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News Corp's share prices significantly down

The reputational damage in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal prompts serious economic instabilit

News Corporation's shares have fallen to a two-year low in Australia following another tumultuous weekend in the phone-hacking scandal.

Shares fell up to 7.6% during Monday before recovering to finish the day's trading down 4.1%. This comes at a time when News Corp's value has dropped almost 20% since the start of this month.

After Rebekah Brooks' resignation last week, matters escalated further over the weekend with her arrest and the resignations of Les Hinton, Dow Jones chief executive, and Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Such events are having a significantly damaging economic effect on the Murdoch empire.

The fall in share prices are prompting further questions about the need for a senior management restructure at News Corp. Likewise, with News Corp's BSkyB takeover bid withdrawn, analysts are now discussing the company's current 39% stake in the broadcaster.

Tess Riley is a freelance journalist and social justice campaigner. She also works, part time, for Streetbank, and can be found on Twitter at @tess_riley

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.