Epsilon Theory is Dr. Ben Hunt’s ongoing examination of the narrative machine driving human behavior, political policy and, ultimately, capital markets—an unconventional worldview best understood through the lenses of history, game theory and philosophy.
Short-form notes (longer than a Tweet, shorter than our usual tomes), responses to reader emails, and new voices. We’re committed to writing at least two posts every day.
Dr. Ben Hunt hosts the Epsilon Theory podcast with co-hosts and special guests from financial services, the financial media *gasp* and beyond. The Epsilon Theory podcast is the quickest way to get all of the unconventional perspective, historical context and narrative analysis you’ve come to expect from Epsilon Theory pumped directly into your head.
We’re growing our family of Epsilon Theory contributors to include a broad range of voices on an evolving range of subject matter. If you listen to the podcast, you’ll recognize some of the names as colleagues, partners and friends of Ben from Salient, any number of past lives, and the growing circle of outspoken truth-seekers in financial services and beyond.
Epsilon Theory author Dr. Ben Hunt is frequently quoted in print, radio and TV appearances.
Let’s talk. We actually read and respond to your emails. Questions, comments, theories, ideas—we’d love to hear from you.
The most frequent question I get is “what do you read?”, and I sense that people are really disappointed when I tell them comic books, short stories, and science fiction. Oh, I start plenty of “real” books, and I’ll breeze through them, slowing down in parts for something that seems immediately relevant. I’ve got two stacks of these books in my bedroom and four in my office. I’m sure that one day I’ll make my way through them, in exactly the same way I’m sure that I will reply to all of those emails that I’ve carefully tucked away in some folder. Yeah, right.
No, we live in a TL;DR world. I get it. I’m as much of a TL;DR guy as the next person. And it’s why I try to make the Epsilon Theory notes as engaging as they are (I hope) informative. Because if a tree falls in a forest and no one sees it, does it exist? Sure, we know them as white papers.
The average Mailchimp click-through rate for financial advisory emails is 2% (which seems high, tbh). Now think about how few of those pieces you actually read cursorily. Now think about how few of those pieces you actually read carefully. I counted up all the emailed reports and white papers and links and PDFs that I get blasted to me from various sources over the past six months. I estimate that I carefully read 1 in 10,000 of those pieces of “content”.
Everyone gets so worked up about how mining crypto wastes so much electricity.
I get worked up about how writing “content” wastes so much human life and productivity. Not the reading. The writing.
So that’s why I read comic books, short stories, and science fiction. Because it’s not “content”. Because it tells a story in a long-enough format to get a meaningful message across while being in a short-enough format to survive a TL;DR world.
There are only a finite number of stories, and humans have been writing the same stories for thousands of years … hundreds of years in languages that we can still read easily in their original form. We’re still writing the same finite number of stories, just not as well or as engagingly as they were written in the past. I’m pretty sure that the most useful educational experience I’ve ever had was reading every Classics comic book when I was a kid.
Recently I’ve been reminded of two great short stories from the 19th century. Only one of them is explicitly about investing, but both of them are ABOUT investing with a depth and an engagement and a wisdom that no white paper or sell-side “content” can match.
One of the short stories you’ve probably heard of.