Most corporations will complete their work on Year 2000 compliance in time for the millennium, leaving little impact on the economy and certainly no Armageddon.
This was the unexpected claim of a major new report from finance house Merrill Lynch.
The 450-page document - 'Y2K: Implications for Investors' - is the result of contacting 3,000 corporations round the world to assess their readiness and their views on the problem.
Merrill Lynch is sanguine. "We do not see Armageddon, but, like every space flight so far, there is an element of the unforeseen. If there are glitches, and there always are, companies expect to manage their way through them as they do in power blackouts," concluded the report.
Contrary to just about every other survey and analyst report up to now, the report does not believe that companies are running out of time to complete compliance projects.
"In general, companies are reasonably confident of their own Y2K preparations, but uncertain about those same efforts by their suppliers and customers," said a statement from the Merrill Lynch research team.
One senior IT analyst said that it was important to bear in mind Merrill Lynch's potential motives as an investment house in portraying the potential impact on shareholders, and said that different interpretations could possibly be considered from their data.
For example, Dr Ed Yardeni, chief economist of Deutsche Bank Securities, has predicted a 30 per cent fall in stock market values from anticipation and impact of the Year 2000 problem.
The danger of interconnected networks creating a domino chain reaction, bringing down large numbers of systems, has even convinced the world's largest corporates and the US government that there is real reason to fear economic and even social dislocation.
Merrill Lynch's report completely dismisses such concern.
"Our own view is that the very complexity and dispersion of these systems is, in fact, insurance against a complete shutdown of commerce when the millennium starts. There won't be a domino effect, because there are lots of switches throughout the system that will put on brakes," said one of the report's authors, senior analyst Jeanne Terrile.
For the full version of this story, see analysis section.
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