Here's the article. It says the Fed is planning to stockpile an extra
US$200-million. Previously it was $50-million. Is the $200-million a
mistake, or have the famous They realised that there aren't going to be
any banks open for quite a long time.
The report also paints a pretty desperate picture of the oil and
shipping industries, which does not bode well for the future.
Study Says Y2K Risks Widespread (Washn)
By Stephen Barr
(c) 1999, The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - A report on the Year 2000 computer problem prepared
by a special Senate panel warns that a number of foreign
countries and U.S. economic sectors, especially the health care
industry, appear at significant risk for technological failures
and business disruptions.
The report, scheduled for release this week by Sens. Robert F.
Bennett, R-Utah, and Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., includes a
letter to Senate colleagues describing the problem of computers'
ability to recognize dates starting on Jan. 1, 2000, popularly
known as Y2K, as a ``worldwide crisis'' and as ``one of the most
serious and potentially devastating events this nation has ever
The prospect of widespread computer glitches and lobbying by
industry groups have galvanized bipartisan groups in the Senate
and House to press for legislation protecting companies that fail
to deliver goods and services on time because of Y2K problems.
Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., estimated Tuesday there might be $1
trillion in lawsuits filed because of the glitch and urged
adoption of an industry-backed House bill to allay ``a great deal
of fear regarding out-of-control litigation.''
A draft copy of the Senate report, provided by staff aides to The
Washington Post, describes in vivid detail the scope of the
potential Y2K problem and the frustrations that Senate
investigators encountered as they tried to gather information
from industries reluctant to describe what progress they have
made in fixing computer and telecommunication systems.
But the report represents the most comprehensive assessment of
the Y2K problem to appear as companies and governments scramble
to fix their computer systems. In addition to health care, the
report portrays the oil, education, farming, food processing and
construction sectors as seriously lagging on computer repairs.
Among the report's findings: More than 90 percent of doctors'
offices and 50 percent of small- and medium-sized companies have
not addressed the Y2K problem; telephone systems are expected to
operate; and planes will not fall out of the sky. The Senate
panel also worries that communities will not be able to provide
``911'' and other emergency services.
Even though governments and corporations have mobilized
technology staffs and consultants to sift through millions of
lines of software code looking for Y2K glitches, the 161-page
draft also underscores how little experts know about the
potential impact of the so-called millennium bug.
``The interdependent nature of technology systems makes the
severity of possible disruptions difficult to predict. Adding to
the confusion, there are still very few overall Year 2000
technology compliance assessments of infrastructure or industry
sectors. Consequently, the fundamental questions of risk and
personal preparedness cannot be answered at this time,'' the
Clinton administration officials have portrayed the Y2K problem
as similar to a severe winter snowstorm that causes inconveniences but
little lasting harm. Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan
assured Americans that they can keep their money in the bank over New
Year's 2000 without fear.
``There's almost no conceivable way ... that computers will break
down and records of people's savings accounts would disappear,''
he told the Senate Banking Committee.
Still, almost all government agencies are drawing up emergency
plans, including the Fed, which plans to stockpile an extra $200
billion in cash for banks, about a third more than usual.
The Senate report, which grew out of a series of hearings last
year by the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology
Problem, concludes ``that the biggest Y2K impact will occur
Two important trading partners, Japan and Venezuela, seem to have
miscalculated the time and money needed to fix the computer
glitch, according to the draft report.
Relying on surveys by consultants, the report suggests that Japan
``may have underestimated the resources needed to address the
problem,'' noting that major Japanese banks have indicated far
lower repair costs than U.S. banks.
Venezuela and Saudi Arabia lag from a year to 18 months behind
the United States in Y2K preparations, raising concerns about the
availability of oil and other critical imports, the report said.
International ports are widely described as far behind in their
Y2K efforts, prompting worries that the maritime industry will
face shipping problems that could interrupt commerce, the report
International aviation and foreign airports also appear at risk,
and ``flight rationing to some areas and countries is possible,''
the report said.
Overall, the report said, ``the least-prepared countries are
those that depend heavily on foreign investment and multinational
companies to supplement their economies. Panic over Y2K concerns
may cause investors to withdraw financial support. Lack of
confidence in a country's infrastructure could cause
multinational companies to close their operations.''
The Y2K problem exists in millions of lines of software code that
uses two digits to represent four-digit years. Unfixed, computers
will assume that dates occurring after Dec. 31 use the prefix
``19,'' leading software programs to read ``00'' not as 2000 but
as 1900. That defect could cause computers to crash or spew out
In assessing U.S. preparedness, the draft report reserved some of
its strongest language for the health care industry, concluding
it ``is one of the worst-prepared for Y2K and carries a
significant potential for harm.''
The industry relies on computers for patient treatment, insurance
claims and pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution. While
large hospitals are pushing to fix their computers, the report
described hospital management as ``playing a catch-up game.''
Many hospitals are relying solely on medical device manufacturers
to certify products as Y2K-compliant, which the report said
``could be a serious mistake.''
The report cited rural and inner-city hospitals as at special
risk because they do not have the staff or money to find and fix
ends 126.96.36.1991 Sumayya Samsoodien