We're all bankers now
In my wilder imaginings over the years about the future of the public sector, it never occurred to me that one day as a taxpayer I would be financially liable for the overdrafts on 3.2 million UK retail bank accounts, £10bn of loans to British small businesses and a further £10bn of UK residential mortgages provided to 70,000 home owners.
But that is what the Treasury has unveiled today as just some of the loans and investments that we as taxpayers have insured under the Asset Protection Scheme.
This is the financial arrangement that helps to prop up Royal Bank of
Scotland: it's the supposedly clever wheeze that allowed the humungous ailing bank, which is 70% owned by the state, to survive without having to be fully nationalised.
The broad terms of the APS are that the public sector would become liable for 90% of losses on £280bn of loans and investments, after RBS has first incurred a £60bn loss on those loans and investments.
Put simply, it's a way of transferring financial risk from the private sector, or RBS and its shareholders, to the public sector, or you and me.
All of which has been known for weeks.
What we didn't know was precisely what we were insuring.
Well today the Treasury told us that - inter alia - we are now liable for £10bn of loans to small British businesses, £32bn of British property finance, £39bn of derivatives, £28bn of finance for highly indebted big companies, and so on.
If you are a sucker for horror stories, you can live out more of the gory detail of RBS's dodgy loans and investments that we've taken under our stretched belt by clicking here [3.98KB PDF].
But for me there is one big theme that emerges, which is the hopeless inadequacy of Royal Bank's risk controls under its previous management, led by Sir Fred Goodwin.
The sheer diversity of the assets that we as taxpayers are being forced to underwrite, to prevent RBS from going bust, is what stands out: everything from the complex investments manufactured by investment bankers to plain vanilla personal loans.
What is also dispelled today is the notion that a disproportionate share of Royal Bank's horrible loans and investments were contributed by the rump of the Dutch bank ABN, which RBS foolishly acquired in the autumn of 2007.
It is clear that at least half of the poor loans and investments insured by taxpayers - maybe a little bit more than that - were originated by Royal Bank, rather than ABN.
Or to put it another way, what we can now see is that one reckless bank with lamentable risk controls, RBS, bought the worst bits of another one, ABN.
This was a marriage made in bankers' hell.
There is another striking disclosure today - which is that the Treasury doesn't have a conspicuous amount of trust for RBS in the partnership they have formed.
It has made sure that the Asset Protection Agency - a new body set up to manage the Treasury's interest in the Asset Protection Scheme - can appoint so-called "step-in managers" to seize control of insured loans and investments if losses on those loans and investments are greater than expected.
What the Treasury fears is that RBS will have little incentive to limit losses on these insured assets, once it has burned through the £60bn loss that must first fall on RBS and its shareholders before taxpayers start to feel pain.
Or to put it another way, the Treasury has itself taken out a bit of insurance against the great danger inherent in the Asset Protection Scheme, which is that RBS will lose any incentive or will to make any recoveries from the lousy credit it extended before the bubble burst.