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Ben Hunt

Ben Hunt

He is the chief investment strategist at Salient, a $14 billion asset manager based in Houston and San Francisco, and the author of Epsilon Theory, a newsletter and website that examines markets through the lenses of game theory and history. Over 100,000 professional investors and allocators read Epsilon Theory for its fresh perspective into market dynamics.

Articles by Ben Hunt

Drawing the Narrative Battle Lines

12 days ago

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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ET Podcast #8 – Leverage and Its Discontents

15 days ago

The Epsilon Theory podcast is free for everyone to access. You can grab the mp3 file below, or you can subscribe at:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3ZXOnreiGGiUtuGHzbin6d

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/epsilon-theory-podcast/id1107682538

Three blow-ups in three months: Archegos, Greensill, and Melvin Capital.

What do they have in common?

Insane leverage employed to maximize private gain, provided by lenders that can socialize losses.

ET Podcast #8 – Leverage and Its DiscontentsWe reference three archived ET notes in the podcast, linked here and taken out from behind the paywall.

The Grammar of RiskLeverage / Illiquidity /ConcentrationIn a normal market you can handle two. In a bad market you can’t.

If you’d like to

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A Tiger Can’t Change Its Stripes

18 days ago

Oh, wait. That’s not a tiger. That’s a raccoon.

In Epsilon Theory-speak, a raccoon is a financial scammer, a fraud.

Raccoons are everywhere in the investment world. I hate raccoons.

Over the past few days you’ve probably seen an article or two about Bill Hwang and the collapse of Archegos Capital, Hwang’s hedge fund with an estimated $10-15 billion in assets that was levered up more than 5x across multiple prime brokers, and came tumbling down in a “margin call” last Friday. And yes, I’ll explain in a minute why I put that in air quotes.

Almost certainly, the article you saw about Bill Hwang described him as a Tiger Cub and not a raccoon, which is too bad. I’m trying to change that animal association with this note.

Hwang is called a Tiger Cub because,

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Tiger King

19 days ago

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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The Darnold Dilemma

25 days ago

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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Spidey-Sense

March 15, 2021

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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ET Podcast #7 – Inflation Investing

March 11, 2021

The Epsilon Theory podcast is free for everyone to access. You can grab the mp3 file below, or you can subscribe at:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3ZXOnreiGGiUtuGHzbin6d

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/epsilon-theory-podcast/id1107682538

We’re going to Pack-source a slate of investment strategies for an inflationary world.

Here are five tentpoles to organize and support that effort, five sets of questions we must answer.

What should we think about …

1) US Treasuries?

2) US Housing Market?

3) Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence?

4) Fiscal Policies and Inflation Expectations?

5) Real Assets and Abstracted Securities?

ET Podcast #7 – Inflation InvestingIf you’d like to sign up for a free email to let you know

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The Best Way to Rob a Bank

March 9, 2021

The best way to rob a bank is to own a bank.

I think that the collapse over the past week of Greensill Capital has a lot of systemic risk embedded within it, particularly as the fraudulent deals between Greensill and its major sponsors – Softbank and Credit Suisse – come to light. And that’s not even considering Greensill’s second tier of sponsors – entities like General Atlantic and the UK government – all of whom are up to their eyeballs in really dicey arrangements.

Yeah, that’s Lex Greensill at Buckingham Palace in 2019, receiving a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) from Prince Charles for … wait for it … “services to the British economy”. LOL.

And yeah, that’s former UK prime minister David Cameron, positively beaming in this photo that

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A Madoff Moment?

March 8, 2021

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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A Change in the Water

March 3, 2021

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Every morning, we take the previous day’s financial news – all of it – and run it through the Narrative Machine to see if any interesting clusters pop out as a topic for us to write about in one of these quick Zeitgeist notes. And when I say clusters, I literally mean clusters – the building blocks of a graphical representation of linguistic connectivity.

But when I say clusters, what I really mean is patterns. I really mean changes in the narrative structure.

We’re not doing this to learn new facts. We’re not really interested in the specifics of what

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The Opposite of 2008

March 2, 2021

In late 2007 I started counting the For Sale signs on the 20 minute drive to work through the neighborhoods of Weston and Westport, CT. I’m not exactly sure why it made my risk antenna start quivering in the first place … honestly, I just like to count things – anything – when I’m doing a repetitive task. Coming into 2008 there were a mid-teen number of For Sale signs on my regular route, up from high single-digits in 2007. By May of 2008 there were 35+ For Sale signs.

If there’s a better real-world signal of financial system distress than everyone who takes Metro North from Westport to Grand Central trying to sell their homes all at the same time and finding no buyers … I don’t know what that signal is. The insane amount of housing supply in Wall Street bedroom communities

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Subprime is Contained

March 2, 2021

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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The Opposite of 2008

February 27, 2021

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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ET Podcast #6 – The Business of Wall Street

February 25, 2021

The Epsilon Theory podcast is free for everyone to access. You can grab the mp3 file below, or you can subscribe at:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3ZXOnreiGGiUtuGHzbin6d

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/epsilon-theory-podcast/id1107682538

Very little of investing today is buying and selling shares of common stock in individual companies. Instead, we buy and sell what Wall Street calls “products” – mutual funds, ETFs, options, REITs, SPACs, etc.

Dave Nadig, who literally wrote the book on ETFs, helps us understand the history and future of the business of Wall Street.

ET Podcast #5 – Gnostic Nationalism

ET Podcast #6 – The Business of Wall Street

If you’d like to sign up for a free email to let you know what we’ve published in the prior

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We’re All Nigeria Now

February 23, 2021

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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ET Podcast #5 – Gnostic Nationalism

February 16, 2021

The Epsilon Theory podcast is free for everyone to access. You can grab the mp3 file below, or you can subscribe at:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3ZXOnreiGGiUtuGHzbin6d

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/epsilon-theory-podcast/id1107682538

Every political movement has a political philosophy, and for Trumpism and MAGA it’s the Dominion theology of the charismatic/Pentecostal church.

Neither the rise of Donald Trump nor the attack on our Capitol can be understood without an examination of this faith and its constructed political narratives.

There is a schism in the American evangelical church, and its dynamics will shape the future of this country.

Believe it or not.

ET Podcast #5 – Gnostic Nationalism

If you’d like to sign up for a free

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Danish Food-Safety Expertise for the Win

February 10, 2021

To receive a free full-text email of The Zeitgeist whenever we publish to the website, please sign up here. You’ll get two or three of these emails every week, and your email will not be shared with anyone. Ever.

Danish food-safety expert Peter Ben Embarek, speaking on behalf of the WHO delegation

The World Health Organization just concluded its 4-week investigation (two of which were spent in quarantine) of the original Covid outbreak in Wuhan, China. If you enjoy throwing up in your mouth a little bit, you can read the entire Wall Street Journal article on the press conference here. If you’re not so inclined, here’s what the WHO team of 17 scientists, flanked by 17 Chinese scientists, announced:

1) The SARS-CoV-2 virus most likely originated in an animal and jumped

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Barking Dogs and Super Bowl Commercials

February 5, 2021

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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ET Podcast #4 – Hunger Games

February 5, 2021

The Epsilon Theory podcast is free for everyone to access. You can grab the mp3 file below, or you can subscribe at:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3ZXOnreiGGiUtuGHzbin6d

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/epsilon-theory-podcast/id1107682538

What’s happening with Reddit and Gamestop and Robinhood is a revolution, but not the revolution you think.

This isn’t a “democratization” of Wall Street. You were played. Again.

It’s a revolution in Common Knowledge. And that changes everything. Again.

ET Podcast #4 – Hunger GamesIf you’d like to sign up for a free email to let you know what we’ve published in the prior week, please go here. We have about 100,000 email recipients, and your contact information will never be shared with anyone.

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Hunger Games

February 4, 2021

Epsilon Theory PDF Download (paid subscribers only): Hunger Games

And may the odds be ever in your favor!

You have been told that investing in the stock market is like betting on a sports game.

You have been told that you are a SPECTATOR in the game of markets, that you are WATCHING a game being played out in front of you by lots of different companies.

You have been told that you should make ‘bets’ on those companies based on how well you think those companies can play the game that you are watching. The companies will play the game and they will keep score by ‘beating’ or ‘missing’ on revenues and earnings and the like, and then that score will determine whether or not your bets pay off.

You have been told that the better you are at ‘analyzing’ the teams

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The Zimbabwe Event

January 27, 2021

Covid funeral in HarareOver the past two weeks, three senior Cabinet officials in Zimbabwe (including the Foreign Minister and the Infrastructure Minister) have died from Covid. Not gotten sick. Died. More broadly, reported Covid cases and deaths have exploded in this country of 15 million just in the month of January. The unreported numbers are certainly much higher, as about 90% of Zimbabwe’s population works outside of the formal economy, and the majority of Zimbabweans have little to no access to the healthcare facilities that report these official case and death numbers.

through Jan. 21 (source: worldometers.info)

through Jan. 21 (source: worldometers.info)

The societal unraveling that is taking place in Zimbabwe – a desperately poor country where per capita GDP

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For Leon Black is an Honorable Man

January 26, 2021

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You can read the full report filed by Dechert LLP on behalf of the Board of Directors of Apollo Global Management here.

We are told by the lawyers hired by the Board of Directors of Apollo Global Management to investigate the Chairman of that same Board of Directors that the $158 MILLION Leon Black transferred to his personal friend and convicted child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was for “legitimate advice on trust and estate planning, tax issues, issues relating to artwork, Black’s airplane, Black’s yacht, and other similar matters”. We are told that the bulk

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The Zimbabwe Event

January 25, 2021

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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UK-Variant SARS-CoV-2 Update

January 20, 2021

That’s a London scene from the post-apocalyptic zombie flick 28 Days Later on the left, and a London scene from the pre-apocalyptic March Covid lockdown on the right. I say pre-apocalyptic because today’s Covid situation in London with a 70% prevalence of the B117 SARS-CoV-2 virus is a lot worse than the situation last March. No zombies yet, but 2021 is young.

Last Wednesday we published our analysis of behavioral Covid fatigue + UK-variant SARS-CoV-2 spread in the United States.

And we released a podcast on our work, also available on Spotify and iTunes. 

Last Friday, the CDC held a press conference and released an analysis showing that they expect this more virulent UK-variant strain (B117) to account for 50% of Covid cases in the United States by the end of

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Ireland Event Follow-up: Shockwave

January 16, 2021

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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ET Podcast #3 – The Ireland Event

January 14, 2021

The Epsilon Theory podcast is free for everyone to access. You can grab the mp3 file below, or you can subscribe at:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3ZXOnreiGGiUtuGHzbin6d

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/epsilon-theory-podcast/id1107682538

In episode #3 of the Epsilon Theory podcast, Rusty and I discuss the dramatic spike in Covid cases in Ireland over the last two weeks of December, and the risk of seeing a similar “Ireland Event” here in the US.

Unfortunately, once it becomes apparent that an Ireland event is occurring, it’s too late to stop it.

The time to act is NOW, not with indiscriminate lockdowns, but with strong restrictions on international and domestic air travel to contain the UK-variant virus while we accelerate vaccine delivery.

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The Ireland Event

January 12, 2021

Daily reported new Covid cases, Ireland, through Jan. 7, 2021

For the past year, I’ve been consumed with how Covid numbers are used/manipulated to create political narratives. From China to WHO to don’t-test-don’t-tell to Covid Trutherism in all its forms … that’s been the windmill I’ve tilted at for almost 12 months now.

Last week I became consumed by a new twist on all this – Covid numbers that were being largely ignored. Insane infection numbers coming out of UK and Ireland, apparently driven by a new virus strain, that we acknowledged over here but didn’t seem to be too mussed about.

It reminded me of the Covid numbers coming out of Italy last February. Was Europe once again our crystal ball? Were we once again going to ignore THAT?

And when I say “insane infection

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The Ireland Event

January 11, 2021

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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What Does Inflation Mean For Your Portfolio?

January 7, 2021

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the

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“Suicide Bomber” vs suicide bomber

December 29, 2020

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That’s a still from the police camera on 2nd Avenue in Nashville, Tennessee on Christmas morning, capturing the detonation of a large bomb. The bomber was killed, eight people were injured, and massive damage was done to an entire downtown city block, including the destruction of an AT&T telecom hub. Here are some photos of the damage, from a local news twitter feed:

While far less heinous than the 1995 Oklahoma City attack, where 168 Americans (including 15 children) were killed, the Nashville attack was the largest domestic terrorist bomb detonation in 25

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