y2k and bad synergy

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One aspect of this issue that keeps nibbling away at my complacency is the possibility for what I call 3bad synergy,2 y2k plus some other crisis. There9s already been plenty of discussion about its effect on the global financial markets, but how do we respond if y2k coincides, either deliberately or accidentally, with a anti-American fundamentalist coup in Saudi Arabia or a famine-wracked North Korean incursion into the South? Isn9t it possible that the global distraction caused by y2k, even if the problem itself turns out to be minor, could be used by various opportunistic people or nations to advance their own agendas without fear of American-European-UN interference? Could OPEC nations, aware that global oil production is at or near peak and about to decline, decide that 2000 is the year to double or triple oil prices, knowing that the US, Europe, and Japan are too busy chasing computer bugs to even rattle their sabers? Terrorists of all stripes both here and abroad could see January 2000 as the perfect time to strike. What do we do, hope for a winter cold enought to keep everyone indoors? Do we use y2k to justify America's growing isolationism?

-- J.D. Clark (yankeejdc@aol.com), June 09, 1998



The global financial markets are in bad enough shape even without considering y2k issues- though y2k could provide the "straw" that breaks the markets' back. Saw a blurb in a recent newsmagazine that there are ten trillion dollars in derivatives deals coming down to the wire in Asia this calendar year- any guesses on how many of them will blow up? The web version of the _South China Morning Post_ has a clickable icon on the Asian financial crisis- which is a continuing problem there, despite the fact that the American media seems to have put the issue behind them.

As to international baddies taking advantage, one of the things that sends chills down the analysts' backs in DoD is the possibility that a few nasty folks might coordinate their actions. I don't want to be an alarmist but your military is as hollow now as it was in the '70s, if not more so. I don't care how much chest beating goes on at the Pentagon, when the Air Force can't reenlist serving pilots with a $120,000 bonus something is badly wrong. Similar stories are coming from the other services as well. Yes, it could be a problem- a big one.

As to the oil situation, one of the Saudi crown prince this week came down in favor of a recent fatwa issued by "the fundamentalists" condemning the presence of foreign troops in the country. The current royals are holding on by mere fingertips and this is the direction the 'next generation' there is heading, simply because they know which side their toast is buttered on. Hint: the whole world needs oil. No one really cares who buys it... someone will show up with the money. Oh by the way- did you know your president had sold down the national strategic petroleum reserve- at a loss for the most part- to help "balance" the budget? The only stocks I haven't sold are oil and mining stocks... .

What do we do? Prepare as best we can for an unknown set of circumstances, without panic, going off the deep end, isolating family and friends, going down avenues we can't come back from, etc. We try to do the best we can with what we have, which is not enough of anything- time, money, energy, information, credibility or anything else critical. We act like the grownups we're supposed to be. Did you have nervous breakdowns over buying life insurance or writing a will? Then this shouldn't be a problem either. Make a plan, then carry it out.

And yes, we hope for the best through the whole process. As dreary as all the grim possibilities are that is the only thing that will get us through. Things have been tough before. Whether y2k is a major problem or not they will be tough again. That is the nature of life. We have been incredibly lucky that fortune has smiled on us in this time and place. If the time is coming soon when we have to pay some dues, we owe 'em. And if we are to have any whisper of a chance to continue a lifestyle similar to the one we know, we will have to pay for it, sooner or later.The price is always high, because the merchandise is valuable.

Here' your soapbox back,

L. P. Lapin

-- Lee P. Lapin (lplapin@hotmail.com), June 10, 1998.

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