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:

That Time I Bought Blockbuster Debt

By Ben Hunt | June 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

Management is not lying to you. It’s probably a really good turn-around plan. It could probably work out fine … IF they are given enough time. But they won’t be. Particularly when it’s the second turn-around plan.

Secularly declining companies ALWAYS run out of time.

It was one of the most expensive lessons of my investing career. And worth every penny.

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Epsilon Theory Narrative Alpha (ETNA)

By Ben Hunt | June 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

US Sector Strategies Presentation Deck (downloadable PDF)

For ET Professional subscribers only.

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After All, We Are Not Communists

By Ben Hunt | June 18, 2019 | 4 Comments

It’s all been leading up to this.

We’re sharing the summary results of our core investment research project with the Narrative Machine.

If you’ve ever wondered, “Gosh, how DO you apply these cool narrative maps to an actual investment strategy?” … well, here’s your answer.

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The Most Valuable Commodity I Know

By Ben Hunt | June 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

What’s the most valuable commodity Gordon Gekko knows? Information.

How valuable is Wall Street research? How much information does Wall Street research have? LOL.

MIFID II is making the jump from Europe to the US. Time to polish those sell-side research resumes. As if you weren’t already.

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Big Tech Has Lost Control of Its Cartoon

By Ben Hunt | June 11, 2019 | 1 Comment

There are two narrative structures that have grown to a size and a level of cohesion that makes them impossible to be politically ignored.

One is the student loan “crisis”. The other is the Big Tech “monopoly”.

And yes, I’m putting those words in air-quotes, because the first isn’t really a crisis and the second isn’t really a monopoly. But since when did that matter in narrative-world?

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Vanguard Doesn’t Care About Your Trade War

By Ben Hunt | June 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

Vanguard just announced a joint venture with Ant Financial in Shanghai. They’re not waiting around for a trade “deal”, and they’re not clutching their pearls about Chinese IP “theft”.

No, Vanguard is going to do what they always do … they’re going to obliterate their competition with the pricing power that comes from government collaboration.

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Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been Pro-China?

By Ben Hunt | June 10, 2019 | 2 Comments

Bannon and the rest of the America First brigade (which includes a LOT of bedfellows you see all the time on CNBC, like Kyle Bass) are going full-McCarthy. They’re going to have a “list”. They’re going to accuse anyone and everyone of “treason”.

It’s part and parcel of the China narrative transformation that Rusty and I have been talking about for a month now: the US-China narrative is now a national security narrative, not an economic trade narrative, and you can’t walk that narrative back until after the 2020 election.

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Sucker.

By Ben Hunt | June 10, 2019 | 1 Comment

Certificate programs like “Impact Investing for the Next Generation”, a course offered by Harvard’s Kennedy School and the World Economic Forum (yes, the Davos guys), are a great way to fleece the suckers. And by suckers I mean rich Asians.

I know of which I speak. Because I used to do the fleecing.

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The Existential Narrative

By Ben Hunt | June 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

Any shift in the Trade narrative away from economic issues and toward national security issues is highly problematic for a market-friendly resolution in US-China negotiations. Why? Because the political stakes are much higher for both Trump and Xi in a national security game of Chicken than they are in an economic game of Chicken. It is much easier to be “the chicken” in an economic game and claim some sort of face-saving feature than in an national security game, so the latter is almost always a protracted affair of brinksmanship and high stress.

It’s happening.

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Send Lawyers, Guns and Money

By Ben Hunt | June 7, 2019 | 2 Comments

Nancy Pelosi’s chief of staff is now Facebook’s chief lobbyist. Big Tech just gave the Internet Freedom Award to Ivanka Trump. The head of the antitrust division of the Justice Dept. is a former Google lobbyist.

They’re. Not. Even. Pretending. Anymore.

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