By its standards, Goldman Sachs had a dreadful second quarter with earnings plummeting a greater-than-expected 82 percent, to $453 million, from year-ago levels. It was the first time in five years Goldman underperformed analysts' forecasts, and its battle with the S.E.C. β€” ending in a humbling $550 million settlement last week β€” was only a small factor. "We've grown accustomed to Goldman bucking the trends," says Walter Todd at Greenwood Capital Associates. "Maybe Superman is turning into Clark Kent." Are Goldman's legendary Masters of the Universe becoming mere mortals? (Watch a Fox Business report about Goldman's struggles)

Goldman is falling to earth: The elite bank has gotten used to making "obscene amounts of money," says Felix Salmon in Reuters, and the excuses it's offering now are a little sad. "This quarter, at least, Goldman is just another bank: it’s not special any more." And as it "starts looking human," Goldman will first "lose the premium its trading at," and then its ability to "hire anyone it likes."
"Goldman Sachs starts looking human"

This isn't just a Goldman problem: Goldman's "pedestrian" quarter was "more like that of a garden-variety bank than a Wall Street powerhouse," says David Reilly in The Wall Street Journal. But all Wall Street banks are taking a hit amid a trading and IPO drought. That said, "more stringent regulation" coming from Washington is blunting Goldman's "appetite for risk," which signals "a more-fundamental change": lower profits.
"Goldman returns to earth"

Goldman is the Tiger Woods of banking β€” in a good way: "Goldman Sachs will carry the blemish of its recent indiscretions for years to come," just like Tiger Woods, says William Wright in Financial News. But just as Woods is still "the best golfer in the world," Goldman's one bad quarter won't change the "pecking order" on Wall Street, where Goldman's still "the one to beat."
"Is Goldman Sachs the Tiger Woods of investment banking?"