(Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s household debt increased to a record last quarter even as the central bank kept its interest rate restrictive, indicating the difficulty of reining in appetite for loans to buy properties.
Total household credit rose to 1,875.6 trillion won ($1.4 trillion) in the July-to-September period, up 0.2% from a year earlier, according to a Bank of Korea statement Tuesday. Mortgage loans led the growth, rising 4% to a record 1,049.1 trillion won.
Household debt is a major concern for policymakers as the country’s ratio of borrowing to gross domestic product remains above 100%, one of the highest in the developed world. BOK Governor Rhee Chang-yong has warned authorities may adjust rates if needed, should increases in household debt continue.
For now the central bank is keeping its benchmark rate at 3.5% on hold, as it tries to balance its efforts to curb inflation with the need to maintain growth momentum for the economy. The bank last raised its rate in January and is staying open to the possibility of another hike if necessary.
The housing market came under pressure late last year when the BOK raised the rate faster than expected. While authorities welcomed an easing of asset bubbles, the government has also rolled out a series of measures in the past year to shore up sentiment in the housing market, and prevent a correction from hurting the broader economy.
Some lawmakers have accused the government of trying to reinflate bubbles in recent months, prompting policymakers to pledge to tamp down their support.
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