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The nation began paying its pound of flesh last week for the steel and coal strikes. All over the country, the vise-tight pinch on steel and other metals began to shut down plants or curtail industrial production. Though U.S. industry was still far from capacity, production was already bumping the materials ceiling.

Detroit's automakers were the hardest hit. Last week, Chevrolet production dropped from 12,347 to 7,792. Briggs Manufacturing Co., which makes bodies for Chrysler and Packard, laid off 7,000 workers, cut schedules in half. Result: Chrysler cut its daily production from 3,600 to 2,775 cars, is expected to lay...

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