South African bankers are eager to point out that subprime lending was never a focus for the country's financial institutions. This is just as well, but South Africa has not escaped the chaos left behind by imploding US home loans.

After Lehman Brothers was overwhelmed by losses and a shortage of liquidity in September 2008, the country's main share index tumbled. Between September 15 and November 20 last year, the FTSE/JSE All Share index slid by 30.53%, to 17,814.42. It had since recovered to

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