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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Apocalypse Not

Aired January 2, 2000 - 5:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: The United States spent tens of billions of dollars on Y2K readiness and, like other countries that spent very little, experienced very few problems. Was it an overreaction in the United States and a waste of money?

CNN's Jonathan Karl on those questions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Apocalypse not: New Year's around the world seems to have brought none of the Y2K disasters predicted.

JOHN KOSKINEN, PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON Y2K: I hope I'll be out of work very soon. It's been a great success story thus far.

KARL: If it was a success story, it came with a hefty price tag. The federal government spent $8.8 billion on Y2K fixes. Corporations in the U.S. spent an estimated $100 billion, and the Federal Reserve stockpiled an extra $50 billion in cash, enough for every household in the U.S. to withdraw $2,000.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now this is not one of the summer movies where you can close your eyes during the scary parts.

KARL: The spending was fueled by dire warnings about Y2K catastrophes. Last January, Robert Bennett, the Senate's point man on Y2K wrote, "There are no brakes on the vehicle on which we are traveling. Each day brings us closer to the brink." A Senate report last fall suggested people stockpile food and water.

Perhaps the leading doomsayer was Ed Yourdon, whose book "Time Bomb 2000" predicted massive global disruptions. When Yourdon woke up to find his Web site still running on New Year's Day he wrote, quote, "After hearing repeated reports on television that nothing had gone wrong, I wondered if I was going overboard."

The government's top Y2K expert says that corporate America did not go overboard by spending billions on the millennial bug.

KOSKINEN: They actually spent that money because their systems were at risk. It was an urgent management issue that they dealt with, it appears to everyone now, very successfully. KARL: A point echoed by Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.

BILL GATES, CEO, MICROSOFT: It ended up being a fairly minor issue because people really worked together. I mean, if people had ignored the thing, then we would be seeing some real impact.

KARL (on camera): But why did countries like Italy, which spent a fraction of what the U.S. spent on the Y2K issue, have no apparent problems at all? That's a question Y2K experts are still trying to answer.

Jonathan Karl, CNN Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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