When economic and political conditions in your nation-state are declining, you have a couple options: you can either face up to the crisis and make the changes necessary that could make recovery possible, or you go through an extensive messaging campaign to portray decline as advance.
One of the more reliable methods — used extensively by 20th century states — is to attempt to make inferior substitutions appear to be better than original superior product. In this way, you try to portray something like plastics which leak some chemical or another into food as superior to cheap glass or clay containers. Another example would be portraying cheap grain-based diets as healthier than diets high in fat, because the governing system has an easier time producing the former in the quantity desired by the masses.
Similarly, the new ‘digital’ culture, pushed most strongly in the United States, has been portrayed as superior to the old ‘bigoted’ culture in the territory which was destroyed by various misguided social and legal innovations like Civil Rights. You might not be able to walk downtown Baltimore safely at night anymore, but you can chat with people anytime you like on a portable super-telegraph that you can carry around with you.
Instead of owning equity in a home in a neighborhood that you can be reasonably confident will appreciate over time — given a stable legal order that respects property rights — any investment into real property is likely to be either interfered with or expropriated somehow. Either some politically connected buyer will be super-empowered with paper money to devalue your investments, some government agency will move bandits into your neighborhood, or the factory in your town will be shuttered by the EPA for environmental violations and the DOL for improper management practices, which will then depress the value of your real investments.
Modern propaganda is largely an exercise in misdirection — getting people to pay attention to irrelevant things to massage away discontent or nervousness about the stability and long term prospects of the regime. Certain groups of prestigious people, like bankers, are even paid to lie about financial conditions, to make them seem better than they really are.
Accounting structures are, everywhere and always, highly manipulable without extensive legal control and supervision. States have, always and typically, tended to play fast and loose with these structures. It’s the abnormal society that can support a state which mostly keeps accurate books, because usually the temptation is to fool with them to gain some advantage or another.
When faced with a troublesome reality, propagandists will often make simple matters appear to be more complex than they really are. They’ll bring up irrelevant facts & issues, play games with numbers, and otherwise make it difficult to have a straight conversation.
Ultimately, though, narratives don’t really collapse — institutions do. Before Saddam’s government fell, his PR guy was still doing his job up until the last hour of the last day. What the PR guy says is irrelevant compared to whether or not the people propping up the regime believe what the PR guy says.