Could public panic about Y2K begin overseas? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Something very ironic, about Y2K and potential panic, that I just realized a few hours ago...

Is the United States even the country where public panic would be likely to start? It seems to me that countries much further behind in remediation than we are would be the first ones where people would form long lines at grocery stores.

What do you think?

-- Kevin (, April 07, 1999


Hi Kevin, Thanks for responding to my own query on Ireland..... Ireland is probably rated highly as we have recently modernised so our infrastructure is relatively new e.g. telecomms completely revamped 5 years ago. But the level of public debate or even knowledge of Y2K is absolutely nil. We're in the middle of a huge credit boom so in all the spending, everything's happy-smiley. There was a full page in one of our two biggest dailies yesterday and it was basically repeating all the junk about planes and elevators and VCRs. It basically gave the message that everything was ok and only nutters were worried about anything, without adducing any proof or even statistics. If Ireland is well prepared, it's not through any effort ! So, will panic, if it occurs, occur outside the States first ? I think not, because people can't fear Y2K if they don't know about it. Let me repeat, Ireland is a sophisticated, modern European country, and Y2K awareness is nil. What must Russia or North Korea be like ?? There will be panic if there are failures, but it will be impossible to predict beforehand where, as some of these countries are so backward that maybe long delays are the norm ! Remember, also, that most states are totalitarian dictatorships a la Indonesia, so public panic will a) not be publicised and b) ruthlessly suppressed. I think the US will lead the way on Y2K, wherever it leads.

Regards, Fergal

-- Fergal O'Shea (, April 07, 1999.

I think it will start overseas. They will not be ready, and they will rollover first. We will have most of the bad info before we rollover. What do you think Americans will do if they see the world falling apart on CNN Breaking News? I don't think it will be pretty! Got Prozac?

-- SCOTTY (, April 07, 1999.


yes, undoubtedly - unless we start shipping pollyannas over there to tell the folks how wrong they are about worrying about y2k. I recommend we start by sending some to Pakistan - see: 0000006994.html

from which I quote:

"ISLAMABAD, April 7 - Pakistan's recent launch of a full-scale campaign to combat the millennium bug, targetting particularly the energy and communication sectors, is a year overdue, a senior government official said.

"It is considerably late," Ijaz Khawaja, Director General of the Pakistan Computer Bureau, who heads the national task force on the Year 2000 problem, told Reuters in an interview.

"They should have started at least one year ago."

Pakistan, which has 138 mainframes and 1,649 mini-computers in the government and private sector, has only recently begun an awareness campaign to inform of the dangers of the Y2K bug and what efforts should be made to rectify it."


-- Arlin H. Adams (, April 07, 1999.


I see exactly what you mean. It is in fact very relevant to a few posts after this about Japan stockpiling cash, as though they have now realized after the April 1 rollover that they will not be ready in time. I think it is very likely that Ed and Gary and many others were correct in guessing that bank runs may start in Japan.

-- @ (@@@.@), April 07, 1999.

Hi Kevin. I have long thought that problems with the financial markets would begin first overeas and eventually spread outward - this even before I knew how to spell Y2K. I still hold this opinion, and to some extent it has happened. Now, with Y2K in the picture, it seems to me even more likely that this, as an additional factor, will also be part of it. We cannot , as Alan Greenspan remarked, remain an 'island of prosperity' in a global economy. So Y2K is part of the picture, another global part, which makes me continue to think it will start overseas - especailly given the state of financial turmoil already present overseas, and the generally slower rate of Y2K remediation compared to the U.S.

Follow the money.

-- Rob Michaels (, April 07, 1999.

Fergal said something I was thinking about when I started this thread. The U.S. does have a relatively high degree of Y2K awareness. If public panic is going to happen, and if it were to start as early as this summer, then the U.S. and countries with a similar level of awareness and remediation would be places where it's mostly likely to start.

On the other hand, if public panic is not likely to happen until December, then it would be more probable for it to start in places such as Germany, Japan or France. Countries like these don't have much Y2K awareness now, relatively speaking, but you'd think they would by December 1999. Combine that level of awareness in December with a realization of how far behind in remediation they are, and I could easily see public panic starting somewhere else besides the U.S.

There's one more factor in all of this. Panic may not even start with the public. Most people, not even in the United States, really know how far along businesses and utilities are with their remediation. Who'd be mostly likely to know? The business community--either here or abroad.

It's like what I've said on this forum before...if companies like GM feel the need to sever ties with non-compliant vendors, that could be the start of Y2K affecting stock markets. In this kind of scenario, the general public wouldn't find out about how bad Y2K would be until after stock markets do.

If this last scenario sounds the most plausible, the way to get an early warning on it would be to keep track of CIO and CEO resignations here and abroad.

There's still yet another possibility: if early glitches like fiscal year rollover problems can be temporarily bandaged by using an end date of December 31, 1999, then public concern here or abroad could be minimal until January 2000.

-- Kevin (, April 07, 1999.


"yes, undoubtedly - unless we start shipping pollyannas over there to tell the folks how wrong they are about worrying about y2k." ROTFL!! Oh puleeze anything but that!!

Kevin & All,

I also tend to think people (worldwide) will only panic if failures appear publicly, for the U.S. I have said they will panic when they are hungry/thirsty & have no way to get food or drink.

In Kososvo for example, people started waiting in bread lines after the bombs started falling.

Human nature. IMO

-- Deborah (, April 08, 1999.

Deborah -

well I *was* going to suggest dropping them on Belgrade, but that might be considered a war crime...

and yes, I meant with parachutes...the automated kind that are used for high altitude low opening (aka HALO) jumps - exit from aircraft at 35,000 feet, and chute opens at about 1500 - and that isn't a typo, it's a free fall of about 33,500 feet, literally betting one's life on a computer chip. Never done it, but I hear it can be interesting. ought to be quite a ride for the pollys, especially if we run the clock chips on their timers up to 01/01/00, don't you think?


-- Arlin H. Adams (, April 08, 1999.


Unfortunately, some of the people I love the most are still DGIs : (

Kevin, this makes great sense to me. I never looked at it this way but given the fact that "news" is instant these days we may see a lot of panic overseas way before we suffer any here at home.

Y2k is like one big, yellow, snow ball from hell, huh?

Mike ==================================================================

-- Michael Taylor (, April 08, 1999.

COnsider this as apossibility:

Panic (generic, non-Y2K variety, money type) starts in Malaysia (June- July), moves out to the rest of the Rim (Late June-July), Japan starts to see the REAL problems that can't be plastered over with platitudes (late July-August), and starts to redeem the "paper" they have from the US. Depending on how fast they do this, the market starts a slow (or a precipitate) drop, endangering the 8 largest banks due to their insane derivitave positions. By the end of Sept or Oct (depending on Japan's redemption efforts) the banking system is toast (WITHOUT an indigenous consumer run) and the budget surplus has only slowed the problem down for about a day (fast redemption sched) or a week (slow redemption sched).

Don't look now but the news in Malaysia is NOT GOOD.

the ref to the 8 biggest is somewhere in our archives, but at the time of the article, a 30% drop in the Dow 30, would turn the top 3 into true BURNT TOAST (Not even Chapt 11 would save them).

Just another little ray of sunshine!!



-- Chuck, a night driver (, April 08, 1999.

Wall Street will lead the way.

The world is affected more from the NYSE than the NYSE is affected by the world.

Write it on a 3 x 5 card and tape it to your monitor. I dare you.

-- PNG (, April 08, 1999.


I was only refering to the polly trolls and folks like Koskinen - you know, true pollyannas, not DGIs...sorry, I should have been clearer on that.


-- Arlin H. Adams (, April 08, 1999.

I'd think Germany would be freaking out right about now - possibly it's a suburban myth, but doesn't Russia supply 40% of Germany's power?

It would seem like they could expect a total grid failure.

Any German lurkers here?

-- Lisa (, April 08, 1999.


No problem, I knew what you meant : )

Mike ==================================================================

-- Michael Taylor (, April 08, 1999.


You might want to differentiate between panic and fear.

At this timing some people fear potential unknowns about Y2K. Some are motivated to prepare, some to deny their (and others) fear. Some choose not to pay attention, others take a wait-and-see stance.

Panic may come to some when something in their physical world actually changes -- drastically. Such as visible shortages, power outages, natural disasters, manmade emergencies, etc.

I suspect, if some, not all, of the lights actually go out, (which is quite likely regionally in the U.S. and in some locations internationally) then some people will panic. And others wont.

Fear combined with physical world change are panic indicators worth noting ... and preparing for.


-- Diane J. Squire (, April 08, 1999.


Point well taken. There is a difference, and I'm not even convinced that Y2K fears will bring about mass changes in buying patterns before 2000.

I was making a comment on how many people, including those that think Y2K will only be a minor issue, seem to think any "panic" in the U.S. could only be caused by events and actions within the U.S. The world doesn't always revolve around the United States, though; sometimes we revolve around the world and its events.

Anyone interested in projected Y2K compliance of foreign countries should check out this link I posted for Fergal O'Shea on another thread: tml

"Y2K vs. the World"

-- Kevin (, April 08, 1999.

PNG commented:

"Wall Street will lead the way.

The world is affected more from the NYSE than the NYSE is affected by the world.

Write it on a 3 x 5 card and tape it to your monitor. I dare you."

I think your dead on PNG. Many countries are in severe recession or depression and merely experiencing a dead cat bounce. The US will take the lead as this massive credit bubble is deflated soon.


-- Ray (, April 08, 1999.

Wait a minute! 17 answers and not a doomslayer among them? Is Ed using his delete button?

-- FM (, April 08, 1999.

'Just figured it out. I know where they all are! They're on Cory's thread! (89 answers? Sheesh!)


-- FM (, April 08, 1999.

There isn't going to be Y2K panic (I'm serious), because for business, technical and legal reasons, no one will EVER own up to Y2K as the proximate cause ("we were just updating some software, ya know".

There is going to be "collapse panic", driven by a combination of long-simmering issues (already discussed on this thread), Y2K ("it's still Y2K, stupid") and international tensions.

PNG is probably right about NYSE, since it is the linchpin of world confidence right now. However (I don't think I'm splitting the diff here), Chuck's scenario, or one like it, as a way of pushing NYSE is very plausible.

What do you guys think? I think "Y2K panic" has been ruled out both now and into the future, not the reality of it, but the political/public acknowledgement of it. The only caveat will be if embedded systems go down: that will leave Y2K as the only admissible cause.

If I'm right, that might be a good thing for those of us who have been preparing, since it will divert a certain type of attention away ....

-- BigDog (, April 08, 1999.

There was an article that came out about a month ago that's relevant to the discussion on this thread:


Experts warn of Y2K trade upheaval

Each nation's problem will become a global one



WASHINGTON -- Experts on the millennium computer bug warned Congress last week that international commerce and trade may face serious disruptions early next year because of computer failures in foreign countries.

Painting an alarming but uncertain picture, a National Intelligence Council officer and a State Department watchdog told a special Senate oversight panel on Friday that many foreign nations are not prepared.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that there will be Y2K-related problems in virtually very corner of the globe," Jacquelyn L. Williams-Bridgers, inspector general of the Department of State, told a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem.

"Faced with a relentless and unforgiving deadline, countries have to make difficult decisions concerning the use of scarce resources to fix a problem that has not yet occurred," she said.


The international transportation sector is particularly vulnerable, she and Lawrence K. Gershwin, National Intelligence Council officer for science and technology, said. "Global linkages in telecommunications, financial systems, the manufacturing supply chain, oil supplies, trade and worldwide shipping and air transportation will virtually guarantee that Y2K problems will not be isolated to individual countries," Mr. Gershwin said.

Among the difficulties the two officials outlined:

Both the Panama and Suez canals face the risk of disrupted operations should traffic management systems or ship steering mechanisms fail. Panama officials say no ships will be allowed into the canal on Dec. 31. A Norwegian firm is working now on fixing the Suez Canal's traffic system.

China probably will experience failures in several areas, including transportation and power generation. An estimated 90% of software used in China, even by government offices and state-owned enterprises, is pirated, making it very difficult to approach vendors for fixes. China is planning to conduct a nationwide aviation test. Senior officials have been ordered to fly on New Year's Day.

Central and Eastern Europe are believed to face vulnerabilities in Soviet-designed nuclear power plants, though Western experts do not know what specific problems they may have. Many vendors of the software and equipment stopped operating after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russia Gazprom natural gas pipeline network is susceptible to potential Y2K outages. It supplies nearly 50% of the total energy consumed by Russia. While Gazprom has backup plans, it is unclear whether these measures are sufficient to deal with the scale of problems that could occur.

Major oil-producing nations are behind in fixing their Y2K problems. Oil production and distribution is largely in the hands of multinational corporations, but the sector's use of information technology is highly intensive.


-- Kevin (, April 09, 1999.


I believe the Garter Grope did not give Ireland very high marks in the remediation stakes - they were on the third tier list. Not good. What is good for you guys - low population, plenty of arable land, animals, water, benign weather, Guinness.

You guys will have it licked ITSHTF :)

-- Andy (, April 09, 1999.


Actually, in the article at this link... tml

...the GartnerGroup put Ireland in the same "15% tier" as the United States. Here are the countries in that tier:



Sort of OK

15% of cos. experience a mission-critical failure


Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, U.K., U.S.


-- Kevin (, April 09, 1999.

Thanks Kevin, must be suffering from brain overload, glad the home country is doing so good!

-- Andy (, April 09, 1999.

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