After their first full year as bank holding companies, the surprising thing about Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley is not that they survived this long, but that their business model has.

Many obituaries were written late last year for the concept of the independent investment bank. Conventional wisdom said the firms could not continue without the stability of old-fashioned bank deposits. Popular opinion held that the firms would have to stop putting capital at risk in a market that suddenly revered capital above all else.

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