Notes from the Field
From the wilds of Little River Farm in Redding, Connecticut - home of Ben Hunt - the Notes from the Field series explores how fields full of dogs, chickens, sheep, birds and ticks can tell us more about life, investing and politics than most white papers, newspapers or research reports.
What does farming have to do with investing? Quite a lot, actually. In this first of a series that takes on a life of its own, Ben discusses bees and bonds, eggs and ETFs, and more.
Part 2 of Ben’s Notes from the Field series, in which he considers the question: what can a bird teach us about value investing? To everything there is a season.
There is no animal more important to the ascendancy of Western Civilization than the horse, and no invention more important than the horse collar. After all nothing shapes history like advances in productivity. Part 3 of Ben’s Notes from the Field series here.
In Part 4 of the Notes from the Field Series, Ben identifies how the natural lines of a tree and shaping the tree to follow those lines over time is a lot like shaping a portfolio.
There’s a pose that very sick farm animals sometimes take when they’re near death, where they lie down and twist their head way back into their shoulder in a very unnatural way. It’s an odd sight if you don’t know what it signifies, a horrible sight if you do.
Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are starting to twist their heads back into their shoulders. I don’t know if it’s too late to save them or not, but I’m increasingly thinking that it is. We need to start thinking about the funeral, who’s going to speak, and what they’re going to say.
In Part 6 of the Notes from the Field Series, Ben observes that we think we are wolves, living by the logic of the pack. In truth we are sheep, living by the logic of the flock.
Part 7 of Ben’s Notes from the Field series reminds us that you don’t break a wild horse by crushing its spirit. You nudge it into willingly surrendering its autonomy. Because once you’re trained to welcome the saddle, you’re going to take the bit. We are Clever Hans, dutifully hanging on every word or signal from the Nudging Fed and the Nudging Street as we stomp out our investment behavior.
The pecking order is a social system designed to preserve economic inequality: inequality of food for chickens, inequality of wealth for humans. We are trained and told by Team Elite that the pecking order is not a real and brutal thing in the human species, but this is a lie. It is an intentional lie, formed by two powerful Narratives: trickle-down monetary policy and massive student debt financing. Part 8 of the Notes from the Field series.
What if I told you that the dominant strategies for human investing are, without exception, algorithms and derivatives? I don’t mean computer-driven investing, I mean good old-fashioned human investing … stock-picking and the like. And what if I told you that these algorithms and derivatives might all be broken today? You might want to sit down for Part 9 of the Notes from the Field series.
The inevitable result of financial innovation gone awry, which it ALWAYS does, is that it ALWAYS ends up empowering the State. When too clever by half people misplay the meta-game, that’s all the excuse the State needs to come swooping in and crush them, just as they are with Bitcoin today they did with Bear and Lehman in 2008. Installment #10 from Notes from the Field.
This is Part 11 of Ben’s Notes from the Field series. I don’t need to calculate a Sortino ratio to know if my dogs are doing a Good Job. Same with active investment management. Same with active citizenship. It’s all about embracing Convexity, not as a mathematical cartoon, but as a philosophy.
We live in a Cartoon Age, an era not of alienation per Karl Marx, but of alienation per Groucho Marx. What’s the cause, what’s the future, and what do we do about all this? It’s a TL;DR cri de coeur in Part 12 of Epsilon Theory’s Notes from the Field series.
Part 13 of the Notes from the Field series discusses the Narrative Machine, which can help us see the invisible memes that drive our political behaviors. Because you’re smart enough to make up your own damn mind.
We are the human animal.
We are non-linear.
We ARE a song of ice and fire.
It’s a song that has built cathedrals and fed billions and taken us to the moon. It’s a song that can do all of that and more … far, far more … if only we remember the tune.
The Pack remembers.
In an orchard, it isn’t always easy to tell the difference between rust and blight. The same goes for our cultural institutions.
Some should be pruned.
Some should be ripped up root and stem.
It’s not always easy to know which. But if we want our sons and daughters to sit in the shade of our trees, we must learn.