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At Goldman Sachs, a $1.3 Billion Profit Is Cause for Alarm

Goldman Sachs is losing its shine.

The doyen of investment banks released quarterly earnings on Tuesday that fell short even of analysts’ lowered expectations. Goldman did not just make significantly less money than expected in the fourth quarter of last year — $1.3 billion, down nearly 70 percent from the same period a year earlier — it also set aside nearly $1 billion to cover future loan losses, suggesting rising pessimism about what is to come.

The results add to an ugly streak for the Wall Street giant. Last week, Goldman began laying off more than 3,000 employees, its heaviest staff cuts in more than a decade. It also laid out the steep cost of its yearslong, unsuccessful push into consumer banking, a big reason for why it is now stashing away money to pay for loans going sour.

Goldman’s rivals must navigate the same economic headwinds, with volatile markets and higher interest rates that are holding back corporate deal-making, but they appear to be managing it with a bit more fortitude. Morgan Stanley, which also published earnings Tuesday, reported more than $2 billion in profit for the fourth quarter, a 40 percent decline from the previous year, and said it set aside just $87 million for loan losses.

Morgan Stanley’s stock rose about 2 percent in premarket trading, while Goldman’s slipped nearly 3 percent.

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