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1997-07-16 00:00:00


Senator D'Amato Spells Out the Risks for the Public



Senator D'Amato of New York, the banking center of the United States, has offered a whole series of potential horror stories. As you read the list, think: "What happens in 1999 if depositirs around the world perceive that the problem will not be fixed in time? If they understand these risks, will they leave their money in the banks? Or will the bank run to end all bank runs (by shutting down all banks) begin?

"This glitch may seem small. But if it is not corrected, the Year 2000 problem could cause the computers to make all kinds of miscalculations. For those who rely on these systems, the consequences could be widespread and dramatic.

"Nowhere is this more true than in the financial services industry. This industry has come to rely heavily and extensively on computer technology. Computers help to make our banking system and our stock exchanges safer, more efficient, and more convenient for businesses, consumers, and investors. But since these computer systems make extensive use of dates, many of them have a Year 2000 problem buried deep inside. These systems will need to be examined, repaired, and then carefully tested and retested.

"If the work is not completed, the consequences could be devastating for financial institutions, businesses, and consumers:

financial records could be destroyed in error by computers that think they are very old active bank accounts could be declared "dormant" and transferred to State control

finance charges on consumer credit accounts could be miscalculated, leading to astronomical errors on interest charges

automatic mortgage payments and other consumer transactions could fail

clearing and settlement of all types of financial transactions could break down."


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