So it wasn’t greed, it was all down to unconscious urges

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The downturn is often blamed on the deliberate greed of bankers, but author John Coates has a new theory.

His new book draws on zoology to argue that traders are victims of unconscious urges. In the wild, alpha males experience a surge of testosterone before turf wars. Success triggers more testosterone and risk-taking.

Failure triggers Cortisol and extreme caution. It is easy to imagine the jeopardy of the stock market prompting equally extreme hormonal responses and a cycle of boom-and-bust.

During the Olympics, sports scientists will coach athletes in the ways their hormones can cloud good judgment. If Osborne and Cameron want to avoid knee-jerk reactions, perhaps they should call on their skills.