You can hardly watch a financial news show without hearing the word “secular cycle” being mentioned, but what is its exact definition? Let me first give you the short version:
When the word “secular” is applied to stock market cycles, it denotes an extended period with something in common throughout. Secular bull markets are long periods that cumulatively deliver above-average returns. Secular bear markets are the opposite; they bring cumulative below-average returns.
Not only does the term secular refer to the cycles of returns, but also it refers to the underlying cycle of inflation that drives these periods. The term “secular” in one word complements “cycle” to define periods in the stock market, their causes, and their patterns.
For a more in depth discussion of secular cycles including charts, please see Doug Short’s article on “What “Secular Cycle” Means.