Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2012
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. The inclusion of our muscle responses to our nervous system and our internal feedbacks helps give an overall view of our various mind body relationships.

The 3rd section Seasons of the Market discusses various market regimes and how our body chemistry in each of those regimes is different. Searching for opportunity, riding waves of profit or enduring catastrophic losses are all discussed via narratives of characters the author uses. It helps make sense of real life situations and how we are all biased agents when it comes down to it. This section is where the author really weaves in the impact on financial decision making.

The author concludes with discussing the difference between various types of people and how environment and activity can affect our instincts and our feedback mechanisms. We all have some plasticity and though we inevitably are impacted by the stresses around us we can handle them differently and experience matters. The author then goes on to give partial solutions to dampening the positive and negative feedback loops our body creates in risk taking behaviour to improve our financial system.

All in all The Hour Between the Dog and the Wolf is a very informative account of the way we work in stressful environments and how those environments affect the way we think and act in an active fashion. I much preferred the scientific explanation instead of the specific impact on trading as the lessons are very broad and are relevant to much more than trading. One does not come out of reading the book having a clear path to more robust financial management as that is extremely challenging but one does come through it with more insight about how we work.
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