Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a regulatory mandate to shrink. But that's easier said than done, given the government-sponsored enterprises' outsized presence in the mortgage industry, as their latest quarterly results show.

To be sure, Fannie and Freddie have gotten smaller. In 2008, the year the GSEs were put into federal conservatorship, the value of Fannie and Freddie's combined portfolio of mortgage assets was $1.6 trillion, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. By the end of 2014, that figure had been cut in half, to $800 billion, but that hasn't curbed the industry's reliance on the two mortgage giants.

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