John Coates ran a derivatives desk at Deutsche Bank until he got more interested in traders than trading. During the tech bubbled he’d noticed traders seemed biologically transformed by the go-go market. In 2005, he took saliva swabs from 250 bankers, and discovered that traders made more money on mornings when their levels were high, and calculated that the difference high- and low-testosterone could mean the difference in $1 million a year in take home pay.
Well, Mr. Coates has a book out this month, which makes him a natural guy to ask about JPMorgan’s disclosures of $2.3 billion in trading losses. Which is what Bloomberg Businessweek did in the “Opening Remarks” to this week’s issue: “We have to start thinking of management as leaning against these tendencies, stabilizing the biology,” Mr. Coates said.
Gail Collins had a not unrelated idea: “I cannot tell you what a relief it was when I discovered that the multibillion-dollar trading loss at JPMorgan was because of deer,” she wrote in yesterday’s New York Times, referring of course to the bout of Lyme disease that supposedly waylaid former-JPMorgan Chief Investment Officer Ina Drew and allowed
Voldemort to storm Hogwarts Achilles Macris to increase his influence. (Mr. Macris managed Bruno Iksil, aka Whale, and reportedly pushed to increase the size of the losing strategy.) “Believe me, if you have advanced Lyme disease, you are not going to be able to keep a handle on a passel of frisky traders.”
To which we would only add: The testosterone pills are in aisle 9.