This is probably dumb, but I am going to indulge in Nobel speculations. My main forecast is that there are two leading fields of economics that are way ahead of the rest for being the focus of this year's prize. The first is environmental economics because 1) one has never been given for the field, and 2) the Swedes are supportive of the upcoming Copenhagen summit on global warming. The second would be behavioral finance because that continues to be a major global issue, and in the past the committee has given finance-related prizes to neoclassical types whose theories now lie in ruins and discredited. As with last year, this will not be a year for any new classical or rational expectations types like Barro or Sargent or Fama, although all kinds of people out there somehow think they deserve it. More details under the fold (hopefully).
So, if it is for environmental I think it is likely recipients will have some link to the global warming issue. This probably rules out some more radical and heterodox founders like Herman Daly or Allen Kneese or Richard Norgaard whom I would applaud. It also rules out some more mathematical folks like Partha Dasgupta or Richard Starrett or William Brock or Geoffrey Heal, and I would not hold my breath either for local favorite and former Nobel committee member, Karl-Goran Maler either.
Those with global warming cred would include Nicholas Stern and William Nordhaus and Robert Stavins, any of whom might get it. However, the most interesting and deserving combo, requiring not to be too heterodox and also have a global warming link but also more innovative and important in my opinion would be a Graciela Chichilnisky-Hirofumi Uzawa-Martin Weitzman combo. Chichilnisky has been involved in the UN efforts and is the main inventor of the important "green golden rule" idea. Also, she would finally be the first woman to get it. Uzawa is most famous globally for his important neoclassical growth theory papers from the 60s, but in recent years has become a sort of Amartya Sen of Japan, its most revered economist and Wise Old Man, who has become a strong environmentalist and written more philosophical and deep papers on global warming. There is rumbling in Sweden about Fujita of Japan not getting it with Krugman last year, and no Japanese has gotten it. Finally, besides making very insightful points about fat tails in the global warming issue, Weitzman's "Prices and Quantities" paper is enormously influential within the field.
On behavioral finance the obvious person would be Robert Shiller. He could get it alone. Or an obvious addition would be Richard Thaler. Going for three, either Benoit Mandelbrot, the most deserving in my view but may be too odd for the committee, or Kenneth Rogoff.
Here is a list of other possibilities, lower in probability this year in my view but not out of the question: Oliver Williamson with Tirole or somebody else (Geoff Hodgson claims that Williamson is the most cited economist of all time), Gordon Tullock-Anne Kreuger (another woman) possibly with Janos Kornai for rent seeking, Richard Easterlin for happiness, Paul Romer for endogenous growth (lower probability because too close to last year's award), William Baumol or Albert Hirschman for general grand old man wisdom.