While Ben Graham was the consummate “bottoms up” investor, it could said that Cullen Roche is the consummate “top down” investor. – David Foulke, Alpha Architect
Hi, my name is Cullen Roche and I founded Pragmatic Capitalism in 2008 to provide an alternative perspective to finance and economics. The financial crisis exposed some major flaws in the way we manage investment portfolios and think about economics. As an independent financial analyst with a background in financial accounting and portfolio management I brought some very unique views to the way we perform finance and economic analysis. In addition to predicting the housing bust I also expressed the wildly unpopular contrarian view that Quantitative Easing would not cause high inflation or rising interest rates. My unique understanding of the monetary system and financial markets has allowed me to provide contrarian and valuable insights in a world that is filled with opaque salesmanship. I worry that our society is deeply confused about money and finance and my hope for this site is that the users find the resources educational and enlightening. I know I can’t change the world with my views, but maybe I can help a few people better navigate this confusing world.
I started my career at Merrill Lynch in the early 2000’s where I helped oversee $500MM+ in assets under management. I quickly became disillusioned with the high fee aggressive sales tactics of the big brokerage firms and thought I could better service my clients as an independent advisor. Over the next 6 years I ran a small investing partnership that took advantage of accounting irregularities during corporate events. The strategy generated average annual returns of 14% without a single negative year including the financial crisis. This approach also left me feeling like I could better serve my clients without the high fees and “market beating” promises that I felt were unsustainable in the long-run.
In the last few years I have started a low fee indexing based asset management service (Orcam Asset Management) that seeks to provide comprehensive planning and portfolio management at a low cost without many of the conflicts and flaws I view in the typical high fee asset management space. The asset management business is an extension of my popular academic work and significant experience in the industry. In addition to over a decade of asset management experience I have published two of the most widely circulated academic papers in finance and economics – Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction. These papers focus on an operational explanation of the financial system in order to help investors better construct realistic portfolios and understandings of the economy. My popular book “Pragmatic Capitalism” is the summation of these views. I’ve operated as an accounting and banking expert working with some of the largest financial institutions in the world and hope to bring some of that expertise to the retail asset management world where I think customers are charged way too much for mediocre results.
Although I am best known for my work on monetary economics and portfolio construction I am an avid outdoorsman and animal lover at heart. When I am not being a financial nerd you can find me running slowly, eating/drinking too much, surfing badly, working on cars I don’t understand and trying to be a gardener/farmer. I grew up in Washington DC with an amazing family of 10. Yes, TEN of us! I currently reside in San Diego, California with my perfect wife Erica, our problem child, Cal, an Australian Shepherd and five laying hens, Meat, Mohawk, Sylvia, Mary Kate and Ashley. If you ever find yourself in the San Diego area and want to grab a coffee or lunch please don’t hesitate to reach out!