Capacity of South Korean households and others to repay debt worsened in the second quarter from three months earlier as debt grew at the fastest pace in 18 months, the central bank said Monday.
The ratio of financial assets to debt, held by households and nonprofit organizations, a gauge of debt-servicing capacity, came in at 2.16 as of end-June, down from 2.19 tallied in the first quarter, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).
Their financial assets increased 19.7 trillion won (US$18.2 billion) to reach 2,549.6 trillion won as of the end of the second quarter while their financial debt grew 25.1 trillion won on-quarter to 1,182.2 trillion won, it added.
The second-quarter growth in such debt marked the largest gain since it grew by 28.1 trillion won in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The combined financial debt here is larger than the collective household credit, according to the data the BOK unveils quarterly. Korea's household credit amounted to a record 980 trillion won as of end-June.
The value of excess funds held by households and non-profit agencies grew slower in the second quarter than in the previous quarter as consumer spending picked up, the BOK said.
Such excess funds amounted to 28.2 trillion won in the second quarter, compared with a one-year high of 30.1 trillion won in the first quarter.
Excess funds refer to the volume of money that remains on the balance sheets of households after people manage available funds via deposits and stock investments.
Korea's household debt problems are cited as the main bugbear for policymakers as high household indebtedness crimps consumer spending and hurts economic growth.