I have often marvelled at how anything aquires value. An object is worth exactly what you can get someone to pay you for it. Therefore all 'value' is, is a consensus opinion on what something is worth. This can be quite unrelated to the costs associated with producing the said item.
So while it is true that we have been selling vapor for the last 30 years and paying for it with equally gaseous currency, as long as there is a sufficient consensus to agree that the illusion is worth maintaining, then it will remain in everyone's interest to continue to insist that the Emperor's outfit is resplendent. That is why I don't think our economy will actually collapse. It's built on a psychological effect for its foundation and there are too many vested interests who will do whatever is necessary to maintain their position.