In 2017, unstable leaders took charge and big tech got its comeuppance

Putin, at a reception for Russian servicemen in Moscow on Dec. 27, 2017. (Photo: Mikhail Svetlov / Getty)

Forecasters recovered last year after a horrendous 2016, when Brexit and Donald Trump broadsided almost everyone. I went five of six in my own annual geopolitical forecasts for 2017, a heyday for inward-facing, nationalistic and threatening politicians who led by grievance and communicated in cheap shots. Trump, Russia's Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un were at the center of much of the action. But Big Tech was there too.

How it works: The forecasts are guided by 15 common-sense rules of geopolitics (here are the first 14 plus the 15th), general principles for figuring out the direction of big events.