Secular

DEFINITION of 'Secular'

An adjective used to describe a long-term time frame, usually at least 10 years. It is important for investors to identify secular trends in markets, not just short-term trends, if they want to succeed. Examples of secular trends include an aging population (which will tend to have different spending and savings habits than a younger population), the expansion of a particular technology (such as the Internet) and heavy reliance on certain commodities (like oil).

BREAKING DOWN 'Secular'

In his book "Stocks for the Long Run," Jeremy Siegel (economics Ph.D. and finance professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania) argues that equity securities (particular U.S. equities) will likely outperform the other major asset classes on a secular basis, or over the long term. He backs his argument up with the fact that between 1871 and 2001, during any rolling 30-year period (a period long enough to be considered secular), stocks outperformed all other asset classes, in particular bonds and T-bills.

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