During the middle part of the last decade many countries around the world were experiencing housing booms. New housing building permits were at exceptional levels. As the world entered into the first global recession in over 60 years in 2008 new housing activity shrank. In some developed countries the contraction was sharp but recovery in the number of permits rebounded in the coming years. In other nations new housing has yet to recover.
Using the boom year of 2005 as a point of comparison to today (indexing 2005 to 100), there were only 40% as many housing permits issued in the third quarter of the last year in the United States as compared to 2005.
Two of the other selected countries below stand out for different reasons. There are more new housing building permits being issued in Canada today then there were in 2005. In Spain and Portugal there are far, far fewer new housing building permits being issued today than there were in 2005. In fact, in Spain the number of permits issued in 2012 was but a fraction of the number issued in 2005.
In Germany and France new housing building permits are being issued at the same rate as they were in 2005.
To be fair the degree of new housing building permits being issued in the lead up to 2005 varied across these countries. For example in Spain in Q1 2000 the index level was 77, reached a peak of 153 in the middle of 2006 and today sits at 6. Portugal however new permits issued for dwelling has been declining since 2000. The second chart still indexes 2005 to 100, but goes back to 2000.
Data Sources: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and U.S. Department of Commerce: Census Bureau