Various economics blogs, such as Division of Labour, are speculating on candidates for this year's Nobel Prize in economics.
One thing I've noticed is that the winners tend to be people with concepts named after them. Coase theorem. Nash equilibrium. Black-Scholes pricing model. Granger causality. It seems like you're better off with one brand-name contribution than with a bunch of less-famous papers.
By that standard, William Baumol seems to me to have an edge. "Baumol's cost disease" fits the pattern of a concept with a brand name. Also, Baumol has a number of other contributions to the topics of economic growth and imperfect competition, which are deserving of more recognition.
UPDATE: another economist who gets a lot of speculative attention is Robert Barro. His recent work with Rachel McCleary on religion and economic growth is discussed in this New York Times article.
For Discussion. Which other economists who are under consideration have brand-name concepts going for them?