Moments ago Goldman reported its Q1 earnings which were strong enough to beat the highest Wall Street estimate, printing at $4.29 on an estimate range of $3.33 to $4.27/share. Revenue was $10.09 billion on estimates of $9.65 billion. What is notable is that while the bank is eating the lunch of its competitors, as it tends to do, in virtually all revenue categories (IB at $1.41 billion, FICC $3.22 bn, Equities: $1.92 bn, Investment Management $1.32 bn, and Prop trading $2.07 bn), it still was unable to match its prior year revenue in the key "client flow" categories of FICC and equities, which dropped from $3.46 billion to $3.22 bn, and $2.25 bn to $1.92 bn, respectively. How did Goldman offset the secular decline in market participation by everyone else? By doing what it does best: prop trading - in Q1 the firm's "Investing and lending" group, aka its Prop group, reported revenue of $2.068 billion (highlighted in the chart below) well higher than the $1.973 billion in Q4 and $1.911 a year earlier. This was the highest prop trading revenue reported by Goldman since Q1 2011 when, as we reported in February, the world was on the verge of being fixed. It wasn't, and the result was a collapse in Goldman prop trading in Q2 2011. Will this year repeat? This remains to be seen. However, for now, Goldman's employees are happy: in Q1 compensation benefits were $4.34 billion, or 43% of revenue. And with Goldman reporting "only" 32,000 total staff at period end, or the lowest since the great financial crisis, the average compensation per employee is once again above the "psychological" $400K barrier, or $403,281 on a trailing 12 month basis to be exact. Bollinger time, boys.