- BNSF stands for Burlington Northern Santa Fe
- BNSF is made up of many consolidations & acquisitions of 390 railroads over the last 150+ years. It serves a vast rail network from Seattle to Chicago to LA and has trackage rights on other networks that allows access to hundreds of other locations. For more history on the companies that make up the modern BNSF railroad check out their history page.
On to Warren & his Purchase
Wow, the suspicion I have behind the Warren Buffet purchase of BNSF has my mind racing through ideas on why. The simple act of a single individual owning a major railroad in the United States again is awe inspiring, suspicious, and in some ways fills me with hope for the nation. Let me explain why.
The last private owner of a railroad that was anywhere near the scale of BNSF was a long long time ago. Now, modern America will have a railroad that can literally act in seconds, move with the speed and innovation pushed by an individual. Boards can’t act that fast, Governments have no hope to even remotely act fast, let alone act, and other forms of organization just can’t compare. This of course can be a good thing and a bad thing.
Does Warren know railroads? I don’t know if he does or not, he does seem to be able to pick investments pretty well, and he just bet the farm on the purchase of an entire railroad. That is saying a lot. Is he literally telling America that he believes in the underpinnings of free-market (REAL free-market, not that psuedo psycho Republican free-market ideal) capitalism? Or is there some hidden agendas being played out? Do these agendas possible come from somewhere else besides Mr. Buffett himself? I have some suspicions about this, but I’m not betting anything on it yet because there are a lot of factors that haven’t shown their respective cards.
Over the last 5 years or so a lot of energy, money, and other political willpower has been put into re-regulating the freight railroads again. This, by any turn of events, would be horrible for the freight carriers and bad for America in general. I’m not even going to bat around the nonsense that it would be an increase in competition or anything of that sort. This re-regulation would starve the industry, quite rapidly, by requiring the railroads to sink more money into political pandering and less into the functional investment of the railroads themselves. Already pricing and other things are regulated by the Federal Government, we don’t need additional nonsense for them to deal with.
Does Warren know about a death of this effort? Because there would be zero reason for him to invest if he thought there was a remote chance that re-regulation would go through. Indeed, this is something to ponder.
The key players in the administration, which would be Obama and Biden, both are in support of high speed rail and rail transport in general. Biden especially, loves passenger rail. BNSF of course is not involved in passenger rail, but having a huge supporter owning the railroad puts the administration in a very powerful position to make change. This can happen on two major idealistic fronts; the free-market advocates viewpoint and the more socialistically minded & environmentally friendly supporting Democrat. With Warren owning the railroad the administration could easily encourage without any legislation at all some very positive actions, winning accolades for the railroad, for the administration, and getting the administration more in tune to what is really going on at the rail.
Does Mr. Buffett have some inside knowledge on some political action by the administration? Does he know about some major event or is guessing at some major event that would position the railroad to drastically expand operations into new realms of service? Once again, another legitimate thought to keep in mind when pondering this purchase.
So do I know what Warren is up to? No. Do I think I even have a remotely logical idea about his action? Nope. Overall I have absolutely zero idea why he would step out this far in order to purchase an entire freight railroad. In some ways the political environment seems to make this an absolutely bad idea, and in another it seems like a great idea. From an economic stand point it appears to be a really odd play, without a significant ROI in comparison to some other parts of the market. Especially with the economy in the position it is currently in.
What do you think? Any ideas, conspiracies, inside knowledge? I’d love to read some comments on this so light em’ up.