Just an update on this line of reasoning:
This new (12/8) article (still just available in German, Der Spiegel has a few days delay for translations to their English edition) makes the case that while the U.S. and Asia would certainly be sunk by a breakup of the Eurozone, Europe itself would fare much better, given its higher dependence on manufacturing, and lower reliance on FIRE industries.
my translation:Der Hintergrund der Dauerferngespräche allerdings ist bitterernst: Würde der Euro zusammenbrechen und mit ihm der Wirtschaftsraum auf dem Kontinent, hätte das fatale Folgen für die USA. Nicht weniger groß ist die Sorge vor einem Euro-Crash in Asien.
The article goes on to make the assertion that:The background of the continuous long-distance calls [with Obama] however, is deadly serious: If the euro were to collapse, and with it the economy of the continent, it would have disastrous consequences for the United States. No less great is the fear of a Euro crash in Asia.
my translation:Anders als die USA verdankt die Europäische Union einen wichtigen Teil ihrer Wirtschaftskraft produzierenden Unternehmen. Diese Industrien sind hoch entwickelt und verfügen über hohe Innovationskraft. Auch der gemeinsame Binnenmarkt gehört zu den Stabilitätsankern der EU.
The article goes on to claim that Europe has not lost any of its attractiveness to customers, only to finance markets. (It neglects to mention Britain's extreme dependence on finance; presumably this can be brushed off along with America). It also speaks briefly to the idea that it is the EU (not the Eurozone) that has been bound by successful joint efforts in the arena of foreign policy.Unlike the U.S., the European Union owes a critical part of its economic power to productive companies. These industries are highly developed and have high level of innovation. The single market is also anchored by its internal free trade policies [independent of the common currency].
Overall, my take-away is that this is an argument that however much the U.S. (and presumably also Britain) may desperately need the European banking sector and the current Eurozone finance structure to be "saved" intact, the rest of Europe would be better off without any of this. As before, I see this making the most sense in the context of an intent to nationalize banks as they fail, using bankruptcy proceedings to seize assets from individual bankers.
It is a dangerous time to be a banker in Europe. Time will tell if this results in improvements, or declines, in the lives of non-bankers. If bankers are correct in assessing the value their services provide to an economy, then things will be bad indeed in Europe. But if EJ's thesis of a largely parasitic FIRE economy is correct, then Europe may be much closer (in years, not current standing) to stability than the U.S.