The Nobel Prize in economics will be awarded next week, and this kicks off the Official Lawrence University Pick the Economics Nobel Winner competition.* You should e-mail your picks to me. One entry per person.

So you might be asking yourself who is even in the running. Well, you can find the latest odds here.

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “hold the phone, you can bet on stuff like that?” Indeed, you can bet on just about anything now, though in the polite academic ease we call these “prediction markets.” There is very much a burgeoning field of study here, and these markets generally do a better job than polls or pundits at forecasting the future. One point that I find particularly interesting is that these tend to work pretty well even if people are just playing for fun and not real money.

Outside of the wagering angle, it might be interesting to take a look up and down that list and see who you recognize and why. Most of these guys have advanced the field in some way, and understanding their contributions might help you to understand different areas of economics exploration. The odds-on favorite, Eugene Fama, is the man behind the “efficient markets hypothesis,” which arouses passions of all sorts. Can you beat the market? Do prices really convey useful information? What exactly is an “efficient market.” The irony here is that if you believe in efficient markets, you should go ahead and enter Fama in the contest.

Second on the list is Paul Romer, who is a pioneer of endogenous growth theory and the hero of the excellent Knowledge and the Growth of Nations, but he might be better-known to you as the guy who developed Aplia.

There are many others that have made their mark on my thinking. If you take an environmental course, you will learn about Marty Weitzman (prices v. quantities) and Bill Nordhaus (climate change). Paul Milgrom and Oliver Williamson are both central figures in the theory of the firm. The list goes on.

So, email your picks to me. The prize will be awarded at the next Economics Club meeting.

*First prize will be a large sack of pears. Multiple winners will be sorted out by who chose the candidate first. My pick is Ben Bernanke, but I would be happy to cede my pears to anyone else who selects the Fed chair.