Consumers, banks and businesses have been busy getting their balance sheets into better shape since the U.S. economic recovery began more than three years ago. Now, it’s the government’s turn.

Whoever wins the presidency will contend with a budget on a trajectory dubbed unsustainable by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will have to tame a deficit that has topped $1 trillion in each of the past three years, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue. How the new president goes about it will influence the direction of financial markets and define the economy and society for his four-year term and beyond.