Federal regulators said Thursday that all but 27 banks and thrifts with $4.8 billion of assets are completely ready for the year-2000 date change.
However, the agencies said at least some of the laggards face relatively minor problems such as not documenting their contingency plans. "It's not necessarily because there are problems with their systems," a spokesman for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said.
Some of the institutions deemed unprepared have been named publicly, and there is a concern that the enforcement actions could lead customers to yank deposits. But the FDIC spokesman seemed unfazed, saying, "Many institutions can withstand a run."
Spurred by opinion polls indicating fear among some consumers, Federal Reserve Governor Edward W. Kelley Jr. was joined by the heads of the FDIC, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision to urge the public to keep cool heads and leave their money in the bank.
Just in case people want to get cash, the Fed has more than $200 billion stored in vaults, Mr. Kelley said. The regulators will conduct status checks on bank operations, liquidity, and customer behavior before and after Dec. 31.
The FDIC produced a video for banks to play in their lobbies featuring regulators explaining how banks prepared for the year 2000 and telling customers that the safest place for their money is the bank.
-- Katharine Fraser