W. 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:

In the Flow – Focus Fields

By Ben Hunt | February 11, 2019 | Comments Off on In the Flow – Focus Fields

Two distinct market narratives that came into sharper focus last week – Global Growth Slowdown! and Democratic Socialism!. The first was pushed by the usual market Missionaries – the WSJ and the FT and the talking heads on CNBC – and the latter was pushed by the usual political Missionaries – Trump and AOC and Bernie and the rest of the 2020 presidential crowd.

But only one of these narratives makes a long-term difference for your portfolio.

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But We Need the Eggs

By Ben Hunt | February 10, 2019 | 1 Comment

We’re all passengers in the backseat of the State-driven car, and we all suspect that our drivers might be high-functioning lunatics, and we’re all terrified about what they might do next.

But we need the eggs.

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Pricing Power (pt. 2) – Intellectual Property

By Ben Hunt | February 6, 2019 | 1 Comment

Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries … the pricing power found in intellectual property. It’s not as easy as it looks.

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In the Flow – Hey, Chester!

By Ben Hunt | February 4, 2019 | Comments Off on In the Flow – Hey, Chester!

For every historical narrative there is a counter-narrative, and every time history repeats itself, the main narrative gets weaker and the counter-narrative gets stronger.

That’s a problem for Jay Powell, as the counter-narrative of Central Banker Lapdog is getting stronger.

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Uttin’ On the Itz!

By Ben Hunt | January 30, 2019 | 6 Comments

Watching Jay Powell’s press conference today, it hit me – THIS HAS ALL HAPPENED BEFORE.

Back in September, 2013 to be precise, when Ben Bernanke told us that QE was not going to roll off as expected, that “data dependent” meant “market dependent”, and the Fed was a prisoner of the White House and Wall Street.

You are here. Again.

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In the Flow – One Narrative to Rule Them All

By Ben Hunt | January 28, 2019 | Comments Off on In the Flow – One Narrative to Rule Them All

Last Halloween the hipsters over at Salesforce.com turned their new San Francisco building into a giant Eye of Sauron. I keep waiting for someone to try this with the Federal Reserve’s Eccles Building, but that would be too on-the-nose.

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Pricing Power (Pt. 1)

By Ben Hunt | January 26, 2019 | 7 Comments

When an inflation regime shifts, the only question that really matters for your investments and your business model is this: do you have pricing power?

Pt. 1 of a three-fer Brief series … why the worst place to be in any services industry is on the product side.

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Mailbag!

By Ben Hunt | January 24, 2019 | 8 Comments

Time to resurrect an old Epsilon Theory feature and make it a regular thing. Because the ET pack has a voice that’s worth hearing.

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In the Flow – One Down, Two to Go

By Ben Hunt | January 21, 2019 | Comments Off on In the Flow – One Down, Two to Go

More than ever I can hear the approaching hoofbeats of the Fourth Horseman – a regime change in inflation expectations. The hooves are still distant, and you’ll have more bites at the portfolio-preparation apple as global growth concerns in China and Europe persist. But prepare you should.

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Modern Monetary Theory or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the National Debt

By Ben Hunt | January 17, 2019 | 20 Comments

Modern Monetary Theory is neither modern nor a theory. It’s a post hoc rationalization of politically expedient policy that makes us feel better about all the bad stuff we’ve done with money and debt in service to Team Elite.

And all the bad stuff we’re going to do in the future.

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