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1998-04-06 23:17:25


Sell Your Home, Buy Gold, Stockpile Cash, Says British Banker



An anonymous senior banker with Barclays has sounded the alarm. It's time to get out of eletronic money and anything funded by it, such as real estate.

This is from the Sunday edition of the LONDON TIMES (March 29).

* * * * * * *

A SENIOR executive at Barclays has warned people to sell their homes, stockpile their cash and buy gold in case of a global economic collapse caused by the millennium computer bug.

This extraordinary warning is echoed by other bank managers who fear a run on deposits.

When computers click over from the year 99 to 00 experts say many applications will crash and create indecipherable data. Under this "doomsday scenario" global markets and economies may fail to cope with millions of computers crashing at once. It is feared currencies and stock exchanges could go into free fall, slashing the value of savings. . . .

"The average man or woman does not appreciate what is going to happen," said the Barclays executive, who wishes to remain anonymous. "I'm going to plan for the absolute worst - I am talking about the need to start buying candles, tinned food and bottled water from mid-1999 onwards. People think that I am mad, but a company director I met last week is intending to set up a commune and buy a shotgun because the potential for looting is also quite high." . . .

Gwynneth Flowers, director of Action 2000, said: "At present we are making sure that the fabric of society as we know it can continue, by making emergency contingency plans with the government. I am now confident that essential services will work, but every man, woman and child will still be affected."

Most experts agree with the government's stance - that the millennium bug will not prove catastrophic, just inconvenient. "We are expecting that organisations will now prioritise and avoid doomsday scenarios," said John Cotterell, director of Year 2000 services at Cap Gemini, Europe's largest computer consultancy. . . .

Such is the lack of confidence that London Electricity is planning to issue engineers with bicycles in case traffic lights are not working; and Fidelity has increased the size of its generators and stockpiled enough fuel for a month, should the electricity supply fail.

However, both regulators and other industry bodies are confident that their systems will be "year 2000 friendly", and are strongly urging people not to take drastic action, which could cause a banking crisis.


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