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1998-04-24 11:59:10


Asia Is Far Behind



If Asian economics collapse, the Western economies will follow. Asia is going to collapse. Of course, it's all relative. No nation, no economy, no industry is anywhere near compliannce. But it's more obvious with Asia.

The is from THE AUSTRALIAN (April 24).

* * * * * *

Worse, the world's other hope as an engine of growth, Japan, may prove the biggest 2000 disaster of all: Japan's unwillingness or inability to confront the problem in time could send a shock wave through the global financial system. . . .

In contrast, experts say Japan is not tackling the problem seriously, prompting fears its financial system may suffer catastrophic failure in January 2000. No one knows exactly what a Japan unplugged from the rest of the world would mean to the global economy, but the predictions are dire. . . .

One Sydney-based computer expert, Bob Hayward, vice-president of Gartner Research Group, says this could lead to a second wave of economic crisis for Asia next year because the level of non-compliance is so high.

He termed Japan a 2000 "nightmare" because of its reliance on "old iron" mainframes, heavy use of in-house customised software and a failure by government and business to grasp the nature of the problem. Cultural factors also were impeding progress. . . .

Hayward is particularly fearful that no major financial institutions in Japan are doing anything about the millennium bug and only a very small percentage of Japanese companies will be ready in time.

"The general consensus is that most of Asia is nowhere near ready. The less developed computer user countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia will have major problems, " he says.

With some Asian countries now in "survival mode" because of the economic crisis, Hayward says 2000 bug budgets are being slashed. The Thai Government, for example, has halved its financial commitment to the problem. . . .

If Asia is in dire straits, the situation is scarcely much better elsewhere. One of the foremost international experts on the millennium bug, Canadian Peter de Jager, says the most recent World Bank survey shows a "pathetically poor" number of its members are even aware of the problem. "What happens to finance when the information stops?" he asks.


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