Germany Mixed In Readiness For Year 2000 : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Wednesday May 12 4:01 AM ET

Germany Mixed In Readiness For Year 2000 By Paul Carrell

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - If you're interested in testing the millennium bug from 30,000 feet, you'll be glad to know you can.

Unlike some other airlines, Germany's flagship carrier Lufthansa AG plans to operate flights at the turn of the millennium, undaunted by concerns that crucial onboard or ground control computers may malfunction and send planes crashing from the skies.

The determination to go on with business as usual reflects a confidence among big German companies that they are doing enough to keep the millennium bug at bay.

Business software giant SAP AG (NYSE:SAP - news) is no exception.

``We are fully aware of the Year 2000 problem,'' co-chief executive Hasso Plattner told Reuters. ``But we are not renting cabins in the Rocky Mountains. We're not as paranoid as the Americans.''


Research shows, however, that while Germany's large corporations have addressed the problem, it is the country's ''mittelstand'' -- the small and medium sized companies that form the backbone of Europe's largest economy -- which are at risk.

Economics Minister Werner Mueller said recently that Germany's extensive public services and key infrastructure would take any Y2K-related problems in their stride.

Utility companies, including those running nuclear power plants, had tackled the issue well in advance though some glitches might arise in the supply of oil and gas from abroad, he said.

``Energy providers have practically ruled out any chance of a breakdown in energy provision at this stage,'' Mueller said.

``But evidence still seems to point to a lack of preparation by small and medium sized firms,'' he added.

A survey by the Chambers of Commerce Industry (DIHT), presented in April, found that 45 percent of firms questioned had made insufficient preparations for the Y2K bug, which arises because many computers use two digit numbers to represent years and could interpret 2000 as 1900.

The survey found that a further 15 percent had not even begun to tackle the problem, with smaller businesses the most ill-prepared.


Experts express some concern that if smaller companies start experiencing Y2K bug-induced problems, they could pass on difficulties to the larger companies they supply or serve.

``The question of the supply chain is a major issue,'' said Graham Titterington, senior analyst at research group Ovum.

Companies may not only experience ``upstream'' problems from suppliers failing to deliver goods because of technical difficulties, but find their customer base is hit too.

``If, say, a company were to find that some of its customers had problems and it was to lose 10 percent of its sales, losing 10 percent of sales could wipe out profits,'' Titterington said.

And the fate of the ``mittelstand'' is the key to the health of the overall German economy, which in turn is the major driving force in European commerce.

``Companies with up to 100 million marks ($55.10 million) annual turnover account for 99.6 percent of the total number of companies,'' said Hans Jaeckel, head of domestic economic research at DG Bank. ``They produce about half of total German output.''

Titterington said German businesses were likely to be less well prepared than their British counterparts.

``Continental countries, such as Germany, have got a slightly larger problem as for the last few years they have been concentrating on converting to the euro,'' he said.


Interior Minister Otto Schily says the German government has been unfairly criticised abroad for not making sufficient preparations for January 1, 2000.

``On the one hand the yardsticks for Y2K problems are so varied,'' said Schily recently. ``Also, Germany's federal structure means that responsibility lies not with the central government, but on various levels.''

The DIHT and the 83 regional German Chambers of Industry and Commerce have campaigned to increase awareness of the millennium bug among the 3.5 million firms who form their membership.

They have encouraged firms which work together and are dependent on each other to join in their efforts to tackle the problem.

But DIHT President Hans-Peter Stihl said his organization can only draw attention to the issue.

``The Year 2000 problem must and can only be attacked and mastered by businesses themselves,'' he said.

-- Arlin H. Adams (, May 12, 1999


We're not as paranoid as the Americans.

Ignorance is bliss, isn't it, Herr Butthead?

-- Doug (, May 12, 1999.

Have pity of poor Herr Butthead. He has less than nine months to live.

-- Prometheus (, May 12, 1999.


You are right. Despite the insult he delivered to Americans, he still is probably a decent sort, and from a friendly country.

When natural gas from Russia is cut off to his home in about 7 months he will wish he had a Bavarian apartment with a wood stove.

We shall miss him.

-- Doug (, May 12, 1999.

This is precious, Arlin.

A PROBLEM OF RESPONSIBILITY "On the one hand the yardsticks for Y2K problems are so varied," said Schily recently. "Also, Germany's federal structure means that responsibility lies not with the central government, but on various levels."

Don't get me started on responsibility. Please. I beg you. OK. Since I just posted to another thread on responsibility, I'll do a cut & paste & leave it at that. ARGH!!!

Well Amen! Chapter One, page one in my tome entitled "Unconscionable Qualities of My Fellow Humans" (available in paperback), I give thorough discourse on that rarest of all traits - responsibility.

Why does Twentieth-Century man run like a babbling brook from all consequences pertaining to that which emits from his mouth, that which comes into existence via his actions? Is this inexcusable behavoir limited to last few generations?

Or is our very DNA encoded with a yellow stripe down its double- helix?

Do unto others & then run like hell! Ah, the credo of the spineless, the weak-hearted who flaunt their lack of precepts with every shallow breath.

Give in to the urge to purge your pain-wracked consciences in the safety of anonymity. Flame on dolts & doltesses.

Ponder this: Are there consequences to our actions? Do we operate in a moral/ethical vacuum? Ah, I see the sweat building upon your brows.

whew! must be the heat!

Damn that felt good!

-- Bingo1 (, May 12, 1999.

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