The financial sector has had a tough slog in recent years, but the billions of dollars in losses that played out during and after the 2008 crisis have largely passed. That is, of course, except for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The mortgage finance giants have taken on a greater share of supporting the U.S. housing market as private players pared back their exposure in recent years, and the result has been billions of losses on the taxpayer dime. Fannie Mae reported the latest of those Wednesday, booking a $16.9 billion 2011 loss capped off by the loss of $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter.