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The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust Hardcover – June 14, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A profoundly unconventional book… It’s also so absorbing that I wound up reading it twice…From the first page to the last, Coates challenges deep-seated assumptions.”
Bloomberg Businessweek



One of Financial Times' Best Books of 2012

"A profoundly unconventional book... It's also so absorbing that I wound up reading it twice... From the first page to the last, Coates challenges deep-seated assumptions."
Bloomberg Businessweek

"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 a powerful distillation of his work—and an important step in the ongoing struggle to free economics from rational-actor theory."
The Daily Beast

"[I]t makes intuitive sense that biological responses inform the mood of the markets. This book puts flesh on that idea."
The Economist

"[A] scintillating treatise on the neurobiology of the business cycle. Coates... draws an intimate portrait of life on a trading floor…The result is a provocative and entertaining take on the irrational exuberance—and anxiety—of the modern economy."
Publishers Weekly

"A provocative challenger to rational choice views of high finance, Coates makes an exceptionally clear, readable presentation that is bound to influence arguments about the regulation of Wall Street.”
Booklist

"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, neuroscientist, Stanford University

“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 a powerful distillation of his work—and an important step in the ongoing struggle to free economics from rational-actor theory.”
The Daily Beast



“[I]t makes intuitive sense that biological responses inform the mood of the markets. This book puts flesh on that idea.”
The Economist

About the Author

John Coates is a senior research fellow in neuroscience and finance at the University of Cambridge. After completing his Ph.D., Coates worked for Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Deutsche Bank in New York, where he observed the powerful emotions driving traders. He returned to Cambridge in 2004 to research the effects of the endocrine system on financial risk taking. Coates’s work has been cited in several publications, including The New York Times, Wired, and The Economist, and he has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, and the BBC. His writing has been published in The Financial Times and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among others.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; 1 edition (June 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594203385
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203381
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is another of those serendipitous finds, while browsing in the bookstore, that was very readable and instructive. Both because I work in finance (ex-investment banker) and from a martial arts / sports / health perspective there is a lot of material here that expanded my thinking.

The subtitle for the book is called "Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust" and it is by the neuro-scientist and former Wall Street Trader John Coates. In order to piggy back on the seemingly insatiable demand for books on the credit crisis of 2008, most reviews and editorials in major magazines have focused upon the risk taking side of the book and how pressures of trading can change the biological composition of your body, impacting your appetite for risk (success builds a feeling of overconfidence and a greater appetite for risk) thus having the potential to cause booms and busts in stock markets and the broader economy. A substantial part (but not overwhelming) of the book is about finance and trading and author uses a trio of fictional fixed income (bond) traders during the 2008 crisis to illustrate his points, and this keeps the text from becoming too academic or dry.

But what also interested me was the more general topic on how humans are not disembodied brains who make rational decisions, but that our thinking is very much impacted by our body and our senses. There is a lot of analysis here on how the brain regions processing our reasoning skills are intricately tangled up with our motor circuits and are intimately linked to movement. There is also a whole level of activity where there is a feedback loop between our hormones and our thinking, and a lot of this is on a pre-conscious level.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is basically about how emotional feedback loops trigger change in body chemistry and through that our behavior. The author argues that our brains and bodies are much more integrated than most people believe and that modern neuroscience proves it. You will find in this book a story told through the context of financial trading booms and busts how these feedback loops work. There is a lot of science in this book and it is well argued and convincingly presented.

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf is quite fascinating. We have this idea that our behavior is driven solely or mostly by our choices, choices that we consciously make. Research in the last few decades is making this harder and harder to accept. This book does an excellent job at showing how our behavior is much more complicated and that our body chemistry plays a big part in influencing our brain and our behavior.

I really liked this book and found it fascinating. Its ideas apply to much more than the trading context in which it is set. If you are interested in science, human behavior, or the brain I can easily recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a trader of many years the book brought back lots of memories; - the good ones of being "at the still point of the turning world" calm, in a zone, while all around was a frenzy, and you could think at savant speed, effortlessly "seeing" answers in a way that had no conscious cognitive effort. The harder times when your body is in a knot and your mind won't work at all. This book captures both extremes and should be required reading for traders, managers and anyone interested in why markets behave as they do and how we might address the human failings that drive the behavior.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Hour between the Dog and the Wolf is about risk taking, the nervous system and our biochemistry and how they all relate to each other in various feedback mechanisms. The book is both a combination of a scientific introduction to the way the nervous system and body work together and a fictional narrative of the trading floor in a bank. The narrative is used to describe the real time emotional changes felt by traders in response to their changing risk and profit environments. The book is informative and readable and I came out of it better understanding myself. The book is split into 4 distinct parts.

The first section is titled Mind and Body in the Financial Markets. The backdrop is the internet bubble and questions of exuberance in markets is pondered. The author introduces testosterone and cortisol as potential active molecules in impacting decision. Basic concepts of mind body separation are included. The author then goes on to describe the mind as facilitating the body. He discusses how if one view our purpose in life as to move, then the mind is just an elaborate mechanism to facilitate that movement more productively. This helps give the platform to understand us as being always being a vehicle for movement and that we should not deny the signals our body sends us.

The second section - Gut Thinking discusses the way our instincts can propogate through the nervous system. He discusses how our body's instincts operate on a much faster speed than our computational thought. This subject matter is similar to that of many behavioural scientists and is akin to Kahneman in fast and slow thinking. The value of relying on instincts is studied and our instincts are shown to be very good at pattern recognition which can fail when we are faced with randomness.
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