US housing is still limping along the bottom. December’s housing starts were only 0.2% above 2008 levels. Overall, 2009 saw just 554k starts, the lowest level for 50 years, despite the support of the $8k tax credit.
During the Boom period, as the ACC’s chart above shows, starts (blue line) peaked at a 2.2 million rate. This was worth $35bn in terms of total chemical sales, with each house using $16k of products (in 2009 money). The current figures imply a market of c$9bn.
On the positive side, building permits (red line) rose 16% in December versus 2008. This is hopefully a leading indicator that some confidence is returning to the market. But a full recovery to the 2006 peak would require a 400% increase from today’s levels. The blog would not bet its own money on this happening any time soon.