Deputy Bureau Chief for Korea, Seoul, South Korea
Choonsik's Feed
Jul 16, 2015

Unable to curb household debt, S.Korea puts focus on loan quality

SEOUL, July 16 (Reuters) – South Korea’s government has
effectively abandoned its goal to cut one of the world’s highest
levels of household debt, and will instead try to curb riskier
types of loans as a weak economy forces it to focus on growth,
officials told Reuters.

But with the average household already spending more than
one-third of disposable income on repayments and the sector’s
debts reaching $1 trillion, the government risks creating a
bigger drag on economic growth once interest rates rise again.

Jul 9, 2015

Bank of Korea cuts growth prospects, holds rates for now

SEOUL, July 9 (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank cut the
country’s economic growth forecast but kept interest rates
steady at a record low on Thursday, signalling that consumption
and exports remained weak.

The central bank governor’s cautious remarks about the
recovery and downgrades for growth this year and next, appear to
leave the door open to more easing if needed, economists said.

Jul 9, 2015

South Korea keeps rates unchanged, seen cutting growth forecasts

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank kept interest rates steady at a record low of 1.50 percent on Thursday, in a widely expected decision after the central bank cut rates in June to pre-emptively combat an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

A Bank of Korea media official announced the monetary policy committee’s decision to keep the base rate KROCRT=ECI unchanged without elaborating. Governor Lee Ju-yeol is due to hold a news conference from 11:20 a.m. (0320 BST).

Jun 11, 2015

South Korea cuts rates as MERS clouds outlook; 14 new cases

SEOUL (Reuters) – An outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) forced South Korea to cut interest rates on Thursday in the hope of softening the blow to an economy already burdened by slack demand, as authorities reported 14 new cases.

Worry in South Korea about the disease has been reflected across the region with dozens of suspected cases being tested in Hong Kong, though none confirmed, and many thousands of people cancelling trips to South Korea.

Jun 11, 2015

South Korea cuts rates to record low as government steps up fight against MERS

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank cut its policy rate by 25 basis points to a record-low 1.50 percent on Thursday, as policymakers sought to shield a tottering economy from an outbreak of a deadly respiratory disease.

Nine people have died since the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was first reported in late May, fuelling public anxiety and hitting spending, with thousands in quarantine and hundreds of schools closed.

Jun 11, 2015

S.Korea cuts rates to record low as govt steps up fight against MERS

SEOUL, June 11 (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank cut
its policy rate by 25 basis points to a record-low 1.50 percent
on Thursday, as policymakers sought to shield a tottering
economy from an outbreak of a deadly respiratory disease.

Nine people have died since the outbreak of the Middle East
Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was first reported in late May,
fuelling public anxiety and hitting spending, with thousands in
quarantine and hundreds of schools closed.

Jun 5, 2015

South Korea MERS outbreak heightens pressure for rate cuts

SEOUL, June 5 (Reuters) – An outbreak of a deadly
respiratory disease in South Korea could hurt consumer spending
and tourism and is ramping up the pressure on the nation’s
central bank to cut interest rates as early as next week, a
central bank source said.

“I have a feeling that the outbreak increases the pressure
for a cut,” a Bank of Korea official told Reuters. The official
is not a voting member of the policy committee that will meet on
June 11.

Jun 1, 2015

South Korea May exports worst in 6 yrs, back rate cut view

SEOUL, June 1 (Reuters) – South Korean exports in May
suffered their worst annual fall in nearly six years partly hurt
by a persistent slowdown in China, its biggest export market,
heightening pressure on policy makers to cut interest rates
again.

The gloomy shipments data join poor results from a
private-sector survey on the manufacturing sector, which
analysts say don’t square with the central bank’s forecast for a
pick-up in economic growth in the current quarter.

May 28, 2015

South Korea’s problem: hard on the outside but soft on the inside

SEOUL, May 29 (Reuters) – Even as higher U.S. interest rates
pull funds out of emerging markets, South Korea will probably be
spared from the upheavals caused by a massive capital flight in
2008, because it now has a smaller dependence on overseas funds.
The worry for the economy is more domestic – the country’s
mounting household debt.

Capital inflows – or net foreign investment in local stock
and bond markets plus mostly short-term overseas loans -
totalled $15.5 billion in the year ended March. That’s just
one-third of the $46.2 billion seen a year before the Lehman
Brothers collapse in September 2008 sparked the global financial
crisis. The reduced capital flows into South Korea since then
were due to a sharp drop in short-term overseas borrowings -
classified as “other investment” in the international financial
account – to $400 million from a whopping $31 billion.

May 28, 2015

Industrial hub Ulsan a warning for cooling South Korea

ULSAN, South Korea, May 29 (Reuters) – The port of Ulsan was
the cradle of South Korea’s breakneck industrialisation. Now,
the main production site for big manufacturers such as Hyundai
Motor and oil refiner SK Innovation
risks becoming the country’s rust belt.

In effect, Ulsan is a real-time warning signal for South
Korea, a nation that has the world’s fastest-ageing society and
an economy struggling to shake its dependence on manufacturing
and exports in favour of a model based on consumption and
services.