Kenneth Feinberg: paymaster

New US government supervision should avert a return to the "good old days" of outsize bonuses and lavish perks on Wall Street even if bankers still don't "get it," Obama administration paymaster Kenneth Feinberg said.

Feinberg, who led the treasury department effort to slash executive compensation at American International Group, Citigroup and other bailed-out firms, said he isn't sure bankers understand that the financial crisis and $700bn (€568bn) bailout changed the rules.

"I don't think they get it, but I'm not sure they'll go back," Feinberg said this weekend.

President Barack Obama appointed Feinberg in an effort to quell a political furore over multimillion-dollar bonus payouts at companies whose excessive risk-taking helped bring the US economy to the brink of collapse in 2008. During his year on the job, Feinberg has pushed companies to pay executives with less cash and vested stock.

The populist outrage over bankers' pay has also spurred efforts across the federal government, and overseas, to rein in compensation.

In the regulatory overhaul legislation the US congress agreed last week, shareholders are given more power to voice displeasure with corporate leaders' compensation packages. The G20 has also pushed banks to tie pay more closely to long-term performance.

With all that attention, Feinberg said, "It will be very tough for Wall Street to go back to the good old days."

Last week, Feinberg also said he will step down from his treasury department pay post by the end of August to focus on his new job as the government-appointed administrator of BP's $20bn fund to pay claims stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.