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:

Guest Post – A Conservative’s Take on The Pack

By Ben Hunt | October 23, 2019 | 17 Comments

Every now and then we come across an article or blog post that’s directly relevant to what we’re trying to say on Epsilon Theory, but is too big and thoughtful to be carved up for a Mailbag note or Zeitgeist post.

Make / Protect / Teach is a Big Tent.

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Was That Wrong?

By Ben Hunt | October 21, 2019 | 2 Comments

If Carl Icahn calls up the CEO of GM and asks her how the UAW talks are going, it is illegal for Mary Barra to tell him anything that she does not also tell everyone else.

If Carl Icahn calls up the President of the United States and asks him how the China talks are going, it is perfectly legal for Donald Trump to tell him whatever he likes without obligation to tell anyone else.

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The Long Now, Pt. 3 – Wink

By Ben Hunt | October 17, 2019 | 12 Comments

I believe that we are on the cusp of the Long Now becoming irreversible. Or at least irreversible without a cataclysmic Fall.

Why? Because they have mastered the art of stealing our tells. At scale.

Here’s how we start to confound the stolen tells. At scale.

It won’t be noticeable at first. And then it will. And then it becomes a self-sustaining narrative. And then the world starts to change.

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Domino Theory

By Ben Hunt | October 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

I’m not THAT into dominoes, but I am into figuring out what’s next for changes in the Fed narrative and how that impacts markets.

More evidence that the Common Knowledge around the Fed has shifted dramatically, and more evidence for where this shows up next in markets …

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To My Fellow Billionaires …

By Ben Hunt | October 15, 2019 | 8 Comments

Marc Benioff, the billionaire CEO of Salesforce.com, says we need a New Capitalism … a kinder and gentler capitalism to rectify our modern culture of greed and massive wealth inequality.

Ray Dalio, the billionaire CIO of Bridgewater, says the same thing.

I think they’re both right.

I also think they should STFU.

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The Common Knowledge of Inflation

By Ben Hunt | October 11, 2019 | 5 Comments

“Until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.”

That’s my fave Arthur Miller quote, from The Crucible.

Our Devil is inflation, and today we think him beautiful in Heaven. You’re not ready for the Fall.

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In Chinese, the Emphasis is on the Second Syllable

By Ben Hunt | October 9, 2019 | 4 Comments

Every US company with Chinese consumer-facing products is going to be forced to make a choice. Do you want to preserve your authenticity and your brand, or do you want to preserve your earnings guidance and share price?

Choose one. You can’t have both.

No one will believe me when I say this, but it’s the truth: this is bigger than tariffs.

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Coal Mine, Meet Canary

By Ben Hunt | October 8, 2019 | 1 Comment

I think these emergency actions in the repo market – and to be sure, these ARE emergency actions – and now the expansion of the balance sheet to get more cash into the system, are the clearest indications yet that the Fed has lost its fundamental credibility with Mr. Market.

THE FED IS CONCERNED ABOUT “MAINTAINING A FIRM GRIP” ON ITS CONTROL OVER THE PRICE OF MONEY.

As they say in the twitterverse, let that sink in.

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Imagine That.

By Ben Hunt | October 7, 2019 | 6 Comments

They keep us sick, you know.

They keep us hooked on this framing of something-something Republicans vs. Democrats.

The cure? Take back your distance.

You’ll find your local library to be the perfect place to start.

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Fear Factor

By Ben Hunt | October 4, 2019 | 4 Comments

Yeah, yeah … I know that the Deep State is a powerful adversary. Or at least that’s what my MAGA buddies on twitter keep shouting at me.

But I’ll take the Deep State as an enemy any day compared to Steve Schwarzman and the rest of the Private Equity Tong looking to keep their carried interest tax treatment.

I bet Elizabeth Warren feels the same way.

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