US Federal Reserve governor Edward Kelley warned this week of the potential major impact on the global economy of the Year 2000 problem.
Speaking before a Senate Commerce committee, Kelley said the Federal Reserve would do all it could - including providing additional reserves to financial institutions during the crucial period - but that monetary policy could do nothing to prevent the direct impact of severe Year 2000 disruption. Only corporations could do that.
"The Year 2000 problem will touch more than just our financial system and could temporarily have adverse effects on the performance of the overall US economy as well as the economies of many, or all, other nations if it is not corrected," he said.
Based on surveys of the largest 500 US organisations, the Federal Reserve estimates that US businesses would have to spend about $50 billion on solving the Year 2000 issue, causing lost productivity and thereby a drop in gross domestic product - a measure of overall economic activity.
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