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S. Korean finance minister vows to control household debt

All News 10:12 January 12, 2017

NEW YORK, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's finance minister on Wednesday pledged to put the country's mounting household debt under control and prevent it from spreading to systemic risks.

"Household debt has been on the rise, but we can definitely slow down the pace," Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said in a conference on the South Korean economy held at a hotel in New York. "The government has implemented some measures and the rising pace of household debt has been turned down."

The massive volume of household debt is one of the biggest potential risks for the major Asian economy already under pressure from lackluster domestic consumption and weak exports.

Household debt here totaled 1,295.8 trillion won (US$1,070 billion) as of end-September, up 11.2 percent on-year.

Last month, the government released a set of measures, including tightening restrictions on housing-related borrowing in a bid to tackle the household debt problem dogging Asia's fourth-biggest economy.

"There is limited possibility that the household credit will spread to a systemic risk," said Yoo.

Despite the country's recent political turmoil sparked by the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, the top economic policymaker said that the government will do its best to run the economy steadily and smoothly, and take an expansionary stance to prevent any fallout from uncertainties at home and abroad.

"The impact of the political uncertainties on the financial market is limited," he said. "But external issues like a possible U.S. rate hike will weigh more heavily on the market."

Yoo is on a U.S. trip to brief foreign investors on the South Korean economic situations and ease their worries over its future. He has met with U.S. economic and financial heavyweights, including Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman.

Schwarzman was recently named the chairman of the Strategic and Policy Forum, an advisory group on economic policies for the Trump administration.

South Korea's Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho speaks at a conference in New York on Jan. 11, 2017. (Courtesy of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance)


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