Archive for Wednesday, December 29, 1999

T SEEM WORRIED ABOUT Y2K

December 29, 1999

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Lawrence area banks report few year 2000 concerns on the part of their customers.

Bank customers in Lawrence seem unworried about any money problems due to the coming new year.

It was hard enough to find a bank customer to talk to Tuesday, let alone lines of them demanding their money.

"We have every indication people are very relaxed about this stuff, and they should be," said Barry Robinson, public information officer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

University National Bank, 1400 Kasold Drive, has received no more requests for cash than it normally does before a holiday weekend, said Janet S. Wright, assistant to the bank's president.

The same goes for Douglas County Bank, Baldwin State Bank and Mercantile Bank.

Every bank in the country has gone through about two years of preparation under the direction of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. FDIC has inspected and certified all of them as ready for the year 2000.

The federal government has spent the last 18 months building up its cash reserves, just in case, Robinson said.

"Our job is to make sure the economy functions," Robinson said.

The Federal Reserve Bank now has more than $200 billion in storage, about $50 billion more than normal, Robinson said.

Though bank officials don't want to talk about how much money they have on hand because of security concerns, Robinson said many have requested extra cash at times during the fall.

"Bankers, by their nature, are prudent people," Robinson said. "Bankers did what was prudent based on what their customers were telling them."

If their silence is an indication, customers are telling bankers they aren't worried.

Wright said she had gotten only a half dozen calls from people worried about the new year.

She said the concerns about computer problems connected to the changeover from 1999 to 2000 were at their peak early this year.

"It kind of ballooned and calmed back down," Wright said.

Wright attributes some of the change to the public information campaign from her bank and others. She said customers' statements included brochures about how the bank was preparing for the new year change.

One of Wright's customers agreed with that assessment.

"I was panicked for a while, stocking up on food and everything," said Brenda Climer of Baldwin. "Now I have no concerns."

A Douglas County Bank customer shared Climer's feelings.

If computer problems do emerge, Jean Snedeger of Lawrence said, having a few dollars in her pocket will be the least of her worries.

"I think if the banks fail, everything else will too," Snedeger said.

-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is kblackwood@ljworld.com.

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