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The Great Railroad War – Buffett’s Take on the Battle and Its Implications for Investing

GuruFocus

Haeg_Harriman coverOver the years, Buffett has referred to the epic battle between James J. Hill and Edward Harriman over the Northern Pacific Railroad (precursor to Buffet’s beloved BNSF) as being one of the foundations of his understanding of investment and a fundamental lesson for all about the vagaries of the stock market. During a recent CNBC interview, Buffett said, “I like history. I like financial history particularly,” and mentioned the Northern Pacific battle, remarking that Alan Greenspan knew all about it but newly minted MBA from the Ivy Leagues did not. He goes on about the Northern Pacific case to say: “It's useful to realize how extraordinary things can happen occasionally … You should know financial history.”

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