S. Korea's household debt growth slows in Q1
SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's household debt growth, already the highest among emerging markets, increased at a slower pace in the first quarter of this year, thanks to government measures to curb lending, the nation's top financial regulator said Thursday.
Household debt, which stood at 1,344 trillion won (US$1.17 trillion) at the end of last year, has been cited as one of the key vulnerabilities facing Asia's fourth-largest economy as a mountain of debts threatens to choke off consumer spending.
"Looking forward, the pace of household debt growth is expected to be stabilized, given a stabilization in the property market and the possibility of interest rates going up," the Financial Services Commission (FSC) said in a statement.
Household lending by all financial institutions rose by 15.3 trillion won during the January-March period this year, compared with a growth of 17.9 trillion won for the same quarter last year, according to the government data.
First-tier banks saw their household lending rise by 6 trillion won during the first quarter, compared with a growth of 9.9 trillion won a year earlier.
Household lending by second-tier banks, however, rose by 9.3 trillion won for the January-March quarter, compared with a growth of 8 trillion won a year earlier.
The FSC said household lending by second-tier banks began to slow significantly in March, after the government requested the banks tighten screening procedures for mortgage lending.
The nation's household debt grew 10.9 percent in 2015 and 11.7 percent last year, according to the data.