Doomsday, Right Around the Corner
Jude Wanniski
November 17, 1999


Your assignment today, readers, is to go to Gary North's website and read all about the Great Depression that will begin on January 1. Gary is one of the most persistent of the millennialists who continue to predict all hell will break loose because of the Y2K computer bug. He has been keeping track of the problem since 1992, as I recall, and continues to believe that the work done to prevent serious economic distress around the world has been insufficient. On his home page is his most recent report, "The Year 2000 Problem: The Year the Earth Stands Still." The report links in to a great many reports of other people who are thinking about Y2K or working on it, so you can get as complete a picture as North can provide on the calamities that await. A history professor who ran into the Y2K problem more than a decade ago, North is now counting down the days from a hideout in the Alabama woods, equipped with enough stuff to see him through what he expects will be several years of global economic contraction. It is not the mechanical problems that worry him most -- airplanes that fall from the sky and such -- but a sharp slowdown in global commerce that results from inter-connected failures in power supplies, telecommunications and international banking.

The world financial system is, after all, a system of promises -- promises to pay upon delivery of promised goods and services. In the old days, these promises were kept in ledgers. In the age of supercomputers, they are kept in digital form. North -- and others like him -- wonder how long world commerce can sustain its current pace if there is a slowdown in the processing of these debits and credits. He actually thinks there will be fewer problems on January 1 than others might expect -- unless the power grids are not as "fixed" as they are supposed to be in the country. The more serious problems unfold as myriad glitches produce myriad disconnects between debits and credits. The check is supposed to be in the mail, but it takes longer and longer to arrive, and sometime is lost forever.

Please read through his home-page report and the links at the bottom of the page. If you are expert in one part of the system or another, and see that problems cited are problems cured or not problems at all, please e-mail us at Out of the great mass of intelligence we have assembled at this website, your contributions may help us anticipate with greater confidence the events just around the corner. As we get closer to the corner, we will devote more of this space to millennial events and the dreaded bug. Be of good cheer.