The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk-taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust

By John Coates

As scandal and the aftershocks of the crash rock the financial world, former Wall Street trader John Coates investigates why our financiers are driven to take risks.

Now 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 sees neuroscientist and former Wall Street trader John Coates explain something we have long suspected: that we think with our body as well as our brain. And this only intensifies when we take risks; at work, in sport and on the financial markets. Making and losing money provokes an overwhelming biological response, and this can alter the way we behave. Could this bodily turmoil lead to the kind of irrational behaviour that so regularly upsets the global economy?

In a series of groundbreaking experiments, Coates has shown that under the pressure of risk our biology transforms us into different people. Traders and investors are especially prone, becoming revved-up and testosterone-driven when on a winning streak, and tentative and risk-averse when cowering from losses. Revealing the biology of bubbles and crashes, The Hour Between Dog and Wolf sheds new and surprising light on issues that affect us all.

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 10 May 2012
Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0-00-741351-5
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.

”'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