Thanks for your detailed reply :-)
"Unless Hotspot is known to do dead code elimination, I would expect the java compiler to do the dead code elimination. If that is the case then you wouldn't get the benefit of dead code elimination when using EBCL unless it has a similar feature."
HotSpot does perform dead code elimination on the fly, and various other agressive optimizations (see http://java.sun.com/javaone/javaone2001/pdfs/2696.pdf and
http://java.sun.com/products/hotspot/docs/whitepaper/Java_Hotspot_v1.4.1 /Java_HSpot_WP_v1.4.1_1002_4.html). So I guess we can just first not do any such optimizations ourselves and see how HotSpot will perform.