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There will be uprisings — think of the streets in Spain and Greece today — everywhere. Technological advances that traditionally drive productivity increases and economic growth will not be able to keep up with this collapse.

When might this all happen? Paul Volker indicates we might face a mess like this in the next year and a half.

David Walker, former U.S. comptroller, i.e., the former chief accountant of the U.S. government, has suggested similar time frames for economic catastrophe.

Most agree that the budget sequestration approach won’t work from either economic or political perspectives, and mindless across-the-board cuts in spending will only exacerbate a mess.

The Federal Reserve’s third round of quantitative easing, in which we print money to buy our own bonds in order to goose economic and employment numbers, means we are floating our own debt, a good formula for sudden hyperinflation.

The next president will have about six months to fix this problem before it is too late. He must be fully prepared, able and willing to work with Congress and move quickly and decisively.

During the election, the most important question to ask is, who understands all this and is prepared to prevent it? Everything else is noise.

Grady Means is a businessman, former assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and former economist at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.