The Gartner Group is a major source on information on y2k. It is the source of the familiar estimate of repair costs, $300 billion to $600 billion.
In this March 13, 1997 document on the domino effect, the authors warn: "What has not been explored, if the projections prove to be anywhere accurate, is the impact of the year 2000 on the global economy. In reality, all businesses are in a fragile state of balance, each depending on the other for stability."
They avoid discussing the details of this crucial issue. Given the magnitude of the effects of such things as a banking failure or power grid failure, I can hardly blame them. Instead, they discuss how the bad data in a firm's information system can corrupt the entire system. The bad information creates a cascading series of failures that can lead to institutional paralysis: a shut-down.
They do offer this estimate: half of all businesses and governments will have year 2000 problems. They predict that "a significant portion of them will face the scenario described above. Some may go out of business, or in the case of governments, have difficulty collecting taxes or writing checks."
They do not state the obvious: if the banks shut down, just about every business on earth will go out of business, and no government will be able to write checks. Not many of them will be able to survive if taxpayers can't write checks.
If the national power grid goes down, it will be even worse.
Here is how the authors put it: The extent of the disruption is obviously dependent on the number of organizations that have reached the overload point."
I hate that word, "overload." It makes me think, "power grid." If a nation's power grid goes down, approximately 99% of its organizations are at risk. The mail exceptions are criminal syndicates and churches. The criminal syndicates have guns, and the churches have debts on buildings that only churches would want to own. The criminals will keep their guns; the churches will escape their debts.