One of the reasons for the drop in revenues was that Goldman decided to buy back the $5bn of preferred stock super-investor Warren Buffett bought at the height of the financial crisis; this cost the bank a cool $1.6bn (another great call by the Sage of Omaha). But its traders also found it difficult to match last year's stellar showing: revenues were down by about a quarter in both its equity trading arm and its all-conquering fixed income division.
But if shareholders may be displeased, Goldman's largely pecunious staff won't have too much cause for complaint: although their total compensation pot is down by 5%, it's still a whopping $5.2bn - equivalent to 44% of Goldman's revenues.
And despite the bottom line being so far down on last year, the results were actually much better than Wall Street expected (and much better than the previous quarter, in which profits plummeted 52% year-on-year). Since many of the challenges with which Goldman is currently grappling are affecting everyone in the sector, many of its rivals would love to be pulling numbers like these at the moment.
Indeed, glass-half-full types might even view Goldman’s performance as cause for optimism. The announcement by rating agency Standard & Poor's that it wastaking a negative outlook on the US government's triple-A credit rating has taken its toll on all US stocks this week. But when a wall Street bellwether like Goldman is beating expectations - even if they're low expectations - maybe it’s a sign of better things to come.