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Trump in Saudi Arabia in 2017. (Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Council via Getty Images)

Ahead of President Trump's State of the Union address tonight, we asked the Axios subject-matter experts the top trend they'll be watching this year.

The big picture: What's coming next has been foreshadowed by many of the themes that ran through the first two years of Trump's presidency — the consequences of divided government, the growing influence of Big Tech, and the rising sense of economic unfairness felt by many Americans across the country.

  • Tech: Pressure will continue to build for federal action on consumer privacy. While administration officials may float recommendations, the ball is in Congress' court to pass legislation. And the new Democratic House considers it a priority. — Kim Hart
  • Future: We are on the cusp of a big, new antitrust push, analogous to the Progressive Era. It will stem from growing income inequality, and a building anger over excesses by big companies across industries. — Steve LeVine
  • Business: If big tax hikes are vote-winners not only among Democratic primary voters but even among Trump voters, that will increase market worry about a Dem president. And that will send stocks down. — Felix Salmon
  • Markets: Many analysts believe the Fed and Chair Jay Powell caved to Trump's demands for them to halt rate hikes this year. Will Trump continue his pressure? — Dion Rabouin
  • World: Two meetings tentatively scheduled for the end of this month — with China's Xi Jinping and North Korea's Kim Jong-un — should give us a sense whether the two confrontations that have defined much of Trump's foreign policy will ramp up or settle down. — Dave Lawler
  • China: Trump and Xi are likely to reach some sort of a trade deal ceasefire, but the broader geopolitical relationship may worsen. — Bill Bishop
  • Health care: The big issue will be drug prices. The administration has floated three controversial ideas: making drug companies put prices in their TV ads; importing European price controls for part of Medicare; and restructuring the role of industry middlemen. Democrats are largely on board. But the industry will lean hard on Republicans to block or water them down. — Sam Baker
  • Climate change: The Trump administration's hostile stance toward climate science will run headfirst into a brick wall in the House, where investigations are likely of any censorship of scientific reports. — Andrew Freedman
  • Energy: The administration will likely finalize some big-ticket items, including weakening Obama-era auto mileage rules and expanding offshore areas made available for oil-and-gas leasing. — Ben Geman
  • Science: The next year will take the Trump administration from slogan to implementation of the Space Force. It will also be a crucial period for building up the U.S. private space sector, and moving NASA toward once again launching humans to space, via SpaceX and Boeing. — Andrew Freedman

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

Biden's Russian sanctions likely to achieve little

President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there's little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it's true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia's sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.