The Hour Between Dog and Wolf

Risk-taking, gut feelings and the biology of boom and bust

By John Coates

Human psychology


Published by Fourth Estate

Shortlist 2012
The Hour Between Dog and Wolf

Neuroscientist and former Wall Street banker John Coates, reveals how the biochemical responses of bankers impacts on the world economy.

John Coates, a neuroscientist draws on his knowledge, and his former life as a Wall Street trader, to show how human physiology and decision making are intrinsically interconnected. He relates this to the behaviour of bankers and financial traders. Coates demonstrates how signals from the body affect the mind and can occasionally produce undesired effects, such as irrational exuberance or pessimism.  

Working in the highly pressured and fast moving environment of financial trading, risk takers are subject to overwhelming flight-or-fight responses, stimulating the most primitive part of the brain. Coates shows how, under these circumstances, rational thinking and decision making can be impaired.

In this book we learn about hormones and neural-transmitters and how, and why, the mind is susceptible to biochemical stimulus.

Coates demonstrates that normally intelligent and sane people can make catastrophic decisions under the influence of these biological drivers. The global economy, national and corporate balance sheets, and even the bank accounts of all of us, are dependent on the decisions made by financial traders. This book asks us to look at how the markets might be better stabilised, if we took a broader approach to the understanding of how the biochemistry of a few is effecting us all.