South Korea to launch household debt policy panel

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea will launch a panel comprising two government ministries, the central bank and two financial regulatory agencies, to coordinate policy on household debt, the finance ministry said on Thursday.

The panel will focus discussion especially on ways to improve the structure of household debt as well as assess the macroeconomic effects of heavy household debt, the ministry said in a statement.

The statement came hours after the Bank of Korea surprised markets by cutting interest rates to a record low of 1.75 per cent in a 5-2 vote despite concerns that lower credit costs would fuel household borrowings.

The panel will be led by the finance ministry, with senior officials from the land ministry, the Financial Services Commission, the Bank of Korea and the Financial Supervisory Service also participating, the ministry said.

South Korean households carry debt amounting to some 160 per cent of annual disposable income on average, one of the highest among major economies.