Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: Random House Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-35967-4 (0-307-35967-0)
Pub Date: May 15, 2012
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A successful Wall Street trader turned Cambridge neuroscientist reveals the biology of financial boom and bust, showing how risk-taking transforms our body chemistry, driving us to extremes of euphoria or stressed-out depression.
The laws of financial boom and bust, it turns out, have a lot to do with male hormones. In a series of startling experiments, Canadian scientist Dr. John Coates identified a feedback loop between testosterone and success that dramatically lowers the fear of risk in men, especially young men; he has vividly dubbed the moment when traders transform into exuberant high flyers "the hour between dog and wolf." Similarly, intense failure leads to a rise in levels of cortisol, which dramatically lowers the appetite for risk. His book expands on his seminal research to offer lessons from the exploding new field studying the biology of risk.
Coates's conclusions shed light on all types of high-pressure decision-making, from the sports field to the battlefield, and leaves us with a powerful recognition: to handle risk isn't a matter of mind over body, it's a matter of mind and body working together. We all have it in us to be transformed from dog to wolf; the only question is whether we can understand the causes and the consequences.
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
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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