The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust Hardcover – May 15 2012
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FINALIST 2012 - Wellcome Trust Book Prize
FINALIST 2012 - Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award
“A great book.”
“If anyone is qualified to unify the seemingly disparate subjects of financial markets and neurology, it’s John Coates.... The Hour Between Dog and Wolf is well executed and makes its argument convincingly.”
—The Daily Beast
“Stunning research.” —Forbes
“Provocative and entertaining.”
“The variously debilitating or exhilarating physiology of stress and challenge is the subject of this compelling exploration of human beings in overdrive. John Coates brings finely honed scientific insight to his insider’s look at the world of high-wire high finance to produce a vivid depiction of the minds, brains and bodies of economic movers and shakers living on the edge.”
—Gabor Maté M.D., author of When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress
“The picture of humans as rationale 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 and neurosciences, Stanford University
"A vivid and brilliantly written narrative: by integrating his knowledge of neuroscience with his experience as a Wall Street trader, Coates pulls back the curtain on the physiological mechanisms that prepare some individuals to thrive and others to be devastated by confronting risk. The Hour Between Dog and Wolf ensures that future models of risk taking will include the important role of the nervous system.”
—Stephen W. Porges, Director, Brain-Body Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago
“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
About the Author
John Coates is a senior research fellow at the University of Cambridge. He previously worked for Goldman Sachs and ran a trading desk for Deutsche Bank in New York. 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 has been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, New Scientist, Wired and TIME. Coates has appeared on CNN, CNBC, BBC, CBS Evening News and Good Morning America. He was born and raised in Canada and now lives in England with his wife and two sons.
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Top Customer Reviews
Coates' main thesis is that the body plays a significant role in our decisions. Not the brain, the body. Coates continues the trend of exploring our decision making from a non-conscious point of view (a theme in books like Blink or Fast and Slow). Only Coates moves beyond the unconscious brain to discuss how the body impacts our thinking. Largely, Coates examines how hormones related to fight or flight systems in the body change the way we behave and think. Far from the rational model of behavior dominant for so long in economics (honestly, I can't believe anyone still believes that nonsense), Coates shows how winning can prime a testosterone boost that amplifies not only traders' successes, but also their appetite for risk and hubris. Thus one gets a spiral of effective optimism that leads to hubris that leads to a spectacular crash and burn. At which point cortisol takes over and induces the opposite effect. Exaggerated withdrawal and reduced efficacy, leading to missed opportunities. Coates examines the evidence using both lab and field data, the latter collected from real London financial traders at work.
Coates is an engaging author, and uses fictional characters to illustrate each of the systems he discusses.Read more ›
But a wise man holds them back." -- Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV)
The financial markets are supposed to be efficient (almost perfectly reflecting the known information to set accurate valuations). Yet most stocks will oscillate plus or minus 30 percent from their daily closing average during the course of a year. Surely, the value of the company didn't shift so much in that time?
In recent years, experiments by behavioral researchers have challenged the efficient markets theory by showing that many decisions work differently than a calculating computer would. In The Hour between Dog and Wolf, John Coates (a senior research fellow in neuroscience and finance) reports on newer research into how the bodies of people making investment and trading decisions are affected by what they are doing. Drawing on his personal experience at Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, the findings are described in the context of market conditions that will seem quite familiar to experienced investors. I found the book to be fascinating. And I included a recommendation to read it in Lesson Fourteen of my next book, Excellent Solutions.
I thought that the book was weakest in postulating possible ways to dampen the harmful effects of neurology and body chemistry on investment behavior. I will welcome controlled experiments that follow up on these measurements to see how minds and bodies can be kept under more appropriate discipline in making decisions and taking actions.
Brilliantly written, Coates has a light style that helps make it a compelling read, rather than a dry slog.