Politics & Money

Ed DeMarco on why we need a level playing field for private capital

Q&A with the former FHFA director shows he is still on a mission to reform the GSEs

In 2012, HousingWire recognized Ed DeMarco as its Person of the Year for his work as the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. In that pivotal year, the FHFA hired new executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, revamped the executive compensation structure, set a framework for a single securitization platform, announced a plan to begin credit risk transfer, launched an REO-to-rental bulk sales pilot at Fannie Mae and released guidance on HARP 2.0. And by the end of that year, both GSEs reported a profit.

It was also just one of many years that DeMarco spent a considerable amount of time testifying before Congressional committees. By today’s standards of hyper-partisanship, the Washington, D.C. of 2012 might seem like a slightly kinder, gentler place to do business, but I doubt it felt that way to DeMarco. His work was both hailed and assailed by various housing factions, and the stakes of the FHFA’s decisions couldn’t be higher.

DeMarco is now the president of the Housing Policy Council, a trade association dedicated to many of the same goals that marked DeMarco’s time at FHFA: restoring the private market, modernizing the government agencies involved in housing finance, reformulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, developing a sustainable approach to expanding affordable housing opportunities and cultivating a market environment that encourages and enables responsible innovation.

We caught up with DeMarco this week at HousingWire’s Dallas office, where he recorded a podcast on the status of GSE conservatorship and sat down for a wide-ranging interview with HousingWire reporters and editors. It’s clear that DeMarco’s passion for a level playing field for private capital is burning brighter than ever.

Below is our conversation, lightly edited for clarity and length:

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