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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Decline of the Franc Zone: Monetary Politics in Francophone Africa
Author:Van de Walle, Nicolas
Periodical:African affairs: the journal of the Royal African Society
Geographic terms:French-speaking Africa
West Africa
Subjects:monetary policy
franc zone
Economics and Trade
Politics and Government
Abstract:In the early 1980s, France's former colonies in West Africa appeared like islands of economic rationality and modest development in a continent of egregious economic failure and mismanagement. In particular, the monetary stability ensured by the arrangements of the Franc Zone (FZ) seemed to have benefited these countries. Today, the FZ is in the midst of twin economic and political crises. This paper argues that a comparative political analysis of the Zone's institutional arrangements and operations is needed to understand why the stability of the past has now ended in major crisis. The FZ's economic structures after independence promoted a specific political economy, with patterns of accumulation and redistribution that produced clear winners and losers and favoured a distinctive consumption model. State elites established ruling coalitions in each of the countries of the Zone on the basis of this political economy. The present crisis results from the model's internal contradictions and its inability to respond to changes in the international economy. The author summarizes the structure of the FZ and its consequences, analyses the origins of the present crisis, and discusses the politics of reform in the Zone today, emphasizing the possibility of devaluation. Notes, ref.