Either way, Korea’s debt level alarms officials here because it mirrors the pre-crisis levels of major economies bound for trouble. In 2007, for instance, U.S. household debt stood at roughly 140 percent of disposable income, according to the International Monetary Fund. (It’s now down to 120.) In Spain the pre-crisis ratio topped out at about 130 percent, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.
The Japanese debt-to-disposable income rate is around 120 percent, according to the IMF. In China, the number stood at 17 percent in 2010, according to Forbes, largely because few families take out mortgage loans.