testosteronepit.com / By Wolf Richter / December 6, 2012, 7:13PM
The staged posturing with its tragic-funny theatrics and lurid special effects in Washington about the Fiscal Cliff—and whether to fall off, jump off, fly off, dive off, climb down, or somehow avoid it altogether—has become an inescapable media reality, much like Y2K once was. I remember well the worldwide letdown on January 1, 2000.
I was in Berlin for the first time in my life to celebrate, well, Y2K on the street with about four million or so close friends and relatives—many of us have Neanderthal genes, it turns out. Like everyone else, I’d loaded up on cash in case the ATMs or the banking system would crash, or in case my credit cards wouldn’t work, etc., fears that had been mongered everywhere by everyone for well over a year. Computers and the world would come to a screeching halt at midnight.
Having partied through that point in time, I didn’t notice. But late that morning, I noticed. Still a bit groggy, I saw that everything was working, faucets, clocks, elevators, lights. I stepped out of the hotel and wandered into the perma-dusk that pervades Berlin in the dead of winter. People were strolling around, leisurely, trying to clear their heads, without the least sign of chaos. I noticed an ATM. Out of curiosity, I stuck in my US bank card, and wow, out came a neat bundle of marks.
Y2K wasn’t more than a big party. And a year-long media event. Ah yes, and something else.
Fearing the demise of their businesses, decision makers bought untold billions of computers and software and paid for custom updates so that they wouldn’t get caught with their pants down at midnight. A worldwide high-tech buying binge that had lasted for a couple of years. And after they’d bought everything they could think of in order to survive Y2K, they stopped buying. The run-up to Y2K was the last leg of the tech boom. The letdown on January 1, that I and the rest of the world felt, albeit with some relief, was a harbinger of the tech crash.