America's Piano Decline

A blog about business and economics.
July 30 2012 8:36 AM

Asset Depreciation: Piano Edition

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Pianos are increasingly being discarded instead of resold, according to the New York Times.

Photo by Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images.

One of the long-term "structural" costs to a prolonged demand shortfall is that it leads over time to a declining per capita stock of capital goods. In most cases, pianos aren't capital goods as such but the dynamic here is the same:

The value of used pianos, especially uprights, has plummeted in recent years. So instead of selling them to a neighbor, donating them to a church or just passing them along to a relative, owners are far more likely to discard them, technicians, movers and dealers say. Piano movers are making regular runs to the dump, becoming adept at dismantling instruments, selling parts to artists, even burning them for firewood.

“We bust them up with a sledgehammer,” said Jeffrey Harrington, the owner of Harrington Moving & Storage in Maplewood, N.J.
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Dismanlting a damaged instrument for parts is one thing, but burning for firewood is just depressing.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.