The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is up slightly, continuing its slow but steady rise. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) stock is pulling the Dow higher, as it appears shareholders have rejected the vote to split the roles of chairman and CEO. As of 1:25 p.m. EDT the Dow is up 72 points, or 0.47%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is up 0.38%.
The markets are continuing their slow rise as investors anticipate a clearer idea of when the Federal Reserve will slow or stop its quantitative-easing program. They will get a couple of reads on that tomorrow, starting with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before Congress' Joint Economic Committee at 10 a.m. EDT. Then, at 2 p.m. EDT, the minutes of the May 1 Open Market Committee meeting will be released. While a statement from the FOMC was released on the afternoon of the meeting, investors are hoping to see in detail the arguments that were brought up both for and against quantitative easing in order to try to predict the Fed's future actions.
In bigger news, JPMorgan is up 1.8%, as it appears that the company's shareholders have voted against splitting the roles of chairman and CEO, both of which are currently occupied by Jamie Dimon. While the vote is nonbinding, many analysts are worried that Jamie Dimon would leave JPMorgan if the position were split.
Advocates argue that companies should have independent chairmen, as the board should be supervisory and oversee the work of the CEO. They also argue that having both roles filled by one person is a conflict of interest. That said, the most notable company with a combined CEO and chairman role is Berkshire Hatheway (NYSE:BRK-B), with Warren Buffett holding both spots. Buffett is an exceptional leader who has shown that he is uniquely qualified to hold both roles. While an independent chairman of the board sounds good in theory, in practice, too many boards and chairmen simply defer to management and rubber-stamp its actions. Companies need board members that will take a stand when they see dubious actions and dig deeper to find problems before they become disasters.
Given the "London Whale" scandal, a new robosigning lawsuit, and continued regulatory pressure, Jamie Dimon seems the best leader to pull the bank through its troubles. Even Warren Buffett has said: "I'm 100% for Jamie. I couldn't think of a better chairman."