Mapping The 1999 Y2K Awareness Curve : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

All lurking must come to an end at some point. With a view to sharpening our sense of events over the next nine months or so, you can go to the bank (uh, sorry) on these axioms about the curve of Y2K awareness among the public throughout 1999.

First, though, I make one further, critical assumption that is key to the reasonableness of the others. This assumption, that there will be no obvious Y2K disaster before, at least, October of 99 may be overturned by events. I define a "disaster" as one or more events that signal unmistakably to the public that Y2K is going to be a 7 or greater on the 10 scale. Candidate events could include a major nuclear incident or a Y2K-related breakdown of a major banking, telecom or utility system.

Otherwise, the bell-curve incidence of increasing Y2K breakdowns will be handled "quietly", through a combination of corporate misdirection and official disinformation. This is *not* equivalent to saying that these breakdowns will be invisible (we will not much longer be arguing Y2K from silence of evidence), since the news will out to those who want to know, but the general public will be mainly insulated.

Onward to the axioms. Note this is my estimate of what will happen, not necessarily what should happen:

1. The official position worldwide will remain, "Y2K is serious but under control." In other words, Polyanna-ville deluxe. The fix is already in under the conviction that honest, open disclosure will lead to mass panic and the premature collapse of the system. The judgment (now forced, given the folly of having denied the problem in 1996, 97 and 98) is that there is less danger of a Y2K-precipitated crash than a panic-induced crash followed, in any case, by Y2K.

2. Behind the scenes, disaster planning by both governments and corporations will accelerate greatly. The recent Abrams document from the US Y2K office is a key early example. While the Feds would like to keep this counter-dynamic to the public happy-face confidential, this will be impossible. Too many people have to be clued in for the preparations to proceed smoothly and some of them will squeal. While many plans will be based on information no harder than that already available to Y2K mavens, collating these plans will be a useful exercise and supplant 10Q collections as the most reliable indicator of what public officials expect. Look especially for corporations to begin alerting and supporting "key" employees to help them prepare for their family well-being post 1/1/2000. After all, if a company cant get its critical staff to show up, it wont be able to stay in business.

3. The Fed will pull out all the stops to keep the world economy (read: the US economy) buoyant or, if not buoyant, at least reasonably above water. See 1 above. Despite the comatose condition of Japan, Brazil, Russia and parts of Asia, this will work well enough, at least with respect to shoring up the United States. The Euro market will not be mature enough in 99 to threaten US market hegemony and Eurobugs will further squelch that possibility. If 1, 3 and 4 below work well enough, the US banking system will be left alone, since draconian measures are themselves likely to create a difficult-to control panic psychology. However, appropriate regs have been/will be prepared for near-instant implementation to control cash, deposits and withdrawals should panic arise.

4. The public will harden its fatalistic cant happen here argument. There is very little middle ground between preparing or not in 1999. The only rationalization for not preparing is the "final denial." As people reach this stage, nothing short of Y2K itself will provide evidence, too late. In fact, look for people in 2005, after five years of global depression, to claim that the depression "only goes to show that Y2K was hype after all."

5. The Clintonistas will punt the bad news. Do we really care at this point what Mr. Bill does about Y2K? No. Clinton will continue to publish the "good news" as part of the anti-panic brigade. Gore is too late on this to escape political damage. The best he can do is say nothing at all and claim later that other people were responsible for fixing Y2K. Clinton will not be able to command the internal government support, especially military, for imposing martial law conditions, though a state of emergency is certain early in 2000. Disaster response will be handled primarily on a regional, state and local basis.

6. The Y2K awake group will triple, growing to <3% of the total population, overwhelming the available long-term supply stocks. The wider public will spasmodically buy a few items throughout the year as Y2K disturbs their rest from time to time, but the main pressure will come from people who are now completing their six-month Y2K "adjustment" phase and realize they have to pull the trigger.

The reason my assumptions run until October of 99 is that the final 60-day window will exhibit the essentially unknowable behavior that is inherent in Y2Ks singularity. "React, respond and readjust" will be the right note from there on in.

Here is a prediction for 2000 Ill throw in for free:

Colin Powell will be elected president of the United States in 2000 on a "National Unity Republican-Democrat ticket" as the single person who can command sufficient international credibility on the military side to worry Saddam and friends, while also having the ability to quiet the urban riots that begin in the late winter of 2000, while remaining tractable enough to serve the agenda of the shell-shocked corporate sector. Hillary Clinton will be Vice-President (hey, just kidding).

The consequences of these assumptions for those of us preparing, except for the drag of 6 on the availability of supplies (which has long been conventional wisdom anyway) is surprisingly minimal. While it would be desirable to have honest public officials awakening a grown-up populace, we lack both groups in todays world, alas.

Our job remains exactly the same as it was throughout 98: help the individuals, one by one, who will multiple the 1% of the prepared group to 3% and complete our own preparations. Plus ca change ..

-- BigDog (, January 03, 1999


Good job BigDog. Very thorough. I hope you are right about October. Let the Big Dog eat!

MoVe Immediate

-- MVI (, January 03, 1999.

I think you are largely correct. I have said publicly (on a number of forums) that any panic phase will be late in the game. Unless of course there is a nuclear accident or truly major software meltdown as the Feds transition into Fiscal 2000. Having said that, here are my thoughts on the next 12 months:

-- RD. ->H (, January 03, 1999.


"And If you can't run with the Big Dogs get your a*s up on the porch with the puppies."

I fully agree with your assertions with the exception of the time line. I think that we have far less time than October. Maybe, maybe June.

Of course I can be wrong. I have been that way before.

We shall see.


-- sweetolebob (La) (, January 03, 1999.

Hey, Big Dog,

You came out of "lurking" with style and panash! Not only did you hit most of the key points, but everyone agreed with you. Not bad for a first effort on this forum where there is a tendency to treat a first-timer with reckless abandon. Keep up the good work!


-- Bob walton (, January 04, 1999.

BigDog has a point that I think is important. Fiscal-year rollover problems may be largely invisible to the public. One year, six month, three month, one month and one week program lookaheads might be more visible.

The public may stay calm until July or August. By July, almost every state will have started fiscal year 2000, six-month lookaheads will be failing, and then there's the GPS in August. A decision about nuclear reactors is supposed to be made by this July. I don't think the public at large will do much preparing until they think there's a good chance of electricity and water failing in January, 2000.

As Diane has said before, the IRS is a wild card. A major problem with the IRS this spring could raise preparation awareness.

I'm still thinking that the public, generally speaking, will do little about preparation until August. Most people new to preparation think about their money, so whenever the public finally takes preparation seriously is probably the time that bank runs would begin.

-- Kevin (, January 04, 1999.

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