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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Hour Between Dog and Wolf
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on 13 January 2013
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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on 24 May 2014
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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on 7 October 2013
Extremely well written and researched. Fascinating for anyone who is interested in people, business and what makes them tick. It also raises a lot of questions about how we manage business and the people them.
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on 19 June 2014
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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on 14 December 2012
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. And indeed when it comes to our own feelings, our hormones follow the pattern of gains and losses in traders - but conceptualisations are all over the place about how they are feeling.

The least interesting chapters are some of the policy proposals: employ more women and older men (lower testosterone); harden yourself against novelty, uncertainty and uncontrollability (not clear, really, though sports people harden themselves by short but controlled bursts of intensive training).

Overall, though, a very stimulating rad.
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on 27 June 2012
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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on 18 July 2017
Whilst there was some good bits in it, the book quickly became repetetive and boring. I'm quite well-read in the area of this book and have a good understanding of behavioural finance and I didn't really feel it added any more to the discussion..
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on 6 March 2013
This book is written by a trader so dont expect to find professional writting skills here. Interesting inforamtion is scattered among repeating indifferent things that make this book close to unreadable. The concept is very interesting but i think the book fails to take the reader where is should. For traders who want to investigate their mind and trading pshychology there are far better choices
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on 31 December 2012
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". And the conclusion, every bit as revolutionary as Copernicus' assertion that the earth goes round the sun: "Seeing yourself as an inseparable unity of body and brain may involve a shift in your self-understanding, but it is, I believe, a truly liberating one".
And so the second bingo moment kicks in, and there are consequences, huge consequences. Traders need to be physically healthy - fit - to do what they do. They need to learn from top-class athletes, "for they are the people with the most experience of controlling their hormones and emotions in the interests of optimising performance".
Traders need support from family and friends too. If they become isolated, they become less effective. "I am concerned (that) a financial community may develop, as a crisis wears on, into a clinical population." In other words, the reason the financial services sector continues to chase vast convoluted deals, and the reason traders are still losing billions - Kweku Adoboli of UBS, who lost his firm $2.3bn, being the latest in a long line that began with Nick Leeson at Barings in 1995 and shows no sign of abating any time soon - is that they may be verifiably bonkers, albeit temporarily. They are men addicted beyond any hope of redemption. The cure, says Coates, is to get more women on the trading floor, and employ more older men, men who are in control of the Bull-Market Molecule, men who are "less likely to jump into risks before thinking through a wide range of possible outcomes". And there is
little evidence that age impairs judgment in this sector either: check Warren Buffett and George Soros.
On the surface of it, The Hour Between Dog and Wolf is about the physiological and neurological changes that take place within traders' bodies as they do their buying and selling. But Coates, who is affiliated to Cambridge's Judge Business School, disentangles the mind/body dichotomy with forensic skillto show how our bodies and brains are interlinked, and this book has profound implications for the history of philosophy and will, in my view, wobble the foundations of some of philosophy's most sacred tenets.
"If the walls separating brain from body came down," writes Coates, "so too would the barriers between many subjects." Such as economics and medicine, for starters.
And knowing how beautifully the brain is integrated into the body could "bridge the abyss of misunderstanding that has separated the `two cultures' of science and the humanities".
The Hour Between Dog and Wolf is a total gamechanger. Buy it and liberate yourself from a 2,000-year old dead end.
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on 31 October 2015
A fascinating story told over a series of events and circumstances in the trading room, drawing on the biochemistry of the human body and brain and the ways it drives financial decisions. Coates in essence tells us that global markets are largely relying on a hormone boom and bust in the bodies and minds of people who trade in them. Machine trading notwithstanding, little of the money made relies on the fundamentals of assets traded, while most is made through a relentless risk-taking exercise and the consequences of success and failure in it. Coates draws valuable conclusions and recommends regulatory and other amendments that could, in the fullness of time, turn markets into more rational spaces, albeit potentially with fewer risk-driven trades and possibly fewer of the usual giant profits. Neuroscience can do more, he claims, to contribute to reversing irrational exuberance and health science can assume a more active role in mitigating the next crash.
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