Ben Hunt

Co-Founder and CIO

 @EpsilonTheory

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:

Never Forget

By Ben Hunt | June 4, 2020 | 4 Comments

Since June 4th 1989, the Chinese government has tried to erase any record of the Tiananmen Square massacre from history.

Can a Tiananmen Square massacre happen in the United States? I doubt it.

Can a Tiananmen Square rewriting of history happen in the United States? Absolutely. It already is.

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Self Assured Destruction

By Ben Hunt | May 30, 2020 | 30 Comments

Our leaders have botched the Covid-19 war, and we are defenseless against a now endemic disease.

15,000 to 20,000 Americans officially sick. 500 to 1,000 Americans officially dead.

Every day.

The free world does not easily survive a globally endemic Covid-19.

Read more

The PPP Narrative for Asset Managers

By Ben Hunt | May 28, 2020 | Comments Off on The PPP Narrative for Asset Managers

A narrative backlash is developing against RIAs and other asset managers that took PPP money.

Fair or not, this narrative is pure red meat for anti-Wall Street sentiment, particularly in an election season and particularly as the stock market goes up even as the real economy suffers.

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The Hertz Story Isn’t What You Think

By Ben Hunt | May 27, 2020 | 5 Comments

The Hertz bankruptcy is not a story of financialization by an entrenched, self-dealing management team.

It’s a story of financialization by an entrenched, self-dealing minority ownership.

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Children of Men

By Ben Hunt | May 21, 2020 | 2 Comments

Can a free world survive an endemic COVID-19, where there’s no vaccine but a chronic global affliction?

I used to think yes. Now I think no.

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A Truth That’s Told With Bad Intent

By Ben Hunt | May 14, 2020 | 37 Comments

A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
– William Blake

Our narratives of COVID-19 are all lies.

They are lies of a particular sort, political narratives that have a nugget of truth within them, but are told with bad intent. They are told this way because it works. Because the nugget of truth hides a deeper, unpleasant truth. And a Big Lie.

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About CDS … But Were Afraid to Ask

By Ben Hunt | May 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

I know it’s forbidden to say this, but I like Woody Allen movies. If you’ve never seen “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* … But Were Afraid to Ask”, it’s worth your time just for the Gene Wilder scenes. And yes, credit default swaps are the sheep in this story.

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American Idol

By Ben Hunt | May 6, 2020 | 9 Comments

Take away a great performer’s live audience, and you take away their source of narrative power.

That’s true for American Idol. That’s true for Warren Buffett.

It’s also true for Donald Trump.

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The Pent-Up Demand Narrative

By Ben Hunt | May 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

The dominant COVID-19 narrative today is a “short and deep” economic impact, with a corollary narrative of “pent-up demand”. These are market-positive narratives.

Here’s how we think those narratives could reverse, and here’s what investors should watch for to see if that reversal happens.

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The Bear Stearns Bounce

By Ben Hunt | April 23, 2020 | 2 Comments

In 2008, the market came roaring back after Bear Stearns was sold for parts to Jamie Dimon. Why? Because narrative. Because with Bear’s elimination, “systemic risk was off the table.”

That’s the question you need to ask yourself today. Is systemic risk off the table?

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