Caterpillar Inc. is laying off about 20,000 workers, equal to more than 10% of its global workforce, and is planning for an expected 25% drop in sales volume this year as it attempts to wrangle in costs. The Peoria, Ill.-based heavy-equipment manufacturer informed investors on Jan. 26 that a rapidly deteriorating global economy and plunging commodity prices “whipsawed” the company’s otherwise bullish sales year in 2008. Cat posted record earnings for the fourth quarter, thanks mostly to booming Asian and Latin American markets. For the year, it raked in a record $51.3 billion in revenue, up 14% annually, with profits of $3.5 billion. “It is now clear that we need to sharply lower our production and costs,” says CEO Jim Owens. Cat is forecasting this year’s overall sales at approximately $40 billion, with profits 56% less than its 2008 returns.