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Wall Street Swats Millennium Bug

Over the next six weeks, Wall Street firms will be running tests on weekends to determine if they'll survive the so-called Y2K computer disaster. By the end of April the verdict will be in.

CBS News Correspondent Kristin Jeanette-Meyers reports that it was a dress rehearsal on Wall Street. Traders, in on a Saturday, were pretending it's only days to go until the year 2000.

"The reason for the test is to ensure that the entire industry is in fact ready to cross, to make the date change together," said Arthur Thomas, senior vice president at Merrill Lynch.

Merrill Lynch and more than 400 other firms are simulating a business-as-usual day to make sure Wall Street is prepared for what's known as the Y2K crisis.

"There is no society, no industry, that is as computer-dependent as we are in the U.S., so we have more to deal with,Â" Thomas said.

Most computers around the world have been programmed to recognize only the last two digits of a date - like 99. No one knows for sure what will happen when the year suddenly reads 2000. In some cases, the computer just won't work.

Wall StreetÂ's very public practice session was also designed to calm nervous investors.

"We think one of the big issues with the Year 2000 is confidence. We think the most disclosure possible is the answer to that," said Donald Kittell of the Securities Industry Association.

While Wall Street may be grabbing the bull by the horns in doing a computer check industry-wide, experts are seriously worried about other industries in this country, and around the world, that are definitely not up to speed.

"If other countries donÂ't get their problems fixed properly, we have major disruptions in computer systems that we depend on for shipping, that we depend on for getting components from other countries for our assembly systems. Then we can still have a recession, not just globally, but in the United States too," said computer expert Ed Yardeni.

And that's one scenario Wall Street alone can't fix.

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