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Toyota’s Losses Reflect Troubles Across the Global Economy

With car sales plummeting, giant automaker Toyota Motor Corp., posted its first operating loss in 71 years. Economic analysts examine what impact the company's massive losses will have on the global economy.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    For weeks now, attention has been focused on the troubles of Detroit's big three, but this week it became clear the financial crisis is also hitting foreign automakers hard.

    Toyota's decline in sales of nearly 22 percent was its biggest drop in eight years. The automaker previously had been closing in on G.M. to overtake it as the world's largest car manufacturer this year.

    Other Japanese automakers, including Nissan, announced similar losses.

    And though Honda, the country's second-biggest carmaker, did not give sales figures, it did say worldwide production went down 10 percent.

    The news came just days after Toyota forecast an operating loss of $1.6 billion, for the first time since 1938, 70 years ago. Japan's stock market took a hit on the dismal news, and Toyota's shares fell 4 percent.

    The decline in auto sales is having an impact on exports across Asia. Thailand and Taiwan saw their exports drop by roughly 20 percent in November, and China saw the largest dip in exports in seven years.

    Joining me now to discuss these developments are Micheline Maynard, a senior business correspondent for the New York Times, who has long covered the auto business. She's the author of "The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market."

    And Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy Institute, he's the author of "Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East."

    Thank you both for being with us.

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