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:

What Are We Even Doing?

By Ben Hunt | June 9, 2023 | 0 Comments

Over the past 14 years, Quality, Value and Skill have been useless in professional asset management.

They used to work. They don’t work any longer. But we all act as if they work.

What are we even doing?

The United States of Bed Bath & Beyond

By Ben Hunt | May 16, 2023 | 80 Comments

A grown man made a wager. He lost. He made another wager. He lost again. End of story.
– Tony Soprano

This is the story of weak men and rapacious men.
This is the story of Bed Bath & Beyond.
This is the story of America today.

A Man’s Got To Know His Limitations

By Ben Hunt | May 9, 2023 | 0 Comments

I feel like Clint Eastwood has said the line “a man’s got to know his limitations” or something similar in every movie he’s ever appeared in, and we’ve got to know the limitations of our Narrative Monitors, too.

The Exponential Boom

By Ben Hunt | April 27, 2023 | 0 Comments

It’s an interesting period of time in the world of professional investing right now, where everyone is going through the old motions and observing the proper forms and using the words and language we’ve been using for decades, but somehow their hearts aren’t really into it.

New Notes, New Signals, Same Markets

By Ben Hunt | April 12, 2023 | 0 Comments

This week we’ve got a new big note on AI, a new set of Narrative Monitors with several new signals triggered, and two new articles from the past week that bear directly on recent Pro notes. All that and I think markets are largely unchanged from their grind upwards post-banking ‘crisis’ and post-inflation/unemployment ‘events’!

An AI in the City of God

By Ben Hunt | April 11, 2023 | 198 Comments

The City of Man always wins.

The Visigoths always sack Rome. The Vandals always sack Hippo. Augustine always dies in the siege. Bad things always happen to good people … at scale.

Here’s how we use generative AI to flip the script.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

By Ben Hunt | March 28, 2023 | 0 Comments

Assuming that Treasury and the Fed have stopped the immediate, fast-motion bank run at First Republic and created a reasonable firewall (and I think they probably have), what’s the impact of this credit freeze on the overall economy? Is this a polar vortex credit freeze that throws us into a nasty recession, or just a mild cold snap?

Dark Forest: The Brutal Game of Modern Banking

By Ben Hunt | March 17, 2023 | 89 Comments

I think that the Big Banks’ collective deposit of $30 billion in uninsured accounts with First Republic is the first step in solving the Dark Forest problem of the American banking system.

The Phone Call Is Coming From Inside The House

By Ben Hunt | March 15, 2023 | 0 Comments

Last week I wrote that my spidey-sense was not tingling when it came to systemic risk for the banking system, that I just didn’t see the pervasive rot that would create a real worry about the stability of the *system*.

Today my spidey-sense is tingling like crazy.

Book Value

By Ben Hunt | March 10, 2023 | 0 Comments

Over the past week we’ve had one bank fail (Silvergate) and another forced to raise new equity and start protesting-too-much about how there’s no slow-motion run on the bank (Silicon Valley Bank). The question, of course, is whether these two banks are canaries in the coal mine.

Has systemic risk returned to the banking system?