The prolonged slump in the American housing market pushed the construction of new homes in 2007 down by the largest amount in 27 years, with the expectation that the downturn has further to go. The Times

Official figures showed that construction was started on 1.353 million new homes last year, down by 24.8% from 2006. It was the second-biggest annual decline, exceeded only by a 26% plunge in 1980, a period when the Federal Reserve was pushing interest rates to post-Second World War records in an effort to combat an entrenched inflation problem.