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KNOXVILLE — Y2K fears had little effect on Americans’ faith in the economy, a University of Tennessee economist said Monday.

The Conference Board, a national business research group, reported that consumer confidence soared to a 31-year high in December.

Dr. Bill Fox said the report shows that Americans’ faith in the nation’s strong job market and low inflation overcame fears of potential Year 2000 computer problems.

“Consumers are very optimistic about the future,” Fox said. “Despite Y2K problems looming on the horizon when this survey was done, consumers looked ahead and felt that things were going to be good.

“There was a lot of hype about Y2k, but I don’t think consumers were really very concerned about it.”

Fox said the latest confidence reading provides further evidence that the overall U.S. economic expansion that began in March 1991 should continue this year.

Fox says Y2K stockpiling might slow down spending early in 2000, but the economic forecast for the year looks good.

“There was some stockpiling of goods by consumers and businesses and that may actually steal a little bit of growth out of the first quarter of this year,” Fox said, “but the Year 2000 just looks like it will be yet another good year for the U.S. economy.”