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The Hour Between Dog and Wolf [Paperback]

John Coates
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Jan 2013

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ exposes the excesses of the trading floor - but if you want to know more about the biology that drives this risky business, neuroscientist John Coates can explain it all.

Shortlisted for the 2012 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award and the Wellcome Trust Book Prize, this startling and unconventional book from neuroscientist and former Wall Street trader John Coates shows us the bankers in their natural environment, revealing how their biochemistry has a lasting and significant impact on our economy.

We learn how risk stimulates the most primitive part of the banker’s brain and how making the deals our bank balances depend on provokes an overwhelming fight-or-flight response. Constant swinging between aggression and apprehension impairs their judgment, causing economic upheaval in the wider world. The transformation between each split-second decision is what Coates calls the hour between dog and wolf, and understanding the biology behind bubbles and crashes may be the key to stabilising the markets.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (31 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007413521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007413522
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Coates is a senior research fellow in neuroscience and finance at the University of Cambridge. He previously worked on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs, and ran a trading desk for Deutsche Bank. In 2004 he returned to Cambridge to research the biology of financial risk-taking. His work has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Financial Times and been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, New Scientist, Wired and Time.

Product Description

Review

‘This brilliant book shows how human biology contributes to the alternating cycles of irrational exuberance and pessimism that destabilise banks and the global economy – and how the system could be calmed down by applying biological principles … Should be top of the summer reading list for Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan, and anyone else wondering why traders so often get banks into trouble’ Financial Times

‘This stunning book… should be compulsory reading for anyone concerned about the behaviour of those involved in the lying and manipulation of those involved in the lying and manipulation of successive banking scandals’ Mail on Sunday

‘If Coates is right- the evidence he presents is compelling- then the financial; crises that so frequently plague capitalism find their roots in human biology’ New Scientist Magazine

‘The picture of humans as rational economic machines has gone down the tubes. This book looks at the biology of why Homo economicus is a myth, and no one is better positioned to write this than Coates – he is a neuroscientist and an economist and an ex-Wall Street trader and a spectacular writer. A superb book’ Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Neurology, Stanford University, and author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

‘A terrific read – better than any amount of economic analysis because it explains what lies at the root of economic disaster – those biological drivers that cause sane and clever people to make catastrophic decisions. Every banker should be made to read it!’ Rita Carter, author of Mapping the Mind

‘It makes intuitive sense that biological responses inform the mood of the markets. This book puts flesh on that idea’ Economist

About the Author

John Coates is a senior research fellow in neuroscience and finance at the University of Cambridge. He previously worked on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs, and ran a trading desk for Deutsche Bank. In 2004 he returned to Cambridge to research the biology of financial risk-taking. His work has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Financial Times and been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, New Scientist, Wired and Time.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating! 13 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
this book is a fascinating read, a real insight into how body and mind conspire with each other to shape the way we make decisions and take risks. don't be fooled by the title, this book applies equally to soldiers and sportsmen, in fact anyone who deals in risks and situations which are subject to sudden and rapid change.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By JMO
Format:Hardcover
Superb, lots of ideas about how hormones play a dominant role in our lives using the markets as a case study. It has really made me think about how the recession may have not only dampened my own risk taking instincts but also affected my physical health. His suggestions for toughening our systems to cope with episodes of extreme stress also make a lot of sense and correspond with my own anecdotal experience that lifting heavy weights in the gym seems to be the only thing that I have discovered that keeps my stress levels under control.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars some great chapters, some less great 14 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author tells us how, after life as a Wall Street trader for 12 years, he retrained as a psychologist to try to prove or disprove a theory about what drives animal spirits in the market, that theory being that this is caused by high and increasing levels of testosterone. The nice thing about the book is in part that there's quite a lot of evidence now, some drawn from the author's own research with traders in the City of London, to support that theory. The more testosterone, the more risk you will take - and often the more you will gain. But just as in the world of animals excess testosterone leads to hubris and downfall (you take on more and more challenges, become more and more convinced you are invincible until you finally overdo it and die), so too in the markets, increased risk taking will eventually spiral out of control.

That is not the most interesting aspect of the book however. The best chapters, for me, were those in which the author defends the role of 'quick' or 'automatic' thinking in our lives. Often we can only hope to respond well to a situation, especially a threatening situation, if we respond pretty much instantaneously and on autopilot. We just don't have time for slow, rational, thinking. Even when we do, we may be better off relying on our gut instincts. If there's a pattern out there in the world our bodies, working on autopilot, will pick it up - and will do so and we will act on it, well before we can conceptualise it. (And traders do this; and we can track their increasing ability to do this through something called the Sharpe Index.) We can, and probably do, mostly read one another's very fleeting facial expressions without working this out.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cure on the Trading Floor 31 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover
Like war, activity on the trading floor "consists of long stretches of boredom punctuated by brief periods of terror", writes John Coates in The Hour Between Dog and Wolf (Fourth Estate, 20).
What follows is a minute-by-minute analysis of the trader's metabolism which reveals the effects of the euphoria, the stress, the boredom and the heart-stopping moments of hyperactivity where "nature and nurture conspire to produce an awful train wreck, leaving behind mangled careers, damaged bodies and a devastated financial system".
Coates was a financial services worker on Wall Street in the 1990s and watched the bull market go wild, noting "how its energy and excitement overflowed the stock exchange, permeated the culture and intoxicated people". Traders "on an extended winning streak experience a high that is powerfully narcotic". This high, he notes, is an "irrational exuberance" which is very close to Keynes' "animal spirits", thereby providing the first bingo moment of The Hour. He wonders if this irrational exuberance "might be driven by a chemical". He calls the chemical the Bull-Market Molecule. He comes across a likely suspect: it's a hormone. Hormones are "chemical messengers carried by the blood from one tissue in the body to another". Hormones maintain life, for instance by telling us our body is thirsty, or cold, but they don't cause behaviour. If you're on a diet you have to ignore what your hormones tell you. This can be hard because "sometimes the lobby group is more like a foghorn" and "can be very hard to resist". The evidence becomes clear: mind and body are not separate, they are endlessly intertwined. You can't isolate pure thought, thoughts are "inextricably tangled up with motor circuits".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant 19 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A must read book for anyone who really wants to know why people behave the way they do - you don't need to be an expert in trading to massively benefit from this book - I have already recommended this book to friends and business colleagues alike - just wish id written it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best book in ages 24 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Absolutely brilliant read. Very thought provoking! Enjoyed the depth and detail and the skills required for explain and explore complex and rather interesting ideas. Definitely worth reading
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