Panelists discussed similar housing themes to those that were covered in 2011 at the ASF 2012 Future of U.S. Mortgage Finance panel.

The conversation revolved around the ever present subject of GSE reform and Congress' "grand compromise" to transform the U.S. housing system in one shot.

So similar were the topics to last year that Jeremy Diamond, managing director at Annaly Capital Management, called the session the 'Groundhog day Panel.'

"This time next year will look like this right now," he said, as there is "regulatory uncertainty from all quarters."

He mentioned some recurring themes, such as the potential for a mass refinancing program that goes above and beyond the Home Affordable Refinancing Program or HARP 2, the sluggish housing sector and the moribund private-label securities market.

Diamond was not off the mark at all.

In fact, days after the panel discussion, President Obama in his State of the Union address spoke about allowing more borrowers to refinance as part of a potential new government program (see related story on page 22).

Although there's now more of a chance for the refinancing program to come to fruition with the president's support, there was a general agreement between the panelists that no housing legislation will pass until after the elections.

They also came to a consensus that a real revival of the private-label RMBS market will not occur until GSE reform takes place.

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