The release of some pretty nasty survey results on the commercial property market from the surveyors body RICS is far from the sort of fare one would have served up just before heading off on holiday, but there it is. Bleak, with spiky curves heading in just the directions you don't want them to be.

I seem to be reading the phrase "declined at the fastest pace in the survey's history" a lot at the moment. The good news here is that this survey only goes back to 1998.

The key stats for the construction industry is the new development starts and completion figures. These are patchy around the country, with some beacons of light, but across the piece it is bad news for offices, industrial and retail.

There seems little comfort for construction firms in the much rehearsed argument that says smart developers plan to build on the downswing (or dare I say recession), given that projects take many years to come to fruition.

The argument suggests that when the economy weakens they buy land and construction more cheaply and are best place to take advantage of a shortage of top quality space when the cycle swings up again.

That's the theory and yes it makes great sense and I'm sure there are some very rich people who have made money doing just that.

But to do it you need good timing and you need money. Well, we can all choose a time to act, but we can't all choose the time when someone will lend us the cash to act. Therein lies one problem with the theory. The other is simpler, who has the stomach to build when you don't see the end to the downswing? The answer is few.

That's why what really happens is that the construction of developments tends to follow the cycle, but generally a year or two behind optimum timing. So the idea that construction of large office and retail schemes will be countercyclical falls a bit flat.

There is of course a bonus in this for construction. When the cycle starts to turn down, as it is, there is plenty of work still in the pipeline.