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.
This paper analyzes past fiscal consolidation plans and their outcomes in France. It covers the early attempts at fiscal consolidation in the 1970s and the 1980s (Plan Barre and Virage de la Rigueur), the first episode of medium-term fiscal consolidation in 1994-97 ahead of joining the European Economic and Monetary Union, and the fiscal consolidation under the corrective arm of the European Stability and Growth Pact in 2003-07. These experiences offer important lessons for the future, suggesting that binding constraints help focus policymakers' attention and justify their actions; spending restraint needs to be shared and coordinated across all levels of government; and appropriate deficit targets could help in enforcing budgetary discipline in good times.