Iowa officials say finances safe from Y2K

Matt Kuhns

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a three-part series evaluating the Y2K Bug and its expected problems. Monday’s article documented students’ opinions about the glitch and Wednesday’s article will take a look at area churches’ preparations for the end of the millennium.

With so many of today’s financial transactions being made electronically, many people have wondered whether the year 2000 computer bug will be a disaster for the modern economy.

Predictions of how this glitch will affect the computerized economy have varied considerably.

“The Year 2000 Computer Disaster Survival Guide,” by Randy Welsh, predicts nationwide economic panic.

On the other hand, a few analysts see the Y2K bug as potentially good for the economy. They say the large sums of money that governments and businesses are spending to fix the problem will boost the overall economy.

In general, however, most business and government experts are cautiously optimistic about the year 2000.

State of Iowa Year 2000 Project Manager Paul Carlson sees few, if any, problems on the forefront of the new millennium.

“My feeling is any disruption will be minimal,” he said.

Carlson’s office has worked with local government and businesses to prepare for the year 2000. He said both the state’s public and private sectors have made sizable investments to ensure their systems are Y2K-compliant.

Chief Finance Officer Tom Shepherd also has worked on Iowa’s Year 2000 project, speaking to small business and citizen groups about the problem.

Shepherd said he doesn’t see the Y2K bug as a catalyst pushing the world into calamity.

“I told them I didn’t think it would be a massive disaster,” Shepherd said.

A common question Shepherd fields is what emergency measures should be taken to prepare for the imminent Jan. 1, 2000 date.

“I think [Y2K] will have an impact on the economy overall,” he said, adding that the amount of hyperbole related to the issue has muddled things.

Shepherd said he expects the majority of Y2K-related problems to occur not on Jan. 1, but over the following months, as effects at the industrial level gradually reach the consumer.

Shepherd emphasized that people ensure their personal finances are safe.

Catherine Reed of Brenton Bank, 424 Main Street, said Brenton’s advice to customers is much the same.

Reed said relatively few customers have expressed anxiety about the Y2K bug.

She said most questions are related to how Brenton is preparing for the year 2000.

Brenton Bank has been working to achieve Y2K compliance for several years, Reed said, and “most of our critical systems [are] updated and upgraded.”

As a general reference for customers, Brenton has prepared a pamphlet about its Y2K preparedness.

The pamphlet states Brenton has backup records of all information, and that no matter what happens depositors accounts still will be fully insured.

The pamphlet also advises customers to keep records of their financial transactions.