I certainly panicked when the portfolio-update function of DOS Version 12 of Managing Your Money failed. CompuServe had made a change as of December 1, possibly coincident to their Y2K readiness, that put me out of business. (If only not being able to watch AMZN zoom kept shortsellers from losing money! Then again, as God’s way of keeping me from going bankrupt with AMZN, 400 shares of ICGE mysteriously appeared in my account from some kind of spin-off this summer. At 12. Yesterday, I noticed it was 238, and sold it. Is this normal? Is this scary? Will the hangover be pleasant? Does it matter that I know nothing at all about ICGE yet just made $80,000 on it? But I digress.)

MYM 12 users: If your QuoteLink went kaput December 1, there is hope. For me, at least, Mike Starkey has saved the day. Bless his huge heart and playful mind. If QuoteLink still works for you, ignore this. Otherwise, try this:

1. Go to FILE, PROGRAM SETUP, COMMUNICATIONS.

2. Highlight “CompuServe” and select “Service Setup.”

3. That screen has a hidden F9 function key to edit the setup and scripts. Press F9 and you’ll see.

4. Very carefully, replace the old login script (which begins ^D^D^C^WID: ) with this login script (beginning with an asterisk and ending with a colon, and all on one line, even though it takes more than one line here): *^U^M^WPASSWORD: ^P^M^WOK^W!^SGO CIS:MYMQUO^M^WINTERFACE: ^S100^M^W:

5. Make the new logout script simply a single asterisk: *

Now, for everyone else, yesterday’s promised “more about Y2K.”

Greg Johns: “I’ve heard talk of food shortages, planes crashing, etc at Y2K, but I’ve heard surprisingly little about what I’m worried about most: Will the stock market plummet horribly between now and Jan. 1, because people will sell out of a panic that they’ll lose their money when computers MIGHT go haywire?

“I asked someone about this, and she said, ‘Oh, those computers have been put in good order.’ I believe this is true. And I have my stocks held by big New York monolith investment companies, that should be in good shape come 2,000. (I just heard an investment talk this morning at a country-club breakfast by a Senior Vice President at Salomon Smith Barney, who said his company has spent $400 million Y2K-proofing themselves). So I think, technically, where my stocks are held are safe (although I’m keeping my monthly statements just in case!).

“But what if there is an Orson Welles/H.G. Welles WAR OF THE WORLDS radio broadcast type of situation, where people IMAGINING something bad happening, that in fact is not, will result in panic. And the Dow itself goes down to 2,000, giving new meaning to the term Y2K.

“Sell now to avoid Y2K plummeting, and get bargains come January 3, when Y2K might have proven itself to be a bugaboo? That is the question.

“Incidentally, this Salomon Smith Barney vice president said at the breakfast-talk that he does think the U.S. and Europe are safe come Y2K, but that he thinks the third-world countries might be in trouble. He said a friend of his was just in Spain, and told him that the Spanish don’t even have a word for Y2K, which he and his friend interpreted as the Spanish being oblivious to Y2K. (And Spain is in Europe, and not a Third World country, right? So this vice president sort of contradicted himself.) Anyway, global economy and all, Third World countries going bad may mean USA going bad, too. So maybe a possible panic would be in response to something real.

“I’m bracing myself. And, believe it or not, my mom is planning to get a boatload of food at Costco to store in her garage, out of Y2K fear.”

My guess is that the ‘panic’ occurred several months ago, when people got scared about this. By now, it’s old news. Most people who would panic have already thought about this — and panicked.

This is not to say the market may not sooner or later be in for really rough times. And/or that Y2K could not turn out to be worse than the market expects. Surprises do move the market, and my sense is that few people expect much Y2K disruption. So if it occurred, the market could plunge. But it might also quickly bounce back, when people realized the problems were likely to be surmountable.

Look at the earthquake in Taiwan and what that did to Apple’s supply chain . . . yet investors pretty quickly decided that Apple would get past that problem and it has since nearly doubled.

So the Y2K dip may have happened a year ago. The next dip will come from something else. But, yes, Y2K could contribute to it. Or maybe if/when nothing much happens there will be a huge BUYING surge that drives the market up . . . and, anticipating that possibility, there will be some good year-end BUYING just before the ball drops (or fails to drop).

I guess I’m more worried about the casino stock market and today’s valuations than I am about Y2K. We’ll know shortly whether this is foolish complacency.

PS – It’s always a good idea to have a couple months’ supply of emergency food and other essentials, bought in bulk on sale. It’s convenient, saves money, you never run out of anything, and it makes society stronger to have this buffer against floods, quakes, twisters . . . whatever.

Monday, at Last: Cooking Like a Guy™

 

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