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Percentage of household savings falls to lowest level since 1975 in H1: BOK

All Headlines 10:12 October 14, 2018

SEOUL, Oct. 14 (Yonhap) -- The percentage of household savings held by local lenders fell to the lowest level since 1975 in the first half of the year, as low interest rates caused people to invest their money in real estate and stocks, central bank data showed Sunday.

According to the Bank of Korea (BOK), household savings made up 45.4 percent of all deposits in the January-June period. This represents a 1.2 percentage-point dip from a year earlier.

At the same time, deposits by businesses have been on the rise.

In the six-month period, the total household deposits reached 614.93 trillion won (US$542.74 billion), an increase of 4.2 percent from the year before. Total deposits held by local lenders stood at 1,353.51 trillion won for a gain of 6.8 percent.

BOK said household savings accounted for over 60 percent of all deposits in the late 1990s, but the proportion has steadily decreased and has more or less stayed under 50 percent in recent years with the exception of 2014.

"The decrease is mainly due to people using their money to invest in other areas amid low interest payments offered by local lenders," a market watcher said.

He pointed out that the purchase of shares and money invested into various investment funds by households reached 11.4 trillion won in the second quarter, up from 3.6 trillion won in the first quarter, with their combined bank balance dropping off correspondingly.

In contrast, the size of the deposit balance owned by businesses reached 403.72 trillion won in the January-June period, up a sharp 7.9 percent from the previous year.

The percentage of such deposits to all savings stood at 29.8 percent for a gain of 0.3 percentage point.

The BOK data showed that from the second half of 2015, growth in savings by businesses consistently outpaced households, an indication that companies preferred to safely hold onto their assets rather than investing in riskier sectors.

"After experiencing the Asian financial crisis, South Korean businesses have become conservative in the way they manage their cash holdings, while the development of the capital market has caused households to look elsewhere than banks to make extra money," said Hong Joon-pyo, a senior analyst at the Hyundai Research Institute.

Percentage of household savings falls to lowest level since 1975 in H1: BOK - 1


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