer to the call “Something must be done,” people on the right and libertarians say, “Let the Fed do the job,” says Alexander Tabarrok, a political economist at George Mason University and coauthor of the popular Marginal Revolution blog. ‘Had the Fed acted more appropriately in the Great Depression, we might not have had the New Deal.’”

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