I Got Bit by a Y2K Bug (Quicken)

By , December 31, 1999

December 31, 1999 — It wasn’t a nuclear meltdown, but it was quite a shock.

I got home this evening and loaded Quicken, to start preparing for my year-end tax and accounting work.

I let Quicken run its “one step update” to gather stock quotes and mutual fund prices from the quicken.com web site.

Hey, I’m a millionaire!

To my surprise, my modest investments in a few mutual funds had bloomed overnight.  All my mutual funds were priced at 100 times their values a day earlier.  For example, my shares in the American Century Small Cap Quant fund (ASQIX) was reported as being worth $549.00 each, up from just $5.42 yesterday.

I even confirmed the phenomenal hundred-fold gain by cross-checking the quote online at Quicken.com and then at Quote.com.

Alas, a cross-check of the same mutual fund at finance.yahoo.com turned up a somewhat more plausible quote of $5.49 per share for ASQIX.

By late evening, Quicken.com posted a notice on its quote-results page:

“We are currently experiencing problems with our mutual fund data from S&P. The values shown may be inaccurate. We apologize for the inconvenience. This is not a Y2K related issue.”

It’s hard to imagine a problem of this kind, occurring on the evening of December 31, 1999, somehow not being related to Y2K, either due to a programming glitch or some kind of Y2K-timed virus or sabotage.  (S&P refers to Standard & Poor’s, a unit of McGraw-Hill.)

I also noticed that my AT&T (TCI) cable company lost its feed from KRON-TV (the NBC affiliate in San Francisco) for about 10 to 15 minutes this evening shortly after 8:00 p.m.  Hopefully these will be the worst of my Y2K worries.  (If there is no societal collapse, who will eat all that vacuum-packed food and what will we do with all these damn flashlights and batteries?)

Happy New Year!

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