This paper empirically evaluates four types of costs that may result from an international sovereign default: reputational costs, international trade exclusion costs, costs to the domestic economy through the financial system, and political costs to the authorities. It finds that the economic costs are generally significant but short-lived, and sometimes do not operate through conventional channels. The political consequences of a debt crisis, by contrast, seem to be particularly dire for incumbent governments and finance ministers, broadly in line with what happens in currency crises.
The paper presents a model of optimum currency areas using a general equilibrium approach with regionally differentiated goods. The choice of a currency union depends upon the size of the underlying disturbances, the correlation between these disturbances, the costs of transactions across currencies, factor mobility across regions, and the interrelationships between demand for different goods. It is found that, while a currency union can raise the welfare of the regions within the union, it unambiguously lowers welfare for those outside the union. [JEL F33, F36]