Natalie Portman is not a Black Swan …

… Even though she plays the lead in “Black Swan,” which opens in Memphis today at Malco’s Ridgeway 4.

“Black swan” also is a label economists use to describe a rare, hard-to-predict but high-impact event.

A good example is the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

What’s interesting about such events is that even though black swans are so rare, economists will frequently argue they can be used to explain and understand almost everything important about the development of the world.

The Internet. The personal computer. The mortgage meltdown. September 11.

All of them were black swans, but despite the way they seemed to come from out of nowhere, all of them have transformed the world in far bigger ways than things that are easier to understand and more predictable.

A local example: I would argue the election of Willie Herenton in 1991 by a razor-thin margin was a black swan event. The forecasters would have told you no way was it going to happen, but it did, and it had a profound effect on the future of Memphis.

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Dansette

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