Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday opposed the federal government placing limits on the compensation of top executives of banks that have received relief from the government.

“I don’t think our government should set caps on compensation,” he said in answering questions at an event at the National Press Club today in Washington.

He said government's goal should be to minimize excessive risk-taking by financial firms — the kind of gambles that contributed to the current financial crisis.

Geithner’s remarks indicate the administration’s proposals may focus more on principles than on specific prescriptions for how financial companies compensate their executives.

The Obama administration is implementing pay restrictions on banks receiving government aid, which were set by Congress as part of this year’s $787 billion economic stimulus legislation.

The administration also is reviewing ways to toughen supervision of financial markets and companies to avoid a repeat of a crisis that has cost almost $1.5 trillion in credit losses since 2007.

Geithner also said the economy is stabilizing and pointed out positive signs in the economy as well as improvements in the credit markets.

We're not going to have a steady, even process of repair, he said. It's going to be bumpy and still feel fragile for a while. It's not going to feel better for a long time for millions of Americans.