WASHINGTON — Though many companies suffered sudden reversals of fortune in 2008, perhaps none were more dramatic than the fall of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Just 12 months ago the government-sponsored enterprises were regarded as potential white knights of the mortgage crisis that would be able to buy higher-priced mortgages and expand their mortgage portfolios to help stabilize the system. Lawmakers backed their attempts to lower capital standards, and the GSEs' lobbying capacities were the envy of almost every other industry in town.

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