W. Ben Hunt

Co-Founder and CIO


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:

Whatever It Takes

By Ben Hunt | June 4, 2019 | 15 Comments

It’s the truest thing I know about the State: what begins as emergency government action ALWAYS becomes permanent government policy.

So now here we are, where “whatever it takes” has morphed from saving the entire European project to … [checks notes] … preventing a garden-variety recession.

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A Zeitgeist Portfolio

By Ben Hunt | June 4, 2019 | 1 Comment

In today’s narrative-connected news, New Mexico makes a major shift in their portfolio allocation, away from broad equity indices and core fixed income, and towards real assets.

It’s a very Zeitgeist-aware portfolio shift, and boldly done. I love it!

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Space for Rent

By Ben Hunt | May 31, 2019 | 1 Comment

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.

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On Tilt

By Ben Hunt | May 31, 2019 | 1 Comment

It’s like he’s a drunk dentist in Vegas for a convention, sitting down at the poker table and getting bored after three hands. So he decides that he can “impose his will” on the table by opening up out of position with rags and making a continuation bet all the way through the river. Like everyone else at the table doesn’t see him for EXACTLY who he is.

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Citizen Trump / Citizen Xi

By Ben Hunt | May 30, 2019 | 2 Comments

This isn’t a US thing. This isn’t a China thing. This isn’t a Trump thing. This isn’t a Xi thing.

This is a social animal thing.

The words are not lies. The words are not wrong. The conflict may be just.

But you are being played nonetheless.

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B3 Debt is the New Black

By Ben Hunt | May 30, 2019 | 1 Comment

I’m not sure that people who aren’t immersed in this world realize how crappy B3 debt is. Or how much of it is getting pushed into the market.

THIS is financialization.

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Red Dawn

By Ben Hunt | May 30, 2019 | 1 Comment

How will you know that the US-China trade narrative is shifting towards a protracted game of Chicken?

When the narrative becomes dominated by national security language and clusters.

Rusty and I have been all over this for a year. More to the point, we have been right. If you want to know what’s happening with the Trade & Tariff narrative structure, you should subscribe to ET Professional. This is what we DO.

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In the Flow – Chef’s Knives

By Ben Hunt | May 28, 2019 | 9 Comments

It’s easy to get waaaay too precious when it comes to professional kitchens, whether we’re talking about restaurants or a trading desk.

But credit default swaps are like chef knives. They’re not an affectation, but a necessary tool for so many tasks. Even if you don’t cook or trade a portfolio professionally, you’ll want to own a good knife and you’ll want to know the mechanics and the rationale of a CDS trade.

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By Ben Hunt | May 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

The word “spree” is so evocative in narrative-world, implying at a minimum some sort of wantonness and excess, some sort of moral bankruptcy.

How threadbare and slow-growing is the financial services world today? It’s a “hiring spree” just to open up a New York office. With 30 people. By 2022.

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Amazon, Facebook and the Modern Trust [the ET Zeitgeist]

By Ben Hunt | May 28, 2019 | 3 Comments

Facebook is a master at implementing price increases under the narrative of “optimization”, as if the company was doing you a favor by raising their ad prices so much. Now Amazon is reading from the same playbook in their advertising business.

Time to break up the trusts. Again.

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