Y2K bug an apparent nonstarter

July 11, 1999|By Andrew J. Glass

WASHINGTON -- Congress has been dragging its feet on passing even the mildest form of Y2K remedial legislation, thereby offering yet another sign that the sky is not about to fall on our digital desktops. In those rare times in the life of the nation when a true crisis looms, lawmakers have a way of ending their bickering with breathtaking dispatch.

In an era when powerful computer networks have revamped Wall Street to look and feel more like a Las Vegas casino, it's quite possible to place bets on whether the Y2K glitch will land a telling blow on the economy. As of now, the futures traders who play this game for a living are gambling that there's no action to be had from Y2K.

On the other hand, there has been lots of action in the stocks of companies that repair Y2K defects. The smart money bought such stocks in 1995, rode them up for huge profits by mid-1997 and then dumped them. Most Y2K issues now sell well below their pre-1995 values -- another clue to what is not to come.

Russia has all of 8 million computers. Perhaps every one is faulty. We know consultants will make lots of rubles suggesting fixes. But we should also realize that, whatever happens, the Slavic soul will endure.

Andrew J. Glass is a Washington-based columnist for Cox Newspapers. His e-mail address: aglass@coxnews.com.

Pub Date: 7/11/99

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