So in the High Court yesterday in the Telstra v ACCC case, there was apparently this exchange:
“Airports are an extremely good example,” Mr Gageler said. They enter into 99-year leases with the commonwealth, “the conditions of which leases involve a huge amount of restrictions on what can be done with the property”.
He argued that if there was an acquisition it was of a service, not property, but Justice Kirby opined an economist would laugh at that suggestion.
“Economists speak with many tongues,” said Justice Gummow.
Dr Bennett: “They do, your honours, and I could tell many anecdotes but I will refrain from doing so.”
Justice Kirby: “I am sure economists would have equal comments on lawyers. It is just that we have the last word.”
My feeling when I read that was bemusement. An economist wouldn’t really care about that distinction, it is something for lawyers. If it mattered it would be on the dimension of time that is of relevance. In the short-run, no difference, in the long-run, maybe some difference. Just ask the people of Hong Kong. That said, the exchange indicates more about lawyers difficulties in really understanding economics and sorting out the good tongues from the bad.