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Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors said Monday that it will cut 15% of its salaried workforce, estimated to be around 14,700 people in North America, and that it will idle factories in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Canada.

The bottom line: GM said when it emerged from bankruptcy that it must be profitable in both good times and bad, and today's moves suggest that it is preparing for an economic downturn.

GM says it will "unallocate" multiple North American plants in 2019, which basically means those facilities will not be asked to make product. It's the first procedural step toward outright closure, which cannot happen before a negotiated labor union agreement. The affected plants are:

  • Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit
  • Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio
  • Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland
  • Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan

The automaker also said it will close two other manufacturing facilities outside North America, in addition to a previously announced shuttering of an assembly plant in Gunsan, South Korea.

It anticipates the restructuring will cost between $3 billion and $3.8 billion, with the layoffs including 25% of GM's executive staff.

  • Future development will focus on electric-powered crossovers, trucks and SUVs, with sedans and gas-powered cars being de-emphasized.
  • GM stock was halted on the announcement, but then rose over 5% once trading resumed.

Go deeper:

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California father and son accused of "reckless arson" in Calder Fire

Firefighters at the Caldor Fire along Highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe, California, in September. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California officials said they arrested a father and son Wednesday on suspicion of starting the Caldor Fire, which threatened the Lake Tahoe area as it burned for over two months earlier this year. They deny any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: The wildfire was the 15th-biggest ever recorded in California, razing more than 1,000 structures, forcing thousands to evacuate and injuring five people as it burned across nearly 222,000 acres of land in El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties.

New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation with tobacco ban

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.

FDA approves AstraZeneca COVID drug for people with immune problems

Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for an AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody drug for people with compromised immune systems.

Why it matters: The drug, Evusheld, is the first antibody therapy authorized in the U.S. to prevent coronavirus symptoms before virus exposure.