Many people are still warning that Hong Kong has over-built its office space and must take a long time working off the glut. If it is a glut, however, and that is debatable relative to the enormous oversupply in some Asian centres, the figures suggest it won't last for long. The first chart shows completions of commercial space and, juxtaposed to it, authorisations to begin work in thousand square metres per month. The authorisations have been shifted 18 months forward to adjust for the average length of the construction period. The two are for the most part very closely matched, as you might expect, and they say that, yes indeed, there has been a lot of commercial space completed recently. But just wait a few months and this will no longer be true. The authorisations have dropped like a shot duck and, judging by developers' schedules, they will stay dead for a while. Even this does not tell the full story, however. Demand for commercial space is related to economic activity and if you want the real picture of how it compares now to what it was in the past then you have to set it against the size of the economy over the period you are looking at. Do it as the annual amount of floor space authorised for construction relative to gross domestic product in real terms and you get the second chart. We are pretty much crawling along the bottom in authorisations now on this measure and, if you think developers overdid things in 1997, look to what heights of silly expectations they took things in 1982. They were actually restrained during the last boom in comparison. Now look at a confirming indicator. Demand for commercial space is not only related to economic activity but to the number of people using that space on a regular basis. This is worth considering when the driving force of an economy has changed from manufacturing to services with its greater demand for offices. The official figures don't define commercial space users as well as they might, but, taking the employment categories that best approximate them, you get the third chart, which shows square metres of space authorised for construction relative to the number of people employed in office work. Once again, it is right near the historic bottoms now. It does no good to look at present vacancy rates in the office market as an indication of where rents, capital values and share prices will go. The lead times in this business are so long that you have to work with figures on future supply. We are not looking at a glut. We are looking at an impending shortage within one or two years and possibly a bad one too.