Government savings and loan regulators yesterday offered a $3.7 billion example of who was really taking the risk during the high-flying, high-rolling 1980s -- the taxpayers.

The Resolution Trust Corp. rolled out a 483-name list of junk bonds that the agency, and thus the taxpayers, now own. They are the residue of an era when money flowed like water on Wall Street and when entrepreneurial thrift operators, finding home loans too mundane, jumped into the junk bond market, using government-insured funds.

The RTC's list includes names like Trump and Drexel, Eastern and Continental, Kroger and Safeway. It features local connections such as Jack Kent Cooke and Woodward & Lothrop.

Some of the bonds have never missed a payment and now give the government a steady stream of income; others are in default, their issuers bankrupt. But few trade at their original value -- which totaled $3.7 billion -- and now the regulators are faced with trying to recover for the taxpayers as much of their money as possible.

The RTC is under pressure to sell any assets from dead thrifts as quickly as possible. But with junk bonds, as in real estate, there is fear that if the agency moves too quickly, already weakened markets will collapse.

So the agency had been keeping its junk bond list to itself, apparently worried that if the market learned which issues it had, those prices would fall in anticipation of a rapid government sale.

Now, according to RTC spokesman Steve Katsanos, the agency has concluded the reverse was happening -- that people were waiting to buy certain bonds thought to be in government hands.

"There was uncertainty as to what we had, and there was speculation as to what we had," he said, so the agency decided that full disclosure would help make the markets more efficient.

The agency said its policy remains to sell as much as possible as quickly as possible, and it will do that as long as its actions do not cause prices to drop.

"Our policy has been to sell the bonds when we see an opportunity. That's been our policy and that's still our policy," Katsanos said. He said that within minutes of the list's publication late yesterday, the RTC's office was flooded with calls from traders seeking copies.

However, Elisabeth N. Spector, director of the RTC's finance and administration division, warned that the agency does not intend to offer bargains. "We will sell only in response to realistic and fair offers," she said.

Another problem that the agency hopes to address through the release of the list is the uncertain value of many of the bonds that do not change hands frequently.

Some of the bonds were sold in private placements -- and do not trade in the public markets -- while others are very small public issues with little trading.

For bonds issued by some of the bankrupt companies, it is hard to find a buyer, although others, either because they are secured or because the market expects the company to survive, trade briskly, albeit at depressed prices.

"Many of these securities are not actively traded and therefore the fair market value is not readily ascertainable," said Spector.

The bonds came into regulators' hands because thrift operators bought them. The bonds, paying interest rates of 11 percent to 15 percent, offered what seemed to be a perfect opportunity for institutions to pay high rates to depositors and still make money.

But like a lot of the bright ideas of the '80s, it didn't work, and as the institutions failed, ownership passed to the taxpayers.

Staff writer Kathleen Day contributed to this report.

ISSUER..............................FACE VALUE

.....................................(MILLIONS)

Allied Stores*..........................$48.23

Ballys Grand.............................28.91

Continental Airlines.....................34.10

Cooke Media..............................84.10

Dart Group............................... 8.07

Drexel Burnham Lambert*..................19.80

Eastern Airlines*........................64.33

Federated Department Stores*.............12.85

Fruit of the Loom........................22.50

Golden Nugget............................26.55

Greyhound Lines*.........................15.60

Merv Griffin Resorts......................8.75

Integrated Resources*....................89.58

Las Vegas Sands..........................13.50

LTV Corp*.................................6.00

MacAndrews & Forbes.......................7.25

Macy's...................................31.44

Revlon...................................36.00

RJR Holdings............................102.47

Safeway Store Holdings...................17.10

Southland Corp. (7-11)...................18.75

Southmark*...............................52.14

Trump casinos............................54.40

Wedtech...................................5.00

Woodward & Lothrop.......................17.35

*Company under Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection SOURCE: Resolution Trust Corp.