The Zeitgeist

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Epsilon Theory runs the world's financial news through natural language processing-based cluster analysis to identify the most on-Narrative stories. We scan for those with the most similarity to all other stories as well as those with the most interconnectivity to multiple different key topics.

Citizen Trump / Citizen Xi

By Ben Hunt | May 30, 2019 | 2 Comments

This isn’t a US thing. This isn’t a China thing. This isn’t a Trump thing. This isn’t a Xi thing.

This is a social animal thing.

The words are not lies. The words are not wrong. The conflict may be just.

But you are being played nonetheless.

B3 Debt is the New Black

By Ben Hunt | May 30, 2019 | 1 Comment

I’m not sure that people who aren’t immersed in this world realize how crappy B3 debt is. Or how much of it is getting pushed into the market.

THIS is financialization.

Red Dawn

By Ben Hunt | May 30, 2019 | 2 Comments

How will you know that the US-China trade narrative is shifting towards a protracted game of Chicken?

When the narrative becomes dominated by national security language and clusters.

Rusty and I have been all over this for a year. More to the point, we have been right. If you want to know what’s happening with the Trade & Tariff narrative structure, you should subscribe to ET Professional. This is what we DO.


By Ben Hunt | May 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

The word “spree” is so evocative in narrative-world, implying at a minimum some sort of wantonness and excess, some sort of moral bankruptcy.

How threadbare and slow-growing is the financial services world today? It’s a “hiring spree” just to open up a New York office. With 30 people. By 2022.

Amazon, Facebook and the Modern Trust [the ET Zeitgeist]

By Ben Hunt | May 28, 2019 | 3 Comments

Facebook is a master at implementing price increases under the narrative of “optimization”, as if the company was doing you a favor by raising their ad prices so much. Now Amazon is reading from the same playbook in their advertising business.

Time to break up the trusts. Again.

Never Run the Same Gag Twice [The ET Zeitgeist]

By Ben Hunt | May 28, 2019 | 1 Comment

It’s the best line in a movie full of great lines: You don’t run the same gag twice. You run the next gag.

Elon Musk is running the next gag.

The Holiday Zeitgeist – 5.26.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 26, 2019 | 3 Comments

It’s the Holiday Weekend Zeitgeist! In which we see an election season narrative make its way into other topics, hear the FDA’s plans to deal with expiring salt, hear from local man about local bear, hear from local man about local swimming hole, begin to doubt our judgment about the political import of impeachment proceedings, and read some perverse New York Times fanfic.

Going Gray

By Ben Hunt | May 23, 2019 | 2 Comments

Huawei Founder Says U.S. Won’t Disrupt Business As Analysts Warn Of Sales Slowdown [Forbes]

Narrator: The cause-and-effect was, in fact, that simple

By Ben Hunt | May 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

The Fed Is Likely to Make an ‘Insurance’ Rate Cut [Bloomberg]

The Zeitgeist – 5.22.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 22, 2019 | 5 Comments

Retirement plan menus are ground zero for what is delightfully referred to as “choice architecture” … steering and Nudging you into making the “right” choice.

Ad men understand choice architecture. So do mob bosses. It’s all about creating a Hobson’s Choice … a choice that’s no choice at all.

It’s not a Wheel. It’s a Carousel.

The Zeitgeist – 5.21.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 21, 2019 | 2 Comments

“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.

The Zeitgeist – 5.20.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 20, 2019 | 1 Comment

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. 

The Weekend Zeitgeist – 5.18.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 18, 2019 | 3 Comments

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?

The Zeitgeist – 5.17.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 17, 2019 | 1 Comment

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.

The Zeitgeist – 5.16.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 16, 2019 | 5 Comments

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.

The Zeitgeist – 5.15.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 15, 2019 | 4 Comments

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.

The Zeitgeist – 5.14.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 14, 2019 | 8 Comments

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.

The Zeitgeist – 5.13.2019

By Ben Hunt | May 13, 2019 | 2 Comments

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.

The Weekend Zeitgeist – 5.11.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 11, 2019 | 1 Comment

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.

The Zeitgeist – 5.10.2019

By Rusty Guinn | May 10, 2019 | 3 Comments

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.