In 2006, there were 2.2 million US housing starts. These were worth $35bn of chemical sales.
Currently, and even with the support of an $8k tax credit, they are running at an annual rate of just 600k, worth $10bn. This is the lowest level since records began in 1960. Even in 1975, 1981 and 1981, starts only fell to 800k.
Now the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, Donald Kohn, has forecast that we will only see "a relatively subdued pickup in housing starts over the coming year". He suggests that inventory of new homes "remains elevated", and expects the pace of foreclosures to "remain very elevated for a while".