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Thai Q1 household debt at 80% of GDP, highest in 4 years

BANGKOK, July 7 (Reuters) – Thailand’s household debt level to gross domestic product (GDP) rose slightly to 80.1% in the first quarter, the highest level in four years, central bank data showed, with the trend set to continue as the coronavirus outbreak squeezes the economy.

Southeast Asia’s second’s largest economy could shrink a record 8.1% this year, the central bank predicts.

As of March, household debt stood at 13.479 trillion baht ($431.47 billion), little changed from the 13.483 trillion baht at the end of last year, equal to 79.9% of GDP.

The debt to GDP ratio may jump to 88-90% at the end of this year, which would be the highest in the 18 years that the central bank has compiled records on household debt, according to Kasikornbank’s research centre.

A sharp economic contraction and banks’ debt relief measures, including lower loan repayments and debt moratoria, are likely to keep household debt levels high, it said.

Soft loans offered to households hit by the outbreak are also likely to push up debt levels, which are already among Asia’s highest. ($1 = 31.24 baht) (Reporting by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Martin Petty)

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