Y2K Severity Indicators

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I am a GI who expects Y2K to be an 8 (sever depression and social chaos). However, my certainty of this has gone from 100% to 80% since the beginning of this year. I believe that that are three indicators that we can look for to predict the severity of Y2K:

* The frequency and disruptiveness of pre-year-2000 Y2K problems. This is the "Joann Effect" caused by systems that project dates into 2000. My decreased certainty is based on the few and quickly corrected problems that we have seen so far. Events such as major power outages and companies going out of business would increase my certainty.

* CEOs and CIOs (chief information officers) of majors corporations and heads of government agencies suddenly resigning. So far, I have not seen any of this.

* A sudden and dramatic increase in the price of gold. If the powers-that-be think that we are headed for disaster, I would expect them to start to convert some of their immense wealth to hard assets.

-- Incredulous (ytt000@aol.com), March 11, 1999



I believe the IRS has had some high level shakeups with the Director & CIO in last year.

Just got back from shopping at Northern Tools. I GI but still a little shocked about the generators....a whole big wall is usually dedicated to generators and they had the big signs about generators unavailable. Talked to salesclerk & he said it was because of Y2K and they don't know when they'll be restocked due to shortages with manufacturers....

-- Texan (rainy@ranch.com), March 11, 1999.

I'd reserve judgment until at least mid-April. At that time we will have experienced several key milestones: April 1, 1999 - Beginning of fiscal years for Japan, Canada, and New York and April 6, 1999 - Beginning of fiscal year for United Kingdom. Also wait to see what happens on July 1, 1999 - Beginning of fiscal years for Australia and 46 U.S. States. We are in the slow, build-up part of the 1999 Y2K occurrences curve. See the plot of Y2K problem frequency vs time on my website at

One Person's Assessment


-- Brian E. Smith (besmith@mail.arc.nasa.gov), March 11, 1999.

Make sure, when evaluating the data received by our Y2K "severity indicators", that we are taking everything into account -- including the willingness of people to put off, rather than fix, the Y2K problem. On Gary North's web site (www.garynorth.com) he presents the example of a company that shifted their fiscal year so that it ended on December 31, 1999, apparently to head off Y2K problems that would have otherwise been encountered.

Company Shifts Fiscal Year to End on December 31, 1999

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.net), March 11, 1999.

The JAE never was expected to be a big splash. On csy2k, where the effect was first revealed, it has been pounded to death that the JAE will usually be cumulative. It has been said that many companies will not even be aware of the JAE until considerable time has passed.

Am no long sure that CEO resignations will be an early (imagine saying that, at this late date!) indicator.

Gold isn't a good indicator, mainly because it is a highly manipulated market (there is a lawsuit against several main players). Hang for a while at Kitco, USAGold, and Gold Eagle for lots more info. That said, gold has been doing quite well the last 3 days and appears poised to break $300, time will tell.

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), March 11, 1999.

I doubt that any of the above is a truly sensitive indicator for the actual 1/1/2000 rollover. The best is probably July 1 when 46 states roll at the same time. Still, how many are going to announce problems? I think it might be another few months (Sept) before enough things leak from a July event. Still, at least locally, there have been significant billing problems with the local gas/electric utility. Made local front page today. Some of my internal hospital reports are sincerely screwed up since Jan 1. I think its going to be a long slow climb to the top of the cliff.

-- RD. ->H (drherr@erols.com), March 11, 1999.

It would not surprise me if we do not see any serious indications of y2k problems until January. All the problems that could occur this year are software problems, are they not? And software problems can be hidden, worked around, corrected, etc. The problems that will start showing up in January will be hardware problems (not to say there won't be a lot of software problems as well) and they will shut things down rather abruptly.

It will be highly tragic if we do not see any significant y2k indications this year because it will give people a false sense of security and prevent them from getting prepared. Therefore, when the y2k hammer falls, it will smash them horribly.

-- cody varian (cody@y2ksurvive.com), March 11, 1999.

Im familiar with Incredulous's point 1.

We had to retire a system a year ago because It traded futures of up to 18 months, putting settlements into the year 2000. Financial instituions are now dealing regularly with options, futures, bonds, CDs, etc which all contain year 2000 maturity/settlement dates. As Incredulous says, any problems encountered are quickly identified and fixed.

I have trouble understanding the last comment about hardware. I personally have operated on most of the major operation systems with their system date set to a post Dec 31 1999. Ive watched them roll into it as well. This includes, VMS (digital Alpha and VAX), IBM MVS, Windows NT, Sun Solaris, all hooked together through networks using various routers and other communication/network hardware. I myself dont see the major hardware or operating systems in use today failing at midnight on the 31 of December. Now if your foolish ehough to still be running on a Prime or a PDP11 or some other such antique, well then you got a problem, but at this stage of the game, I dont see that being a majority or even a sginificant percentage of anyones critical systems. There does seem to be some issue concerning certain embedded systems used in industry , which unfortunately includes my local power company, without which none of the above really matters, but i do know thats not an unknown, its been identified ans is being replaced.

Feel free to elaborate on any of these points if you find any of this info in error.


-- nyc (nycnyc@hotmail.com), March 12, 1999.

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