While executive claw backs sound good, they rarely provide much relief, reports the New York Times' Gretchen Morgenson.

Even with its prosecutorial power, the S.E.C. has brought just 40 cases against top executives since 2011. Only 18 of those have generated cash payments from executives; some $17 million was returned to their companies. (Many of the cases are still being litigated.)

Corporations, themselves, have a lot to do with the relatively paltry amount recovered.

There are several reasons givebacks like the one at JPMorgan are such an anomaly. One is that corporations limit the scope of their recovery policies. For example, the policies are written to cover only a portion of an executive’s pay.

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