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.
Could a West African monetary union (either of the non-CFA countries, or all ECOWAS members) be an effective "agency of restraint" on fiscal policies? We discuss how monetary union could affect fiscal discipline and the arguments for explicit fiscal restraints considered in the European Monetary Union literature, and their applicability to West Africa. The empirical evidence, EMU literature, and CFA experience suggest that monetary union could create the temptation for fiscal profligacy through prospects of a bailout, or costs diluted through the membership. Thus, a West African monetary union could promote fiscal discipline only if the hands of the fiscal authorities are also tied by a strong set of fiscal restraints.