Featured Notes

The ET Election Index – April 2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

Today we introduce the Epsilon Theory Election Index, a service intended to help you spot when you are being told how to think about the upcoming election, and to help you make up your own damn mind about it.

In this edition we introduce the key terms of our analysis and show you how the early days of the Democratic primary season are playing out.

In short? Whatever polls are saying, the narrative from the media appears to be that progressive is in, and Biden ain’t it.

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Wage Growth, Groucho Marx Edition

By Ben Hunt | May 7, 2019 | 3

Wage stagnation in 2016 was actually much worse than you were told. Did this make a difference in the Midwestern states that swung the election, in that actual labor conditions were worse than everyone thought they were? I think yes.

Wage growth in 2018 was actually much better than you were told. Did this make a difference in the current Fed/Wall Street/White House narrative that inflation is dead and the easy money punchbowl can be maintained without consequence? I think yes.

For a few days, we’re making this ET Professional note available to everyone to review. We think the ET Pro service is something that every portfolio allocation, wealth management and active investment team can find useful, particularly for risk management.

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Starry Eyes and Starry Skies

By Rusty Guinn | April 29, 2019 | 8

The student loan crisis is a Big Deal. And it is only a part of a Bigger Deal: the Myth of College.

This issue will be front-and-center in the upcoming elections. We will all be handed our very own ‘Yay, College’ signs to raise high. More often than not, we will be asked to raise them in service of market-distorting policies which will make our problems worse.

You don’t hate education, innovation, progress, equality and merit-based reward systems…do you?

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This is Water

By Ben Hunt | April 17, 2019 | 16

Time to add a fourth shift in the Zeitgeist: capitalist productivity, now 200+ years old, is becoming capitalist financialization.

Wall Street gets something to sell, management gets stock-based comp, the Fed gets a (very) grateful Wall Street, and the White House gets re-election.

What do YOU get out of financialization? You get to hold up a card that says “Yay, capitalism!”.

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Most Recent Notes

The Zeitgeist – 5.21.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 21, 2019 | 1 Comment
Posted:

“According to the Aspen Institute, close to 6 in 10 working-age Americans do not have a retirement account. Sadly, the Aspen Institute also warns that things are likely to get worse due to the changing nature of work.”

The American worker is the proverbial boiled frog. Or Milton from Office Space. Same thing.

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The Zeitgeist – 5.20.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 20, 2019 | 1 Comment
Posted:

The best part of Robert Smith’s pledge to repay student loans? The pressure this puts on other billionaires when they get an invite from alma mater.

Then again, most billionaires are high-functioning sociopaths, so they truly believe that their words and moving speeches are reward enough for graduates. 

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A Clear Eyes / Full Hearts Story

By Rusty Guinn | May 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
Posted:

I like to think that we do a good job responding to our readers’ questions. If we have a weak spot, however, I know where it is. It is the unerring target of the question we receive most often: “What books would you recommend?” It is a completely fair question to ask. Our work references …

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The Weekend Zeitgeist – 5.18.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 18, 2019 | 3 Comments
Posted:

It’s the Weekend Zeitgeist! In which anti-Semitism raises its ugly head (again), the iconoclasm debate joins the fray (again), we stress about the gig economy, observe a campaign that doesn’t fit the narrative, explain away funeral cost increases and finally – finally! – hear the true story of…sky penis?

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The Life Aquatic

By Demonetized | May 17, 2019 | 1 Comment
Posted:

New from ET contributor Demonetized … how do you handle a counterparty that has engineered a Heads I Win, Tails You Lose investment?

You must be able to hurt your counterparty for realz. No matter what the docs say.

Or in the immortal words of Steve Zissou, “What about my dynamite?”

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The Zeitgeist – 5.17.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 17, 2019 | 1 Comment
Posted:

That’s a live shot of me today, reading an important and useful paper by a Fed economist. Seriously.

Also, a Mr. Wonderful bot, and Bill de Blasio winning those Midwestern hearts and minds one camo-wearing diner patron at a time.

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The Zeitgeist – 5.16.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 16, 2019 | 5 Comments
Posted:

It’s the Thursday Zeitgeist, from sporadic United Wi-fi, high in the air above all of you. Today is about bank cartoons, the warm afterglow of an industry conference that ‘really shook things up’, the drumbeats of value, a reminder to ask ‘why am I reading this NOW’ and some trade war trading advice we can (mostly) get behind.

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The Zeitgeist – 5.15.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 15, 2019 | 4 Comments
Posted:

Preparing today’s Zeitgeist, I couldn’t stop staring at this picture of Larry Kudlow.

There’s a famous body of work on how serving as President ages you in office, and I’ve got some examples of that here in the note.

My strong sense of the Trump White House is that The Donald will look exactly the same when he leaves as when he entered. It’s the people working for him that age in dog years.

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The Zeitgeist – 5.14.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 14, 2019 | 8 Comments
Posted:

I’m old enough to remember the Asian financial crisis of 1997, and what happened to the Vietnams of the world the last time we had a shock currency devaluation.

I’m old enough to remember Q4 2015, and what happened to the Vietnams of the world the last time China started threatening a currency devaluation.

It was Barzini all along.

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ET Live! – 5.14.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 14, 2019 | Comments Off on ET Live! – 5.14.2019
Posted:

Ben and Rusty discuss games of chicken and multi-level games, and where we think the previously complacent trade and tariffs narrative has gone in early May.

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The Zeitgeist – 5.13.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 13, 2019 | 2 Comments
Posted:

Cheer up, farmers! Sure, you f’d up by trusting our current frat house leadership, but I’m sure that the crack team at USDA has a great plan in the works to buy up all your soybeans and corn and give it away to the poors.

Will that work?

Hey, it’s gotta work better than the truth.

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The Weekend Zeitgeist – 5.11.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 11, 2019 | 1 Comment
Posted:

It’s the Weekend Zeitgeist, where we leave the world of finance for a day, in which high costs of credit and criminal justice remain top-of-mind concerns, Bulgaria stems the tide of its brain-drain, Reuters publishes straight opinions as news, Stephen Moore goes on Glassdoor, and we all succumb to the collective solipsism of nostalgic reverie.

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The Zeitgeist – 5.10.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 10, 2019 | 3 Comments
Posted:

It’s the Friday Zeitgeist! In which we explore new ecological niches, dust off our not-so-dusty trade war battle plans, announce the latest winner of “Who’s Going to Blame Risk Parity First”, and talk fairness and Fair Isaac.

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What Country Friends Is This?

By Rusty Guinn | May 9, 2019 | 0 Comments
Posted:

Hyper-awareness of narrative, memes and cartoons can become paralyzing. Once we see them, we see them everywhere. But much of that paralysis comes because the demands of Clear Eyes are less than the demands of Full Hearts. And it’s the latter – identity – that truly matters.

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The Zeitgeist – 5.9.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 9, 2019 | 3 Comments
Posted:

Process stories (what’s happening behind the scenes at the campaign / the White House / the locker room / the negotiations) are the original Fiat News. They are designed to make you angry and further the aims of whoever sourced the “news”.

Who benefits from making you angry at China and their “reneging” on a deal that never existed in the first place?

Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Or was it Eurasia? I don’t seem to remember so well these days.

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The Zeitgeist – 5.8.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 8, 2019 | 2 Comments
Posted:

It’s the Wednesday Zeitgeist, in which we get the updated odds on the China Trade War, the updated ways to play the odds on the China Trade War, two quasi-sovereign oil & gas operators’ investments in blockchain-as-a-service, financialization again, and a reminder that what is dead may never die.

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The Zeitgeist – 5.7.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 7, 2019 | 0 Comments
Posted:

Ever wonder why you don’t ever get hit with a year-end taxable gain from ETFs like you do with mutual funds? They use a legal (for now) pseudo-wash trade with in-kind redemptions.

Now Vanguard is doing the same thing with their mutual funds. And get this … they’ve filed a patent on this.

So amazing that I’m not even mad.

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Wage Growth, Groucho Marx Edition

By Ben Hunt | May 7, 2019 | 3 Comments
Posted:

Wage stagnation in 2016 was actually much worse than you were told. Did this make a difference in the Midwestern states that swung the election, in that actual labor conditions were worse than everyone thought they were? I think yes.

Wage growth in 2018 was actually much better than you were told. Did this make a difference in the current Fed/Wall Street/White House narrative that inflation is dead and the easy money punchbowl can be maintained without consequence? I think yes.

For a few days, we’re making this ET Professional note available to everyone to review. We think the ET Pro service is something that every portfolio allocation, wealth management and active investment team can find useful, particularly for risk management.

Read more

Next ET Live! Event – Tuesday, May 14 @ 2PM ET

By Rusty Guinn | May 6, 2019 | Comments Off on Next ET Live! Event – Tuesday, May 14 @ 2PM ET
Posted:

Be sure to join us at 2PM ET for the next installment of Epsilon Theory Live!, our bi-weekly live, interactive video feature. It’s only open to Premium and Professional subscribers, so be sure to Join the Pack if you want to participate.

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The Zeitgeist – 5.6.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 6, 2019 | 1 Comment
Posted:

If you’re buying or selling the market because the China deal is on or because the China deal is off, you’re no different from everyone who had a ticket at the Derby. Good luck with that.

Also, what do Warren Buffett and Dune’s Leto Atreides have in common? They both get transformed into near-immortal creatures. I suppose a cartoon cut-out is more attractive than a sandworm.

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