CNN (IDG) -- "Opinion: A global Y2K recession?" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

[The following is reprinted for educational/research purposes:]

Opinion: A global Y2K recession?

August 27, 1999 Web posted [on CNN site] at: 8:01 a.m. EDT (1201 GMT)

by Frank Hayes

(IDG) -- Dr. Edward Yardeni is my favorite year 2000 doomsayer. I like Dr. Ed because he collects truckloads of Y2K information (you can peruse it yourself at, link below) and analyzes it with the rigor and vigor you'd expect from the chief economist for Deutsche Bank Securities.

Yardeni thinks Y2K problems will cause a global recession. Specifically, he figures a 25 percent chance of a six-month recession, a 40 percent chance of a yearlong recession, a 5 percent chance of a Y2K depression and a 30 percent chance nothing much will happen. (Those really aren't bad odds, though -- only 2-to-1 in favor of any downturn at all and better than even odds of nothing worse than a modest slump.)

But Dr. Ed gets the doomsayer label because most other economists pooh-pooh the idea of any Y2K recession at all. Just last week, the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) reported a survey of 181 members, and only one named Y2K as the most serious economic problem facing the U.S. today. (The big threats, say NABE economists, are an overheated stock market and a poorly prepared labor force.)

Gartner Group issued its own year-2000 forecast last week, pronouncing things in pretty good shape. "In the United States, we don't expect any real significant problems to the public at all" on Jan. 1, said Lou Marcoccio, Gartner's top Y2K analyst. "The day probably will go by somewhat unnoticed, except for the panic issues." Gartner also believes there won't be a recession.

The Gartner report came out three days after a General Accounting Office official told a congressional hearing that federal, state and local governments all still have lots of Y2K work to do. But as it happens, 79 percent of those business economists from NABE said the federal government was in fine Y2K shape, and 67 percent said state and local governments were Y2K OK.

Do any of these people know what they're talking about? Well, yes -- some of them, some of the time. And if you can slice through the contradictory predictions for your top management, you can provide a real service -- and maybe prove that your IT shop deserves some respect in understanding both technology and business issues.

After all, IT should own Y2K. We know the technical issues better than anyone. But we should also be our organizations' best source for Y2K business information -- threshing out the useful facts from the chaff. If we can't do that, how do we get away with claiming a clue about any other business issue?

Some of that threshing is easy. For example, it's not tough to see that the GAO official is in a position to know government agencies still have lots of Y2K work to do; the economists are just guessing, based on what they've heard or read.

What about Gartner's claim that Jan. 1 will pass "somewhat unnoticed"? It's unsupported -- another guess. The electricity will still be on for most Americans, but whether retailers, fast-food joints and emergency services will be doing business as usual is simply unknown.

A Y2K recession? Better to pass all the predictions -- Yardeni, NABE, Gartner -- along to your top management. They'll draw their own conclusions.

But whatever you do, make sure they know. Gather and winnow all the Y2K information you can get -- on the economy, your supply chain, your industry, your customers. Shoot down myths. Point out which claims are supported. Give your executives the best, most conclusive evidence you can.

If IT doesn't explain Y2K to them, who will?

* * *

Hayes, Computerworld's staff columnist, has covered IT for 20 years. His e-mail address is

-- M.C. Hicks (, August 27, 1999


The link is:

-- M.C. Hicks (, August 27, 1999.

"The day probably will go by somewhat unnoticed, except for the panic issues."

I'm reminded of a ghoulish quip I read somewhere a long time ago: "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

-- Thinman (, August 27, 1999.

It's funny to me how the Gartner Group used predict alot of failures here in The U.S. but then all the sudden changed thier position totally. Does anyone know if they really had any reasons to change thier position and are they really an unbiased source? Is there any evidence that they have been told to tone down their position by the Government for fear of starting a panic?

-- Mark Hamilton (, August 27, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ