Y2K: Reviewing the Past Six Months

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or so.

... The "drop dead, everyone needs all of 1999 for testing" Dec 31 '99 deadlines were nearly univerally missed.

... The Senate released an extremely sobering report consistent with expectations of serious Y2K impact worldwide, buttressed by other testimony (for instance, NSA).

... The subsequent March 31, 1999 deadlines have been largely missed or ignored as well.

... Even many "optimists" do not expect much production testing to be done in 1999, especially within and across industry partners, declaring instead that it is largely unnecessary.

What changed? The explicitly stated need to control public reaction has succeeded wildly, so far (Horn should give Koskinen the "A"). Otherwise, Y2K tracks exactly the path predicted by pessimists all along.

Much good news was predicted and expected from January, 1999 through September, 1999. Recent efforts on this board to belittle GIs and extrapolate from this to bump-like Y2K reality/impacts is of trivial import. Yardeni, Yourdon, Hamasaki, others always expected 80-20 style distributions. With 80% on the road to being fixed (let's hope, since accountable public compliance declarations are lacking), good news, AMPLIFIED by the PR campaign, abounds.

Y2K impacts of 8-9 have always been based on the remaining (USA) 20% and the still lower percentage remediated and tested worldwide (60-40?). It's only the "Y2K 10" impact which has assumed "almost no one will be compliant".

The one area where the pessimists have been wrong on the big picture was preparation and panic, thanks again to Koskinen. Whether this will serve the interests of the country and the world late this year and early next year will be revealed Real Soon Now.

It has been said recently on the forum, rationally, that Y2K is a "stakes", not "odds" issue. Agreed. But it is being taken as almost conventional wisdom by many posters that the "odds" of a Y2K 8-9 are now extremely low. Why?

"80-20 compliance of mission-critical systems" good news in 1999, without public accountability (I know the possible reasons, I'm just stating the reality), doesn't lead to computations of good odds, because it ISN'T good news but terrible news.

My point here is that the success of the PR campaign is not matched by ANY positive change in the Y2K fundamentals. Unfortunately, Y2K worldwide continues almost exactly as originally anticipated by those who foresaw the "business as usual" approach and its probable effects in 2000 and beyond ....

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), April 12, 1999


I remember in early June of last year, Yardeni said he expected to hear good news throughout 1999 in that he foresaw many Y2k projects being successfully completed in ever increasing numbers (I guess) as the year progressed. Of coarse, we have not seen anything close to this prediction so far, and if a the bell-shaped distribution applies (and I don't see why it shouldn't), it's unlikely that we will see ANYTHING CLOSE to his prediction in the future.

The interesting thing for me is that Yardeni made his "70% probability estimate of a (1972-73 style) recession" TAKING INTO ACCOUNT that 1999 would be full of good Y2k news. Well, is hasn't been a good year so far, but he has not budged in his (that he, himself admits is not a scientific) probability estimate. In light of the stockmarket run, he (being a "Wall Street" economist) was quite prescient NOT to have stuck his neck out even further. But, Yardeni, more than most, must have concluded that the situation is far worse than he expected.

Has he made any statements (public or 'private') to indicate that he has become more bearish. I know that in March his recession probability number was "massaged" by a journalist provoking him to announce publicly that he still maintains his former position, but has it changes since then?

-- Dr. Roger Altman (rogaltman@aol.com), April 12, 1999.

Roger -- in fairness, it's not clear the news is worse than Yardeni/we expected, since it is possible that legal pressure is suppressing compliance reports or transforming them from "compliance" to "ready" or "OK". My point is that we can take the good news at face value while realizing that, yes, it is nothing more than what has been long anticipated from applying billions of dollars to the problem.

Yardeni's estimates have not changed, so far as I know. I personally considered the 5% depression estimate as extraordinary, considering that the word "depression" is not to be uttered in polite company. I wouldn't necessarily "mind read" Yardeni as personally expecting something worse. Maybe. Maybe now. We just don't know.

He has also said recently (1Q 99) that he is something close to disgusted by the continuing lack of national leadership and that he now considers it possible the market will simply refuse to pay much attention to Y2K throughout most of 1999 (last year, he predicted a major Y2K-centric correction beginning in summer of 1999).

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), April 12, 1999.

Your line "... will simply refuse to pay attention to Y2K in 1999..." applies to the entire country not just the stock market.

IF Y2K is any more than "a bump in the road", great social upheavel seems more and more likely everyday. Even Infomagic is not that far away if people are suddenly "surprised" at the end of 99.

So I agree its "terrible news".

Thanks for all your posts, BigDog.

-- Jon Johnson (narnia4@usa.net), April 12, 1999.

Reviewing the last six months: Spin, spin, spin, spin, more spin, incredible spin, can-you-believe-this-spin?, mind-numbing spin, not- to-worry-spin, jaw-dropping-mule-kicking-spin, gargantuan bullshit on a massive level spin, and of course; blame those preparing for it spin.

And the people bought it all.

We're toast.

-- INVAR (gundark@sw.net), April 12, 1999.


Why do I get the impression that you are bending over backwards to be considered a fair minded sort of a guy? Well, I can think of two reasons offhand.

First, I think that if Yardeni hasn't seen the kind of confirmation he expected for 1999 (for whatever reason, legal or otherwise) when he guesstimated his 70% figure last year, then that factor, by itself, ADDS more uncertainty than he anticipated -- not good news.

Second, Yardeni has been watching the SEC, S&P 500,10K Reports like a hawk, and he has been almost alone (among economists) in saying that Y2k spending as a percentage to the total amount budgeted is running WAY behind schedule. So the circumstantial evidence as to why there hasn't been good news this year supports the case that there IS NO OVERALL GOOD NEWS to begin with, legal shennangigans notwithstanding.

-- Dr. Roger Altman (rogaltman@aol.com), April 12, 1999.

Jon --- Yes, with this important caveat: a slow-rolling Y2K-INDUCED recession will be OK, partly because no one will acknowledge that it has ANY serious relationship to Y2K. Fast-unfolding Y2K shocks, however (fuel, utilities, supply chain, military) will lead to worse situations than we would have otherwise had, no doubt.

INVAR --- Your subtlety is always welcome ..... what was it you said, spin?

Roger --- I certainly agree that the lack of Y2K COMPLIANCE statements reflect more than legal issues. Specifically, how can you claim compliance BEFORE unit, system and production testing? Since testing was supposed to take most of 1999 (let's say till September, then you start freezing re-fixes in place), we should't really expect to see compliance statements before then. However, given that remediation deadlines pre-test have slipped, testing will be truncated or punted (FOF). Even apart from legal, we will now see very few compliance claims, because there are very few that can be made credibly on their own IT merits.

Naysayers note there will be many individual, positive corporate exceptions ("good news") throughout 1999. I'm talking in the aggregate (80-20 US, 60-40 Worldwide).

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), April 12, 1999.

Ya know, every pendulum swing, invokes another "return."

I predict sometime in the next couple months, the .gov types, especially Koskinen, will realize their PR "good news spin" is working too well, and in essence, backfiring on them, especially with small businesses and smaller city governments. How? Because smaller organizations won't take action, and are lulled into a sense of Y2K complacency and fix-on-failure will be acceptable. Problem is, that strategy can spell real problems in supply chain disruptions for the larger organizations, cities and states.

At some point, Koskinen, et. al., may realize they're setting themselves up for major inaction with can bite them in their political rear ends.

Should be an interesting fall season. (As in who is falling and who is still standing, and who is limping).


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), April 12, 1999.

Diane --- Agree. Koskinen wants to manage his version of "preparation" as well as prevent his version of "panic".

If Yourdon and others are correct that July-beyond will see significant shuffling of supply chain partners by big corporations, the markets will begin to raise their sleepy head and we'll get another bout of "what's going on with Y2K" artices. And, of course, October-December will be millenium mania months from the media even apart from Y2K: Koskinen won't be able to prevent "weird" Y2K articles, but he'll try.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), April 12, 1999.


I would agree with you if there were EVER any real hope of even coming CLOSE to getting most computer systems fixed in time. But I don't believe that that was EVER the case, so they're buying time, whatever the price to get as much fixed as possible before the real panic sets in.

Does this strategy make any sense? Nope. Not in my book. I've always believed that longer lead times could have REDUCED panic by allowing production of critical items to be ramped up as much as possible. Human nature, being what it is, means that most people would never have prepared anyway, but a much, much greater percentage (compared to what we have now) would have done SOMETHINMG to get ready.

-- Dr. Roger Altman (rogaltman@aol.com), April 12, 1999.

Yes they are buying time.

To get themselves "ready." Not the U.S. or "us."


We're about to go through a "global readjustment" with our proverbial pants down.

Sadly, Ive come to the conclusion, were going to have to go straight through the unknown Y2K repercussions, mostly unprepared, here and internationally.

Perhaps its our global karma.

Perhaps, as well, its an odd way of cleansing the ineffective leadership, on the other side of Y2K once the public faces the realities of what was done to them, for their own good, of course. And what truths were not told. Hindsight can be a wonderful teacher. (Or not).

If youve ever run a river (by kayak or raft), youll understand this analogy ...

Weve just committed to run an unknown river through an unmapped gorge. The canyon walls are steep and theres no way to climb out. We are about to shoot the rapids, and simply must get on with the wild ride. So, the objective is to stick to the middle channel. Its the point of greatest flow. Try to avoid the steeply slick, rocky sides and hidden whirlpools. Stay focused. Try not to get nervous about that sound of a cascading waterfall up ahead. Were just going over the falls, so get used to it. We have no idea if those falls are a 20 foot drop or a 300 foot one. Weve committed to this trip, so go through it the best you can. Remember to wear a lifejacket and be prepared for a bumpy ride.

Such is life.

*Big Sigh*


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), April 12, 1999.

Good to hear from you again Diane. Enjoying your Spring?

Isn't it amazing that when you go digging for REAL facts - not press releases, PR flak and media spin, that reality starts looking alot like Niagra Falls, and our culture is on a raft built on driftwood?

To continue your analogy: as the we gets ready to hit the Global Rapids of conflict, uncertainty and instability, not only do you need to watch out for sand-bars, rocks, whirlpools, killer bees and water moccassins, (as the sound of a billion gallons of water gush down the cliff ahead of you), you have to ward off other idiots that have capsised ahead of you because they ignored the warnings, and are now boarding your raft to take your lifevests.

-- INVAR (gundark@sw.net), April 12, 1999.

Yep. if'n Yardeni had been right, this morning would have been:
Matt: Katie- the FAA ran a Y2K test this weekend and they passed, everything worked in 2000 mode.
Katie: (YAWN) Yes Matt, and we'll be talking to Jane at FAA later in the hour. Here's DAwn with the REAL news of the day. (((Snip stories on Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, German train derailmewnt, ad nauseum))) Katie: We're here with Jane Garvey, Director of the FAA, Jane, I understand that you ran the callendar ahead in Denver this weekend and everything worked.
JG: Thatr's right Katie, we have everything ready.
Katie: That's great, Jane. Now to our lead story....

As opposed to the extended coverage they DID on the FAA test. Just MNTBHO. CR

-- chuck, a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), April 12, 1999.

Chuck --- ROFL. You're right. The difference, though, would have been that we would have seen 10-15 "Drew Parkhills" covering the entire story worldwide to the benefit of all.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), April 12, 1999.

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