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:

Sacrifice for Thee, Vast Wealth for Me

By Ben Hunt | August 25, 2020 | 11 Comments

Doug Parker, American Airlines CEO and Chairman of the Board, wrote a letter to his employees today that pretty much defines high-functioning sociopathy.

I’m going to reprint excerpts from that letter – which is couched in the saccharine vocabulary of modern team-speak, but is in truth a shakedown letter to employees and a ransom note to the US government – and then I’m going to tell you a few things about Doug.

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Facebook Delenda Est

By Ben Hunt | August 20, 2020 | 43 Comments

More than any other company, Facebook is undermining our democracy and our most integral political rights.

More than any other company, Facebook has bought and paid for political cover at the highest levels of American, Indian and European government, political cover that prevents any of the actions we might take as a society to rid ourselves of this cancer.

Facebook delenda est.

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Carny Barkers

By Ben Hunt | August 13, 2020 | 16 Comments

In the age of capital markets as carny show, we are told by barkers like Cramer that this is what a smart investor or management team does … they should look to the grift du jour for their edge.

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The Grifters, Chapter 2 – N95 Masks

By Ben Hunt | August 11, 2020 | 10 Comments

I don’t think I have the words to communicate just how screwed up our PPE distribution system is in this country, or what a profound betrayal it is for our government to support this perverse system of personal greed and corporate ambivalence in exchange for campaign soundbites and photo ops.

But I’m gonna try.

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Deep Sociopathy

By Ben Hunt | August 6, 2020 | 6 Comments

Is murder bad? Hmm, I dunno. What are the chances I will be caught and what price will I pay if that happens? If the odds are high enough and the price steep enough, then yeah, I guess THAT would be bad. But the act of murder itself? I mean, I’m sure whoever I murdered – if I were to murder someone, that is, because I really don’t think you can prove that I did – was getting in the way of something that was very important to me. When you really think about it, they were doing the bad thing! Why do you ask?

Welcome to the world of commodity trade finance.

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A Banner Day

By Ben Hunt | August 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

It’s a big day for us here at Epsilon Theory, as we launch a new monthly narrative monitor – Security Analysis Methods.

That’s a mouthful and it sounds boring, but I promise you it’s anything but. Even more so than the Central Banks monitor, I think this is the most powerful investment application we’ve developed yet.

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The Grifters, chapter 1 – Kodak

By Ben Hunt | July 30, 2020 | 15 Comments

We’ve been assaulted by three brutal grifts in just the past week … three smacks from Bobo and his bag of oranges … each deserving of an Epsilon Theory note.

Here’s chapter 1 – the ludicrous crony capitalism of the US government giving Kodak $765 million for “pharmaceutical supply production”.

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Extend and Pretend

By Ben Hunt | July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

As the kids would say, I’m old enough to remember Charles Keating and Neil Bush.

I’m old enough to remember the slow-burning dumpster fire that was the S&L Crisis of the late 1980s, when politically connected bankers used their influence to enrich themselves and secure regulatory forbearance for their crappy loans.

It’s happening again.

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Taiwan is now Arrakis

By Ben Hunt | July 27, 2020 | 18 Comments

“He who controls the spice controls the universe.”

The world’s principal supplier of semiconductors – the spice of OUR global empire – is now Taiwan.

Thanks a lot, Intel. Thanks a lot, Bob Swan. Thanks a lot, Jack Welch. Thanks a lot, all you Wall Street wizards of financialization.

Taiwan is now Arrakis. And we WILL fight over it.

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Is This The Real Life?

By Ben Hunt | July 22, 2020 | 1 Comment

The more I see these midday mysterious reversals in the growth/value relationship, the more I think that there is a Common Knowledge shift happening and not just a month-by-month shift in the Wall Street drum-beating for this sector or that sector.

A shift in Wall Street drum-beating is good for a trade. A shift in Common Knowledge, though … that’s a Big Deal.

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