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S. Korea's national assets grow 6.7 pct on-year in 2015

All News 12:00 June 14, 2016

SEOUL, June 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's total assets continued to grow from a year earlier in 2015 on a large increase in nonfinancial assets, central bank data showed Tuesday.

As of the end of 2015, the country's national assets came to 12,359.5 trillion won (US$10.54 trillion), up 6.7 percent from a year earlier, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The 2015 tally is 7.9 times higher than the country's nominal gross domestic product (GDP) for the same year.

The increase, however, came mostly from a rise in nonfinancial assets, apparently reflecting the preference of local people and companies for fixed assets, such as property, over volatile financial assets.

The country's total nonfinancial assets gained 4.6 percent to some 12,126.5 trillion won, accounting for 98.1 percent of total assets on the national balance sheet, according to the BOK.

Financial assets jumped 8.2 percent on-year in 2015, but the country's net financial assets only came to 233 trillion won as financial debts also spiked 7.2 percent.

Household debt grew at a record pace in 2015 as the central bank kept its policy interest rate at a record high of 1.5 percent to help bolster growth. The country's total household debt had reached a record high of 1,207 trillion won at the end of last year before reaching a new high of 1,223.7 trillion at the end of March.

The figure is well expected to continue climbing as the BOK again lowered its policy rate to a new record low of 1.25 percent earlier this month.

Also reflecting the people's growing preference for nonfinancial assets, property assets accounted for 54.2 percent of overall nonfinancial assets as of end-2015, up from 53.6 percent the previous year, according to the BOK.

The 2015 figure marks a second consecutive year of rise since 53.2 percent posted in 2013.

"The rise in real estate assets had slowed following the 2008 global financial crisis, but the rate of growth has been on a steady rise since 2014 on the back of major development projects in Sejong and Jeju Island," the BOK said in a press release.

Households, including nonprofit organizations, continued to hold the largest share of national assets with their combined assets coming to 7,176.2 trillion won or 58.1 percent of the total as of end-2015.

The government, including provincial governments and public entities, held 3,381.7 trillion won worth of assets, accounting for 27.4 percent of the total, with nonfinancial and financial companies holding 11.9 percent and 2.7 percent of total assets, respectively.

Meanwhile, the central bank said the country's total spending on research and development (R&D) came to $60.5 billion in 2015, the world's sixth largest.

However, the amount, in terms of its ratio to the national GDP, marked the world's highest of 4.29 percent, it added.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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