Household debt in Asia is growing quickly, spurring concerns that consumers may struggle to pay their bills as interest rates show signs of heading higher.
"In the last several years, consumer debt has surged across the region, financing not only purchases of new, flashy condos, but also of cars, motorcycles, and everything else the heart desires," Frederic Neumann, an economist at HSBC, said in a note Friday.
Singapore and Thailand have seen credit growth exceeding that of the U.S. during its boom, while Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and Korea have seen a bigger increase than in the U.K. during the 2001-2007 runup to the financial crisis, he said, noting academic studies suggest the pace of increase matters more in generating financial risks than the absolute level.
In what may be a sign that Singapore's credit surge is weighing on consumers, pawnshops are on the rise in the city-state.
Pledges at Singapore's pawnshops rose to 4 million in 2012 from 2.7 million in 2007, while loans surged around 344 percent over the same period to 7.1 billion Singapore dollars in 2012, according to a report last month from OSK-DMG.