The Year Unwrapped: Venezuela, the price of gold and pandemic art

Is Venezuela the battleground of 2023's big conflicts? Why is the price of gold rising? And are we ready to paint the pandemic?

Olly Mann and The Week debate the big changes that didn’t necessarily make headlines this year but began slowly affecting our lives. With Harriet Marsden, Holden Frith and Jamie Timson.

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In this end-of-year episode, we discuss:

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Venezuela is coming in from the cold, with the US agreeing to ease some sanctions on the country's beleaguered oil industry. In exchange, President Nicolás Maduro has promised to hold free elections for the first time since he came to power in 2013 – a tenure marked by economic devastation, poverty and the mass exodus of his citizens. But why is the US courting an anti-western dictator, and ally of Russia and Iran? How important is Venezuela to the oil trade? And will Maduro comply with the deal, or will he start Latin America's first continental war for 75 years?

Gold price

The price of gold has been a puzzle for economists during 2023. They had expected it to stay fairly flat, as inflation began to decline, but in fact it has risen by more than 13%. This month it reached an all time high of $2,135 per ounce. Various theories have been put forward to explain the rise, from increasing demand for jewellery in China and India to central banks seeking to boost their gold reserves. What does it mean for the world's economic outlook?

Pandemic art

The first pieces of culture about Covid (either based on, or written during the lockdowns in 2020/21) have appeared this year, and unlike other historical traumas  –  the first and second world wars, or September 11th  –  the pandemic’s impact on art has so far been fairly muted. Is it too difficult to accurately portray what it was like? Are we still too close to it? And why have horror films done so well at the box office?

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