Goldman Sachs' earnings almost tripled in the fourth quarter, handily beating analysts' estimates, as investment banking revenues surged. The Wall Street titan earned $2.83 billion after paying preferred dividends, compared with $978 million a year earlier. The bank's debt underwriting business profited from a rally in bonds and a surge in demand for debt securities. Goldman's debt underwriting business earned $1.96 billion in revenues for the year, its second-best annual performance and the highest since 2007.
"While economic conditions remained challenging for much of the last year, the strengths of our business model and client franchise ... delivered solid performance for our shareholders," Lloyd Blankfein said in a statement. The bank cut jobs, but paid the people remaining more; its compensation costs rose 6% to $12.94 billion, but its headcount fell 3% to 32,400. That means that the average employee at the bank earns almost $400,000 a year. (Read more Goldman Sachs stories.)