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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

Bye Bye, Punch Bowl

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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RIP, Expertise

19 days ago

Editor’s Note: this is an unedited thread from the ET Forum that I’ve republished here in close to its entirety. I’ve got a small entry on the thread; otherwise it is written entirely by regular Epsilon Theory subscribers. This is just one example of why I think that the ET Forum is the best thing on the Internet today … thousands of posts across hundreds of threads, written by truth-seekers from all over the world and all walks of life, speaking to each other with respect and curiosity. If this is your Pack, join us!

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

Steve

First, a confession: I’ve been fighting the trolls on Ben’s Twitter, and I know I probably shouldn’t do it. But they know the perfect bait for me – mostly biological misinformation, delivered haughtily (sometimes

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Inflation Is

December 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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Inflation and the Common Knowledge Game

December 8, 2021

Gasoline prices in California recently hit a record high of $4.69 for a gallon of regular.

US corporations are raising prices, sometimes [gasp!] at a faster rate than their costs are increasing.

As a result, ruling party politicians are losing their minds.

Wondering why your Thanksgiving groceries cost more this year? It’s because greedy corporations are charging Americans extra just to keep their stock prices high. This is outrageous. https://t.co/ZGhL7c3piR— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) November 24, 2021

I will not stand by while oil companies engage in profiteering at the expense of American families.That’s why I’ve asked the FTC to consider whether potentially illegal and anti-competitive behavior in the oil and gas industry is causing higher prices for

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Corporate Margins Are Stronger Than You Think

December 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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Defund the World Health Organization

November 29, 2021

There’s been a lot of social media umbrage at how the World Health Organization conveniently skipped the Greek letter Xi in naming the latest Covid variant, presumably to avoid embarrassing China’s Dear Leader. In truth, WHO skipping letters in their own naming convention (designed in the first place to eliminate references to Wuhan) is merely ridiculous, not dangerous. 

What’s dangerous is WHO leadership placing Chinese political interests ahead of global health interests, something Tedros and team have done from the start of the Covid pandemic.

Where possible, China wants to criminalize speech that doesn’t follow the official party line. If that speech can’t be criminalized, China wants to ban it through the cooperative censorship of global tech and media

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Critical State Theory

November 24, 2021

I’m going to start with the conclusion of this note, because otherwise I think readers from one or the other of our two political tribes will autotune it and lump/dismiss me into the other tribe.

I believe two things.

First, I believe that parents, not the State and never the State, are responsible for their children’s education. That responsibility does not end when we drop our kids off at the bus stop, no matter how convenient that might be for parents or the State, and it means that parents absolutely have a huge say in what is taught and how it’s taught in public schools.

Second, I believe that our children should be taught the fact that racism is embedded in our nation’s history, and they should be taught those lessons a lot better than I was. True story: I first

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Industrially Necessary Inflation

November 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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Lions and Tigers and Bears … Oh My!

November 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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The Robbing Hoods of Robinhood

October 28, 2021

I learn a lot from Camp Kotok, the 5 day fishing trip up in the wilds of Maine that David Kotok, founder and CIO of Cumberland Advisors, hosts every summer for wealth managers, economists, traders, etc.
Most of what I learn at Camp Kotok has nothing to do with the actual facts being discussed and debated, but on whether topics are being discussed and debated at all.
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The Mandarin Class

October 22, 2021

The Mandarin is the latest super-villain in the MCU (“Marvel cinematic universe” for those of you behind the superhero movie curve). Pretty sure he was originally an Ironman foe, dating back to the Stan Lee heyday.

But I’m not using the term “mandarin” in the sense of a supervillain (although if the shoe fits …).

I’m using the word in the sense of the bureaucrats who essentially ruled China from the 7th century AD until the early 20th century. Mandarins were the professional administrators hired by the Imperial family to make sure that taxes were collected, roads were built, and justice was administered throughout the sprawling empire.

Notably, these were not hereditary positions. Instead, entry into this professional administrative agency was determined by

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The Common Knowledge OF Central Banks

October 20, 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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Big Change in the Narrative Weather

October 4, 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 Uncontained Spark

October 1, 2021

President Snow: Seneca… why do you think we have a winner?

Seneca Crane: [frowns] What do you mean?

President Snow: I mean, why do we have a winner? I mean, if we just wanted to intimidate the districts, why not round up twenty-four of them at random and execute them all at once? Be a lot faster.

[Seneca just stares, confused]

President Snow: Hope.

Seneca Crane: Hope?

President Snow: Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.

Seneca Crane: So…?

President Snow: So, CONTAIN it.

And may the odds be ever in your favor!

There is an uncontained spark in the financial world today.

It’s a spark that emerged from the unlikeliest of places,

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The Unbearable Lightness of Corporate Margins

September 28, 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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Why Take A Chance?

September 21, 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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Pushing on a String

September 13, 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 Widened Gyre

September 12, 2021

From the ET Forum …

Yesterday, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I read and heard several mainstream references to “the Widening Gyre”. It makes sense that yesterday would spur that sort of narrative connection, as the juxtaposition of the political images and texts from then and now is breathtaking. It’s amazing (and obvious), how polarized we’ve become over the past two decades.

But at this point – where the Widening Gyre is not happening but has already occurred – I think what we’re seeing is the Widened Gyre, where everything is autotuned to the poles of the gyre, including references to the Widening Gyre itself!

Case in point, on Twitter I am now routinely criticized for “contributing” to the Widening Gyre if I don’t engage in perfunctory political whataboutism on any topic

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The Green Protocol: A New Vision for Crypto, Pt 2

September 8, 2021

PDF download (subscribers only): The Green Protocol

Yggdrasil, the World Tree

This is a proposal to plant one billion new trees in North America over the next ten years.

I’m not asking for your donation to make this possible. I’m not lobbying local, state and federal agencies to spend tax dollars on this. I’m not writing grant proposals to get foundation or endowment money for planting trees. In fact, I may not plant a single tree myself.

This is a project that I hope will encourage you to want to plant trees, to want to pay money to people who are planting trees, to want to join this effort, not out of guilt or fear, and not only out of a sense of civic responsibility, but also out of good old-fashioned greed.

This is a project to establish a cryptographic protocol –

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Thanks I Hate It

September 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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C’mon, Australia

August 25, 2021

From the ET Forum …

An Australian Pack member living abroad published what I think is an outstanding review of the depths to which Australia’s Covid-zero policy has descended. Here’s the skinny:

We are a country that pulls things out of the ground, sells coffee to each other, and invests every dollar we don’t have in residential property. And that’s been fine until this point. Australia, more than any other country, has ridden a wave of prosperity over the last 30 years that resulted in a quality of life almost unsurpassed anywhere in the world. But it has bred complacency, and the country’s response to COVID has revealed this complacency and its worrying lack of urgency. We’ve convinced ourselves that we generated long-term prosperity because there’s something special about us;

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Barking Dogs and Not-Barking Dogs

August 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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Afghanistan and the Common Knowledge Game

August 23, 2021

Afghani president Ashraf Ghani in happier times, before fleeing Kabul with “four vehicles and a helicopter full of cash”

For many months now, the US government knew that the Afghan government would fall to the Taliban.

For many months now, the Afghan government knew that the Afghan government would fall to the Taliban.

For many months now, every NGO, every foreign government, and every Afghani citizen knew that the Afghan government would fall to the Taliban.

For many months now, EVERYONE knew that the Afghan government would fall to the Taliban, and that there would be tens of thousands of Afghani citizens and thousands of US and NATO ally citizens who would need to get the hell out of Dodge when that happened.

And yet for many months now, nothing much happened to

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Kabul is Falling

August 18, 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 #13 – Wanting

August 17, 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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US Dollar Exposure Dashboard (NEW)

August 10, 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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Sauron Remains Undefeated

August 9, 2021

Concealed within his fortress, the lord of Mordor sees all. His gaze pierces cloud, shadow, earth, and flesh.

What happened this weekend in Washington DC, where the Senate debated and ultimately rejected various crypto-related amendments to the infrastructure bill, was not a bad thing at all for Bitcoin! TM, the Wall Street-abstracted representation of the price of Bitcoin. If all you care about is Number Go Up, then you can stop reading this note. All is well!

But if it bothers you even a smidge that the core censorship-resistant and anonymity-preserving DNA of OG Bitcoin is being genetically modified by Washington so that it’s just another gaming table in the Wall Street casino …

If you care in the least that what made Bitcoin special in the first place has been reduced

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This Is What a Wage/Price Inflation Cycle Looks Like

August 6, 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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Nudging State, Noble Lies

August 4, 2021

“Not that you lied, but that I no longer believe you, has shaken me” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Nudge is a book by Nobel prize-winning economist Dick Thaler and law professor Cass Sunstein, wherein they describe a system of “libertarian paternalism” for State-directed “choice architectures” to improve public policy outcomes by influencing our behavior through clever framing techniques.

To be clear, I’m not applying the word “paternalism” to their work. That’s their word. Because that’s what they think good government is, a father-knows-best apparatus where we unruly teenagers should be pushed and prodded into making better life choices.

In its most basic application, the nudge of “choice architecture” is literally a reframing of formal choices available to us children

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Narrative Machine Webinar Replay

July 29, 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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