Jan 1, 2020

What we're watching in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Ralph Morse/Getty Contributor, Kirn Vintage Stock/Getty Contributor

This is going to be a momentous presidential election year, as we face the very real possibility that an impeached president could be re-elected for the first time in U.S. history. But there will be plenty of other events that will matter in 2020, too.

  • Here’s what Axios’ newsletter authors and reporters will be watching — from the future of tech regulation to the impact climate change and job automation will have on all of our lives. (Sign up for their newsletters here.)

Politics: To what extent will President Trump and his campaign be able to convert a Republican-led Senate trial into enduring political advantage? By November 2020, will impeachment be just another forgotten series of Trump news cycles, or will it have given him additional tools to wield or weaknesses to manage? — Jonathan Swan

Business: People can't stop talking about it: Will 2020 finally be year the next recession hits? As Magic 8 Ball might say, "reply hazy." — Jennifer A. Kingson

Tech: On the policy front, we will be watching to see if the techlash-related hand wringing actually leads to greater regulation or antitrust enforcement. On the pure tech front, 2020 will be a little early to see truly consumer-ready AR glasses — but expect to see more experimentation, both in smartphones and beyond. — Ina Fried

Media: How will big tech companies police their systems for malicious content and political manipulation ahead of the 2020 election? — Sara Fischer

Health care: Congress punted surprise medical bill and prescription drug legislation last month, saying that it can be addressed this year — giving the health care industry more time to lobby against the measures. And on the campaign trail, moderates will keep duking it out against progressives over whether a public option or Medicare for All is the best vision for the future. — Caitlin Owens

Energy: I’ll be keeping an eye out for whether the world’s biggest oil companies, under pressure from advocates, will make more concrete and deeper climate commitments. — Ben Geman

World: Will the U.S. and North Korea return to “fire and fury” after missing Pyongyang’s end-of-year deadline for a breakthrough in the nuclear talks? How will the U.S. election factor into that, as well as into the U.S.-Iran standoff? — Dave Lawler

China: 2020 is a make-or-break year for Huawei—and for U.S. attempts to keep it out of global 5G networks. Will Canada and European nations follow U.S. warnings and give 5G contracts elsewhere (or simply delay), or will the promise of cheap Chinese 5G prove too alluring to resist? — Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

Future: I'm watching how robots and machines will continue to gnaw away at jobs. Experts predict that 2020 will be the year that the economy really starts to feel the impact of automation-fueled job losses. Look for these waves of disruption to hit the American heartland the hardest as big cities keep getting the bulk of new job creation. — Erica Pandey

Cities: The Census will be top of mind for city leaders to ensure residents are counted appropriately. In addition, the frequency of cybersecurity attacks targeting state and city governments will likely continue to increase, forcing more officials to make the hard choice between paying a ransom demanded by hackers or spending the millions it takes to rebuild systems. — Kim Hart

Transportation: Electric vehicles are beginning to enter the mainstream, with more models to choose from in dealer showrooms, but widespread adoption will depend on how quickly battery prices fall and charging stations spread. The industry is working hard on both challenges, but in the meantime, buyers are finding that hybrids are a good placeholder. — Joann Muller

Space: All eyes will be on SpaceX and Boeing as both companies aim to get NASA astronauts launching to the International Space Station this year. Will 2020 finally be the year that sees humans sent to orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since the end of the space shuttle program? — Miriam Kramer

Sports: I'll be watching the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Games. Who will emerge as the face(s) of Team USA — and the Olympics as a whole — now that global/generational superstars like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt have retired? — Kendall Baker

Go deeper

Updated 47 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Esper catches White House off guard with opposition to military use, photo op

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a press briefing Wednesday that he does not currently support invoking the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that permits the president to use active-duty troops on U.S. soil, in order to quell protests against racial injustice.

Why it matters: President Trump threatened this week to deploy military forces if state and local governments aren't able to squash violent protests. Axios reported on Tuesday that Trump is backing off the idea for now, but that he hasn't ruled it out.

Updates: George Floyd protests continue for 9th day

Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue on June 3. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Wednesday, marking nine straight days of demonstrations.

The latest: As several major cities moved to lift curfews, NYPD officers "aggressively" dispersed large crowds in Brooklyn and Manhattan beyond New York City's 8 p.m. curfew, per the New York Times. The National Guard was stationed outside many protests Wednesday night, including in Hollywood and Atlanta.

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"