In reading all these various obituarial assessments of the contributions of the Pope, I have been waiting for somebody with an economic turn of mind to step forward and say that what we really need to be doing is evaluating the Pope's legacy by reference to whomever out there would be the second-best candidate that the selecting conclave could have hired to be pope way back when. (For terminological convenience, we might have referred to the counterfactual pope as JPII-prime to distinguish him from the actual JPII.) I'm surprised Bozzo hasn't raised the issue given that he's advocated this kind of analysis before in a seemingly highly similar context*, not to mention his being Italian.
For fans of markets, Tradesports has indeed a futures market for wagering on the next Pope. You can bet both on particular candidates (current favorite: Tettamanzi at 22.5) and country (current favorite: Italy at 43.7), which if there was more volume would probably open up weird arbitrage opportunities given the number of countries with only one possible pope. Given the online lists of the composition of the conclave, I'm still bullish in my hopes for a pope from somewhere in the developing world (Arinze [Nigeria] is trading at 15, Maradiaga [Honduras] at 11.5, and Hummes [Brazil] at 11). I thought about betting against an Italian successor given that it seems overpriced to me, but I can't figure out if the majority of people who would be betting in a Papal Futures Market are (1) people who are hardcore Vatican watchers, in which case I don't want to presume the info necessary to bet against them, or (2) the sort of people who will bet on anything, in which case why not.
* I will leave it to readers to judge which person has had more worldwide influence and worshipful reverence over the past two decades, Alan Greenspan or Pope John Paul II.