How could it be possible? I only have a few ideas, which I submit for general debate.
My first theory is that they have only redirected the blast. It is abundantly clear that the workers of the world are the ones who have taken the penalties this round. Life is great when someone else picks up the bill - just ask those monkeys in the Australian Parliament or the untouchables at HSBC. To this end the wheels will continue to turn so long as the working class don't drop dead from exhaustion, and the game can be extended by ensuring the populace don't realise the extent to which they are being fleeced. The exploitations are easy to spot. When I see those figures of $57 trillion in new debt (in the last seven years), just bear in mind that debt goes two-ways ... it means that some organisations and individuals now have $57 trillion worth of new ASSETS. Don't get me wrong - I know full well the value of those assets are dubious, but in the here-and-now that is $57 trillion worth of RENT-SEEKING-INSTRUMENTS that have billions of taxpaying households and individuals stiched up.
Second, I think there have been massive increases in human productivity from improvements in automation and information technology which have masked the real decline. By my reckoning we ought to be having a modern renassiance around about now but my guess is that corruption, fraud, theft, slavery and waste effectively sucks the life out of any real improvements in the standard of living which might otherwise present itself. As a result, most families/individuals just struggle along not knowing anything different when the reality is that they are still picking up the bill for the excesses of the last 40 year boom. If you have doubts about this underlying boom in human progress, just consider the economic effect when driver-less cars become common-place - effectively freeing up billions of man-hours every year worldwide (and that's just one technology).
Third, 'good old oppression, slavery and erosion of freedoms may not be alone enough to acheive their feat. Last week I had the very different task of obtaining some FIFA 2015 coins for the kids xbox game. This was my first foray into the world of virtual items purchasing and was mildly surprised to find a thriving industry with many different providers. Like many large online games, EA Sports have created a small economy which is subject to similar realword forces - for example 'flipping players' is a mini-industry all of it's own. To counter the run-away inflation inside the game economy, the game creators introduced a 'tax' (of about 5%) which applies during player or item transfers. The taxed coins simply 'vanish' from the economy - after all EA Sports doesn't really need them and can't really sell them - as a company they are after things of real value (dollars) and game economy functioning normally is necessary to keep those $$$ flowing ... they care not for the funny tokens they can create on demand and it is not problem to evaporate them into thin air. It reminded me a lot about the real world > the currency notes we trade don't really have any value to the issuer (because they can create as many of them as they want), what they do trade in is human productivity and real goods - they ensure that we strive hard to get enough funny tokens to pay real-world tax. Is it a stretch of the imagination to figure they also use simple tricks like the EA Coin Tax to regulate the supply of money in today's economy? And with the sum total of mathematical genius and resources available in the world today are we still thinking it's not beyond their power to manipulate successfully?
Finally, it could be that 'it just hasn't happened yet, you'll see', but to be honest that answer isn't working for me anymore - the attitude distracts us from the real issues. I think it's different this time - just gotta find the correct way to explain it.
p.s. I'm hoping some folk will disagree, please feel free to place a comment or two.