Not all broker-dealers are toast. Just ask Jefferies

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Nouriel Roubini has gotten a lot of attention over the past few days for his prediction that no independent broker-dealers (a.k.a. investment banks) will survive the current financial crisis. The only two big ones left are Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and their stocks both sank much more than the overall market Monday.

But there was one smaller broker-dealer that bucked the trend and actually saw its stock price rise for the day: Jefferies Group, a firm run by a former Drexel Burnham Lambert hand that focuses on “growing and mid-sized companies and their investors” (hat tip to Guy Adami on CNBC). Jefferies got some attention back in January when its top two executives announced that because of poor performance they were giving back millions of dollars in stock they’d gotten a couple years earlier. Lately the headlines the companies been generating have been about its hiring–it just added 25 former Bear Stearns bankers in London and Frankfurt a couple weeks ago.

This in itself doesn’t mean all that much. As John Gapper writes in his column in Tuesday’s FT:

There are plenty of advisory firms, hedge funds and private equity funds and this Wall Street crash will create more. All of those unemployed financiers will need something to do.

But Jefferies is more than just an advisory firm–it’s a full service broker-dealer, albeit a specialized one that doesn’t appear to have had much of anything to do with real estate. If it survives and hires enough unemployed financiers, it could end up the biggest independent player around.