Since we have seen a certain amount of creeping nationalization, it is important to realise the potential public liabilities that the public sector might be taking on, in comparison with the total government debt.
First: How much is government debt?
Gross government debt is a stock of how much the government owes the private sector.
The value of gross public debt is about three quarters of a trillion pounds (£774bn); the net debt about £600bn) http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/psf_statistics.htm
Pensions liabilities could be added to this (maybe about £530bn). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/2944530/National-debt-may-soar-above-andpound1,000bn.html
PFI liabilities are around £60bn (capital value)-£180bn (total repayment)
So it seems that rougly speaking, the UK public debt is around £600+£530+£100 or £1.2trillion. This is a stock.
(UK GDP (a flow) is about £1.5 trillion. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/tsdataset.asp?vlnk=574&More=N&All=Y . Therefore the total UK public liabilities are about 80% of the flow of income into the british economy. To make the stock and flow comparable if we payed a 5% interest rate, interest payments would be around 4% of GDP.)
Second: What is the value of the liabilities of the banks?
Now let's compare with the balance sheets of the banks (I'll keep the two bits of the Lloyds banking group seperate):
Assets of £706bn, Liabilities of £681bn. (net assets of £25bn).
Assets £442bn, Liabilities of £370bn
Assets £924bn; Liabilities £900bn.
So, the conclusion is total liabilities
UK Gross Public Debt £770bn
Public Pensions £530bn
Total Gross Public Debt £1400bn
Here are the Gross Banking Liabilities (in brackets, the loss incurred for a 10% fall in asset values due to bad debt):
- Lloyds TSB £680bn (£71bn)
- HBOS £370bn (£44bn)
- Barclays £900bn (£92bn)
- RBS: over £1tr
These liabilities are large in comparison to the UK existing public debt (£700bn).