Investors should expect smooth trading from the securities industry when computers make the year-2000 date change, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt said Tuesday.
"The worst we have to fear is public misconception, public fear," Mr. Levitt said at a press briefing where he was joined by securities industry leaders. "I think it's unrealistic to believe that there may not be some errors or mistakes," he said, but any problems would be "minimal."
A few broker-dealers and one transfer agent are not ready yet but have told the SEC their computers would be prepared by Nov. 15. On Jan. 1 there will be one last industrywide test, said Frank G. Zarb, the chairman and chief executive officer of the National Association of Securities Dealers.
"The bulk of the community is being covered," Mr. Zarb said. "We are really working with the right people and the right organizations to handle anything that comes up."
Richard A. Grasso, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, predicted that on Jan. 3, the first trading day of the new year, will be "business as usual." A Clinton administration official said U.S. investors would not feel the effects of any problems in overseas financial markets.
"At the basic level, this sector is in pretty good shape around the world," said John A. Koskinen, assistant to the President and chairman of the President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion.
Beyond the financial markets, the date change could disrupt business in lesser-developed countries.
"We are concerned -- and I don't want to gloss by the concern -- that in some of the developing countries they're going to have major challenges," Mr. Levitt said. "They're more likely to be business Transactions and less likely to be securities transactions."