Looks like my picks of Thaler and Shiller are leading the way, followed by Weitzman, Hart, Nordhaus, and Tirole.
This time of year, there are typically grumblings about the lack of sufficient talent to justify a yearly Nobel in economics, but that is certainly an impressive list. Weitzman wrote a paper 30 years ago that still defines the core idea of environmental economics. No one has done more on the empirical cost-benefit modeling of climate change than Nordhaus.
Tirole is a co-author of a standard graduate industrial organization text, as well as several highly-influential pieces on the economics of innovation. This title alone should merit consideration for Tirole — “The Fat Cat Effect, the Puppy-Dog Ploy, and the Lean and Hungry Look.” Is there a more effective title to help teach strategic behavior?
Oliver Hart helped to push agency theory forward, developed a formal theory of the firm that is still being hashed out (in Economics 450 among other places), and probably has substantially expanded our understanding of corporate governance.
It’s probably worth noting that last year’s odds-on favorite, Eugene Fama, is not even among the leaders (UPDATE: The Ladbrokes odds have him 5:1). Not to mention Armen Alchian. No, I don’t think there is an absence of talent.
Of course, I’ll write about Shiller and Thaler next week after they win the prize.
UPDATE: Professor LaRocque has predicted Jeffrey Williamson.