As Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), the panel's chairman, put it in his opening statement, "International Year 2000 preparedness presents a significant wild card. The United States' financial services industry... has yet to fully consider and plan for the possible consequences if there are widespread systems failures overseas."
It seems inevitable that investors worldwide will shift their assets to countries and currencies known to be dealing with the problem aggressively. This scenario has been compared to the oil crisis of the '70s, in which vast sums of cash were rapidly shifted from the West into the bank accounts of sheiks. One crucial difference this time around: Those vast sums are rapidly shifting into the hands of COBOL programmers and Y2K consultants. At least it isn't making Bill Gates any richer.