The real Y2K threat

The U.S. oil industry should have minimal Year 2000 computer problems Jan. 1, with no disruption of normal petroleum supplies, according to key industry surveys.However, oil analysts are worried that public fears about product shortages could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.If consumers begin hoarding gasoline, then a supply problem could develop, as it did during the 1979 crude oil price spike.The classic example of such a public panic occurred in December 1973, when Tonight Show host Johnny Carson joked that toilet paper was "disappearing" off grocery store shelves. The next day, television viewers bought up all the toilet paper in stores, causing a bona fide shortage that lasted 3 we...

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