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Nissan hasn't posted an annual loss in nine years, but the automaker is poised to take a big hit on its 2008 earnings, and like the rest of the industry, it is scrambling to restructure. The Japanese carmaker is expected to report a $2.9 billion shortfall, prompting Carlos Ghosn and his team to chop 20,000 jobs - fully 8.5 percent of its employees worldwide. Some of the job losses will be arrived at through early retirement packages and the ending of temporary worker contracts, but most will be out-and-out layoffs. The personnel cuts will leave Nissan with 215,000 workers globally and take place now through March of 2010.

Nissan's planned cuts are markedly more aggressive than those employed by other Japanese automakers, suggesting that Japan's third-largest automaker is even more pessimistic about the potential for near-term economic gains. That appears to be particularly true in its domestic market, where the strong Yen and other factors have conspired to result in 12,000 of the planned job losses.

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