Biggest Y2K Problem Will Be Economic, Says Author

DALLAS — The biggest Y2K problem may not be in the days or even
weeks following Jan. 1, 2000, says Bruce Webster, author of ‘The
Y2K Survival Guide.’ Webster is also a software engineer and
co-chair of the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group, which he says is
the largest Y2K organization in the world.

‘What concerns me is the economic impact months into the year
2000,’ Webster said. ‘It will have a real drag on the economy.’

The reason, he said, is that the U.S. economy is so dependent on
inexpensive foreign imports, which may stagger to a halt if
overseas computers are not Y2K compliant, which many are not.

‘It will be far worse overseas than people realize, and that
will have a ripple effect. This could mean retriggering of
inflation because companies may not be able to get the inexpensive
foreign goods,’ he said.

The failures in the supply chain don’t have to be great to start
the domino effect, Webster said, pointing to the General Motors
situation a couple of years ago in which one supplier went on
strike and caused GM to shut down several plants.

‘For GM that was only one of 100,000 of its suppliers and look
what problems that caused,’ he said.

Webster is also beginning to see companies stockpiling
materials, which will have a detrimental effect on the first
quarter of 2000, when companies will slow down their buying. ‘This
is the classic setup for a recession,’ he said.

What people need to do is to expect and prepare for a recession,
such as reducing or eliminating debt. ‘I’m starting to pay off my
credit cards,’ he said.

The good news, Webster said, is that that while an economic
recession may be imminent because of Y2K, the United States will
probably not see a social breakdown and chaos that some predict.
‘The more prepared and calm we are about Y2K, the less impact it
will have,’ he said. ‘If people react poorly, even something minor
can have catastrophic consequences,’ he said.

Contact: Bruce Webster, author, ‘The Y2K Survival Guide,’
co-chair, Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group, Dallas, Texas,
202-256-1279; web site:

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