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Rogue Hormones

IF THE losses at UBS that surfaced this month were caused by a “rogue” trader, would that make his colleagues stable? Not if research being undertaken by John Coates, a neuroscientist at Cambridge University and a former derivatives trader, is anything to go by. His work suggests that hormones drive investment decisions to a far greater extent than economists or bank executives realise. When traders are on a winning streak, their testosterone levels surge, sparking such euphoria that they underestimate risk. When they are acutely stressed, the adrenal cortex produces a flood of cortisol, a hormone that can make them overly fearful and risk-averse.

The Economist

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Comments

  1. Felicity Rolls says:

    Liked this bit at the end Chris:
    One way to reduce the financial havoc these hormones might wreak could be for trading desks to hire more women. Women have about 10% as much testosterone as men, making them less prone to irrational exuberance. Competitive situations do not activate women’s cortisol response with such intensity, so market mayhem is less likely to impair their judgment. Call it a hormonal-diversification strategy.

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