Closing Bell: When America sneezes … but US is healthier than you might think

Let's get this straight. As you have no doubt been given dozens of reasons why the world economy is going down the pan, I am going to redress the balance a bit.

Forgive me if this has a United States bias but the simple fact is that, no matter what others tell you, what happens in that country affects all of us, including the Chinese. If US consumers throw in the towel the Chinese economic miracle is well and truly scuppered.

Let's begin with some of the good news that the pessimists don't want you to know. Remember the much-publicised and much criticised Troubled Asset Relief Programme (Tarp) in the US? That's when the US government bailed out banks and other sectors including motor manufacturers. The figure bandied about was $700 billion of loans, which we were told was a waste of taxpayers' money, because they'd have to wait 15 years to be repaid.

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You may be surprised to learn that all but $50bn of the relief doled out by Tarp has already been repaid. And it's reckoned that the rest will be repaid by the end of this month, thanks to fresh share offerings from General Motors and AIG Asia.

Here's more good news. US unemployment is not 10 per cent, it's 5 per cent. Why? Because economists have previously agreed that 5 per cent is the proportion of people out of work even during full employment in the US, covering those who can't or won't work at any time.

Talking of unemployment, the Kauffman Foundation has analysed US employment statistics for the past 33 years. Its numbers prove that business start-ups aren't just an important contributor to job growth - they are the only contributor. Without new businesses there would be no net job growth in the US since 1977. Large companies are net job destroyers, whereas new businesses in their first year add, in total, an average of three million jobs.

It's also worth remembering there was 10 per cent unemployment in the US in 1982, when the base rate was 20 per cent and inflation 15.5 per cent.

Today the base rate is 0.25 per cent and inflation only 1.1 per cent. Take these record low borrowing costs, add the impact of phenomenal technological advances over the past 28 years, and there probably hasn't been a better or cheaper time for folks to start new businesses, there or here.

History also tells us that the kicking the Democrats got in the US mid-term elections this week is good for more balanced economic and government decisions from now on. All this is good for stock markets, and what works in the US is good for the rest of us.

If you're still not convinced that equities are a great buy right now, perhaps a study of stock market seasonal patterns may convince you. Stock market historians such as Robert Prechter, Ned Davis Research and Yale Hirsch of The Stock Trader's Almanac have since the mid-1960s tracked seasonal and multi-year cycles of stock market movement.

It has long been said that the autumn and winter months are more positive for stock markets than the summer months, and it's not just a northern hemisphere phenomenon. Many of you will have heard the "sell in may and go away" mantra. Well, it certainly has worked over the past 100 years.

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In the US a study of stock market movements for the 50 years from 1950 shows that those investors who only invested in the US stock market between 1 November and the following 30 April each year outperformed those investors who invested only between 30 April and 1 November in the same year, over the entire period, by 24 times!

So there you have it. What are we waiting for?

• Alan Steel is chairman of Alan Steel Asset Management