Steven Rattner, who helped Obama save the U.S. auto industry, wants the U.S. to develop an industrial policy similar to Germany's:
[W]e should follow the example of successful high-wage exporters in concentrating on products where we have an advantage, as Germany has done with products like sophisticated machine tools.
While America still leads in sectors like defense and aviation, our greatest strength, and a source of high-paying jobs, lies in service industries with high intellectual content, like education, entertainment, digital media, and yes, even financial services. Facebook, Google and Microsoft are all American creations, as are the global credit card companies American Express, Visa and MasterCard.
Achieving higher wages also requires a greater commitment to education; wages for those with college degrees rose 1.4 percent between 2000 and 2010, after inflation. Following the German model of greater emphasis on engineering and technical training would also be advantageous.