Warren Buffett, the multi-billionaire investor, has just made what he calls an "all-in wager on the economic future of the United States." And Seattle accounts for a lot of those chips. Buffett today became the proud owner of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., the biggest rail company in the Northwest.
The fact that Buffett finds the future of freight so bright is a very encouraging sign for our blue-collar economy, especially in a week when South Carolina just absconded with lucrative Boeing jobs.BNSF, based in Texas, has tracks all over the city and state, a giant railyard at Interbay, as well as a fancy, updated Port of Seattle container depot on the downtown waterfront called the Seattle International Gateway.
Betting big on railroads in an age infatuated with digital bits is a classic contrarian move for the Oracle from Omaha. Buffett's kind of the anti-Bill Gates (though the two are buddies and Buffett's slowly handing over a lot of his net worth to the Gates Foundation). Where Gates is interested in breakthrough, world-changing technologies, Buffett prefers to focus on businesses he can readily understand.
His $44 billion investment today--the biggest he's ever made--is a reminder that, even as Boeing flies away, the city of Seattle may still have an economic future in stuff.