Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Robert T. Parry on Tuesday delivered an upbeat assessment of the industry's year- 2000 preparations.

"I think the probabilities are very high that on Jan. 1, 2000, nothing very unusual is going to happen," Mr. Parry told an audience at Town Hall Los Angeles, a local speakers' forum.

"The financial services you've come to rely on-checks, ATMs, debit cards, credit cards, direct payment, and direct deposit, for example-will operate normally."

Acknowledging that senior Fed officials often shy away from such blunt talk, Mr. Parry said, "my mission today is to be perfectly clear, both about the impact of the Y2K problem on the U.S. financial system and about the steps being taken to address it."

Even with such assurances, Mr. Parry said consumers will want extra cash just before the new year. The Fed and many banks, he said, will have more money on hand and extend their hours to meet demand, if necessary.

The Federal Reserve System's critical computer systems are already 100% year-2000 compliant, he said.

The Fed's 12 district banks process over $2 trillion every day to settle securities, foreign exchange, bond, clearing house, and check transactions. "If the Reserve Bank systems don't function properly, much of everything else in the U.S. financial system comes to a halt," Mr. Parry said.

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