Gretchen Morgenson had an interesting piece pointing out that it is rare that corporate boards ever clawback substantial sums from CEOs involved in illegal or inappropriate activity. (The immediate context is the clawback of some future performance pay from Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf.) The issue, as Morgenson presents it, is that boards don't generally do clawbacks except where it is legally required.

The point is that boards do not want to do clawbacks. This raises the obvious question as to why boards would not want to clawback money from CEOs?

Corporate boards are supposed to be working for shareholders. If they have a legal basis for getting extra money for shareholders by taking back pay from a CEO, they should want to do it. The assumption in Morgenson's piece, which is undoubtedly accurate, is that the boards are allied with the CEO. They don't want to take away from money from him/her unless they are forced to by the law.

This is the context in which CEOs like John Stumpf can earn close to $20 million a year, more than 500 times the pay of the median worker. And then we can count on leading policy experts to tell us the problem is that most workers lack the skills to compete in the modern economy.