South Korea's ratio of corporate debt to GDP high: report

South Korea has a high ratio of corporate debt to gross domestic product, a parliamentary report showed Monday, raising concern it could erode the nation’s growth potential down the road.
According to the report submitted to Rep. Oh Jae-sae and based on data collected from the McKinsey Global Institute, the size of South Korea’s corporate debt reached 105 percent of the nation’s GDP in the second quarter of 2014.

It was the seventh-highest ratio among 15 key member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Ireland ranked No. 1 with 189 percent, followed by Sweden and Belgium with 165 percent and 136 percent, respectively. The figure for Japan stood at 101 percent.

The report also said that among the 19 OECD states that filed related data, South Korea’s overall national debt to GDP rose 45 percentage points compared with 2007 when the global financial crisis struck. Of the increase, 19 percentage points were tied to corporate debt.

Including debt related to employee pensions and severance payments, South Korea’s corporate debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 151 percent as of 2012, placing it ninth among the 26 countries that provided information that year.

“The rise in corporate debt comes as both the government and public sector are falling deeper into debt that can adversely impact future growth,” the opposition lawmaker said.

According to data by the Bank of Korea, corporate liabilities totaled 1,493 trillion won ($1,378.2 billion) as of last year, up 18.1 percent from 2011.

Debts of private companies stood at 1,214 trillion won, or 81.3 percent of the total, with the remainder owed by public corporations, the data showed. (Yonhap)




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