Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Rebound in global IPO market; Decriminalizing all drugs; Explaining the job gap

1 Rebound in global IPO market (Ann Williams in Straits Times) Several factors are creating a stop-start market for initial public offerings (IPOs) across the globe this year, according to a report by EY.

After the weakest first quarter since 2009, the IPO market swung back to life in the April-June quarter with a 120 per cent jump in capital raised to $29.6 billion via 246 deals - up 29 per cent on the number of deals in the first three months of the year.

Still, IPO activity at the mid-year point remains significantly below that of the same period last year, EY noted in its quarterly Global IPO Trends report. At 437 deals, IPO volumes are 38 per cent lower and at $43 billion, total capital raised is almost two-thirds that of the first half of last year.

In the second quarter of this year, the Asia-Pacific was up 20 per cent in terms of capital raised, EMEIA (Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa) was up 187 per cent and the US was up 755 per cent, with the UK and Greater China the only major IPO markets to buck this trend. The most significant gains were made by Australia and New Zealand, which saw proceeds increase by 820 per cent.

However, the drag from an exceptionally slow first quarter meant that for the first six months of this year, even the buoyant Australian and New Zealand markets were down close to a third on the same period last year in terms of capital raised, with EMEIA down 50 per cent, the Middle East down 55 per cent, the Asia-Pacific down 65 per cent and the US down 66 per cent.

2 Decriminalizing all drugs (Maia Szalavtz in The Guardian) We can either criminalize drug possession or fight stigma: we can’t do both at once any more than one runner can sprint in opposite directions at the same time. The whole point of criminalizing drug use is to stigmatize drug users.

To argue that “addiction is a disease” while criminalizing possession of the drug involved in the addiction is, then, to make an impossible case. No actual disease is seen this way. Add to this the fact that the treatment given to people with addiction – unlike treatment for any other disorder, mental or physical – is also heavily moralistic, typically involving prayer, confession and restitution and frequently including deliberate humiliation of a type that is not seen anywhere else in medicine.

Consider, too, the issue of “drug courts” in which the defendant’s medical treatment for addiction is determined by prosecutors and a judge, not by doctors. Importantly, in courts that deal with mentally ill defendants, there is no similar meddling. Because it is not a crime to be mentally ill, judges recognize that the expertise needed to cope with the issue is medical, not moral, and they defer to psychiatrists about what treatment and medications are best.

The methods advocates have suggested, however, are far too weak. Yes, as Massachusetts’ State without Stigma suggests, we can make some progress by doing things like eliminating demeaning language. People with addiction shouldn’t be called “addicts” in the same way that people with schizophrenia shouldn’t be called “schizophrenics”; person-first language recognizes our common humanity.

If we really want to treat addiction like the medical problem it so clearly is, we can’t use the criminal justice system to arrest people for showing symptoms of it. If you want to fight stigma, you’ve got to first fight criminalization and reform the coercive and demeaning addiction treatment system that has been warped by it.

3 Explaining the job gap (Kim Thompson in San Francisco Chronicle) Life happens and whether we like it or not, we are all faced with unexpected family or health challenges that can take us out of the workplace for a length of time. How you explain job gaps sets the tone for how employers perceive whether your skills are out of date and wondering how you could contribute to their business.

Most job candidates dread questions regarding times of unemployment for fear that employers might hold this against them in the interview. Truth is most interviewers can identify with real life issues and, in some cases, taking time away from work can demonstrate good judgment and a sense of responsibility. There are just some things beyond your control that has nothing to do with your skill set or experience.

When you are defensive or anxious about the job gap, chances are high you will send the same message to the interviewer. There are many ways to answer job gap questions, but the best way to do it is through honesty and a sincere spirit. A job gap will require an answer to help address any concerns of commitment with a potential employer.

Just to say you took time out for personal reasons, might not be enough because it’s too broad of an answer and leaves room for the interviewer to guess. A brief explanation of the reason why you took time off should be sufficient if you demonstrate how you kept your skills updated.

Volunteering can be an excellent way to keep your skills current as well as attending training programs and networking. You can take the barrier away from a job gap by focusing on your skills rather than feeling awkward about the time away.

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