Raise softly and deliver a big exit

In the world of venture capital, the prospect of a successful “exit” looms large in the minds of investors. A VC’s business model is less about the money that goes into a startup than it is about what comes out. It’s true that most companies fail to exit gracefully, and of those that do, surprisingly few exit by going public. The majority of exits take place through mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

For most investors of this ilk, it’s not always the size of the exit that matters; rather, the focus is placed on the ratio of exit valuation to invested capital (VIC). Crunchbase Newshas previously covered exits that delivered high VIC ratios — or those that brought “the biggest bang” for the proverbial buck — and we’ve found that mobile and related sectors are particularly fertile ground for high-VIC M&A events.

But there are a couple of more general questions to be asked and answered than in those articles. For instance, from the standpoint of VIC multiples, are larger exits better? And are companies that have raised less venture funding more likely to generate higher multiples? These answers can be found.

But before getting into the weeds, let’s clear out some reminders and disclaimers. We’re not answering the question “Are startups with less venture funding more or less likely to exit?” Crunchbase News has already taken a stab at that question and found that, unless a startup raised less than around $9 million in venture funding, there isn’t a strong correlation between total capital raised and likelihood of being acquired. And like that previous foray into exit data, we’re only looking at mergers and acquisitions because there’s a larger sample set to be found.

If you’re interested in what kind of data we used for this analysis, skip to the end of the post for notes on methodology. If not, read on for answers.

Big exits are better exits for multiples

When it comes to acquisitions, in general, bigger is better if the goal is to deliver a high ratio of valuation to invested capital.

The chart below displays VIC multiple data on the vertical axis and the acquisition value on the horizontal axis. Keep in mind that this chart uses a logarithmic scale (e.g. based on powers of 10) on both axes to include the very broad range of results.

Based on the 225 acquisition events in this data set, there is a positive and statistically significant correlation between the final acquisition price and VIC ratios.

A correlation such as this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The vast majority of companies don’t raise more than a few tens of millions of dollars, and 99 percent of U.S. companies raise less than around $160 million, as Crunchbase News found last May.

So, for most companies, acquisition values over about $50 million are more likely to generate higher multiples. A well-known example would be a company like Nervana, which had raised approximately $24.4 million across three rounds, according to Crunchbase data. Nervana was then acquired by Intel in August 2016 for $350 million, producing a VIC ratio of around 14.34x.

Of course, the tendency for bigger exits to generate bigger returns is just a rough rule of thumb, and there are plenty of cases where big exits don’t correspond to big multiples. Here are two examples:

These latter two examples offer a convenient segue to the penultimate section. There, we’ll explore the relationship between how much money a startup raises, and its ratio of valuation to invested capital at time of exit.

Smaller war chests deliver bigger exits

Dollar Shave Club and Earnest are examples of companies that raised more than $100 million in funding but ended up delivering exits less than the vaunted 10x multiple that most venture investors seem to target. So is it the case that companies with less VC cash lining their pockets tend to deliver higher VIC multiples when they exit? The answer, in short, is yes.

In the chart below, you can find a plot of total equity funding measured against VIC ratios at exit, again using a logarithmic scale for the X and Y axes.

Out of our sample of 225 acquisitions, we find a slight but statistically significant negative correlation between the amount of equity funding a startup has raised and the final VIC ratio.

And here, too, the results shouldn’t be that surprising. After all, as we saw in earlier examples, a lot of venture funding can weigh down a company’s chances of getting a big exit. It’s easier for a startup with $1 million in venture funding to be acquired for $10 million than it is for a company with $100 million in VC backing to exit for $1 billion plus.

Of those companies that managed to raise a lot of money and generate an outsized VIC multiple, many of them are in the life sciences. Again, this isn’t surprising, considering that sectors like biotech, pharmaceuticals and medical devices are incredibly capital-intensive in the U.S. due to long trial periods and the high cost of regulatory compliance. Unlike the mobile sector, where a small amount of capital can go a long way, it usually takes a lot of money to create something of serious value in the life sciences.

Multiples matter, but most exits are still good exits

The goal of investing is to get more money out than you put in. This is true for investors ranging from pre-seed syndicates all the way up to massive sovereign wealth funds. If we want to characterize any exit with less than a 1.0 VIC ratio as “bad” and everything above 1.0 is “good,” then most of the exits in our data set, specifically 88 percent of them, are good. Of course, there’s some sampling and survivorship bias that probably leans in favor of the good side. But regardless, most companies will deliver more value than was put into them, assuming they can find the exit.

But assuming a company does find a buyer, we’ve found some factors correlated to higher VIC multiples. Bigger deals correspond to bigger multiples, and companies with less capital raised can often deliver bigger returns to investors.

So while venturing out, it’s always important to keep an eye on the exit.

Methodology: A dive into exit data

There are a number of places we could have started our analysis, and we opted for a fairly conservative approach. Using data from Crunchbase, we started with the set of all U.S.-based companies founded between 2003 and today. (This is what Crunchbase Newshas been calling “the Unicorn Era,” in homage to Aileen Lee’s original definition for the new breed of billion-dollar private companies.)

To ensure that we’re working with the fullest-possible funding record, we filtered out all companies that didn’t raise funds at the “seed or angel stage.” We further filtered out companies that have missing round data. (For example, having a known Series A round, a known Series C round, but missing any record of a Series B round.) Startups that raised equity funding rounds with no dollar-volume figure associated with it were also excluded.

We finally merged this set of companies with Crunchbase’s acquisition data to ultimately produce a table of acquired companies, the amount of equity funding they raised prior to acquisition, the name of the company that bought the startup and the amount of money paid in the deal. Again, by starting with acquired companies for which Crunchbase has relatively complete funding records, the resulting set of 225 M&A events, while small, is more likely to produce a more robust and defensible set of findings.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/10/raise-softly-and-deliver-a-big-exit/

The ‘masculine mystique’ why men can’t ditch the baggage of being a bloke

Far from embracing the school run, most men are still trapped by rigid cultural notions of being strong, dominant and successful. Is it leading to an epidemic of unhappiness similar to the one felt by Betty Friedans 50s housewives?

Back in the 90s, it was all going to be so different. Not for our generation the lopsided approach of our parents, with their quaint postwar notions of father-breadwinners and mother-homemakers. We would be equal; interchangeable. Our young women would run companies, embassies, hospitals and schools, while our young men, no slouches themselves, would punctuate their careers with long, halcyon spells dandling babies and teaching toddlers how to make tiny volcanoes out of vinegar and baking soda.

That equality would have formidable knock-on effects. The gender pay gap would narrow. Sexual harassment wouldnt disappear, but decoupling professional power from gender would do a lot to erase it from the workplace.

A generation or so later, it is clear: this is the revolution that never happened, at least not in the UK. The home-dad pioneers among us who once blazed a trail, now look on aghast as successive waves of men scurry past and say: Right. Back to work.

What happened? Latest statistics for England show more than 80% of fathers still work full time, rising to almost 85% for dads of very young children. This rate has barely changed for 20 years. The ratio of part-timers has flatlined just above 6% throughout this decade (having soared through the 90s and early 00s). Just 1.6% of men have given up work altogether to take care of the family home. New rights for fathers to share parental leave with mothers have poor take-up rates.


You can glimpse this paternity gap at 3.30pm on weekday afternoons at school gates up and down the country. Far from being overrun with gaggles of enlightened men in clothes covered with baby sick and badges saying Worlds greatest dad, the father quota is, in my own limited experience, disappointing. There are often more grandparents doing the pickup than dads.

At the same time, there is no shortage of surveys finding legions of men saying they want to find more time for family life. So what is stopping them?

In 1963, The Feminine Mystique, a seminal book by Betty Friedan, helped launch the second wave of feminism by positing that American women faced a problem that has no name: they had essentially become typecast as uber-feminine mothers, home-makers, cake bakers and sexual slaves to their husbands. Forcing women to live up to this idea of femininity left an entire generation depressed, frustrated or hooked on Valium.

The question is this: 50 years later, are men facing their own problem with no name, a masculine mystique which imposes rigid cultural notions of what it is to be male superior, dominant, hierarchical, sexually assertive to the point of abuse even though society is screaming out for manhood to be something very different?

Men who do change their working lives to accommodate their children generally say it can feel tough, lonely, incongruous, even emasculating. When, 15 years ago, I gave up work altogether for a year to do childcare, it took a while to get used to being the only dad in the park; the strange man arguing with a difficult child outside the library on a damp Tuesday morning. People stared.

David Early and his son Jonah There is a stigma when people see you doing a role that isnt traditional.

Little has changed. Father-of-two David Early, 31, from Glasgow, says he still feels in a minority when he is out and about with his toddlers. When Im with the children, and I have her in the sling and him in the buggy, I have people looking and thinking: Whats that guy doing with two kids strapped to him? says Early. There is a stigma when people see you doing a role that isnt traditional. It can impact on your professional life.

For Early, it certainly did. When he asked for additional parental leave after his first child was born, his managers for his data management job were not impressed. He eventually quit and found work elsewhere to be able to balance his work and family in the way he wanted.

Paul Cudby, 36, was luckier. A business analyst for the National Grid in Leicestershire, he found his manager more receptive, and worked out a highly flexible work pattern that leaves him free to do the afternoon school run before turning the laptop back on again in the evening. There comes a moment in every dads life when theres a choice. Youll find yourself missing something at home and the question is: what do you do about the emotional pain? Do you say: Im just going to have to suck it up, or do you say: Somethings got to change?

I get plenty of little jibes about being a part-timer. They are well meaning, but I can understand how some people get offended. I think there possibly is a knock-on effect on my career.

And thats just it men are finding out what women have known for years: that parenting properly will certainly upend your career. For many men, so thoroughly programmed to identify who they are with the work they do, this can seem like an existential threat.

Tormod Sund The traditional man breadwinner those kind of ideas are rooted in the past. Photograph: Mark Rice-Oxley for the Guardian

Tormod Sund, 42, is a father, an anthropologist, a charity worker, a Norwegian and a Londoner and has been the primary carer for his son for more than 10 years. He says he still feels like a bit of an oddity in a society that still expects men to be alpha.

The traditional man breadwinner those kind of ideas are rooted in the past, but you dont get rid of them in one or two generations, Sund says. Those ideas are still quite strong socially.

When you meet new people, the first thing they ask is: What do you do? I would say: I work from home. The idea of what is successful and normal if youre a man is that you should have a career. Its less acceptable for a man to say: Im staying at home with the children. We work. Our identity is connected to that.

The barriers are not just psychological. They are professional and financial as well. Jasmine Kelland, a human resource studies lecturer at Plymouth University, interviewed scores of fathers and managers, trying to find out more about the male reluctance to reduce hours. She found that of all the working permutations part-time, full-time, men, women the part-time man was held in lowest regard on a range of metrics including competence, commitment and even ability.

In the workplace, fathers do not get as much support as mums, Kelland says. When they say, for example, that they need time off because a child is unwell, organisations are less supportive. There are quite a lot of negative perceptions about fathers who want to work part-time.

Dr Alpesh Maisuria has experienced this first-hand. The 37-year-old London-based academic says that even in more enlightened parts of the economy, bosses are not always understanding. My value as a bloke in this country is to do with my productivity and output, much more than being a father, he says. I would suggest in many instances, even as an academic, the fact that Im a father might be a hindrance to my bosses.

The part-time paternal penalty is not just a British peculiarity. A 2013 US study found that men who engaged in childcare risked a workplace backlash. Men who lack complete focus on, and dedication to, their work and who do the low-status feminine work of childcare and housework are likely to be seen both as failed men and as bad workers, the report found. At the other end of the scale, however, Sweden incentivises all fathers to take at least three months paid paternity leave. The result has been a far more even-handed approach to latte pappas.

Dr Alpesh Maisuria The fact that Im a father might be a hindrance to my bosses. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

When I take him out to playgroups or cafes in the UK, Im usually the only bloke in there, says Maisuria. In Sweden, youll find a whole load of these blokes alongside you.

There are, of course, financial considerations: a great many households wont be able to afford to sacrifice even part of a fathers salary. With the gender pay gap persisting, the default position tends to be men working full-time while women do the childcare and perhaps work part-time.

Involved fatherhood is quite a middle-class concept, says Dr Helen Norman at Manchester Universitys school of social sciences. Its only really accessible to middle-class men who can afford to change their work; the fathers on lower incomes dont have that [option].

A support worker with a housing association in the West Midlands, Richard Watkins, 32, worked all the hours he could, until separation from his partner and problems with their children forced a rethink. Now, his six-year-old son lives with him and Watkins felt he had to cut back his hours to nurture his child. We came very close to relying on food banks, he says. The only way I can survive doing this on my budget is to have it [all] mapped out for the next two years.

Ultimately, he says, he will have to go back to work full-time. Which is a shame. The benefits of full-on fathering the dad dividend if you like are both obvious and subtle. There are no end of advocates agitating for progress, from Fathers Network Scotland and its Dad Up campaign to Working Families and the Fatherhood Institute.

Martin Doyle, 37, a Bristol-based communications manager for Lloyds bank, noticed that, after he went part-time, there was a big a difference in the son that he and his husband had adopted. Its been massively beneficial our son is a lot more settled and a lot more relaxed than he was, he says. His confidence has grown, his self-belief has grown. Ive been able to be there to support him.

Engaged fathers can also liberate women to resume careers indeed women will never get close to true equality until men bend over backwards to meet them halfway. And according to Norman, there can be a positive effect on relationships, too: in households where men do sole childcare a few times a week in the early years, this will have a positive effect on the relationship over time, she says.

But could it be that the biggest beneficiary of all would be men themselves?

From his office overlooking the Royal Festival Hall terrace in London, Ted Hodgkinson is putting the finishing touches to a festival that is all about the male predicament.

The Being a Man festival, running from 24-26 November, aims to get under the skin of the masculine identity, prod it around a little, see if it falls apart. The furore over sexual harassment will tinge some segments, particularly a session called Standing Up for Her Rights.

But the event aims to be far broader than a single news story. Writers, actors and performers, including Robert Webb, Alan Hollinghurst and Simon Amstell, will explore the relentless levels of expectation heaped on men and assess whether this is responsible for statistics that suggest it is truly dismal these days to have a Y chromosome.

Suicide is a predominantly male tragedy (a man takes his life every minute somewhere in the world). Ditto gambling, drug overdoses, rough sleeping or just disappearing. Rape, murder, terrorism, war, people trafficking and domestic violence: all are predominantly masculine disgraces. Wherever you go in the world, men always make up more than 90% of jail populations. Flick through todays newspaper and the chances are it will be full of all the bad things that men are doing. Of course, recent weeks have been dominated by sexual harassment, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Mass shootings and sickening murders, not to mention terror attacks and the brutality of war.

Then there are our role models: misogynist presidents, groping politicians, narcissistic sports stars, self-satisfied billionaires, airbrushed actors, heroic superheroes, alpha men, all of them. Even the average shape of a man has changed in 20 years: guns, pecs and necks wider than heads in some cases. There is no room for the winsome, the vulnerable, the uncertain.

I ask Hodgkinson if he thinks a masculine mystique a cultural insistence on strong, dominant, successful types as the only valid manifestation of manhood is making us unhappy in the same way that the feminine mystique depressed women in the 50s and 60s.

In one sense it seems as though men are holding all the cards, he says, but the statistics show otherwise: three out of four suicides are men, 73% of adults who go missing are men. They feel they have to walk out of their own lives for one reason or another. We have to look at what masculinity means to understand this. Often it equates showing emotion with weakness. There is a bottling up of shame; not wanting to let people down.

The good news is there is no shortage of books, documentaries, artists working to challenge old patriarchal notions, from Professor Greens acclaimed documentary about men and suicide to Grayson Perrys 2016 book The Descent of Man. (The downside: two-thirds of men say they dont read much.)

There is an awakening around these things. There is a shift there, says Hodgkinson.

Jonny Benjamin agrees. He became a mental health campaigner after contemplating his own suicide on Waterloo Bridge and being talked down by a stranger. He says he sees changes coming through in the new young generation.

Jonny Benjamin We need more sports stars, more footballers to talk about their vulnerabilities. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

The good thing is that now its being questioned, he observes from his own work talking to young people about mental health. There is work in schools challenging this whole kind of big-boys-dont-cry attitude.

Benjamin says it is notions of pride, shame and honour that still do men such harm. Men need to know that its OK to show vulnerability, subjugate every now and then, lose, cry, express their emotional turmoil. Its not just women who suffer from comparing themselves to the perfection they see in the public space.

We need more sports stars, more footballers to talk about their vulnerabilities, he says. Just to say: I do struggle sometimes, I do get anxious. Life isnt all money and cars.

There are nascent campaigns calling for a more honest dialogue about the links between maleness, depression and suicide, most notably the work done by the Campaign Against Living Miserably and the Movember foundation.

But will that ever build into a full-blown movement that reforms maleness from the inside and changes its relationship with the world? Its hard to say. Thus far masculinism has manifested itself principally in niche areas such as custody law or male victims of violence, or simply as strident misogynist voices pushing back at feminism.

And its hard to see how to make a movement when you are essentially still in control of much of society. As Sund says, we are not a minority who are oppressed in any shape or form, so its hard to find that moral space.

The crisis of manhood, if it exists, is very different from that faced by women in the 50s and 60s. In some senses, its a mirror image. Women some at least were saying: Some of us might want to work. Men some at least are saying: Some of us might want to work less. Women were saying: We want to be taken seriously in public life. Men some at least are saying: We want to be taken seriously in our private life.

Both sexes are trying to live up to cultural projections rather than satisfy their own complex human needs. Men today may have greater choice than women did half a century ago, but that doesnt make it easy.

Women had an oppression to rail against; the outcome was a broad awakening that would not be subdued. The oppression of men is far more subtle, even self-inflicted.

The awakening has barely begun.

Being a Man festival runs from 24-26 November at Southbank Centre. More info and tickets available here: southbankcentre.co.uk/being-a-man

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/21/the-masculine-mystique-why-men-cant-ditch-the-baggage-of-being-a-bloke

We should all be working a four-day week. Heres why | Owen Jones

Ending life-sapping excessive hours was a pioneering demand for the labour movement. For the sake of our health and the economy we need to revisit it

Imagine there was a single policy that would slash unemployment and underemployment, tackle health conditions ranging from mental distress to high blood pressure, increase productivity, help the environment, improve family lives, encourage men to do more household tasks, and make people happier. It sounds fantastical, but it exists, and its overdue: the introductionof a four-day week.

The liberation of workers from excessive work was one of the pioneering demands of the labour movement. From the ashes of the civil war, American trade unionism rallied behind an eight-hour day, a movement which ran with express speed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to California, as Karl Marx put it. In 1890 hundreds of thousands thronged into Hyde Park in a historic protest for the same demand. It is a cause that urgently needs reclaiming.

Many Britons work too much. Its notjust the 37.5 hours a week clocked up on average by full-time workers; itsthe unpaid overtime too. According to the TUC, workers put in 2.1bn unpaid hours last year thats an astonishing 33.6bn of free labour.

That overwork causes significant damage. Last year, 12.5m work days were lost because of work-related stress, depression or anxiety. The biggest single cause by a long way in some 44% of cases was workload. Stress can heighten the risk of all manner of health problems, from high blood pressure to strokes. Research even suggests that working long hours increases the risk of excessive drinking. And then theres the economic cost: over 5bn a year, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Nowonder the public health expert John Ashton is among those suggesting a four-day week could improve the nations health.

So the renewed call for a four-day week from Autonomy Institute is very welcome. We want to shift peoples perspectives, to better work and less work, says the thinktanks Will Stronge. Indeed, a deeply unhealthy distribution of work scars our society. While some are working too much, with damaging consequences for their health and family lives, there are 3.3 million or so underemployed workers who want more hours. A four-day week would force a redistribution of these hours, to the benefit of everyone. This will be even more important if automation in sectors such as manufacturing, administration and retail creates more poorly paid work and more underemployment.

A four-day working week could alsohelp tackle climate change: as the New Economics Foundation thinktank notes, countries with shorter working weeks are more likely to have a smaller carbon footprint. This is no economy-wrecking suggestion either. German and Dutch employees work less than we do but their economies are stronger than ours. It could boost productivity: the evidence suggests if you work fewerhours, you are more productive, hour for hour and less stress means less time off work. Indeed, a recent experiment with a six-hour working dayat a Swedish nursing home produced promising results: higher productivity and fewer sick days. If those productivity gains are passed on to staff, working fewer hours doesntnecessarily entail a pay cut.

Then theres the argument for gender equality. Despite the strides made by the womens movement, women still do 60% more unpaid household work on average than men. An extra day off workis not going to inevitably lead to men pulling their weight more at home. But, as Autonomy suggests, a four-day week could be unveiled as part of a driveto promote equal relationships between men and women. A national campaign could encourage men to use their new free time to equally balance household labour, which remains defined by sexist attitudes.

It is heartening to see the resurrectionof one of the great early causes of the labour movement. Germanys biggest union, IG Metall, is calling for a 28-hour week for shift workers and those with caring responsibilities.

That said, on its own the demand is not enough. Now that socialism is re-emerging as a political force that can no longer be ignored or ridiculed, the struggle for more time for leisure, family and relaxation should be linked to broader fights. Increased public ownership of the economy should be structured to create more worker self-management and control. If technology means a further reduction in secure work, a universal basic income a basic stipend paid to all citizens as a right may become ever more salient.

Sure, work can be a fulfilling activity for some. It strikes me, though, that few would disagree with the notion that we should spend more time with our families, watching our children grow, exercising, reading books, or just relaxing. So much of our lives is surrendered to subordinating ourselves to the needs and whims of others, turning human beings into cash cows rather than independent, well-roundedindividuals.

Our social model means economic growth all too often involves concentrating wealth produced by the many into the bank accounts of the few, without improving the lives of the majority. Growth should deliver not justshared prosperity and improved public services but a better balance between work, family and leisure.

Labour politicians now position themselves as the harbingers of a new society, not mere tinkerers with the existing order. That must surely mean building a new economy that lightens the freedom-sapping burden of work. Labour may win the opportunity to build a socialist Britain. If it does, it must be ambitious enough to liberate citizens from the excesses of work.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/16/working-four-day-week-hours-labour

Japanese woman ‘dies from overwork’ after logging 159 hours of overtime in a month

Fate of media worker Miwa Sado, 31, piles pressure on authorities to address large number of deaths linked to labour practices

Japan has again been forced to confront its work culture after labour inspectors ruled that the death of a 31-year-old journalist at the countrys public broadcaster, NHK, had been caused by overwork.

Miwa Sado, who worked at the broadcasters headquarters in Tokyo, logged 159 hours of overtime and took only two days off in the month leading up to her death from heart failure in July 2013.

A labour standards office in Tokyo later attributed her death to karoshi (death from overwork) but her case was only made public by her former employer this week.

Sados death is expected to increase pressure on Japanese authorities to address the large number of deaths attributed to the punishingly long hours expected of many employees.

The announcement comes a year after a similar ruling over the death of a young employee at Dentsu advertising agency prompted a national debate over Japans attitude to work-life balance and calls to limit overtime.

Matsuri Takahashi was 24 when she killed herself in April 2015. Labour standards officials ruled that her death had been caused by stress brought on by long working hours. Takahashi had been working more than a 100 hours overtime in the months before her death.

Weeks before she died on Christmas Day 2015, she posted on social media: I want to die. Another message read: Im physically and mentally shattered.

Her case triggered a national debate about Japans work practices and forced the prime minister, Shinz Abe, to address a workplace culture that often forces employees to put in long hours to demonstrate their dedication, even if there is little evidence that it improves productivity.

The government proposes to cap monthly overtime at 100 hours and introduce penalties for companies that allow their employees to exceed the limit measures that critics say still put workers at risk.

In its first white paper on karoshi last year, the government said one in five employees were at risk of death from overwork.

More than 2,000 Japanese killed themselves due to work-related stress in the year to March 2016, according to the government, while dozens of other victims died from heart attacks, strokes and other conditions brought on by spending too much time at work.

According to the white paper, 22.7% of companies polled between December 2015 and January 2016 said some of their employees logged more than 80 hours of overtime each month the level at which working hours start to pose a serious risk to health.

Research shows that Japanese employees work significantly longer hours than their counterparts in the US, Britain and other developed countries. Japans employees used, on average, only 8.8 days of their annual leave in 2015, less than half their allowance, according to the health ministry. That compares with 100% in Hong Kong and 78% in Singapore.

Sado, a political reporter, covered the Tokyo metropolitan assembly elections and national upper house elections in June and July 2013. She died three days after the upper house elections.

Masahiko Yamauchi, a senior official in NHKs news department, conceded that Sados death reflected a problem for our organisation as a whole, including the labour system and how elections are covered.

Yamauchi said NHK had waited three years to make Sados death public out of respect for her family, according to Kyodo news.

In a statement issued through NHK, Sados parents said: Even today, four years on, we cannot accept our daughters death as a reality. We hope that the sorrow of a bereaved family will not be wasted.

In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/05/japanese-woman-dies-overwork-159-hours-overtime

Household income falling at fastest rate since 1976 as UK savings rates crash

Economic growth following the Brexit vote has come to an abrupt halt as consumers raid piggy banks to battle rising inflation and stalled wages

The consumer-driven momentum that has kept the British economy afloat since the Brexit vote is declining rapidly, with new data showing households in the grip of the most protracted squeeze on living standards since the economic crisis of the mid-1970s.

Against a backdrop of rising prices and stagnant wage growth, incomes adjusted for inflation have now fallen for three successive quarters, the first time this has occurred since the International Monetary Fund had to bail Britain out in 1976.

At the same time, the amount being set aside as savings has now slipped to just 1.7% of disposable income the lowest level on record, and a fraction of the near-10% average for the last 50 years. Just a year ago, it was more than three times the current rate.

The new data from the Office for National Statistics shows that in the first three months of 2017, the mounting financial pressure on consumers brought the UKs strong performance following last summers Brexit vote to an abrupt halt.

On Thursday, separate figures showed an unexpected jump in consumer credit. Households borrowed an extra 1.7bn in May – 300m more than had been expected on credit cards, personal loans and car finance. A survey of consumer confidence also showed a steep decline.

Despite saving less and borrowing more, consumers still reined in their spending, contributing to economic growth confirmed today at just 0.2% the lowest of any of the major G7 industrial nations.

Spending in the shops, new car sales and property transactions have all showed signs of weakness, and the Bank of England has expressed concern about rising levels of consumer debt.

savings UK

Monthly health checks on manufacturing, construction and services due next week will be scrutinised for signs that the hung parliament is now having an impact on business confidence, but the ONS figures show that the economy was already fragile when Theresa May called the general election.

Real household income in the UK a measure of spending power adjusted for movements in prices fell by 1.4% in the first three months of 2017, following falls of 0.3% in the third quarter of 2016 and 0.4% in the fourth quarter.

The only recent parallel for such a prolonged squeeze occurred four decades ago, when a combination of a sterling crisis, pay restraint and public spending cuts agreed with the IMF resulted in real household income falling by around 6% between the fourth quarter of 1976 and the second quarter of 1977.

In the City, the pound fell back below $1.30 amid speculation that the Bank of England would be wary of adding to consumer pain by raising interest rates.

Sterling had been edging higher after remarks by Threadneedle Streets governor, Mark Carney, were seen as a hint that the first increase in interest rates in a decade would soon be announced.

The ONS said that during the first three months of 2017, the savings ratio a measure of how much money individuals are putting away for retirement or a rainy day out of their disposable income fell below 2% for the first time. But it added that, despite the fall in the savings ratio, individuals also spent less in the shops and on going out, contributing to the sharp slowdown in the UK economy, from 0.7% growth in the final quarter of 2016.

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at City data group IHS/Markit, said: The main drag seems to have come from weaker household spending growth, which dropped from 0.7% late last year which can in turn be at least partly linked to a third consecutive quarterly fall in real household disposable income its worst run since the 1970s, according to official statisticians.

Frances OGrady, the TUC general secretary, said: These figures make for grim reading. People raiding their piggy banks is bad news for working people and the economy. But with wages falling as living costs rise, many families are having to run down their savings or rely on credit cards and loans to get through the month.

The UKs balance of payments also fell deeper into the red in early 2017 as the trade gap in goods widened and the surplus in services widened.

The one bright spot for the government from a downbeat set of economic statistics was news of a modest pickup in activity in the services sector in April. With services accounting for 79% of the economy, this raised the prospect of GDP growing in the second quarter.

Darren Morgan, ONS head of GDP, said growth in the first quarter of 2017 was driven by business services and construction, with declines in some consumer-focused industries, such as shops and hotels. The saving ratio has fallen again this quarter to a new record low, partly as a result of higher tax payments reducing disposable income. Some of the fall could be as a result of the timing of those payments, but the underlying trend is for a continued fall in the saving ratio.

The balance of payments which measures trade flows, income from investment, and payments to international bodies such as the EU was in deficit by 16.9bn in the first quarter of 2017, an increase from 12.1bn in the previous three months. The ONS said the UKs poor trade performance wiped 0.8 percentage points from growth in the first quarter.

Some deterioration had been expected in the City after the sharp narrowing of the deficit in late 2016, and analysts said the fall in the value of sterling which makes exports cheaper and imports dearer should help the balance of payments.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jun/30/britons-savings-at-record-low-as-household-incomes-drop-says-ons