Cutting down to the chase on Goldman's numbers, the top line was weak, with the company reporting $6.05 billion in total Q4 revenue on expectations of $6.39 billion. The primary reason was a decline in all segments Year over Year with Investment Banking tumbling 43% to $863 Million, Institutional Client Sales down 16% to $3.1 billion, Investment Management down 16% (great work Jim O'Neill) to $1.3 billion, and finally Goldman Prop, or as it is politically correctly now known, Investing and Lending, down 56% to just $872 million, although much better than the massive Q3 loss of $2.5 billion. All this was offset by compensation benefits of $2.2 billion, which resulted in a Q4 Compensation Margin of 36.5%, down from the 44.5% average previously in 2011. As a reminder, back in Q4 2009, Goldman had negative compensation expense of $519 million to make its EPS. The result was total comp of $12.2 billion in 2011, or 42.4% compensation payoff, compared to $15.4 billion in 2010. Yet since the company let the axe fly, cutting total staff from 35,700 at December 31, 2010 to 33,300 at year end 2011, or the lowest since Q1 2010, average trailing 12 month compensation per employee rose to $367,057.06, also known as "not much" for Mitt Romney.
Summarized this looks as follows:
Yet probably most important is that average VaR in Q4 rose from $102 to $135 sequentially, primarily on a spike in Interest Rate VaR. Is Goldman pulling a FRBNY LLC and going all in on even more rate contraction?