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DoubleLine Podcasts

S9 E7 Dr. Ben Hunt Immerses Us in Market Narratives, Fiat News and Jolts of Dopamine

DoubleLine Capital’s Jeffrey Sherman and Sam Lau welcome Dr. Ben Hunt, co-founder and chief investment officer of Second Foundation Partners, and creator of Epsilon Theory, a newsletter and website that examines markets through the lenses of game theory and history. This episode was recorded on Dec. 15, 2020. Messrs. Sherman and Lau and Dr. Hunt discuss, among other topics, market narratives versus market fundamentals, common knowledge versus public knowledge, fiat news versus fake news and the value of working on social issues on the community level.

Dr. Hunt explains the focus of his professional career for 35 years: How are we as social animals, particularly in this biggest game in the world, public equity markets, systematically impacted by the messages and words we hear? And, why has that become a much more important driver of what happens in markets than anything to do with fundamentals? As an example, he cites Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com framing the firm’s quarterly performance by using the firm’s own metric “pro forma net revenue growth” to great effect. These types of executive performances take advantage of the 24-7 “news channels,” such as CNBC, which do not have a lot of fundamental financial news to cover every day. In response, to fill the time, you have a series of people come in and present their opinions as if they were news (“What’s your story about this sector?”). According to Dr. Hunt, it’s a “constant flow of what I like to call fiat news. It’s not fake news, but it’s opinion presented as if it were news.”

Abetting this dynamic, says Dr. Hunt, is a change in technology with “dopamine machines” that we are hardwired to respond to. They include “the dopamine machines that we all carry around in the form of our smartphones that present us this megaphone in our ear” that delivers narratives. There are also the always-on trading vehicles, such as Robinhood, that you treat like a game. “It really is a dopamine machine, right? … ‘Oh, you’ve mastered your first equity trade. Want to level up and try some call options?’”

Guest Speaker Bio

The views and opinions expressed herein are as of the date recorded and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities. Such views/opinions may differ from those of DoubleLine Capital or other of its affiliates and are subject to change without notice. DoubleLine has no obligation to provide any updates or changes. The following audio presentations represent DoubleLine’s intellectual property. No portion of these presentations may be published, reproduced, transmitted or rebroadcast in any media in any form without the express written permission of DoubleLine. DoubleLine has no obligation to provide any updates or changes. To receive permission from DoubleLine please contact info@doubleline.com.

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DoubleLine is not providing any financial, economic, legal, accounting or tax advice in these podcasts. The receipt of these podcasts by any listener is not to be taken as constituting the giving of investment advice by any DoubleLine entity or individual to that listener, nor to constitute such person a client of any DoubleLine entity. The portfolio risk management process includes an effort to monitor and manage risk, but does not imply low risk.

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