The U.S. struggled to emerge from the pandemic, and its biggest bank broke an earnings record. JPMorgan wasn’t alone -- Citigroup and Morgan Stanley did the same. And Goldman Sachs? Yes, Goldman too.

Wall Street thrived during 2020’s year of global catastrophe, and it’s doing even better in 2021. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s soaring investment-banking fees boosted profit to US$14.3 billion, the most the centuries-old firm has ever earned in a single quarter. Citigroup Inc., where fees from underwriting shares quadrupled, saw record quarterly profit of US$7.94 billion. And Morgan Stanley posted its highest net revenue yet.

And Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s US$17.7 billion of revenue and US$6.84 billion of earnings both set records in a quarter of Reddit-fueled stock-market mania. Fees from putting together deals for companies helped lift investment-banking revenue to a record US$3.77 billion, while revenue for Goldman’s asset-management arm reached a high of US$4.61 billion.

Other lenders had records too. Bank of America Corp.’s investment-banking fees climbed more than 60 per cent to a record US$2.25 billion. It also helped that banks released money from the stockpiles they had set aside for loan losses. Even at Wells Fargo & Co., plagued for years by scandal, profit soared sevenfold -- but not to a record.