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From pianos to insurance: revisiting the 1983 Baldwin bankruptcy

Summary:
Over the past few months, we’ve been looking into pianos. One anecdote we came across involved a director of exports at Baldwin, a piano company, who visited London in the 1970s. He’d been through the Yellow Pages, and seen that there were more piano shops in the city than in the entire state of New York. It seemed to him that most of them couldn’t last. He wasn’t wrong. But a decade later, in 1983, Baldwin’s holding company also went into bankruptcy, in what was at the time one of the largest collapses in US financial history.This wasn’t simply a story of declining pianos in an electronic age. In fact, the bankruptcy had very little to do with pianos. Baldwin was a remarkable case of a business with a particular specialism getting drawn into the world of finance.More specifically,

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