Ben Hunt

Ben Hunt

Co-Founder and CIO


Ben Hunt is the creator of Epsilon Theory and inspiration behind Second Foundation Partners, which he co-founded with Rusty Guinn in June 2018.

Epsilon Theory, Second Foundation’s principal publishing brand, is a newsletter and website that examines markets through the lenses of game theory and history. Over 100,000 professional investors and allocators across 180 countries read Epsilon Theory for its fresh perspective and novel insights into market dynamics. As Chief Investment Officer, Ben bears primary responsibility for determining the Company’s investment views and positioning of model portfolios. He is also the primary author of materials distributed through Epsilon Theory.

Ben taught political science for 10 years: at New York University from 1991 until 1997 and (with tenure) at Southern Methodist University from 1997 until 2000. He also wrote two academic books: Getting to War (Univ. of Michigan Press, 1997) and Policy and Party Competition (Routledge, 1992), which he co-authored with Michael Laver. Ben is the founder of two technology companies and the co-founder of SmartEquip, Inc., a software company for the construction equipment industry that provides intelligent schematics and parts diagrams to facilitate e-commerce in spare parts.

He began his investment career in 2003, first in venture capital and subsequently on two long/short equity hedge funds. He worked at Iridian Asset Management from 2006 until 2011 and TIG Advisors from 2012 until 2013. He joined Rusty at Salient in 2013, where he combined his background as a portfolio manager, risk manager, and entrepreneur with academic experience in game theory and econometrics to work with Salient’s own portfolio managers and its financial advisor clients to improve client outcomes.

Ben is a graduate of Vanderbilt University (1986) and earned his Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University in 1991. He lives in the wilds of Redding, CT on Little River Farm, where he personifies the dilettante farmer that has been a stock comedic character since Cicero's day. Luckily his wife, Jennifer, and four daughters, Harper, Hannah, Haven and Halle, are always there to save the day. Ben's hobbies include comic books, Alabama football, beekeeping, and humoring Rusty in trivia "competitions".

Articles by Ben:

Covid is China’s Vietnam War

By Ben Hunt | December 22, 2022 | 23 Comments

Covid is China’s Vietnam War, and the current outbreak is their Tet Offensive.

This is how common knowledge changes, as now everyone knows that everyone knows that the CCP is not just a liar, but an incompetent, failed liar.

This Is the Business We Have Chosen

By Ben Hunt | December 21, 2022 | 0 Comments

If you are responsible for Other People’s Money, you sever ties with your undercapitalized, overlevered broker before there’s a run on the bank. You get out when you suspect, not when you know for sure. And if your friends are unhappy about that … well, tough.

This is the business we have chosen.

Webinar: It’s Not Just SBF – How to Recognize and Avoid Wall Street Cons

By Ben Hunt | December 14, 2022 | 30 Comments

A webinar on recognizing and navigating the confidence games, big and small, of our investing world, and coming out the other side with our integrity and assets intact.

Sam Bankman-Fried and the FTX/Alameda Fraud (ET Pro edition)

By Ben Hunt | December 12, 2022 | 0 Comments

I believe quite strongly that Bankman-Fried should be questioned a) by professionals, b) under oath, and c) in a venue that allows for evidence to be presented, other witnesses to be called, and his testimony to be impeached.

Here’s the script for that!

The MacGuffin, Part 2: The Story Arc of SBF and FTX

By Ben Hunt | November 18, 2022 | 51 Comments

The MacGuffin is the object of desire.

It is the thing around which the plot of the story revolves.

Here is the story arc of SBF and FTX, and the MacGuffin that anchored it all – the Magical Money Machine.

Stock Buybacks!™ and the Monetization of Stock-Based Compensation

By Ben Hunt | November 9, 2022 | 30 Comments

I love stock buybacks, but I despise Stock Buybacks!™ – the issuance of new shares to management with one hand and the buying back of those shares with the other.

Over the past decade, Stock Buybacks!™ have transferred more than a trillion dollars from shareholders to managers. Not founders, not entrepreneurs, not risk-takers … managers.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By Ben Hunt | November 7, 2022 | 0 Comments

A big change in our narrative monitors this month!

Also, some shocking (to me, anyway) data on how good some companies are with their stock buybacks, and how ugly and bad other companies are with theirs.

I think it’s going to be a long winter in tech-world.

Mortgage Markets and History’s Rhymes

By Ben Hunt | October 21, 2022 | 0 Comments

In Q4 2007 – in the aftermath of the Bear Stearns MBS funds going out (June), the blow-up across most quant funds (August), and both autos and housing rolling over in the US – I got net short in my hedge fund and started looking for single stocks with business models that were levered to borrowing short and lending long in the structured mortgage product world.

Today I’m getting the same funny feeling about the structured mortgage product world.

UK Pensions Webinar Recording

By Ben Hunt | October 18, 2022 | 0 Comments

This is the recording of our webinar on UK Pensions that took place on October 14th, 2022. If you want to continue the conversation, check out the ET Forum.

Statistics and Narrative Creation (Shelter Inflation ed.)

By Ben Hunt | October 18, 2022 | 0 Comments

Everywhere you look today, you are seeing Wall Street and Washington missionaries using annualized month-over-month or quarter-over-quarter inflation statistics to “prove” their opinions that inflation is not embedded and – more importantly – their opinions that the Fed should stop hiking interest rates.

It’s a terribly flawed cartoon of reality, but a very powerful narrative weapon.