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General Motors workers leave the Oshawa General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario, on Monday. Photo: Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images

Wall Street analysts are responding to General Motors' plans to lay off nearly 15,000 salaried workers in 2019 and idle five North American manufacturing plants.

The big picture: Analysts were largely surprised by the scale of the restructuring, GM's largest since emerging from bankruptcy, but welcomed the cost cuts.

What analysts are saying:

  • Philippe Houchois, Jefferies automotive analyst, wrote in a note to clients that it was a "bigger restructuring than expected" and is "certainly piling pressure on Ford to announce plans."
  • Rebecca Lindland, Kelley Blue Book executive analyst, in an email to Axios: "Mary Barra is pushing GM into the 21st century by proactively up-ending nearly every part of the U.S. business and its global operations, positioning the company to be more flexible, agile, and streamlined. But it comes at a tremendous cost to people and the communities which depend upon GM plants for economic sustainability."
  • Michelle Krebs, Autotrader analyst, in an email to Axios: "A confluence of factors has triggered GM’s actions: a downturn in the important China market as well as a potential downturn in the North American market — the two are GM’s biggest markets; the dramatic shift by consumers from traditional cars to utility vehicles; and the impact of tariffs and trade issues."
  • Colin Langan, UBS analyst: "GM's cost reduction efforts have been a key driver of its operating performance and have helped offset recent commodity & [currency] headwinds. We are impressed by GM's proactive cost actions, and remain bullish on the stock."

Go deeper

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.

House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House voted 428-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Why it matters: Both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as several foreign parliaments, have recognized China's repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.