AMERICATALYST 2010: INSIDE OUT: Rebuilding the U.S. housing finance system

AmeriCatalyst 2010, held September 12-14 at the Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Austin, Texas, brought together a unique group of nearly 300 industry leaders, including originators, insurers, bankers, servicers, regulators, policy makers and investors, for an interactive debate on original ideas and issues in the context of leadership for a sustainable future.

Our goal was to turn perceptions of the industry 'Inside Out' by revealing the dynamics of much larger forces that would magnify risk, accelerate instability and therefore require constant adaptations of market structure moving forward. In that context we evaluated the viability and effectiveness of legislative, regulatory, and private proposals to rebuild the current U.S. housing finance system.

The conference kicked off on Sunday night with cocktails, dinner, and a performance by Austin’s own Patricia Vonne, who wowed the crowd despite the scorching Texas heat. The evening included a live charity art auction (with proceeds going to No Paws Left behind) complete with a professional auctioneer on loan from Williams & Williams, and an awards ceremony sponsored by Vantium Capital. The honorees–Lauri Goodman, Jack Guttentag (“the mortgage professor”), Bill Coppedge, Dale McPherson and Kyle Bass–were cited for their leadership and service to the industry in the areas of Content, Context, Communications, Community and Convergence.

Monday marked the start of the conference, and the first day of sessions was packed with valuable insight from hosts, speakers, and delegates. The first session, Vertigo, was hosted by Toni Moss and Todd Groome, and featured James Lockhart, Paul Miller and Josh Rosner, among others, discussing the politicization of finance and regulation of risk. Later on, Toni and Todd hosted a special interview with investor Kyle Bass, which can be viewed here. From the policy side, Monday also saw talks from both GNMA President Ted Tozer and Federal Housing Commissioner David Stevens.

On Tuesday delegates saw presentations by CoreLogic’s Tom Showalter explaining the science behind house price forecasting, and Amherst Securities’ Laurie Goodman on loan modification and principal write-down programs. Panel discussions also included “From Local to National: Stabilizing the housing market and assisting struggling homeowners,” hosted by HOPE Now’s Faith Schwartz and featuring Teresa Bryce of Radian Guaranty and Laurie Maggiano of Treasury, among others.

Part of what makes an AmeriCatalyst conference unique is the interaction between the people in the audience and the people on the stage. Since delegates are able to pose questions to panelists, their opinions and observations are equally as valuable. The 2010 audience maintained the level of excellence that AmeriCatalyst and EuroCatalyst are known for, thanks in part to loyal alums who, year after year, return to the event to keep raising the bar. In addition to the return of a vast majority of delegates from EuroCatalyst 2009 Distressed Servicing 2009, we were honored by the presence of alumni from the EuroCatalyst side of the pond, including Achim Duebel, Solveig Loretz and Thomas Cohrs.