The Hour Between Dog & Wolf: John Coates

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Research in neuroscience suggests that the physical reactions on trading floors are similar to war zones or elite sports where the pressure to perform and survive is great. And that in such situations, the Visceral trumps the Rational. The man behind that view spent years on the trading floor for the big players on Wall St. before investing in a degree in neuroscience. We speak with John Coates, author of The Hour Between Dog and Wolf to explain his ideas.


Part Three of The Current

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: John Coates

We started this segment with a clip from the 2011 movie, Margin Call ... a financial thriller loosely based on the real-life collapse of the financial services company, Lehman Brothers, an event that helped plunge the world into the financial crisis of 2008. It's a story full of high-stakes risk taking by people battling sweaty palms, tight chests and knotted stomachs. And it's moments like those that got John Coates thinking the world of high finance may be governed by the gut more often than we'd like to think.

John Coates was born in Ottawa and worked as a trader for Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank during the heady days of the 1990s dot-com boom. Then, he switched gears entirely, became a neuroscientist and began testing his theory that even the brainiest of financial whiz-kids is doing a lot of his thinking from the neck down.

The result is a new book called The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk-Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust. John Coates is now a Sr. Research Fellow of Neuroscience and Finance at the University of Cambridge. He was in our Ottawa studio.

This segment was produced by The Current's Chris Wodskou.

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We ended the program this morning with a preview of a story The Current's Liz Hoath is working on. She gets the Last Word.


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