Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Damn Railroad Monopolists

Railroad shipping: Senate Judiciary Committee signs off on railroad antitrust legislation

Along with removing antitrust exemptions for the railroad industry, the legislation also would:

revise provisions prohibiting anticompetitive transactions except for those approved by specified federal agencies acting under certain statutes to eliminate the exemption for certain STB approved transactions;

empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regulate, and engage in antitrust enforcement regarding, collective rate agreements and certain transactions, including railroad mergers and acquisitions;

revise STB authority to provide that a rail carrier, corporation, or a person participating in an approved transaction is not exempt from specified antitrust laws;


permits treble damages against railroad common carriers in antitrust suits to parties injured by antitrust violations without regard to whether such railroads have filed rates or whether a complaint challenging rates has been filed, among others.

On one side are shipper groups, most notably CURE (Consumers United for Rail Equity) whom cited how the four largest Class I railroads—Union Pacific, CSX, BNSF, and Norfolk Southern—reported a combined $358 million year-over-year increase in fourth quarter revenue at a time when there is a recession and these railroads reported lower volumes. CURE contends that this highlights the ability of the railroads “to extract greater profits per shipment through their monopoly pricing power.”

Damn, I just bought some BNI shares. Note to anyone reading this blog: If I ever make investment advice, do not adhere to said advice. Everything I bought has more or less failed horribly.