An alternative method for getting "Y2K" right next time : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

"People respond to incentives--all else is commentary."

We know most people act in their own best interest. During 1999, I watched the markets for signs of an insider sell-off. It never happened. Stock prices for Y2K remediation firms languished. While Y2K-related spending was strong, there were no indicators in the financial ( or any) markets of impending disaster.

The only "doomer" way to explain the lack of economic indicators was the claim "nobody" knew about Y2K problems. This is silly. There were IT pros busy in Y2K remediation, pros who obviously didn't realize they started "too late" and "the code was broken." The only way to believe Yourdon was to think he knew more than the people working in the trenches.

The "IT" press covered the real IT world. The "trade rags" never showed a moment of panic. There was no "buzz" in the real IT community, no legitimate "whistleblowers."

Getting Y2K right wasn't about picking the right experts... it was about looking carefully for signs. Even those peddling Y2K fear could not "spin" the lack of economic indicators. Last year when I talked about the lack of significant insider selling, the silence was deafening.

To get the next "Y2K" right, you don't have to pick the right IT guru or wonk. Just watch what people are doing. The rats are always first off the sinking ship.

-- Ken Decker (, June 04, 2000


To get the next "Y2K" right, you don't have to pick the right IT guru or wonk. Just watch what people are doing. The rats are always first off the sinking ship.

Good point Ken, and this held true for the Y2K Doomspinners as well...Rick Cowles, Roleigh Martin, Yourdon, and many others were backing away from y2k doom well before the rollover. Rick had all but abandoned EUY2K by around Septemember or October, focusing on his new site,

They never admitted it, but their actions indcated that their y2k doomtrain wasn't going to make it to the next stop...;)

-- FactFinder (, June 04, 2000.

Ken, I am LOL at your writings! It does ring true today. But back when, I too thought the "nerdy heads" could not phantom a life's existence which may have included some hardship. I thought they had blinders on, still think most do. Raised in the school of "Hard Knocks", my life has been much easier than my Kin before me. In the interest of duplicity or perservation, I sold a very nice expensive home, and bought a fricking double wide on some acreage, and bought seed packets out the wazoo, realizing I have perpetually killed house plants all my adult life. Talk about Blind Faith. But interestingly enough, this Major Life Change, allowed the introduction of several new kind, spirited folks into my former,limited world. They have added to my "Lifes' Book". It is an interesting journey. BTW, my house plants are still dying, I should "rent" house plants by the week.

-- MID Control (, June 04, 2000.

Mid: I betcha dont miss those BIG house payments do you?

I had been so frightened, I too wanted to 'sell' my home prior to rollover. I'm sure there were alot who did just that, it sounds to me like it worked out better for you.

Besides, at least you have a doublewide, those are nice!!!!

As for the gardening, go head, better than the genetically altered garbage we are eating.

Re: houseplants, they do have people who come to your home to care for them, my niece does mine and she is very good and inexpense.

---sumer who could kill a cactus...:-)

-- consumer (, June 05, 2000.

We know most people act in their own best interest. During 1999, I watched the markets for signs of an insider sell-off. It never happened. Stock prices for Y2K remediation firms languished. While Y2K-related spending was strong, there were no indicators in the financial ( or any) markets of impending disaster.

The only "doomer" way to explain the lack of economic indicators was the claim "nobody" knew about Y2K problems. This is silly.

====================================================================== 19990817&qt=ING&sv=IS&lk=noframes&col=NX&kt=A&ak=news1486

Y2K Fears Seep Into World Markets At Last

01:23 p.m Aug 17, 1999 Eastern

By James Saft

LONDON (Reuters) - A slew of financial market distortions and anomalies in recent weeks have at last provided hard evidence that international investors are moving to price in the risks surrounding the Y2K problem.

Years of hand-wringing by pundits and politicians about millennium computer problems have until recently caused only slight and arcane moves in market prices.

But recent sharp increases in bond market credit spreads, a fresh seller in emerging markets and the gloomy interest rate horizon implied by short-term futures market have all been at least partly spurred by the Y2K effect, analysts said.

``There is an avoidance of risk and a preference for liquidity,'' said Giles Keating, Credit Suisse First Boston chief economist.

``There has been a lot of discussion about Y2K over the last six months but nobody quite foresaw swap spreads, for example, being driven to such extreme levels.''

In the last two weeks, U.S. swap spreads have soared to their highest levels in a decade.

Benchmark 10-year dollar swap spreads now stand at 100 basis points, having touched 114 earlier in the month.

U.S. swap spreads reflect the interest rate premium a double-A-rated borrower would have to pay over U.S. Treasuries and are a key barometer of investors' overall appetite for risk.

Ballooning swap spreads are being driven in part by a glut of issuance by corporate borrowers eager to nail down financing before an expected Y2K-related year-end market shutdown.

The Y2K or millennium bug problem arises because many computers were allocated just the last two digits for the year in dates. Unless amended or replaced, computers may misread the year 2000 as 1900 or simply fail to work.

There is also evidence debt markets are increasingly anticipating a yearend scramble for cash as insurance against any potential millennium disruptions -- with investors steering clear of all bonds with coupons due in the first weeks of 2000.

A so-called ``millennium butterfly'' trade, under which investors buy December futures contracts while selling September and March, shows that Eurodollar markets are offering a 40 basis point premium to those willing to lend out money over the turn of the year, according to Steve Major of ING Barings.

On Euribor markets the premium available is 49 basis points.

Both figures are substantially higher than they were in May and have the potential to go higher, Major said.

``We are entering a surreal environment and as bankers we are paid to be prudent,'' Major said.

``Given that it is only August and we had this amount of dislocation, I would say would say the spread would go up.''

Other measures of bond investor concern around the millennium, such as a preference for more liquid ``on the run'' government bond issues, have so far shown only modest effects.

An overall measure of bond market Y2K sensitivity devised by ING shows investors are now only half as nervous as they were at the height of the Russia and Long Term Capital Management crises of late 1998, when euro conversion nerves added to uncertainty.

``We are at 50 percent of last years' peak in risk aversion, we think that it may get worse before it gets better.''

The steep central bank interest rate rises that are being discounted over the next six months in eurodollar and sterling interest rate futures contracts are also seen as at least partly a Y2K-rleated anomaly. Analysts said the strips are substantially driven by a demand for cash around the millennium rather than a prediction of central bank policy.

A selloff in emerging markets in recent weeks is also at least partly attributable to fears lesser developed areas will have difficulty hurdling yearend technical challenges and as investors who made money in these assets turn risk averse.

The MSCI-EMF benchmark emerging markets index is now about 10 percent below its recent peak and some Brady bonds have underperformed.

Even the recent run-up in oil prices has been partly explained by some as a dash to build up inventories ahead of any yearend logjams. Others say the recent surge of Japan's yen is related to a scramble for cash and the resultant repatriation of capital by the world's largest creditor.

Keating at CSFB said that the lower profile of hedge fund and bank proprietary desks after last years' LTCM fiasco has allowed price anomalies to grow.

``There is a more limited amount of arbitrage capital and that is perhaps removing the capital which would otherwise help to arbitrage the market,'' he said.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.


Worries of Year 2000 disruptions spark rash of corporate offerings

The Wall Street Journal

Monday, August 23, 1999

Richard J. Almeida, chairman and chief executive officer of Heller Financial, isn't sure if the markets will go haywire as Year 2000 approaches.

But he'd rather be safe than sorry.

So Mr. Almeida's company, a major lender to midsize and smaller companies, has raised $750 million over the past month, capping more than $3 billion raised so far this year, to square away its funding needs before any possible market turmoil related to Y2K.

``It was really anticipating the fact that there could be market disruptions in the fourth quarter,'' Mr. Almeida says. ``Our feeling is there would probably be a lot of adverse psychology, so we should try to anticipate our funding needs early.''

U.S. companies are scurrying to raise money, in part to sock away cash before any market disruptions caused by the Y2K computer bug. Or to be more precise, disruptions caused by fear of the Y2K bug.

Since May 1, $23.8 billion of initial public offerings have been completed, up from $14.7 billion in the same period last year, according to CommScan LLC, in part due to an impetus to go public ahead of potential Year 2000 market problems. Meanwhile, nearly $31 billion of investment-grade corporate bonds were sold last month, up from $17 billion in June and $11 billion in May, according to Credit Suisse First Boston. And $20 billion of bonds have already been sold this month.

Says Geoffrey Coley, co-head of global capital markets at Salomon Smith Barney: ``Y2K has been part of the calculus in virtually every decision by corporate issuers in the last three months.''

It's difficult to distinguish exactly how much of the rush is from Y2K-specific fears, of course. Also driving the capital-raising drive are fears of rising interest rates by the Federal Reserve, concern about a fourth quarter that has been difficult for bond investors for the past two years, and a desire to issue before summer vacation season peaks.

But executives say worries about Y2K troubles are playing a big part in the race to raise funding. Even companies with overflowing coffers are concerned: AT&T raised $3 billion in one-year securities last month, in part to ensure the company will have enough cash on hand at year end, according to people close to AT&T.

``My fear is we're ready for Y2K, but will there be redemptions from mutual funds hurting liquidity in the market?'' asks Thomas Capo, treasurer of DaimlerChrysler, which sold a massive $4.5 billion in bonds last week, the seventh-largest investment-grade bond deal ever. ``There's a huge question of how investors will behave near the end of the year, and as an issuer it's prudent to get the majority of the year's requirements done now.''

Ford Motor is itself ready for Year 2000. But the company was glad to get its record-breaking $8.6 billion bond deal done last month, rather than test the market later this year or early next year, after the start of 2000.

``You never know what will happen and it's not a bad idea to put some money away as a precaution,'' says Dave Cosper, Ford's executive director of corporate finance.

Corporate leaders are more prone to view Y2K as a mass mania fueled by consulting companies and the survivalist industry than as a fundamental threat to society. Few believe the financial system will stop functioning as computer clocks attempt to flip over to Jan. 1, 2000.

But many corporate chiefs and investment bankers fear that investors will shift away from riskier bonds, like corporate and junk bonds, later this year and stick to cash or safe Treasurys. This could handicap companies in need of financing, causing fallout in corporate boardrooms.

``If for some reason something goes wrong and a CEO turns around and says to a treasurer `Hey, where's my funding?' +the treasurert is likely out of a job,'' says Dominic Konstam, senior strategist at First Boston. ``There's little upside for these guys'' in waiting to raise financing later in the year.

Executives may be right in being nervous about the availability of financing ahead of 2000: 58 percent of investors surveyed recently by Merrill Lynch said they plan to build their cash on hand ahead of Y2K, and 29 percent said they plan to increase their holdings of Treasurys. And 87 percent of corporate-bond investors expect ``liquidity'' - or ease of trading without price disruptions - to fall moderately or seriously as Y2K approaches. Moderate or serious liquidity problems are expected by 53 percent of money-market investors.

The move to juggle funding has been notable in the market for commercial paper, the short-term securities sold by companies looking for short-term borrowing. Many corporations don't want to have commercial paper that expires, and needs to be refinanced, near year- end. So they have been replacing shorter-term instruments, which often must be refinanced every seven to 28 days, with securities maturing next year. The result: a surge in the supply of commercial paper, with spreads widening.

At a recent meeting of the Financial Executives Institute, members said ``they're all avoiding settlements from Dec. 30 to Jan 7,'' said Philip B. Livingston, president and chief executive officer of the Morristown, N.J., professional organization. ``They're trying to avoid any kinds of deal closings in that period. It's going to be a dead period in financial markets.''

Even if big money managers stay the course and computer systems stay afloat, individuals are a wild card. Frightened by the end-of-the- world hype that the banking system will collapse, people may decide to go out after Thanksgiving and pull an extra $1,000 in cash out of their money market funds.


Major corporations, some foreign countries, and even the US Treasury have begun to raise enormous amounts of cash just in case something goes wrong somewhere as computer calenders flip over 2000... they are rushing to sell many billions of dollars of debt now.


ANALYSIS-Millennium bug fears creeping into metals

By Marius Bosch

LONDON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Metal market players have hedged their bets over possible millennium related supply disruptions, making some year-end metal derivatives more expensive and creating growing tightness in metal forward prices.

Analysts said concern over the Y2K problem mostly affected metal markets with their tight supply mechanisms, while dealers in agricultural commodities had less to fear due to large market surpluses.

``Clearly there is some real concern about disruptions to (metal) supplies, whether it is actual physical disruption or whether there are issues in the settlement and banking system,'' said Kevin Crisp, vice president of foreign exchange and commodity research at investment bank JP Morgan.

U.S.-based commodity trading house, Cargill Inc's South African subsidiary already planned to avoid commodity trades in the country between December 15 and January 15 because of worries over Y2K.

In other financial markets, recent sharp increases in bond market credit spreads, a fresh selloff in emerging markets and the gloomy interest rate horizon implied by short-term futures markets have all been at least partly spurred by the Y2K effect, analysts said.

In base metals markets, players have taken out insurance in the form of options -- which gives the buyer the right but not the obligation to buy or sell a specified financial instrument at a fixed price before or on a fixed date -- to counter Y2K uncertainty.

Large option open positions in December on the London Metal Exchange (LME) indicated the market remained wary of Y2K disruptions while metal futures hinted that some base metals would be scarce around the end of the year through to Q1 next year.

``Effectively, production from the mine to the smelter could be affected,'' said commodity analyst Lawrence Eagles of GNI Research.

The year 2000 (Y2K) computer bug problem stems from the once common programmer practice of using only two digits for the year in dates, such as 97 for 1997.

There are fears 2000 will confuse computers and microchips embedded in machines, causing them to produce flawed data or crash. Corporations and governments across the world have been spending billions of dollars to fix their computers.

In base metals like zinc, December option volatilities -- an indicator of market thinking on future price moves -- were quoted up to three percentage points higher, dealers said.

``Option volatilities are high compared to historical levels because of the unquantifiable risk of the Year 2000,'' one options dealer said.

December zinc options open interest consisted of 5,667 lots of call options and 2,567 lots of put options - compared to 1,887 lots of calls and 1,157 lots of puts in November.

In other metals, December options open interest also showed a marked increase on November and January.

Analysts said fears that the millennium bug might disrupt metal supply or production could already be seen in most metals with a noticeable tightening in forwards.

``When we look at the forwards for all the metals for the last few months, there have been growing signs of tightness between December and the first quarter of next year,'' said Adam Rowley, metals analyst at Macquarie Equities Ltd.

Rowley said the tightness or backwardation - where the price of the future is lower than that of the spot price -- is most marked in zinc where stocks were already low.

``Clearly the most severe tightness has come in zinc and that is mainly because zinc stocks are already very low. People are obviously concerned that if there are any logistical problems or disruptions to production, zinc consumers will be affected,'' Rowley said.

The backwardation in zinc in the period December to January currently stood around $22.

In precious metals, marked options activity around the end of the year also reflected market concern over the millennium bug, with large over-the-counter (OTC) and exchange-traded options positions in December.

In addition, industry analysts have noted an increase in gold coin sales ahead of the end of the year with investors wary over possible Y2K problems buying coins to hoard.

The industry-funded World Gold Council said last month that investment demand in the second quarter of 1999 -- measured by among others sales of gold coins -- rose by 32 percent compared to the same period last year.


NEW YORK, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve Bank of New York detailed on Thursday expanded collateral and three-party repo operations announced earlier this month to help ensure adequate funding for financial markets in case of Year 2000 computer glitches.

The New York Fed, which is the U.S. central bank's arm in financial markets, published several weeks ago a series of technical steps to provide ample liquidity ahead of year-end and promote smooth functioning of money and financing markets.

The bank said then it will accept a broader array of collateral over longer periods when it adds liquidity to the U.S. banking system through daily operations between October and April 2000.

The New York Fed will also start selling options that would allow market players to be sure they can tap funding at any specific date in the two quarters ahead.

``Because of the now broad pool of eligible collateral, we are considering whether we will need to conduct three parallel operations each time we inject reserves,'' the New York Fed said Thursday.

The three operations would allow dealers to separately price financing rates on Treasury securities, agency debt securities, and agency pass-through mortgage backed securities.

The New York Fed release on Thursday outlined terms for auctioning options on overnight repurchase transactions. The terms have not yet been finalized and primary dealers of government securities can still comment on the proposals until Monday.

Under the new measures, the New York Fed will now only temporarily accept pass-through mortgage securities securities of Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae as well as U.S. Treasury STRIPs where the coupon and the interest on Treasury issues are traded separately.

Until now, the Fed bank only accepted debt issued by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that enjoys near-Treasury credit status.

The bulk of financial markets' daily operations is usually easily financed by borrowing against top-grade collateral -- mostly U.S. Treasuries. But fears of ``Y2K'' computer glitches may make liquidity harder to get or more expensive than usual in the computer-driven banking system.

The Federal Open Market Committee voted at its last meeting on August 24 to authorize the New York Fed to provide a temporary Standby Financing Facility through the auction of options on temporary transactions.

The Fed will charge a premium for the options of at least one and a half percentage points above the federal funds rate for overnight inter-bank lending. But dealers would not need to exercise their options if the fears are not founded and liquidity remains plentiful.


Wednesday November 17, 7:10 pm Eastern Time

Fed's Y2K liquidity measures keep markets calm

By Ross Finley

NEW YORK, Nov 17 (Reuters) - While the Federal Reserve has financial markets guessing whether Tuesday's interest-rate increase may be the last for several months, the central bank has taken great pains to quell fears about year-end liquidity.

The Fed has put in place a series of measures to make sure markets work smoothly when the clocks on the world's computers change over to 2000 and investors decide whether to hold their positions or convert to cash because of fears of technology-related disruptions on the financial markets.

New York Federal Reserve Bank President William McDonough affirmed on Wednesday that the Fed had ``gone a long way'' toward addressing year-end liquidity fears that peaked in August and September of this year.

Analysts, economists, market players and primary dealers -- the firms that conduct securities transactions with the New York Fed -- agreed.

``It's certainly been useful -- it's a valuable backstop to have there. The mere fact that the Fed has been so aggressive has been helpful,'' said Lou Crandall, chief economist at R.H. Wrightson & Associates.

Economists also say market interest in the Fed's new liquidity insurance scheme means investors are approaching the issue calmly rather than with panic.

Until the Fed came to the rescue, many investors said they were content to park money in safe, liquid short-term U.S. Treasuries and keep their money away from riskier assets such as stocks or debt from corporations and government-sponsored agencies. If that occurred, it might have led to a liquidity squeeze similar to what was seen last year at this time.

Instead, stocks have rallied and so-called spread products have also performed rather well.

But many analysts added that the bond market's resilience running into the last quarter before the date changes to 2000 is only partly a result of the Fed's preemptive measures.

Crandall cited the concern several months ago in the corporate bond and mortgage-backed markets about widening of spreads -- which indicated a preference by investors for Treasuries, securities which are much easier to turn over in the event of a crisis.

``We've seen liquidity in lots of other markets hold up,'' Crandall said. ``The corporate bond market had this expectation spreads would widen dramatically and they haven't.''

One of the Fed's main tools in fighting Y2K fears is STRIPs options -- securities that allow dealers to cash in the value of the option on one of three maturity dates offered.

This ability to exchange STRIPs for cash readily if needed is the kind of safety net prudent dealers crave as insurance against a year- end liquidity crunch. The December 30 maturity date, two days before computer clocks change over, has met the highest demand. The other two maturities are December 23 and January 6.

The Fed has auctioned five separate offerings of STRIPs since October 20, all of which have generated widespread interest, according to the New York Fed.

``There has been a tremendous amount of interest in the options auctions that have taken place,'' the New York Fed's McDonough said on Wednesday.

Analysts say that with five of seven STRIPs options auctions already behind them -- totaling just over $370 billion -- many market players who were concerned about cash on hand at year-end have already taken out their respective millennium insurance policies and are now sitting comfortably.

Citing strong demand, the Fed on November 4 added two additional STRIPs auctions to the original total of five and said it could add more if there were a further strengthening in demand.

The Fed has twice increased the amount of securities offered in individual auctions, also citing increased demand. But the amounts offered in the November 17 auctions decreased slightly, indicating the market may be more confident about year-end cash flows.

``In terms of why they were recently cut back, I would say it could reflect a number of things -- perhaps some greater confidence in the market about Y2K itself and how it will go,'' said Spence Hilton, associate vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In addition to the STRIPs auctions, the New York Fed also announced in September that it would begin entering into repurchase transactions with maturities up to 90 days, up from the previous maximum period of 60 days.

The Fed has already tied up approximately $30 billion in long-term repurchase agreements, a further reinforcement against liquidity concerns in the repo market.

``The only risk at this point is customers -- and by that I mean mutual funds having large withdrawals at the end of the term,'' said Marc Wanshel, economist at J.P. Morgan & Co. ``But the dealers, I think, are very comfortable.''

Vincent Verterano, head government bond trader at Nomura Securities International, said the STRIPs options provide good insurance for dealers who need extra liquidity toward year-end. But he underlined that insurance doesn't come for free.

``The Fed's going to make a ton of money on this,'' Verterano said. ``Chances are they (the options) are not going to be exercised.''

The interest rate on options is 150 basis points (1-1/2 percentage points) above the Federal funds rate, now at 5.50 percent, but traders see the insurance as cheap.

Before Wednesday's auction, the total amount the Fed had received in premiums was ``just shy of $5 million -- a little bit more with today's sale,'' Hilton said.

Many traders say that the premium is a small price to pay for what amounts to peace of mind running up to the new year.

In addition to the options auctions, The Fed now accepts a broader range of collateral for its open market repurchase operations. And it introduced in September a special facility to ease pressure on smaller regional banks toward year-end.

Despite the fact few banks have stepped forward and used the facility, Crandall and other analysts acknowledged that the very fact the Fed made the liquidity facility available to small banks if they needed it was a positive step forward.


-- The rest (of@the.story), June 05, 2000.

Getting Y2K right wasn't about picking the right experts... it was about looking carefully for signs. Even those peddling Y2K fear could not "spin" the lack of economic indicators. Last year when I talked about the lack of significant insider selling, the silence was deafening.

To get the next "Y2K" right, you don't have to pick the right IT guru or wonk. Just watch what people are doing.


-- (L@O.L!), June 05, 2000.

In 1999, there was an unending stream "gloomy" Y2K articles. Despite this, there were NO significant economic indications of a coming "apocalypse." None. Interest rates did not rise. Insiders did not sell off massive quantities of equities. "Stockpiling" did not create a rise in prices. Oh, there may have been a few skittish market moments in early-mid 1999, but after the calm rollovers on July 1, August 22 and October 1... what was left to talk about?

At any point, you can find articles saying we are in deep, deep trouble. If it isn't global warming, it's acid rain or some other catastrophe looming on the horizon. Remember, watch the rats. And if the rats are surprised? We're all in deep trouble.

-- Ken Decker (, June 05, 2000.

GAWD I see Kevin the ThreadKiller™ AKA "linkmiester" AKA many 'new' handles now is still burying threads with his long drawn out cut n pastes.

Litten up dood, the link is more than enough. I wish you would figure out that internet news articles just don't cut it when it comes to real research.

Face it Kev, you listened to the wrong sources and read what you wanted to into ALL those articles....didncha?

-- Ancient Lurker (in@the.shadows), June 05, 2000.

The stock market declined by more than 10% in and around Sept. 1999 and did not recover until after the STRIPs options of late Oct.

It seems clear to me interest rates were kept in check by sizeable injections of liquidity into the financial system. The Fed did the right thing. I'm glad the Federal Reserve was more observant during this critical period than Ken Decker apparently was.

One of the best things that resulted from my looking at potential Y2K risks last year is that I am now debt free.

-- Debt (free@and.happy), June 05, 2000.

Sometime last year on the old Forum there was a reasonably calm discussion regarding the personality types most likely to adopt a preparation strategy for Y2K.I seem to remember that the most common type was the independant,non-conformist individual with some experience either personally or within the family history of hard times.Many were 40 +.

I doubt whether many would have regarded "herd" watching as anything more than instructive than keeping an eye on a low flying wasp.Most people and this was the crux of the matter,wanted hard facts & these were in scarce supply.

-- Chris (, June 05, 2000.

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