THE LEX COLUMN: Slowly does it in Goldman Sachs turnaround
Iconic investment firm is reshaping its business to become leaner
Lloyd Blankfein tweeted sarcastically last week that he missed testifying before congress. At the time, his successor as Goldman Sachs CEO, David Solomon, was being grilled by resurgent Democrats targeting Wall Street. Blankfein probably did not miss Monday’s first-quarter earnings call either. Goldman announced profits fell a fifth, year over year. Its business model is clearly in a painful and slow transition. Goldman’s share price has fallen more than a fifth in the past year, much worse than rival JPMorgan. In the first quarter of 2018, fuelled by tax cuts, and strong sales and trading revenue, Goldman recorded a juicy return on equity of more than 15%. Its return on equity in this period of 2019 dropped to 11%. Partly blame fixed income trading. Revenue fell by a tenth. Investment-banking income was essentially flat though, only because mergers and acquisitions revenue (made up of deals announced several months ago) jumped by half. That compensated for big drops in debt and e...