The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The paper analyzes some key policy trade-offs involved in the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact. Greater "procedural" flexibility in the Pact's implementation may improve welfare. Procedural flexibility designates the enforcer's room to apply judgment on underlying policies and to set a consolidation path that does not discourage high-quality measures. Budgetary opaqueness may hinder the qualitative assessment of fiscal policy; therefore, better monitoring and greater transparency would increase the benefits from procedural flexibility. Overall, a simple deficit rule with conditional procedural flexibility can contain excessive deficits, lower unproductive spending, and increase high-quality outlays.