General Motors executives painted a bleak outlook of the global economy in offering buyouts to 17,700 employees last month.
"We must take significant action and now while our company and the economy are strong," they said in talking points given to managers in October to discuss the severance plan with staff. CNBC obtained the "leader talking points," and GM verified their authenticity.
An "intensely competitive" industry combined with pressure from rising commodities prices, interest rates and a difficult trade environment created a sense of urgency. "We need ... to make the right pre-emptive moves so that we come out of this tough time ahead," they said in the talking points.