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Rusty Guinn

Rusty Guinn

Executive Vice President of Asset Management, Salient. Rusty Guinn is the executive vice president of asset management at Salient. He oversees Salient’s retail and institutional asset management business, including investment teams, products, and strategy. Rusty shares his perspective and experience as an investor on the Epsilon Theory website.

Articles by Rusty Guinn

A Different Game

6 days ago

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The Zeitgeist on the day after a presidential inauguration is unlikely to catch anyone by surprise. It was the only topic of any significance in political news. It was the only topic of any significance in market news. The language used to describe this inauguration was central to nearly every topic over the last three days. Even sports.

The quantity of that coverage which would fit squarely into what we call Fiat News – news which is designed not to inform but to instruct the reader how to think about an event or topic – would also be unsurprising, I

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Reap the Whirlwind

16 days ago

The dirty little secret of every riot and protest and looting that ever existed in the history of mankind … IT’S FUN.Lucifer’s Hammer on Epsilon Theory, August 31, 2020

During the summer of 2020, as widespread non-violent protests for racial justice gave way to steadily creeping violence and property destruction, we published our concerns on these pages that there was practically zero political will – and zero political incentive – by either party to do what was necessary to reduce that violence.

Republicans and Donald Trump believed that the violence at a number of BLM-related events would be framed alongside deeply unpopular “defund the police” narratives as long as they continued. They believed, I think, that this framing would be electorally helpful. However perverse,

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The ZIRP Paradox

December 14, 2020

Source: Tesla, SpaceX

It is the Christmas season, which means that it is time for your usual obligatory reminders and warnings about consumerism. It is also Christmas in a pandemic year, so those warnings will come with an additional “Hey, we know your kids are upset about 2020 but don’t make it worse by trying to make it better with a boatload of crap they don’t need” on the label. That, and “Hey, maybe a year in which a lot of people are hurting would be a good one to teach what generosity really looks like.” And they’re all good warnings. The problem, of course, is that consumption really does make us happier, at least for a while. Then, inevitably, we do what humans do best. We adapt. To trigger the same chemical and emotional response, our brain tells us we need new

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An Old Joke

December 9, 2020

So an agent for a new over-the-top variety act finally gets a meeting with the biggest producer in the world. I mean, maybe ‘the world’ is selling it short. Word on the street is this guy’s even got God’s ear, if you can believe it.

Anyway, agent’s a working class type, will do just about anything to get this act on a big stage. Third and current husband’s last name’s Rothschild, and she met him at some place called Bilderberg. Sorry, not important to the story. But they were introduced by a fellow name of Henry Kissinger, apparently spent most of his life working as a secretary or something, so you know we’re talking about salt of the earth here. And I don’t want to tell a sob story, because everybody’s got one. Still, you oughta know she lost a friend a little over a year

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Russian Nesting Deals

December 3, 2020

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It isn’t very often that coverage of something as niche as SPACs (special-purpose acquisition companies) would make our list of the most linguistically connected financial news. Then again, thanks to 2020, I suppose we can’t really call SPACs niche news any more. Even if they were still consigned to the “weird stuff that seems very obviously designed to disproportionately benefit sponsors and allow management to do stuff they wouldn’t be allowed to do in other ways” bin, articles about the deal that triggered the Zeitgeist today probably would have risen anyway. Use

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The Ghosts of Commentary Future

November 30, 2020

“Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (1843)

With Thanksgiving in the books, we are approaching a special time of year. No, not Christmas. Not Hanukkah. Not even the season when some dumpster fire of a team from the NFC East manages to limp into the playoffs with a 5-11 record.

It’s outlook season.

Now, we are critical of financial market commentary most of the time, for the rather uncontroversial reason that it is nearly always composed of an equal blend of five loathsome traits: backward-looking, narrative-conforming, book-talking, non-actionable and (most damning of all) boring. But in outlook season, financial news outlets, financial social media, and both buy-side and

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ET Live! – 11.17.2020

November 17, 2020

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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You Can’t Handle The Lie

November 6, 2020

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.I have a confession.I still don’t have much interest in writing much about the election. I certainly don’t have much interest in rewriting much of what we have already written on these pages.So if you’re looking for a discussion of why the political right appears to have outperformed at the polls in a turnout-based election, I will instead direct you to what we wrote before the election.And if you’re looking for a breakdown of the meta-game failures loudly decried in a well-publicized rant by Democratic Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, I will instead direct you to what we

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A Tale of Two Cults

November 2, 2020

DISCLOSURESThis 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 market

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We are all MMTers (Still)

October 22, 2020

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.I don’t think it would be especially insightful for us to point out that everybody knows everybody knows stimulus talks are what market participants are paying attention to. At this point, I think the idea that this is common knowledge is, well, common knowledge.We did, however, think that it would be interesting to see how different patterns of language were more or less common among stimulus-related news reports. In other words, we thought it would be fascinating to see which Fiat News expression of “what the stimulus is really about” was the most connected and which was the

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Knowledge Takes the Sword Away

October 16, 2020

Not yet the wise of heart would cease    To hold his hope thro’ shame and guilt,    But with his hand against the hilt,Would pace the troubled land, like Peace;Not less, tho’ dogs of Faction bay,    Would serve his kind in deed and word,    Certain, if knowledge bring the sword,That knowledge takes the sword away—‘Love thou thy land, with love far-brought’, by Alfred, Lord TennysonFrom time to time, these pages refer back to the piece that Ben wrote for Epsilon Theory before the election in 2016. In it, we argued that Clinton’s candidacy was in trouble. That piece included a phrase that to this day confounds and frustrates a lot of readers. Ben wrote that Trump would break us. Trump, on the other hand … I think he breaks us. Maybe he already has. He breaks us because he transforms every

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ET Live! – 10.13.2020

October 13, 2020

2+ ET Live! is our interactive feature that is all about the narratives that infect financialYou have reached the maximum number of free, long-form articles for the month. Please join here to read the rest of this content. Paid Members can log in here.

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Hook, Line and Sinker

October 1, 2020

In the Long Now, we have argued, the single most important executive skill is not talent identification and development. It is not strategic vision. It is not logistical or subject matter expertise. It is not organizational design and process management. You know, all the things B-School management professors who have never actually, y’know, managed anything have been teaching for decades.In the Long Now, the single most important executive skill is the ability to shape the external narrative of the company.That is a shame for all of us. This exchange robs our collective future of the manifold promises of productivity, ingenuity and growth that come from investing in that first group of things. Instead it offers us a mess of pottage that is short-term stock price appreciation. For airline

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TLDR: The Projection Racket (Part 2)

September 28, 2020

DISCLOSURESThis 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 market

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The Projection Racket, Pt. 2

September 28, 2020

This is Part 2 of The Projection Racket, a series of notes detailing the civic arguments underlying a movement to both (1) make our lives less dependent on political, social and financial institutions with structurally broken features and (2) to protect the rights of our fellow-citizens to do the same by eliminating the source of those structural breaks so that these institutions can serve both the collective and individual good. It is an explanation of what we mean when we say to “Burn it the $!#* down.”You can read Part 1 here. This is a long essay, and its arguments are best understood in full. But it’s 2020, so we’ve put together a TLDR, too.You can read our Executive Summary here.Source: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)Arthur (reverently): Camelot!Galahad (reverently):

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ET Live! – 9.15.2020

September 15, 2020

4+ In today’s episode, it’s all about BITFD and the almost hilarious extremes to wYou have reached the maximum number of free, long-form articles for the month. Please join here to read the rest of this content. Paid Members can log in here.

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The Projection Racket (Part 1)

September 14, 2020

DISCLOSURESThis 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 market

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The Cartoon Put

September 1, 2020

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.Source: The Dungeonmaster (1984)Mestema: In a future reality I shall destroy you!Paul: I reject your reality and substitute my own!The Dungeonmaster (1984)We write a lot about how governments and businesses desperately want Official Numbers to be treated as synonymous with the real-world feature they are used to describe. You might say it’s kind of our thing here at Epsilon Theory. We even have a word we use for it: cartoons.We have written about COVID-19 cartoons being promoted by the Chinese Communist Party.And pension obligation cartoons.And top-line revenue cartoons.And labor

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Cheesing

August 26, 2020

DISCLOSURESThis 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 market

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The Fujiwhara Effect

August 22, 2020

DISCLOSURESThis 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 market

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Can’t Fight This Feeling

August 12, 2020

Source: The historically bad video to REO Speedwagon’s 1985 hit power ballad “Can’t Fight This Feeling”When I left home for college, the dot-com bubble was bursting.The unfortunate events of March 2000 were already in the rear-view mirror, but the summer months gave at least some renewed hope to speculators and investors alike. That was the certainly the spirit on-campus at Wharton, anyway, where it seemed that just about every other undergrad was still supplementing work-study income (or draws from mommy and daddy’s trust fund) with stock speculation using the miracle of E*Trade on university-provided high speed internet.Not me. Not really. Sure, I sold the shares of stock in the way-too-boring-for-1999 Dow Chemical Company I had gotten from them as part of a scholarship when I graduated

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ET Live! – 8.13.2020

August 11, 2020

10+ In today’s episode…will the boys overcome the basic perils of 21st century neYou have reached the maximum number of free, long-form articles for the month. Please join here to read the rest of this content. Paid Members can log in here.

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Get Me Tools and a Beer!

August 10, 2020

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.Homer: That’s it. They have awoken a sleeping giant!Marge: Homey, what are you going to do?Bart: Crazy scheme, crazy scheme, crazy scheme…Homer: Get me tools and a beer!The Simpsons, Season 13, Episode 15 “Blame it on Lisa”The crazy Kodak scheme we wrote about a week and a half ago is still an influential part of the Zeitgeist.It sits atop the Zeitgeist this week for two reasons. First, there has been another event in this absurd saga, and coverage of it has been significant. To wit, on Friday, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation announced that it was putting

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The Mountain and the Molehill

August 4, 2020

DISCLOSURESThis 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 market

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That’s the Thing I’m Sensitive About!

July 29, 2020

Thirteen-year-olds are the meanest people in the world. They terrify me to this day. If I’m on the street on like a Friday at 3PM and I see a group of eighth graders on one side of the street, I will cross to the other side of the street. Because eighth graders will make fun of you, but in an accurate way.They will get to the thing that you don’t like about you. They don’t even need to look at you for long. They’ll just be like, “Ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha! Hey, look at that high-waisted man, he got feminine hips!”And I’m like, “NO! That’s the thing I’m sensitive about!”John Mulaney: New in Town (2012)Yesterday I read a social media post from Dana Carvey, who played a version of the recently departed Regis Philbin on SNL in the early 90s. Darrell Hammond did a later version that – like

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The Stupid War

July 19, 2020

You are now homeland, Chaco,of the dead deep in your bellyin search of the soul that does not exist at the bottom of your wells.Sangre de Mestizos, by Augusto Cespedes (1936)

There are proxy wars. And then there is the Chaco War.

Una guerra estupida, as Bolivian war journalist Augusto Cespedes would later call it.

And it was.

It was not a stupid war only in the way that all wars are stupid, in the way that precious few of the things we are told are worth dying for truly require us to do so. Neither was it stupid because the rights and claims of the belligerents were somehow false or illegitimate. They were not. The Chaco War was a stupid war because it was an unnecessary war, exploiting the claims of the people to further the unrelated aims of others. It was a stupid

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An Advantageous Contagion

July 14, 2020

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A few weeks ago, we published a Zeitgeist called Never Forget about the protests and the narratives being promoted about them. It was a little brief that Ben ended with this flourish:

This isn’t a threat to democracy. This IS democracy.Never forget.Never Forget

We got a lot of comments and emails about this one.

Most were supportive. Still, there were enough that fell into two less-than-supportive camps to make us feel they were worthy of mention. The first, if I can paraphrase, wondered why Ben couldn’t see how important it was that so many of the protests

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July 2020 Epsilon Theory Narrative Monitors

July 8, 2020

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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Harrumph!

July 7, 2020

Governor William J. Le Petomane: We’ve got to protect our phony baloney jobs, gentlemen! We must do something about this immediately! Immediately! Immediately! Room Full of Supporters / Cronies: Harrumph! Harrumph! Harrumph!Le Petomane (pointing at one silent crony): I didn’t get a harrumph outta that guy. Hedley Lamarr: Give the governor harrumph!Frightened Crony: Harrumph!Le Petomane: You watch your ass.Blazing Saddles (1974)

Theatre and film make their way into the pages of Epsilon Theory quite a lot.

Some of that is admittedly because Ben just really, really likes The Godfather. Most of it, however, is because the same tools that are designed to steer emotional and intellectual responses in theatre are the tools of narrative. The same memes, the same forms, the same

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The Lost Art of the Jawbone

July 7, 2020

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Duke (in his head): If so – well, we’ll just have to cut his head off and bury him somewhere.  Because it goes without saying that we can’t turn him loose. He’d report us at once to some kind of outback Nazi law enforcement agency, and they’ll run us down like dogs.Duke (out loud): Jesus. Did I say that? Duke (in his head): Or just think it. Was I talking? Did they hear me? Gonzo (to the hitchhiker): It’s okay. He’s admiring the shape of your skull. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

When Ben writes “They’re not even pretending anymore!” it is usually because he is

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